Career and Job Search Guide

Forestry, Conservation and Logging

Forests are full of natural resources, areas of natural beauty, and great places to recreate in. Many people work in forests harvesting and managing natural resources. Workers specializing in conservation plant seeds to replenish trees cut for lumber and develop methods to prevent soil erosion. Workers specializing in logging cut down trees to use for wood products.

Workers specializing in forest conversation devote their time and energy to conserve the natural environment. Some, known as tree planters, plant seeds to replenish trees cut down. Workers specializing in conservation also remove trees destroyed by disease and eradicate insects that destroy trees. Those working in the private sector, are supervised by professional foresters. These conservationists examine trees and assist in coordinating controlled burns. Those employed by state and local governments clear trails and camping areas of debris.

Forest nurseries also hire forest workers to sort tree seeds and get rid of unproductive seeds.

Certain workers are employed by tree farms planting and cultivating numerous trees. Their duties depend on what type of tree farm they work at. Employees at specialty farms, for example, farms where Christmas trees are grown, shear limbs to manage growth and alter the shape of trees, plant seeds, and use insecticides to eradicate insects that negatively affect tree growth.

Some forest workers collect tree products from forests, including tree cones, moss, barks, and decorative greens. Other forest workers collect tree saps to use in chemicals or syrups.

Loggers work in teams to cut and move trees. A team usually consists of one or two tree fallers, cutting down trees, a bucker, cutting fallen trees into logs, a couple of logging skidder operators, moving trees to a loading deck, and an equipment operator, loading trucks with logs to transport.

Fallers, often referred to as tree fallers, use portable power chain saws to cut trees down. Buckers also use chain saws to cut fallen trees into logs of various lengths. Choke setters place steel cables, known as chokers, around logs which are moved by tractors, or heavy machinery known as a yarding systems, to loading areas where lumber is separated and placed into trucks to be transported. Rigging slingers operate the yarding systems. Chippers, markers, and log sorters separate logs by size and tree type and operate large wood chippers.

Loggers specializing in heavy equipment usage cut down trees and then prepare logs to transport. Additionally, they operate tractors or skidders, machines designed to move logs, to transport lumber to loading docks, as well as grapple loaders, machines that lifts heavy pieces of lumber. Some equipment specialists working in lumber processing facilities move lumber with forklifts. Certain equipment specialists must receive additional training since newer technology is equipped with the latest computer technology.

Scalers and log graders determine log volume and whether the lumber will be suitable to sell. These professionals enter data which can be accessed from a centralized computer system.

There are a variety of other workers employed in the logging industry. Logging professionals determine whether cutting in forests is feasible, prepare areas for logging, and some specialize in regenerating areas cleared by logging.

The majority of logging professionals work for contractors with significant logging experience, money to purchase the necessary machinery, and the ability to successfully manage a small business. Contractors usually supervise their employees, sometimes operating the equipment. Some contractors supervise multiple crews.

Logging is still very dangerous and physically exhausting even though new technology has improved safety and efficiency. Logging professionals perform unskilled tasks such as moving logs by hand, and skilled tasks such as operating equipment. In order to decrease expenses, many logging professionals are trained to repair equipment, so logging professionals usually have many responsibilities.

Work environment. Working in logging can be physically exhausting since loggers spend all day outside, occasionally in bad weather. Using enclosed equipment has diminished uncomfortable working conditions in poor weather and work hazards. Loggers in rural western areas and northern Maine, often have long commutes to work sites. Some logging areas in Maine and Alaska have housing located onsite. In the populated East and South, loggers have shorter commutes.

Logging professionals lift and move heavy loads, but technology has made the job easier. Falling trees and operating heavy equipment pose a major safety hazard. Loggers must be extremely cautious while working in windy, muddy, and slippery conditions. Loggers also encounter poisonous snakes and plants. Loggers must wear hearing protection equipment, hardhats, eye protection, boots, and proper clothing for safety.

Forest and conservation specialists have safer jobs than loggers. However, forest workers are sometimes required to hike long distances across the woods to complete their tasks.