Combine Operator

Drive huge farm machines that can harvest entire fields of grain in a day.
picture of Combine Operator

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$21,000 – $47,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Combine Operators do?

It’s a multi-step process to get food products from the fields to the store shelves. For crops, the process starts with ground preparation, planting, cultivation, and harvesting. Combine Operators drive the big rigs that handle many of these tasks.

As a Combine Operator, you know your crop, your machine, and your fields. Each crop is different in the way it is grown and harvested, so you always check whether it’s ripe and if there are concerns, such as pests or mold. The Farmer who hires you also expects you to watch out for obstacles, ditches, and debris that could damage the combine or the crop, or harm you.

Maintaining the equipment is a major part of your position as a Combine Operator. Not only do you check the gauges when you arrive each day, but you also add fuel and oil, listen for squeaky parts, check belts, replace the battery, and perform other minor Mechanic tasks as needed. In addition, you’re responsible for loading and unloading the rig on those occasions when you can’t drive it to the field.

Driving a combine is typically a seasonal job. However, seasons vary around the country, and you could work year round if you’re willing to travel or relocate for months at a time. Regardless of where you are, you commonly work long hours during the dry, sunlit days. It’s a dirty, dusty job, but most combines have a radio and air conditioning to make the task more enjoyable.

Should I be a Combine Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Carbon Dioxide Operator, Chop-and-Frame Operator, Combining Machine Operator, Compo-Conveyor Operator

    How to become a Combine Operator

    Most Combine Operators have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9gaaaa&chl=no+college+%2891%25%29|certificate+%289%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,91,91
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