Amish Jobs: Six Ways The Amish Make Money

For much of their history, Amish have primarily been farmers. And many Amish still operate traditional family dairies today.

But in recent years, it’s become more difficult to purchase the land needed for dairy farming. The Amish population is rapidly growing, making land prices rise in many of their communities.

Amish man with mule team in a cornfield
An Amish dairy farmer tends his corn field with a team of mules. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Photo: Don Burke

As a result, Amish have moved into different occupations over the years. Jobs and businesses like these give Amish people alternative ways of earning money to support their families.

In many cases, they also allow Amish people to work from home – similar to the traditional family dairy.

Common Amish Occupations

  1. Farming (Dairy & Produce) – Many Amish people still operate traditional small family dairies. Produce farming requires less land than the traditional Amish dairy farm.
  2. Home-based businesses – Amish have thrived in the furniture and manufacturing industries. Many Amish operate successful retail stores from their home properties.
  3. Mobile or remote businesses – Many Amish work on or run construction crews, or market stands in non-Amish areas. Amish carpenters, Amish roofers, and masons are common trades in the building industry.
  4. Factory work – In some communities, work in non-Amish factories has become the primary occupation
  5. Part-time businesses – Many Amish operate part-time businesses, from quiltmaking to roadside stands in order to supplement income
  6. Other Amish occupations – Some Amish people provide less-common services and products, such as accounting or taxidermy.

1. Farming (Dairy & Produce)

Dairy farming is still one of the most common Amish occupations. The Amish appreciate dairy farming for many reasons. The farm helps the Amish retain a connection to the land and nature. There are always tasks to be done on an Amish farm, providing opportunities for children to develop a work ethic. And dairies allow Amish fathers to remain at home with the family.

Drawbacks of dairy farming include fluctuating milk prices and a demanding twice-daily milking schedule that never relents. As mentioned above, purchasing sufficient acres to begin farming is also a barrier to entry. Some Amish people move to less-populated areas where land is cheaper in order to get a start in farming.

Amish man working in produce patch
Amish grow produce on small plots of land. An Amishman at work in Tennessee. Photo: Don Burke

As an alternative to dairying, produce farms can be operated on as little as a few acres, as compared to the 60-80 that dairies typically require. Produce farming is labor-intensive rather than mechanized, which suits the Amish well.

Some Amish may specialize in organic produce. Amish sell their produce at produce auctions, through co-ops and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and at roadside stands.

Another traditional crop, controversial in some Amish circles, is tobacco. Amish in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania community are best-known for raising tobacco, though it is cultivated in other communities as well. In recent years, some Amish have been drawn to hemp farming.

2. Home-based Businesses

Amish operate a variety of at-home businesses. There are generally two main categories – 1) manufacturers, and 2) retail sales.

The most common manufacturers are workshops producing wood products such as furniture or cabinets. Woodworking is Sawmills and pallet shops generally require lower levels of technology. These are especially favored by Amish with more restrictive church rules.

Signs advertising country store and other Amish businesses
Amish operate a wide variety of home enterprises. Signs for three different businesses can be seen in this photo from a Kentucky community. Photo: Don Burke

Amish people also operate bulk foods and bent-and-dent (salvage food) stores, horse-related businesses like buggy and harness shops, and repair businesses focusing on engines, shoes, and other common everyday products. Some Amish businesses cater to the tourist industry. Certain companies, in particular some larger Amish furniture makers, generate a large income for their owners.

Amish men are almost always the primary breadwinners for their families. That said, Amish women run businesses as well, for example quilting, baking, and craft enterprises. Dry goods stores or fabric shops are often operated by Amish women. Money earned by Amish women may supplement a family’s income, or in rare cases may even be the primary source of earnings.

3. Mobile & Remote Amish businesses

A number of Amish businesses operate away from home. Amish carpentry crews do work on homes in distant locations, sometimes even two hours away. Amish companies may do general contracting work, or subcontracting.

