What Do Foresters Do?
Foresters spend a great deal of their time outdoors managing the abundant natural resources found in the woodlands. They monitor the growth, harvest and health of trees, but their work isn’t confined only to lumber management. Foresters also study water and wildlife as part of their career. They look for problems caused by insects and disease and help ensure that forests remain healthy and productive for future generations. Foresters may also have the role of firefighter, surveyor or educator and take on responsibilities related to those positions.
Foresters Skills and Abilities
As a forester, you will use critical thinking and communication skills on a daily basis. Yours is the task of monitoring and collecting data, alongside interpreting, understanding and sharing the information you gather from the natural world. You will need to have a knowledge of the laws that govern the management of forest lands, and you will need to work with others to ensure that guidelines and laws are kept. An understanding of mathematical concepts, such as arithmetic, geometry and statistics, is required for this career. Foresters spend a great deal of time educating the public about conservation, so effective oral communication skills come in handy.
You will spend much of your time as a forester in observation. Monitoring lands, trees and forest nurseries will be part of your responsibilities. You will also help determine methods of harvesting timber with minimum waste and damage to the environment. Foresters are responsible for developing and implementing plans for the use of resources, always keeping in mind the health and longevity of the environment. Your teams will be looked to for advice on agricultural methods, public education programs and conservation efforts. You may also be called upon to help with fire suppression or terrain mapping. Some foresters even negotiate contracts with outside entities for the clearing, maintenance and preparation of forest lands.
Foresters Tools and Technology
You will likely use two very different sets of tools and technology as a forester. While outdoors, you will need to operate:
- All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs
- Bucket trucks
- Chain saws
- SprayersThese tools will aid you in caring for the land professionally and according to modern standards of conservation. When your job takes you inside the office, you can expect to use a variety of computer technology and software, such as:
- Analytical software, such as forest yield software or vegetation simulators
- Map creation software, such as ESRI ArcGIS
- Inventory management software, such as Forest Metrix software or Fountains Forestry TwoDog
- Calendar and scheduling software
Education and Training for Foresters
In order to begin in this career, you will need a Bachelor’s degree. Consider programs such as the following to prepare you for the field:
- Forest Management/Forest Resources Management
- Urban Forestry
- Forest Sciences and Biology
- Natural Resources Management and Policy
Many experienced foresters move into an office setting and focus on education and management later in their careers. Nearly 20% of individuals with this career seek out advanced degrees to further their knowledge and prepare themselves for their occupations.
The salary range for this profession is broad. The median national salary for foresters is $58,800, annually. The top ten percent of those in this position make an average of $85,800, while the lower ten percent brings home $37,700, on average. Connecticut, California and Iowa top the list for highest average salaries.
Foresters Jobs by Geography
Nationally, demand for this occupation is increasing at six percent per year. California, Kentucky and New Hampshire have the most growth in this area. The majority of foresters are employed by the government, although some work for private lumber or water entities.