Forestry Technician

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Forestry Technician


The forests in the US are vast, wide, and full of treasures. Many of these we leave alone in their natural state, but many of the treasures found in the forest need to be regulated, looked after, and harvested for a variety of reasons. Forestry technicians work within the logging and scientific communities, as they conduct and supervise forest inventories, surveys and field measurements using accepted scientific methods.

Forestry technicians work for governments and private companies, as well as research facilities, regulating forest activities. They coordinate activities such as timber scaling, forest fire suppression, disease or insect control or pre-commercial thinning of forest stands, supervise forest tree nursery operations and also assist in the preparation harvest plans as well as supervising operations involving site preparation, planting of young trees, or forest harvesting operations.

They work independently, or in a team under the supervision of foresters. They make sure that the trees in the nation's forests are healthy, maintained, and preserved. Their expertise in forest management is important, because without these careful, well-trained workers, the forests could fall prey to the greed of overcutting, pollution, and disease. Because of these forest workers, the vast stands of trees in America's wilderness are protected from disease as well as human activities for generations to come.
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  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Forestry technicians must be logical, methodical, and enjoy taking measurements and maintaining computer databases. They need good spatial and form perception for mapping and inspecting, good motor coordination and manual dexterity for working with instruments, and good communication and interpersonal skills for dealing with people. They should also be fit, willing and able to work alone, and mechanically-minded.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assist with reforestation, including working in nurseries and forests, site preparation, seeding and treeplanting programs, cone collection and tree improvement
  • Assist with fighting forest fires
  • Survey, measure and map forest areas and access roads
  • Assess the new forest growth of areas previously logged
  • Count and measure trees, list species and determine the amount of timber and other resources in an area
  • Design and lay out cut blocks
  • Keep records of the amount and condition of each load of logs
  • Inspect trees and collect samples of plants, seeds, foliage, bark and roots to record insect and disease damage
  • Assist in laboratory/field experiments with plants, animals, insects, diseases and soils
  • Supervise timber harvesting
  • Assist in log scaling (measuring log volumes)
  • Manage forest protection activities, including fire control
  • Issue fire permits, timber permits and other forest use licenses
  • Supervise land use activities such as livestock grazing and recreation activities
  • Supervise pipeline, seismic and mining operations, and oil and gas drilling sites
  • There are many, many tasks to be completed by forestry technicians, who spend each day monitoring forestry activities alongside both loggers and environmental scientists. Forestry technicians spend each day outdoors, as well as some time inside, writing up reports and communicating study findings with employers or coworkers. They travel around their community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Employed by government forestry departments, private companies that use forest products, and university and government scientific research centers, they work primarily outdoors performing tasks that are often strenuous. Some time is spent indoors, in offices, and labs dealing with paperwork, advanced planning, research, conducting experiments, analyzing data and writing reports.
  • Some work alone in remote locations. They may commute daily to forest sites or be routinely away from home for periods of a week or more, staying in small rural communities or in camps. Their work schedules can be long, with 12-16 hour shifts, depending on their assignment.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Forestry technicians can go on to work as forest rangers, conservation officers, or as loggers. They may become supervisors, land use planners, or become members of survey crews, reclamation crews, or the oil and gas industry. Forest technologists who have significant experience and appropriate qualifications may provide consulting services for companies in the forest products industry (lumber, pulp and paper, plywood, panelboard), various government departments or agencies, schools, technical institutes and universities, oil and mining companies, or power companies.

  Educational Paths  
Forest technicians are generally graduates of a two- or three- year forest technology program. In addition to this basic education, they often have experience working in the industry as a log scaler, timber cruiser, or with a tree-planting team. They also often study environmental science, geography, or biology in a postsecondary institution. In some regions, forestry technologists must be members of their Forest Technologists Association.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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