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Forester Career

Career Description

Foresters manage forested lands for economic,  recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber’s worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine the best time for harvesting. Develop forest management plans for public and privately-owned forested lands.

Common Work Tasks

  • Draw up plans to regenerate forested lands,  monitor their progress, and supervise harvests
  • Choose and direct the preparation of sites on which trees will be planted
  • Oversee controlled burning and the use of bulldozers or herbicides to clear weeds, brush, and logging debris
  • Advise on the type, number, and placement of trees to be planted
  • Buy timber, typically for a sawmill or wood products manufacturer, by contacting local forest owners and negotiating a sale contract
  • Take inventory of the type, amount, and location of all standing timber on the property
  • Conserve wildlife habitats and creek beds within forests, maintain water quality and soil stability, and comply with environmental regulations
  • Work with governments and private landowners to minimize the impact of fire on the forest

Other Job Titles

Foresters are also known by other titles, including:

  • Soil Conservationists
  • Range Scientists
  • Water Conservationists
  • Conservation Scientists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in forestry, biology, natural resource management, environmental sciences, or a related discipline is the minimum educational requirement for careers in forestry. In the Federal Government, a combination of experience and appropriate education occasionally may substitute for a bachelor’s degree, but competition for jobs makes this difficult.  Foresters who wish to do research or to teach usually need an advanced degree,  preferably a Ph.D.

Many 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 with private industry. All schools encourage students to take summer jobs that provide experience in forestry or conservation work.

Foresters usually enjoy working outdoors, are able to tolerate extensive walking and other types of physical exertion, and are willing to relocate to find work.  They also must work well with people and have good communication skills.


The median annual salary of a Forester is $52,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $76,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $34,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of foresters are:

  • State Government - $48,870
  • Federal Executive Branch - $58,610
  • Local Government - $51,120
  • Sawmills and Wood Preservation  - $56,510
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services - $53,650

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  5%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 700
  • Employment 2006 : 13,000
  • Employment 2016:  14,000
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