What they do
Shearers take the sheep from the pen and hold firmly while removing the fleece all in one piece. They select combs that are appropriate for the type of sheep and wool. If necessary they may treat skin cuts on the sheep. They then return the sheep to the pens. They also maintain their cutters and combs by cleaning and sharpening them. They may also be required to shear stud animals with special combs or cutters.
Shearers usually work in teams travelling around the country. Most of the work is in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern; off-season work is available on stations in the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Goldfields. The work is not as seasonal as it used to be, with work most of the year. The peak seasons are Spring and Autumn. The working day begins at 7:30am and consists of four two hour runs with two 30 minute breaks and one hour for lunch. The shearing is usually done in a tin shed in the country and conditions are usually hot, dirty and dusty.
Tools and technologies
Shearers need to be proficient with power-driven hand pieces that are fitted with combs and cutters. They often own these hand pieces and so need to know how to maintain them.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a shearer without any formal qualifications, and get training on the job. Some shearers begin by being a shed hand in a shearing team. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in shearing.
The Certificate II and Certificate III in Shearing are offered at registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and Search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.
You can also undertake a shearing Level 3 or Level 4 traineeship. The traineeship usually takes six to nine months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.