Wool classing is rarely a year-round job, and most wool classers work full time for only about three months of the year.
Wool classers working in a shearing shed are usually paid per fleece, and typically earn between $35 and $55 an hour.
Those working during the shearing season (July to November) can expect to earn between $20,000 and $50,000.
Most wool classers have to pay their own travel expenses and ACC levies because they are self-employed. Many wool classers supplement their income by doing other related work such as shearing or woolhandling.
Source : New Zealand Wool Classer Association, 2015.
This information is a guide only. )
What you will do
Wool classers may do some or all of the following :
discuss requirements with the farmer before shearing starts
sort wool into groups to produce lines that have uniform colour, length, fault, and fibre diameter, and keep wool breeds separate
ensure wool is free from contamination (such as black fibres, twine, and other foreign objects)
ensure wool is sorted into the correct categories and placed in the correct bin (a cage for collecting similar wool types)
operate and maintain wool-weighing, sampling and wool-blending machinery
supervise the pressing and branding of wool bales
keep records of the wool bales pressed
be responsible for woolshed management.
Skills and knowledge
Wool classers need to have :
knowledge of different wool grades and sheep breeds
knowledge of market requirements for wool, and wool industry standards
knowledge of wool-handling and woolshed procedures
skill operating wool presses and other machinery
Wool classers :
work from 7am to 5pm in the main season (from July to November) and most weekends when the weather is good. At other times of the year, hours are few and irregular
work mainly in shearing sheds, but a few are employed in wool stores and wool scours (wool-cleaning factories)
work in conditions that may be dirty, dusty, noisy and greasy depending on the quality of the woolshed or store
may travel long distances by road to get to the farms.
To become a wool classer it is recommended you complete the National Certificate in Wool Technology (Level 4), which is available through the Telford campus of Lincoln University.
The certificate programme includes on-the-job training, working alongside a professional classer.
A driver's licence is also useful.
No specific secondary education is required for this job, but NCEA Level 2 is recommended.
Wool classers need to be :
practical and able to work quickly
accurate, with an eye for detail
good at communicating and able to lead a team
well organised and good at record-keeping.
Useful experience for wool classers includes :
any work with a shearing gang, such as woolhandling or pressing
work in a wool store or scour (where wool is chemically removed from sheepskins).
Wool classers need to be reasonably fit and agile. They need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), a good sense of touch, and should not be allergic to wool.
Registration with the New Zealand Wool Classer Association enables wool classers to stamp wool bales they have sorted with an internationally recognised quality mark.
While registration is not compulsory, many farmers will not employ non-registered wool classers.