More Answers From Forestry Professionals
Forestry Salary Facts
$49,528 – $102,266
Job Growth (Proj.)
5% Per Year
Forestry Salary Overview
What is the Average Salary in Forestry?
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of conservation scientists and foresters was $60,970 in May 2017. Salaries vary depending on location, type of employer, years of experience, and a variety of other factors. You may earn more money by obtaining a master’s degree or working in the private sector, but those jobs are far fewer in number. Over 59% of conservation scientists and 53% of foresters work in the public sector at either the federal, state, or local levels.
How much you earn also depends on what career you choose and where you live. Some areas of the country pay more due to demand and environmental conditions. Below is a map of the mean annual wage of foresters, with the highest paying states in blue (source: BLS.gov: Occupational Employment And Wages: Foresters, data for 2017).
Salaries of Common Forestry Careers
It is important to note that the median salary for the following careers can vary depending on several factors, including location, education, experience, and type of employer.
- Conservation Scientist: The median annual wage for conservation scientists was $67,760 in May 2020.
- Agricultural and Food Scientist: The median annual wage for agricultural and food scientists was $67,820 in May 2020.
- Firefighter: The median annual wage for firefighters was $50,850 in May 2020.
- Forest and Conservation Worker: The median annual wage for forest and conservation workers was $31,590 in May 2020.
- Environmental Educator: The median salary for environmental educators for secondary school teachers was $63,180.
- Park Naturalist, Interpreter: The median annual wage for recreational workers, including park naturalists, was $28,360 in May 2020.
- Natural Resources Policy Representative: The median salary for natural resources policy representatives was $68,430 in May 2020.
- Park and Recreation Management: The median annual salary was $62,850.
- Environmental Studies: The median annual salary was $63,420.
- Wildlife and Forestry: The median annual salary was $62,150.
- Horticulture: The median annual salary was $62,430.
- Biological Sciences: The median annual salary was $80,530.
- Fisheries and Wildlife Law Enforcement: The median annual salary was $57,710.
- Forester: The median annual salary was $62,050.
- Environmental Manager: The median annual salary was $92,810.
You can also work for private consulting firms, or the timber industry. Many industries look to hire forestry majors to provide assistance and advice to landowners. With the knowledge and skills acquired in a forestry degree program, you’ll know how to integrate biological, economic, and political considerations into land management decisions.
The BLS also reports that most employment growth is expected to be in state and local government-owned forest lands, particularly in the western United States. In addition, continued demand for American timber and wood pellets is expected to drive employment growth for conservation scientists and foresters. And finally, BLS reports that due to an older workforce in the field, they expect higher than average rates of retirements within forestry and environmental management careers in the next few years.
What Is The Employment Outlook For Foresters And Conservation Scientists?
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of conservation scientists and foresters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, similar to the average for all occupations.
The map below illustrates the employment of conservation scientists by state (source: BLS.gov: Occupational Employment And Wages: Conservation Scientists, data for 2017).
The largest concentration of foresters are, unsurprisingly in heavily forested areas of the country. That includes west coast states like California, Oregon and Washington, and eastern states like Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
How Degree Level Impacts Salary in Forestry
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. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a bachelor’s degree tend to earn approximately 40% more than those with just a high school diploma. In comparison, individuals with a master’s degree often earn about 20% more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
The good news is that bachelor and graduate-level degrees in forestry are plentiful, and there are many colleges and universities are now offering online degrees. With an associate’s degree, you qualify for entry-level employment in a variety of settings. By contrast, 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.
How Credentials Impact Forestry Salaries
Many of the highest salary careers in forestry require, in addition to the proper degree level, certain additional credentials in order to gain an initial foothold in the career. Two of the most important additional credentials are internships and networking. Internships and networking are often paramount to employment in many fields, and forestry is no exception. Securing an internship while taking forestry classes is a great way to network with forestry professionals while gaining experience in the field. In addition, networking with other forestry professionals, provides you the opportunity to develop a professional reputation and create a source for professional recommendations, which are often key in getting your career started.
You can find internship listings on general job sites or through your school’s career center. Your professors might also know of openings in your area. These opportunities are not always easy to come by, so you’ll need to be proactive in your search. In terms of what credentials are most important, 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.
What Our Experts Say About Forestry Salaries
I’d say probably on the lower end for entry level folks you might be looking at or somewhere around $40,000 a year. But I mean, that can go well past six figures depending on the field you’re in. If you’re an environmental consultant, for instance, even entry level, you could be making $80 or $90,000 a year.
Outside the federal government, the area where you’ll get paid the most is environmental compliance, where you’re hired as a consultant … that wants to make sure that they’re following NEPA or certain laws by the government or state.
Starting out, you’re looking at low end $30,000 to $45,000. Mid-level between $40k and $50k to $55k. It just depends on the company and depends on the position. But I’ve seen as high as $140,000.