|Be A Forester - Required Training|
This is the first of a three part feature on becoming a forester. Of all the professions, forestry may be the most misunderstood of the lot. Many kids and adults asking me about becoming a forester haven't a clue that it takes a four year degree. The stereotypical picture is of a job spent in the forest, or in fire towers, or hunting and fishing and saving campers lost in the wilderness. I want to put a more realistic face on the profession of forestry.
A bachelor's degree in forestry is the minimum educational requirement
for professional careers in forestry. In the Federal
Government, a combination of experience and appropriate education
occasionally may substitute for a 4-year forestry degree, but job
competition makes this difficult. Still, for industrial
employment or becoming a registered forester, you must have a degree.
SAF approved curriculums stress science, mathematics, communications skills, and computer science, as well as technical forestry subjects. Just loving working in the woods is not a very good reason for becoming a forester (although it should be considered a necessity). You have to like scientific course study and be willing to develop your science skills. Foresters generally must enjoy working outdoors, be physically hardy, and be willing to move to where the jobs are. They must also work well with people and have good communications skills. You probably ought to realize as well that you may work your way out of the woods as you gain more experience and knowledge.
Desirable electives include economics, wood technology, engineering, law, forestry, hydrology, agronomy, wildlife, statistics, computer science, and recreation. Forestry curricula increasingly include courses on best management practices, wetlands analysis, water and soil quality, and wildlife conservation, in response to the growing focus on protecting forested lands during timber harvesting operations. Prospective foresters should have a strong grasp on policy issues and on the increasingly numerous and complex environmental regulations which affect many forestry-related activities.
Most colleges require students to complete a field session either in a
camp operated by the college or in a cooperative work-study program with a
Federal or State agency or private industry. All schools encourage
students to take summer jobs that provide experience in forestry or