What Is a Forestry Technician?

Research a career as a forestry technician. Learn about education requirements, job responsibilities, salary and job growth to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Forestry Technician?

Forestry technicians work under the supervision of foresters gathering information on woodland conditions and wildlife, carrying out conservation projects and monitoring the use of forest resources. They spend most of their work-time outside. Their goal is to sustain and preserve the wildlife and natural resources of our forests, which in turn helps keep the ecosystem flourishing and healthy.

The following chart gives you an overview of this career.

Degree Required High school diploma; associate's degree sometimes required
Education Field of Study Forestry, forestry technology or related field
Key Skills Documentation, mapping technology, field testing and assessment skills
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -5.7% (for forest and conservation technicians)
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $38,260 (for forest and conservation technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Would I Have as a Forestry Technician?

As a forestry technician, you journey into rangelands and forests in order to examine trees for evidence of disease or bug-created damage. Your other duties include spraying brush and trees with herbicides, surveying access roads and property lines, analyzing soil characteristics, measuring logs, locating wildlife habitat areas and helping to contain forest fires. You might select spots for tree thinning and control the growth of weeds both manually and through the use of chemicals. Additionally, you distribute timber and fire permits, oversee operations in logging companies and enforce environmental protection regulations.

What Are My Educational Requirements?

If you'd like a career as a forestry technician, you should acquire at least an associate's degree or a high school diploma with experience in the field, depending on the employer. College classes cover statistics, physical geology, trigonometry, historical geology, macroeconomics, forest inventories, wood properties and identification, hydrology, forest soils and surveying. A forest resource management curriculum at this level should also discuss botany, forest measurements, silviculture, geometry, logging and marketing.

Some 2-year degrees can be applied toward bachelor's degree programs at universities, which may make you a more competitive job candidate. You should major in forestry or forest resource management and ensure that your program of study includes laboratory and hands-on instruction. To enroll, it is helpful to have a background in physics, computer technology, mathematics and chemistry.

A bachelor's degree-granting forestry program might include such courses as natural resources economics, forestry field practices, fire management, soil science, forest plant pathology, biology, chemistry laboratory and wildlife habitat management. The curriculum may also touch upon tree biology, forest ecology, forest practices, speech communications and wildland recreation.

What Are the Work Conditions?

Many forestry technicians work outdoors, in rural or isolated locations or in national and state forests. However, some now study specific trees in cities and urban areas. You may perform your work duties alone or you may work as part of a team of forestry workers.

Because much of your work is performed outdoors, you can expect to experience extreme weather conditions, bug stings and bites. You may also work with potentially hazardous equipment and chemicals. You wear special uniforms--including gloves and hardhats--to combat environmental issues.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 73% of forestry technicians work for the federal government and earn an average of $38,260 a year. Those who work for state government take home an average of $36,780 a year. The electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry employs a small number of forestry technicians who earn an average annual salary of $59,740, the highest in the field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those looking for entry-level work in the forestry business may consider jobs in logging or grounds maintenance, where training is provided on the job in lieu of formal education. Loggers mainly cut down trees and separate the wood, while grounds maintenance workers, also referred to as landscapers, clean up and uphold public and private terrains. With a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, one can become a forester or conservation scientist. These professionals manage various areas of land, such as parks and forests, and strive to improve them.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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