Jobs in the Forestry Industry: Career Options and Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to have a career in the forest industry. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and prospects to find out if this is the career for you.

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Foresters and forestry technicians manage forests across the country. Their work is important in the conservation of national forests and they work to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem, whether in secluded, rural forests, or in the heart of urban centers.

Essential Information

Many options exist for those wishing to pursue a career path within the forest industry. Some of those include becoming an education forester, a forest technician or an urban forester. The most common degree these professionals have within their career is a bachelor's degree in forestry or related field.

Required Education Associates degree in forestry or related field
Other Requirements Bachelor's degree for most jobs common
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% for conservation scientists and foresters
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $60,650 for foresters

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options in the Forestry Industry

Conservation Education Forester

Workers in this profession usually teach children, students, and other adults about issues related to forestry and conservation. Some focus on forestry conservation efforts within certain regions. Others may provide more global information about conservation programs and the forestry industry in general. Conservation education foresters can teach in formal classes, but some may also lead field trips into forested areas.

Forest Technician

The majority of people in this field work with professional foresters and other conservation scientists. Forest technicians spend some of their time gathering samples of trees, soil, water, and other materials. They also observe forested regions and record what they see, such as animal migrations, tree growth, and human movement. Some technicians help set up campsites, build roads through forested locations, identify trees to be cut down, and participate in fire control measures. Many technicians also verify that people adhere to state and federal rules related to forestry or environmental concerns.

Urban Forester

Instead of working in forests, urban foresters work in cities and monitor the trees in those locations. Several factors affect tree growth in urban locations, such as pollution, insects, and contaminants in the water. Urban foresters frequently take samples to check if these or any other factors are damaging local trees. Professionals usually present their findings to city planners or other city workers. Urban foresters may recommend ways to improve the local environment and maintain optimal tree health.

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Forestry Industry Career Information

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers generally require forestry technicians to hold associate degrees related to forestry, and many employers require conservation education foresters and urban foresters to possess bachelor's degrees in fields related to forestry or conservation science. Some states require that foresters register or hold licenses. While requirements vary by state, a 4-year degree is a common requirement, as is sitting for an exam.

Undergraduate courses in forestry programs usually cover topics such as land and resource measurements, forest protection, timber harvesting, soil science, geographic information systems, watershed management, and ecosystems. Some programs require students to participate in field research, which could include collecting data in forests or other locations.

Employment Outlook

Records from the BLS indicate that between 2014 and 2024, employment of forest and conservation workers will increase by 4%.

During that same ten-year period, employment of foresters and conservation scientists in general is predicted to grow by 7%, per the BLS. Public employers are expected to offer better job opportunities than private employers, and federal jobs are expected to be more plentiful than state or local government jobs, especially in the Southwest.

Salary Statistics

As of May 2015, information reported to the BLS showed that foresters in general earned an average salary of $60,650. The top paying states for this occupation included Louisiana, California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Alaska. The states that employed the greatest number of forest and conservation technicians in May 2015 were California, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Foresters and forestry technicians work outdoors, so physical stamina, especially in extreme weather, is a must for this profession. They must think critically and use their education and experience to properly maintain forests and protect the environment.

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