Over the past five years, the Center for Dairy Excellence has heard from dairy producers about their need for a more skilled workforce in management on Pennsylvania farms. Farm managers earned an average of $59,760 in 2020, according to Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. A dairy herd manager requires training beyond a high school education, but not necessarily needing a college degree. Dairy farms continue to express challenges in filling this important leadership role within their employee team.

The Center has begun the process of registering a Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The Center is looking for three individuals and three farms to serve in a pilot Dairy Herd Manager Program. We will have a rolling admission basis with a goal of filling the three trial farms by January 2023.

If you are interested in serving as a trial farm for the program, click here to fill out a short application.

Purpose of the Trial Program

  • To provide existing employees on dairy farms the opportunity to receive related technical training and on-the-job learning as a Dairy Herd Manager.
  • To create opportunities for employees to gain practical knowledge, information, and skills about progressive dairy operations stretching beyond their familiar past dairy experiences.
  • To provide an employee with a position on the farm that is financially lucrative and competitive with industry standards.
  • To allow for existing dairy producers to develop beginner-level employees into well-qualified candidates to serve in herd management roles.
  • To provide real-farm perspective into what skillsets individuals need to develop to become qualified Dairy Herd Managers on mid- to large-sized dairy farm operations.

Expectations of the Farm

  • A progressive, well-managed, dairy business with a positive outlook on the industry and an employee demonstrating interest in enhancing his or her management ability.
  • Willing to expose the employee to all aspects of a successful, progressive dairy operation including financial information and management team meetings with adequate training and consultation in order to achieve learning objectives.
  • Able to pay the employee a minimum starting wage of $11.00 per hour with a progressive wage over 18 months that ends with $16.00 per hour and in adherence with all federal and state employment requirements. The Center will give the farm a “per hour” stipend to allow a more competitive wage.
  • Requested time-off, hours of work, and additional details of the pilot program will be determined in collaboration with the farm and employee.
  • Able to provide a safe working environment and conduct a safety and animal care overview upon the start of the pilot program with the CDE Workforce Development Manager.


Contact Michelle Shearer at mshearer@centerfordairyexcellence.org or 570-768-8316 with additional questions.