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Working as a Forest Worker

What Does a Forest Worker Do

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests. Under the supervision of foresters and forest and conservation technicians, they develop, maintain, and protect forests.

Duties

Forest and conservation workers typically do the following:

  • Plant seedlings to reforest land
  • Clear away brush and debris from trails, roadsides, and camping areas
  • Count and measure trees during tree-measuring efforts
  • Select or cut trees according to markings, sizes, types, or grades
  • Spray trees with insecticides and fungicides to kill insects and protect the trees from disease
  • Identify and remove diseased or undesirable trees
  • Inject vegetation with insecticides and herbicides
  • Help prevent and suppress forest fires
  • Check equipment to ensure that it is operating properly

Forest and conservation workers are supervised by foresters and forest and conservation technicians, who direct their work and evaluate their progress.

Forest and conservation workers perform basic tasks to maintain and improve the quality of the forest. They use digging and planting tools to plant seedlings and power saws to cut down diseased trees.

Some forest workers work on tree farms or orchards, where they plant, cultivate, and harvest many different kinds of trees. Their duties vary with the type of farm and may include planting seedlings or spraying to control weed growth and insects.

Some forest and conservation workers work in forest nurseries, where they sort through tree seedlings, discarding the ones that do not meet standards. Others use hand tools or their hands to gather woodland products, such as decorative greenery, tree cones, bark, moss, and other wild plant life. Some may tap trees to make syrup or chemicals.

Forest and conservation workers who are employed by or under contract with state and local governments may clear brush and debris from trails, roads, roadsides, and camping areas. They may clean kitchens and restrooms at recreational facilities and campgrounds.

Workers with a fire protection background help to suppress forest fires. For example, they may construct firebreaks, which are gaps in vegetation that can help slow down or stop the progress of a fire. In addition, they may work with technicians to determine how quickly fires spread and how successful fire suppression activities were. For example, workers help count how many trees will be affected by a fire. They also sometimes respond to forest emergencies.

How To Become a Forest Worker

Forest and conservation workers typically need a high school diploma before they begin working. Most workers get on-the-job training.

Education

Forest and conservation workers typically need a high school diploma and a valid driver’s license before they begin working. Some vocational and technical schools and community colleges offer courses leading to a 2-year technical degree in forestry. The programs typically offer courses in forest management technology, wildlife management, conservation, or timber harvesting. Programs that include field trips to watch and participate in forestry activities provide particularly good background knowledge.

Training

Entry-level forest and conservation workers generally get on-the-job training as they help more experienced workers. They do routine labor-intensive tasks, such as planting or thinning trees. When the opportunity arises, they learn from experienced technicians and foresters who do more complex tasks, such as gathering data. Workers also learn safety procedures, including how to operate equipment safely and how to maintain safety gear.

In addition, some states require that crews and individuals receive training, and sometimes a license, in the use of commercial pesticides. For more information, consult states’ Departments of Agriculture.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Forest and conservation workers must convey information effectively to technicians and other workers.

Decisionmaking skills. Forest and conservation workers must make quick, intelligent decisions, especially when they face dangerous conditions.

Detail oriented. Forest and conservation workers must watch gauges, dials, or other indicators to determine whether equipment and tools are working properly. Workers must follow safety procedures with precision.

Listening skills. Forest and conservation workers must give full attention to what their superiors are saying. They must understand the instructions they are given before performing tasks.

Physical stamina. Forest and conservation workers plant trees and repeatedly perform a variety of physical tasks. They also must be able to walk long distances through densely wooded areas and carry heavy equipment with them.

Advancement

To advance their careers and become forest and conservation technicians or foresters, forest and conservation workers usually need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field.

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Average Salary$24,456
Job Growth Rate-3%

Forest Worker Jobs

Average Salary for a Forest Worker

Forest Workers in America make an average salary of $24,456 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $27,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $21,000 per year.
Average Salary
$24,456

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range21k - 31k$26k$26,046
Salary Range21k - 30k$26k$25,510
Salary Range22k - 26k$24k$24,053
Salary Range20k - 23k$22k$21,721
Salary Range19k - 23k$22k$21,602
$19k
$31k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Forest Maint Worker
Forest Maint Worker
City of Seattle
City of Seattle
03/27/2020
03/27/2020
$64,19603/27/2020
$64,196
Forest Worker
Forest Worker
Arbormetrics Solutions
Arbormetrics Solutions
12/22/2019
12/22/2019
$50,08812/22/2019
$50,088
Forest Worker
Forest Worker
Utilities Service, LLC
Utilities Service, LLC
12/21/2019
12/21/2019
$50,08812/21/2019
$50,088
Forest Worker
Forest Worker
Confidential
Confidential
08/31/2019
08/31/2019
$41,69808/31/2019
$41,698
Forest Workers
Forest Workers
Future Harvest Forestry Service, LLC
Future Harvest Forestry Service, LLC
09/21/2016
09/21/2016
$27,13109/21/2016
$27,131
See More Recent Salaries

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Forest Worker Demographics

Gender

male

60.5%

female

37.2%

unknown

2.3%

Ethnicity

White

72.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.9%

Black or African American

4.7%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Portuguese

100.0%
See More Demographics

Forest Worker Education

Degrees

High School Diploma

33.3%

Associate

27.8%

Bachelors

22.2%

Top Colleges for Forest Workers

1. Duke University

Durham, NC

Tuition and fees
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

Tuition and fees
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708

3. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

Tuition and fees
$9,816
Enrollment
21,047

4. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN

Tuition and fees
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

5. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Tuition and fees
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

6. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA

Tuition and fees
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

7. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Tuition and fees
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

8. University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD

Tuition and fees
$10,595
Enrollment
30,184

9. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

10. University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Tuition and fees
$11,207
Enrollment
30,905

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Forest Worker

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Best States For a Forest Worker

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a forest worker. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Forest workers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $28,919. Whereas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, they would average $26,154 and $26,088, respectively. While forest workers would only make an average of $25,964 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Alaska

Total Forest Worker Jobs:
0
Highest 10% Earn:
$34,000
Location Quotient:
0
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Rhode Island

Total Forest Worker Jobs:
0
Highest 10% Earn:
$34,000
Location Quotient:
0
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Forest Worker Jobs:
18
Highest 10% Earn:
$35,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Forest Worker Employers

1. Progressive
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$45,203
Forest Workers Hired: 
20+
2. Alpha
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$42,219
Forest Workers Hired: 
17+
3. Williams & Associates
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$41,287
Forest Workers Hired: 
6+
4. Progressive Roofing
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$35,131
Forest Workers Hired: 
5+
5. HONGKONG SUN RISE TRADING
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$40,890
Forest Workers Hired: 
5+
6. Sierra
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$53,372
Forest Workers Hired: 
5+

Recently Added Forest Worker Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020