I frequently get employment, career and job questions on forestry and becoming a forester or forestry technician. Just how do you begin a forestry career or find a job with a conservation organization or company? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest employer of forestry personnel is state and federal government. However, the government is not the only source for forestry employment.
The forest products industry is a very large employer and routinely hires foresters, forestry technicians and forestry workers throughout the United States and Canada. They usually hire foresters to work on company lands or to purchase wood for their mills.
There are also forestry consultants . I got my first start in forestry as an employee of a large consulting forestry firm who generally works for anyone needing forestry assistance. They do it all, either for a flat fee or a percentage of the sale of timber.
How to Become a Forester?
A professional forester has a minimum of a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in forestry. This degree has to be earned at an accredited forestry school and is usually a minimum entry-level requirement for becoming either a registered or licensed forester in many states, or to become a Certified Forester by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). Foresters are being trained and hired all over the world. Much of what a forester learns is in addition to formal training (see more on what a forester needs to know ).
Foresters spend considerable time outdoors the first years of their careers. Typical entry-level responsibilities might include measuring and grading trees, evaluating insect outbreaks, conducting land surveys, working in an urban park, evaluating water quality, fighting wildfires, managing prescribed fires, laying out a road system, planting seedlings, and plan recreational use of forestlands.
Many foresters manage forested property or purchase timber from timbered lands. An industrial forester may procure timber from private landowners. Doing this entails contacting local forest owners, quantifying the inventory, and appraising the timber's worth.
A forester may have to deal with loggers, aid in road layout, and make sure the work meets landowner requirements. He also must deal with state and federal environmental specifications to qualify for types of cost-share practices or maintain appropriate site quality.
Foresters who work for state and federal governments manage public forests and parks and also work with private landowners to protect and manage forest land outside of the public domain. They may also design campgrounds and recreational areas. A consulting forester hangs up his own shingle and privately assists people and organizations that need forestry help (see more on what a forester does ).
After several years of on-the-ground experience and crew supervision, foresters typically advance to preparing reports, public relations, and managing budgets. Many foresters become top executives in public agencies, conservation organizations, and corporations. Others become consultants offering specific forestry services and skills that they develop as they gain experience and knowledge.
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