Shearer Kaikuti Hipi

Shearers cut the wool from sheep with clippers.

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Shearers may do some or all of the following:

  • catch sheep from a catching pen
  • move sheep out of the catching pen to a shearing stand
  • shear wool off in a set pattern of strokes
  • release sheep into a counting-out pen
  • clean combs and cutters and sharpen them.

Physical Requirements

Shearers need to have: 

  • excellent fitness and health and must be strong
  • good hand-eye co-ordination.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for shearers includes work on farms or jobs that involve handling animals.

Personal Qualities

Shearers need to be:

  • safety-conscious
  • hard-working
  • reliable
  • good at using and caring for equipment.


Shearers need to have knowledge of:

  • how to catch and handle sheep
  • how to hold sheep for shearing
  • proper sheep lifting and moving techniques 
  • good shearing techniques
  • how to use and maintain clippers
  • what type of equipment to use in certain conditions.



  • usually work eight or nine hours a day and sometimes work weekends
  • travel each day to a shearing shed, and sometimes stay in shearing quarters
  • work in busy and noisy shearing sheds
  • work mainly during peak shearing times from November to March and from July to September.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but agricultural and horticultural science to at least NCEA Level 2 is useful.

Shearers can earn around $47K-$65K per year.

Pay for shearers varies depending on skills, experience and the number of sheep shorn.

  • Shearers usually earn about $195 for every 100 sheep they shear. 
  • Shearers with up to three years' experience can shear up to 200 sheep a day and earn $47,000 to $65,000 a year.
  • Shearers with more than three years' experience can shear between 200 and 400 sheep a day and earn between $65,000 and $130,000 a year.

Source: New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association, 2019.

Shearers may progress to organising shearing gangs as shearing contractors. 

Years Of Training

There are no specific entry requirements to become a shearer as you gain skills on the job. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Shearing – Blade/Crossbred/Fine (Level 4) may be useful.