Some Amish specialize in masonry, siding, or roofing work, or may do landscaping or build decks. Amish construction firms do both commercial and residential building, and do remodeling work as well.

Amish men working on a construction project
Amish builders construct homes and other structures for both non-Amish and Amish clientele. Photo: Don Shenk

Market stands are another popular Amish business, seen especially among Amish from Lancaster County.  Pennsylvania Dutch or “Amish” markets may be located in or near highly-populated areas such as Philadelphia or Baltimore. Amish market stands typically sell foods such as baked goods, meats and cheeses, crafts, and furniture. Amish families may travel up to two hours one-way, several times per week, to run their stands.

4. Factory Work

In some Amish settlements, such as Geauga County, Ohio, and Elkhart and Lagrange Counties in Indiana, a large number of Amish make a living by working in factories.

For example, many recreational vehicles factories are located in northern Indiana Amish communities of Elkhart & LaGrange Counties, and Nappanee. Work in RV factories is the most common occupation among Amish men in these areas.

Amish man with drill working in factory
An Amish man labors in an RV plant. Factory work is the main source of employment for men in northern Indiana.

Amish factory workers can make a substantial income. However, work away from home in non-Amish settings is seen as less than ideal by some Amish. Reasons include exposure to worldly influences, repetitive nature of the work, high levels of disposable income, and working hours.

5. Part-time (“Sideline”) Businesses

Amish may operate part-time or “sideline” businesses in addition to a main job in order to make extra money. Men may produce furniture in a small shop, or women may make quilts or operate a roadside stand at home.

Part-time businesses provide extra income for many Amish. Some sideline businesses become full-time occupations, like this Amish-owned saddle shop in Tennessee. Photo: Don Burke

On the whole, the Amish are quite entrepreneurial. Amish farmers themselves often have sideline businesses to supplement their dairy incomes. A part-time business may grow until it becomes an Amish person’s main occupation.

6. Other Amish Occupations

Some Amish work in less-common occupations. Often these are specialized trades that may serve the needs of a local community. Most larger Amish settlements have at least one Amish accountant, for example.

Some men provide auctioneer services for the numerous Amish auctions and sales that take place in their communities.  Other Amish offer taxidermy services to hunters.

You may come across the occasional Amish real estate agent, catering to his community. Occasionally Amish even offer health services, such as podiatric treatments, or gray-area basic dentistry, though these can be controversial.

Amish people make a living in many different ways

The Amish have always been an adaptable people. With the lack of affordable farmland – especially in certain larger communities – they have had to adjust in order to survive.

Amish make money today in a variety of jobs and enterprises, from at-home shops to small intensively-farmed produce operations to mobile work crews working in upscale developments. As the Amish population continues to grow, the variety of Amish occupations will continue to grow as well.

For more, see:


Common Questions about the Amish & Work

  1. Are most Amish farmers?
  2. What are typical Amish jobs?
  3. Do Amish women work?
  4. What are unusual Amish jobs?
  5. How do Amish get to work?

working-with-team

Are most Amish farmers?

No. In fact, nowadays it’s probably safe to say that most Amish are not farmers. While dairy farming remains a valued profession, the price of land and large families have compelled Amish to develop expertise in other fields. Woodworking, construction, manufacturing and retail sales are important industries for the Amish. Read about typical Amish businesses.

What are some typical jobs Amish do? 

Home construction, crafting furniture, machine and engine repair, food stands, factory work, produce farming, raising livestock, small retail stores such as bulk foods and variety stores, auctioneering, and craft making/sales are among the jobs you’ll find Amish men and women doing.

Do Amish women work?

Yes. Besides their work as mothers, Amish women are tasked with running the household, which involves preparing meals, readying the home for church and other visits, planting and tending the garden, canning and processing food, and many other tasks.

But quite a few Amish women take on additional jobs to generate an income as well–whether it be quilting in the home, running a roadside stand, baking, or operating a food stand at a Pennsylvania Dutch market. However, men are expected to be the primary earners in Amish homes.

What are some unusual Amish jobs?

