What is a Forest and Conservation Worker?

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

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What does a Forest and Conservation Worker do?

Forest workers typically do the following:

  • Plant seedlings to reforest land
  • Clear away brush and debris from camping trails, roadsides, and camping areas
  • Count 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.

What does it take to be a Forest and Conservation Worker?

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.

What is the workplace of a Forest and Conservation Worker like?

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.

How much does a Forest and Conservation Worker earn?

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.

Learn more about being a Forest and Conservation Worker