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Become A Lumber Grader

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Working As A Lumber Grader

  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People
  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Lumber Grader Do

Logging workers harvest thousands of acres of forests each year. The timber they harvest provides the raw material for countless consumer and industrial products.

Duties

Logging workers typically do the following:

  • Cut down trees
  • Fasten cables around logs to be dragged by tractors
  • Operate machinery that drag logs to the landing or deck area
  • Separate logs by species and type of wood and load them onto trucks
  • Drive and maneuver feller–buncher tree harvesters to shear trees and cut logs into desired lengths
  • Grade logs according to characteristics such as knot size and straightness
  • Inspect equipment for safety, and perform necessary basic maintenance tasks, before using the equipment

The cutting and logging of timber is done by a logging crew. The following are examples of types of logging workers:

Fallers cut down trees with hand-held power chain saws.

Buckers work alongside fallers, trimming the tops and branches of felled trees and bucking (cutting) the logs into specific lengths.

Tree climbers use special equipment to scale tall trees and remove their limbs. They carry heavy tools and safety gear as they climb the trees, and are kept safe by a harness attached to a rope.

Choke setters fasten steel cables or chains, known as chokers, around logs to be skidded (dragged) by tractors or forwarded by the cable-yarding system to the landing or deck area, where the logs are separated by species and type of product.

Rigging slingers and chasers set up and dismantle the cables and guy wires of the yarding system.

Log sorters, markers, movers, and chippers sort, mark, and move logs on the basis of their species, size, and ownership. They also tend machines that chip up logs.

Logging equipment operators use tree harvesters to fell trees, shear off tree limbs, and cut trees into desired lengths. They drive tractors and operate self-propelled machines called skidders or forwarders, which drag or transport logs to a loading area.

Log graders and scalers inspect logs for defects and measure the logs to determine their volume. They estimate the value of logs or pulpwood. These workers often use hand-held data collection devices into which they enter data about trees.

A logging crew might consist of the following members:

  • one or two tree fallers or one or two logging equipment operators with a tree harvester to cut down trees
  • one bucker to cut logs
  • two choke setters with tractors to drag felled trees to the loading deck
  • one logging equipment operator to delimb, cut logs to length, and load the logs onto trucks

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How To Become A Lumber Grader

Most logging workers have a high school diploma. They get on-the-job training to become familiar with forest environments and to learn how to operate logging machinery.

Education

A high school diploma is enough for most logging worker jobs. Some vocational or technical schools and community colleges offer associate’s degrees or certificates in forest technology. This additional education may help workers get a job. Programs may include field trips to observe or participate in logging activities.

A few community colleges offer education programs for equipment operators.

Training

Many states have training programs for loggers. Although specific coursework may vary by state, programs usually include technical instruction or field training in a number of areas, including best management practices, environmental compliance, and reforestation.

Safety training is a vital part of logging workers’ instruction. Many state forestry or logging associations provide training sessions for logging equipment operators, whose jobs require more technical skill than other logging positions. Sessions take place in the field, where trainees have the opportunity to practice various logging techniques and use particular equipment.

Logging companies and trade associations offer training programs for workers who operate large, expensive machinery and equipment. The training program often culminates with a state-recognized safety certification from the logging company.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Logging workers must communicate with other crew members so that they can cut and delimb trees efficiently and safely.

Decisionmaking skills. Logging workers must make quick, intelligent decisions when hazards arise.

Detail oriented. Logging workers must watch gauges, dials, and other indicators to determine whether their equipment and tools are working properly.

Physical stamina. Logging workers need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly.

Physical strength. Logging workers must be able to handle heavy equipment.

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Lumber Grader Demographics

Gender

Male

77.6%

Female

15.1%

Unknown

7.2%
Ethnicity

White

70.0%

Black or African American

11.0%

Hispanic or Latino

9.0%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Carrier

25.0%

Vietnamese

25.0%

Lumber Grader Education

Schools

Lane Community College

7.5%

University of Phoenix

7.5%

Rogue Community College

7.5%

Montgomery Community College

5.7%

Linn-Benton Community College

5.7%

Clackamas Community College

5.7%

Peninsula College

5.7%

Southwestern Community College

5.7%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

5.7%

Angelina College

5.7%

Mountain Empire Community College

3.8%

Lewis-Clark State College

3.8%

Washington State University

3.8%

West Virginia University

3.8%

Georgia Southern University

3.8%

Clover Park Technical College

3.8%

Davis & Elkins College

3.8%

Liberty University

3.8%

Troy University

3.8%

West Virginia University at Parkersburg

3.8%
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Majors

Business

22.6%

General Studies

7.3%

Automotive Technology

6.5%

Precision Metal Working

5.6%

Drafting And Design

4.8%

Forestry

4.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.8%

Computer Information Systems

4.0%

Information Technology

4.0%

Criminal Justice

4.0%

Liberal Arts

4.0%

Management

3.2%

Psychology

3.2%

Computer Science

3.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.2%

Communication

3.2%

Property Management

3.2%

Education

3.2%

Fine Arts

2.4%

Accounting

2.4%
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Degrees

Other

42.8%

Associate

23.3%

Bachelors

18.1%

Certificate

12.1%

Masters

1.9%

Diploma

1.9%
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Top Skills for A Lumber Grader

  1. Safety Meetings
  2. Production Reports
  3. Hardwood Floors
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Attended monthly safety meetings to ensure machine operation safety.
  • Lumber mill position assigning quality grades to individual pieces of lumber.
  • Received a benchmark evaluation from GE Generator management, a ranking in the top 10% of the factory employees.
  • Inspected and graded stock lumber according to standards, while checking for defects such as decay and pitch pockets.
  • Inspected and graded milled, rough-sawed lumber according to NHLA lumber rules.

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Top Lumber Grader Employers

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