There are quite a few atypical jobs – casket maker, CNC technician, strip miner, beekeeper, book rebinding, railroad work, nursing assistant, granola manufacturer, and chiropractor are among jobs Amish list as their occupations in church directories. Read more.

How do Amish get to work?

Amish who work for a local employer may walk or ride a bicycle or scooter to their workplace. Those who work at a more distant location, such as at a Pennsylvania Dutch market in a city, or for a construction company where job sites change regularly, will be taken to and from work by a hired driver or non-Amish employee with access to a motor vehicle.

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    27 Comments

    1. Quantella Owens

      Amish and Mining

      Hi All,

      Just curious, do Amish mine? I mean, I have never heard of an Amish miner? Is there a religious reason why Amish might not be allowed to work underground?

      Thanks,

      Quantella Owens

      1. Amish underground

        Quantella, I’m not aware of any Amish miners today, though Amish in Holmes County Ohio apparently once worked in the area’s strip mines. Holmes locals can fill in details better than I, but those are mostly if not all a thing of the past. Not quite the same as an underground mine, but for what it’s worth. There are no religious reasons stopping Amish from working underground.

      2. bakers needed for farmers market

        I am looking for any Amish to sell their bakery at our new farmers market in Jefferson wi. Do have any info as to who I may contact. Thank you

        1. Sara Mae Miller Tyler Ross

          We are amish from middlefield ohio and have connections to other amish from Indiana to new york. If you wanna call us at 330-212-0551 we can schedule something with amish in your area to see if.they would be willing to have bake goods sold. 🙂 330-212-0551

    2. Angela

      Amish worker

      Hi Erik,
      Can you tell me how can I hire Amish workers and do you know if there are any Amish who do construction near johnstown pa

    3. Barb

      Custom crafters/woodworking for hire?

      Will Amish craftsmen do custom jobs for hire? How would I find a woodworker to make an jewelry holder like a picture I have? If possible, I would like to find one in the Viroqua/Westby area. Thanks for any input.
      Barb

      1. Barb many Amish craftsmen do custom jobs. Here is a list of Wisconsin furniture shops. https://amishamerica.com/amish-furniture-wisconsin/

        Most are non-Amish retailers, who might be able to arrange a custom job. Alternatively you can visit a community near your area and simply ask. That will take more time but probably more fun.

    4. Ana

      What are the controversies within the Amish community with working outside of the community?

      1. Ana, briefly, it has to do with being away from the home (whether working on say a construction crew, or at an off-site market in or near a city), which cuts into family time, as well as sometimes places Amish in worldly environments.

        Some Amish find these arrangements acceptable, others do not.

    5. jim frey

      Amish wood product manufacturers

      Looking for Amish wood product manufacurers in OH or KY

    6. Raco

      So the Amish are dependent of money, like us? Does that mean that if the modern economy around them collapses, they are in trouble? I thought that they were farming in order to collect food and eat it, not in order to sell it to get money, so they can buy food to someone else who produces food (which is what farmers do in modern societies). They may be much more modern than I thought, if they work for money, instead of working to produce the things they need.

      1. Actually, it is in most cases both, not either-or. Though some Amish are more self-sufficient than others at least in food production, they’re generally dependent on numerous ways on the modern economy. Many if not most Amish do a good bit of canning, for example. Here is more on the question of self-sufficiency, answered by an Amish man in Pennsylvania: https://amishamerica.com/how-self-sufficient-are-the-amish/

        1. Raco

          Thank you, Erik. I learned something. Here in France we know very little about the Amish.

    7. Dianne

      Here in Missouri!

      The Amish operate many puppy mills – I find that shocking! Apparently dogs/puppies are considered livestock by them and their care is deplorable. I really thought more of them than that. Care to defend/explain?

      1. Puppy mills=bad.

        No, not really. Used to get into this, but it’s a lose-lose topic.

