Logging Scaler Technician

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Logging Scaler Technician


Log scalers play an important part in the life of the nation's logging industry. These are the experts who measure sawn logs in the forest, on the wharf, on trucks, or at sawmills. They look at the dimensions of entire loads of wood or individual logs, and check to ensure it meets the client's or company's requirements. Log scalers determine the volume and quality of timber. They decide if a log is worth selling, and they also determine the log's worth. Their job is crucial to the industry.

While the logging industry is getting increasingly technical, log scaling is essentially simple. Once they have graded, measured, and scaled a log, they use an ax and cut a notch in the log to determine the condition of the wood, and mark the end of the log with paint to show its grade.

Log scaling plays a very important and significant role in meeting the needs of both government and industry. And it is a practice that has evolved since the forests of the US have been harvested for timber. Today a scaler must be proficient in the use of increasingly sophisticated software applications, and must also be able to meet the needs of industry's competitive markets. Scalers must be honest, careful, and dedicated to doing a good job a scaler's decision about a log can make (or cost!) a logging company thousands of dollars.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as a log scaler? Logging scalers must be physically fit, enjoy long hard days of labor. They should like working outside, and have good math skills. They need manual dexterity, as well as good eyesight. Logging scalers should also enjoy figuring out problems, and should be methodical and careful in their approach to tasks.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Drive to sawmills, wharfs or skids in the forest
  • Measure felled logs at skids, wharfs or sawmills
  • Perform a variety of measurements such as log weight, girth and length
  • Identify the grades of logs by looking at features such as knot size and straightness, and whether they are pruned or unpruned
  • Identify any logs that do not meet customer specifications so they can be regraded or recut
  • Mark the logs with the mark(s) specified by the client or employer
  • The typical day for a log scaler starts early in the morning, and involves rugged work, long, hard hours, and lots of mental work. Though they use mechanical tools and computers to estimate size and weight of logs, it is still up to the log scale technician to determine the final value and destination of each log. There are plenty of opportunities to work outdoors, as well as travel around the forests and mills of the community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Log scalers work regular workweeks, but usually start their days early in the morning. They work for logging companies, wood, timber, and pulp production companies who use logs for various products, government agencies, and conservation/forestry departments. They work alone or in the company of loggers. They work over water, in the forests, in mills, and fly over coastal areas in light aircraft. Log scaling is seasonal work, with peak periods in the summer and fall.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Log scalers can go on to become supervisors, loggers, or manage a logging operation. Some may choose to work with conservation and forestry departments, and work as forestry technicians or forest rangers.

  Educational Paths  
People generally either take a course on log scaling from a school, college, or through a log scaling association or else they train on the job under the guidance of a seasoned scaler. Courses might get you into the workforce faster. They can last anywhere from a few days to 10 weeks, and cover history, math, concepts, theory, and practical skills. Some theory sections of courses are offered by correspondence, with communication with the instructor over the phone or via email.

Vocational and technical schools and some community colleges, offer courses or a 2-year degree in general forestry, wildlife, conservation, and forest harvesting. A curriculum that includes field trips to observe or participate in forestry or logging activities provides a particularly good background.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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