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Trees are very important to us. They provide us with oxygen, they produce food for humans, animals, and insects, they keep the Earth anchored down with their deep-reaching roots. Silviculturists are the people who look after our trees, specifically, the trees in our forests. They attempt to control forest regeneration, composition, growth, and quality. Specially trained in identifying disease and pests, they help keep the trees on our planet healthy and growing. The trees may be monitored for conservation reasons, or because they are cash crops, or used for recreation purposes. The silviculturist keeps the trees living for environmental as well as economic reasons.

All forest land is monitored and managed by silviculturists, regardless of whether it is privately or publicly owned. Therefore, they can be employed by governments, or work for logging companies, or environmental organizations. Silviculturists have a good understanding of the role of crowding, light, and systems of harvesting and replanting to regenerate forests. They may care for the trees through careful pruning, diagnosing and treating pest invasions, and by fertilizing trees when necessary. Their work may be focused on tree removal, or tree planing. They may also give public talks on tree health. They may also research for lumber companies, environmental protection associations, or various government agencies on forestry practices and tree disease, or make suggestions about possible areas to cut for sale.

Silviculturists work along side many people. Therefore, they need to have good communication skills; they need to be able to explain complex scientific information in a way that everyone can understand.

Silviculturists also need to be in good shape, as the job can call for a lot of dangerous and challenging roles. Silviculturists may need to climb trees, use heavy equipment, and carry large heavy branches. The days can be long, tiring, yet fulfilling.
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Concordia University - Portland

Online Learning at Concordia University–Portland

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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career as a silviculturist? You need a love of nature, trees in particular. You should be strong, agile, and undaunted by hard work. You need to be comfortable with heights, power tools, ladders, and ropes. A good balance of ecology and economics will benefit you if you want to work in logging or lumber sales. You should be analytical, willing to take time to sort out a problem and find the right solutions. You should be comfortable working with a team, and following orders. You should have good communication skills, a level head, and be able to work well even under pressure.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan and develop budgets for tree maintenance
  • Evaluate trees for disease and pest problems
  • Monitor logging practices
  • Evaluate ecological conditions
  • Fertilize trees
  • Calculate the monetary value of trees
  • Prune trees, often from high up among the branches
  • Develop and present tree health seminars to schools and community groups
  • Depending on their area of expertise, a silviculturist's day will be divided between time indoors and outdoors, alternately doing research into tree care and tree illness, as well as inspecting forests, implementing health care initiatives, and looking for possible areas for lumber production. This can include tree climbing, branch trimming, and felling diseased trees, as well as meeting with company and government representatives. The job allows for plenty of hard work outdoors, as well as some administrative duties, and allows for the possibility of community outreach.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Silviculturists are employed by a variety of organizations, including parks departments, tree care service firms, and logging companies.
  • They spend some time indoors, in offices, but most of their active work time is spent outdoors in forests, working with all kinds of trees. They use dangerous power tools and powerful chemicals. The job entails some lifting, twisting, and climbing.
  • They may work regular hours, unless there has been an emergency, like a flood or severe wind storm, when the silviculturists work longer hours.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Silviculturists can always get more training, and become increasingly educated in different aspects of tree care and health. They can become supervisors of other silviculturists. They may become arborists, working in cities, or open tree nurseries, gardening shops, or publish articles and write books about tree and woody plant care. They can also train to work as landscape architects or landscape architectural technicians, or find other types of work in the logging industry.

  Educational Paths  
In order to work as a silviculturist, some postsecondary education is encouraged. Courses in horticulture, arboriculture, plant science, forestry, economics, and business are offered at universities and colleges throughout the country. Some of the programs offer co-op courses, combining study with work experience.

Silviculturists may be required to pass a certification exam before actively working, and some regions require special certification for those silviculturists who work on trees near power lines. The training program you choose to enroll in will let you know the specific requirements for working as a silviculturist in your area.

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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