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 registered a Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The Center is looking for host farms to serve as an employer for the Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship Program. We will have a rolling admission basis.

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

Purpose of the Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship 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.
  • Requested time-off, hours of work, and additional details 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 program with the CDE Workforce Development Manager.

Expectations of the Apprentice

The apprentice must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age or older.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.

NOTE: Farm experience is preferred but not required.

Apprentices are expected to:

  • Participate in an informational session with the Center for Dairy Excellence.
  • Participate in a one-on-one call with the CDE Workforce Development Manager.
  • Participate in monthly visits and reviews with the journeyworker and CDE Workforce Development Manager.
  • Master all competencies for the Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship as outlined. 
  • Complete at least 3,000 hours of PAID On-the-Job Training and 216 hours of UNPAID Related Technical Instruction during the Dairy Herd Manager Apprenticeship on a Pennsylvania dairy farm.


We will accept apprentices on a rolling admission basis. Click here to apply to become an apprentice.


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