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How to Prepare for a Career in Forestry

Been thinking about becoming a forester?  Wondering what it takes to start a career in forestry?  We've put together this five step guide to help you explore the career and put yourself in the best position to get hired.   Our guide has been adapted from this resource:  How To Become A Forester.


High school students may prepare for a career as a forester by taking courses in: biology, physical education, mathematics, English, physics, chemistry, and earth science.  Students who love the outdoors and physical tasks as well as possess strong communication skills often find success in a career as a forester and may advance to formal training programs.

An associates degree in forestry technology consists of courses in: forest ecology, wildlife habitats, land and forest measurements and statistics, timber stand management, forest protection, forest products utilization, land surveying, boundary surveying, construction surveying, and topographic surveys.  Students use classroom learning, technology, and field experiences to gain entry level jobs as foresters upon completion of certification requirements, or advance to higher degrees.  A bachelor degree with courses in: wood anatomy, soil science, timber management, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, forest ecosystem science, forest resources management, environmental microbiology, forest and shade tree pathology, forest biometrics, silviculture, introduction to soils, forest entomology, nature resource managerial economics, forest mensuration, and timber management, prepares students to specialize training in forest operations and restoration, or forest resources management. Students advance to internship programs to complete a bachelor degree and gain employment as foresters.

A master of science degree in forestry offers students the opportunity to expand educational and career opportunities.  Students participate in specialized courses in: ecosystem analysis, forest pathology and mycology, fishery biology, political ecology, agroforestry, forest molecular genetics, ecological engineering in the tropics, photogrammetry, paper properties, forest ecosystem science and applications, forest and natural resources policy, recreation resources management, forest hydrology, watershed management, ecotourism and wilderness management, and resources and environmental economics.  A seminar in environmental and forest biology and completion of a masters thesis allows students to complete a graduate program and work as expert forestry managers upon meeting licensing requirements.

A doctoral degree in forest technology allows students to expand specialized training in: environmental impact assessment, watershed hydrology, ecosystems science and applications, ecosystem science and applications, forestry related climate effects, forest and natural resources policy, ecotourism and wilderness management, and environmental economics.  Students complete a laboratory field experience and publishable dissertation before advancing to careers as researchers or professors in the field of forestry.

Foresters must meet certification and licensing requirements as determined by state and facility regulations.  Mandatory safety and training licensing examinations are administered by the National Department of Resources and individual state licensing forestry boards.  The Society of American Foresters (SAF) offers voluntary certification for foresters who meet educational and work experience requirements.  

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