Are you interested in the natural environment? If so, a degree in forestry might be for you. There are several career paths you can take with a forestry degree, and in most areas of the United States, workers in this field are in demand due to rising interest and investment in the environment.
- Types of Forestry Careers
- Salary and Job Outlook Information for Foresters and Conservation Scientists
- How Education Affects Your Income
- How to Find a Job in Forestry
- Overview of related Forester and Conservation Science Degree Programs
Types of Forestry Careers
The forestry field is made up of foresters, forest technicians, forest product workers, and forestry consultants, all working together to ensure the natural environment is being preserved, even in harvesting situations. Some of the types of specific jobs you could do in this field include:
- Education: Teaching others about the natural forest environment
- Forest Ranger: Keeping people safe as they visit forests and reporting on forest conditions
- Firefighting: Managing and controlling fires in the forest
- Preservation and Rehabilitation: Making sure the natural habitat is not harmed and is restored when necessary
- Land Management: Overseeing the management of land owned by production companies
- Policy Making: Working to create regulations and laws involving the forest environment
Salary and Job Outlook Information for Foresters and Conservation Scientists
As of 2012, the average annual salary for foresters was $59,060, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a relatively specialized field, with about 34,000 workers, but new jobs opening every day. In general, this field is expected to grow by about 6 percent over the next decade. However, government projections also show that a large number of foresters, especially those working for the government in various roles, as expected to retire in the coming years, which means a lot of jobs will be opened up for newcomers in this field. In addition, related jobs, like environmental scientist and biologist are also sometimes open to those with a forestry degree, depending on your specific education and experience.
How Education Affects Your Income
If you want to have better job security and a higher salary, it’s important to obtain a good education. As the trend typically goes, the more advanced degree you have, the more money you’ll earn. The good news is that bachelor and graduate-level degrees in forestry are plentiful and there are many colleges and universities offering online degrees.
With an associate’s degree, you qualify for entry-level employment in a variety of settings. Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be trained to assume more advanced positions such as a conservationist, wildlife protector, and environmentalist, just to name a few. With a graduate-level degree, can you pursue managerial and leadership roles that utilize your skills and talents in exchange for a bigger paycheck.
While you’re in school, you might want to consider applying for an internship to gain experience and to network with other forestry professionals. Internships serve as a bridge between school and work and as a recruitment process for permanent staff positions. Some colleges and universities help students with their internship search. Faculty advisers often have connections with local businesses that are interested in hiring students for summer or part-time employment.
If you’re not exactly sure what area of forestry you want to work (state, federal, industry, consulting, or academic), meet with your academic adviser to learn more about the opportunities available to you. Perhaps you can shadow a variety of professionals to gain an understanding of a typical work day while making connections in the field. Taking on part-time employment over the summer or between semesters will help build your resume and earn money while you’re at it.
How to Find a Job in Forestry
Internships and networking are often paramount to employment in many fields, including forestry. As noted above, securing an internship while taking classes is a great way to network with forestry professionals while gaining experience in the field. You can find internship listings on general job sites or through your school’s career center. Your professors might also know of openings. These opportunities are not always easy to come by so you’ll need to be proactive in your search.
To give you an idea of what the U.S. Forest Service agency is looking for when sourcing talent, visit their career page to view open positions. You can also visit your state’s website to learn more about state parks, park districts, and other recreational and protected areas that often hire forestry professionals. Our following section gives a brief overview of what you can typically expect with forestry degrees.
Featured Forestry Programs
Accreditation: HLC, NCA
- BS in Environmental Science
- BS in Environmental Science - Geospatial Technologies
- BS in Geosciences
- MBA in Sustainability/Environmental Compliance
Accreditation: HLC, NCA