        It always seems to bring out the ugliest side of people. I don’t mean your comment Dianne, but if you knew some of the nasty, vulgar comments I’ve had to delete 🙂

        But…if you’re truly interested feel free to use search box on this site to find my and others’ previous comments and posts on puppy mills.

        So I’ll just sign off with: if you see a bona fide puppy mill, English or Amish-owned, report it.

    8. Sanya

      Carpentry

      Do Amish carpenters have issue with teaching non-Amish women or women as a whole about Carpentry. I have a great interest in learning about it and the quality of woodwork done by the Amish is Beautiful.

    9. carmelo furgiuele

      Donation!!!!

      I have two manual knitting machines that I would like to donate. I also have a circular sewing machine (electric) for sweaters to be donated. There are in very good working order!!! If somebody is interested please answer to this e-mail address. Thank you

    10. Astrid G

      Amish working hours

      Recently, we purchased wooden playground equipment from an Amish company. When it was being installed, the workers mentioned that they would remove the old equipment and reinstall it elsewhere, if there was time before it got dark. Do they have restrictions on working after dark? Or is it just practicality ( not wanting to use electric lighting and wanting to get home while it’s not too dark)?

      1. That was probably just about practicality Astrid. If need be, Amish people get work done when the sun’s gone down (or has yet to rise–just ask an Amish dairy farmer 🙂 ).

    11. lee

      Amish Puppy Mills

      How could you write this article and not mention the Amish Puppy Mills?

      http://www.citizensagainstpuppymills.org/pmamish.php

      1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

        "Puppy Mill" Omission

        I feel that indirectly the questioned raised is answered broadly in this statement:

        “Amish earn money in a variety of ways

        Amish have always been an adaptable people, and with the lack of affordable farmland, they have had to adjust in order to survive. Amish make money today in a variety of occupations, from at-home shops to small intensively-farmed produce operations to mobile work crews working in upscale developments.”

        ‘Puppy Mills’ are a touchy subject at the best of times, regardless of the faith of the operators, and Erik/Amish America omitted subject, most likely because it had either been covered elsewhere or depending on the date of the entry, would be discussed later, as this is an older posting.

        1. Yes, search the term in the search box and you’ll find a number of posts on this site on that sad topic.

          I’ve noticed there are commenters who seem to roam the internet and leave puppy mill comments on articles, sometimes on ones that have nothing to do with the subject other than they include mention of the Amish (we get them on random posts on the AA Facebook page for example). This one at least is somewhat related.

          Usually I ignore them because they are often little more than drive-thru spamming, and you’re probably not going to get a thoughtful discussion out of it.

          But Lee if you’re still here, you can also check out our most recent post of a few weeks ago on the topic: https://amishamerica.com/colorado-amishman-plans-dog-business-locals-fear-puppy-mill/

    12. Jeff Coleman

      Factory workers

      I am looking for about 10 dedicated and reliable employees who wish to earn a good wage with great benefits. My plant is within an hours drive of the Carrol County TN Amish communities.

      Do you have any advise on how to make contact with the folks?

      1. Amish factory workers

        Hi Jeff, the most feasible and best way is probably face-to-face. The distance may be a little far, and factory work while being common in some communities is not a regular thing in others.

        But you might try approaching the Amish in that settlement and see what response you get. I’d recommend driving over and simply visiting a business, introducing yourself, striking up a friendly conversation and then explaining what you do and that you’re looking for workers and maybe asking the business owner for his advice/help as to how to spread the word (and/or simply if he thinks there might be interest in his area). I’m assuming the labor force is not unionized, which if it were, would not fit with the Amish.

        It’s a small Amish population in Carroll County (there are technically 2 small settlements in the county, one partially in the county with the rest living in Weakley County) and I don’t know much about the typical occupations there.

    13. Marjorie Wright

      Donation

      Are these still available ?? And if so Please send me more information on how to get them. Thank You

    14. Chuck Olmstead

      La Plata Missouri

      Erik..are there many Amish in and around La Plata Missouri?

      1. Ken Pack

        LA Plata

        Several generally smaller churches around La Plata and surrounding counties.