The median annual wage of forest and conservation workers was $23,900 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $16,730, and the top 10% earned more than $44,780.
Forest workers typically need a high school diploma. Most get on-the-job training as they help more experienced workers. They do routine, labour-intensive tasks, such as planting or thinning trees. When the opportunity arises, they learn from experienced technicians and forest workers who do more complex tasks, such as gathering data.
Training programs for forest workers are common throughout the US. These programs, which typically take place in the field, encourage the health and productivity of a country’s forests through national programs such as the Sustainable Forest Initiative in the U.S.. Some vocational and technical schools and community colleges offer courses leading to a two-year technical degree in forest management technology, wildlife management, conservation, and forest harvesting. Programs that include field trips to watch and participate in forestry activities provide a particularly good background.
Forest workers typically work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations and in all types of weather. However, the increased use of machines has reduced some of the discomfort of working in bad weather and has made tasks much safer. Forest workers use proper safety measures and equipment, such as hardhats, protective eyewear, and safety clothing. They typically work for provincial, state, or local governments or on privately owned forest lands. Those employed by forest management services may work for the federal government on a contract basis.
Most forest workers’ jobs are physically demanding. They may have to walk long distances through densely wooded areas. Most are employed full time and have a routine work schedule. Seasonal employees may be expected to work longer hours and at night. Responding to an emergency may require workers to work longer hours and at any time of day.