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Wool Handler/Shed Hand

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Good; employment in this occupation is expected to remain strong in the fore-seeable future.
Brief Employment is largely casual/seasonal, however some wool handlers gain almost full time employment with a shearing contractor with most wool handlers working in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. The majority of the work opportunities occurring outside of the Adelaide metropolitan area.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Wool Handler/Shed Hand

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Wool handlers/shed hands are employed in shearing sheds throughout Australia where their primary role is the initial preparation of wool after it has been removed from a sheep by the shearer. Tasks involved in this role include picking up the fleece, throwing the fleece onto the wool table, removal of inferior portions of the fleece prior to wool classing, general preparation of skirtings/oddment lines in the shed, penning sheep for shearing and assisting the wool presser where necessary. Overall work description is to work as a generally useful hand in and around the shearing shed.

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Education Requirements

There are no formal educational requirements for this occupation.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Certificate III in Shearing. Pathway includes the Certificate II in Shearing. Other courses associated with this occupation include the Certificate II in Wool Handling, Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation and Certificate IV in Wool Classing.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

This industry has been affected over the past number of years by a general downturn in the wool industry and relatively low sheep numbers but the industry has seen a resurgence and is bouncing back strongly with wool prices at records levels for some wool types; in-short there is an optimistic outlook for wool by many growers.
Wool handlers may further their career options by under-taking further study to gain the Certificate IV in Wool classing qualification, so as to work as a
professional wool classer in shearing sheds. The wool classing qualification may then be used as an avenue for employment opportunities with wool brokers as wool area managers or stock agents, gaining employment as farm or station managers or finding employment in allied industries involving sheep and wool. Some even become as instructors. Demand for wool handlers in shearing sheds is considerable, especially so at peak periods of wool harvesting activity, due to a high employee turnover rate within the occupation.

Nature of the Job

Wool handlers/shed hands are employed in shearing sheds throughout Australia where their primary role is the initial preparation of wool after it has been removed from a sheep by the shearer. The importance of the wool handler job role cannot be over-stated, they are critical in the correct preparation of all greasy wool shorn from sheep prior to classing. The wool handler is constantly on the move for the full 8 hour working day with tasks such as picking up wool, throwing fleeces, skirting fleece wool, penning sheep for shearing, assisting with pressing wool and clean-up of the shearing shed at the completion of work by other team members.

Typical Physical Working Environment

As most wool handlers/shedhands are service providers to the agricultural industry, the availability of work depends upon activity in this area. A small number of wool handlers are self-employed, though most are employed by shearing contractors. Wool handlers are able to find work in shearing sheds through-out Australia, with some travelling to New Zealand for work opportunities and / or overseas to wool producing countries in the Northern Hemisphere e.g. United States, United Kingdom, Europe.

Typical Occupational Example

Wool handlers typically work in shearing sheds and the working conditions can be physically demanding. You can look forward to the prospect of being on your feet for most of the day, moving about regularly (not chained to a desk), working often in a rural environment and working in a team of like-minded people as yourself. Wool handlers are pretty much on the go throughout the day with being active a key attribute for the job role, incorporating bending and lifting for this type of occupation.

Earning Potential

Wool handlers/shed hands should be earning about $200 a day (as a minimum). As the work is seasonal, a wool handlers earning potential is dependent on how much employment they are able to source from shearing contractors or wool growers. However a wool handler who actively pursues work should be able to gain 9 – 10 months employment per year.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online