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What Do Forester Do?

Career Description Manage public and private forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber’s worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine optimal harvesting schedules.

Life As a Forester: What Do They Do?

  • Plan and direct construction and maintenance of recreation facilities, fire towers, trails, roads and bridges, ensuring that they comply with guidelines and regulations set for forested public lands.
  • Provide advice and recommendations, as a consultant on forestry issues, to private woodlot owners, firefighters, government agencies or to companies.
  • Plan cutting programs and manage timber sales from harvested areas, assisting companies to achieve production goals.
  • Monitor contract compliance and results of forestry activities to assure adherence to government regulations.
  • Contact local forest owners and gain permission to take inventory of the type, amount, and location of all standing timber on the property.
  • Supervise activities of other forestry workers.

What a Forester Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Foresters say are important on the job.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Types of Forester

  • Resource Forester
  • Timber Management Specialist
  • Forest Supervisor
  • Operations Forester
  • Utility Forester

Job Opportunities for Foresters

In the United States, there were 12,300 jobs for Forester in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 4.9% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 600 new jobs for Forester by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 1,100 job openings in this field each year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Foresters in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Forester are Nevada, North Dakota, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Wyoming, Vermont, or South Dakota. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Forester Average Salary

Foresters make between $41,350 and $86,870 a year.

Salary Ranges for Foresters

Foresters who work in New Jersey, District of Columbia, or California, make the highest salaries.

How much do Foresters make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $65,230
Alaska $71,800
Arkansas $56,710
California $80,030
Colorado $61,890
Connecticut $72,010
District of Columbia $86,790
Florida $64,190
Georgia $54,590
Idaho $57,180
Illinois $68,570
Indiana $47,070
Iowa $64,840
Kentucky $47,680
Louisiana $69,890
Maine $52,850
Maryland $64,370
Massachusetts $76,810
Michigan $66,630
Minnesota $64,330
Mississippi $59,900
Missouri $50,180
Montana $57,960
Nebraska $61,530
Nevada $64,160
New Hampshire $64,920
New Jersey $76,760
New Mexico $52,740
New York $65,620
North Carolina $63,610
North Dakota $55,760
Ohio $61,990
Oklahoma $49,390
Oregon $70,660
Pennsylvania $66,170
South Carolina $61,430
South Dakota $54,850
Tennessee $55,610
Texas $64,740
Vermont $65,170
Virginia $59,940
Washington $69,720
West Virginia $57,640
Wisconsin $55,810
Wyoming $60,980

What Tools & Technology do Foresters Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Foresters may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Microsoft Access
  • Data entry software
  • IBM Notes
  • Geographic information system GIS software
  • ESRI ArcView
  • Work scheduling software
  • Mapping software
  • ESRI ArcGIS software

How to Become a Forester

Education needed to be a Forester:

Forester Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Forester?

Forester Work Experience

Where Foresters Are Employed

Forester Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Forester Industries


Image Credit: Lynn Betts via Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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