A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.
Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business.
"In all likelihood it's mainly farm managers and herd manager jobs [on] there."
But he said Federated Farmers' own research had shown at least a 4 or 5 per cent rise across the industry.
Hoggard said the higher wages had been driven by the stronger milk price a few years back and although that had now fallen back he expected salaries to remain at the same level.
"Once you move the bar in wages that bar does tend to stay there. There is a lot of competition for good quality farm managers."
Hoggard said farm workers could get up to that level with as little as four to six years' work on the job.
"There's no sitting on the ... motorway for hours, yes [you're up at 4am]."
Hoggard said many came straight from school with little more than NCEA qualifications. But the right attitude was more important.
"To me attitude is everything."
A starting position typically paid around $40,000 to $44,000.
Hoggard said tougher times in the dairy industry did not mean pay rates would fall as there could be fewer jobs as herd numbers were cut back.
"There may be a few less positions advertised. But there will still be positions out there."