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Forestry Careers


There are a wide variety of career paths in the forestry industry, with options such as operating heavy equipment, managing large stands of timber, even working as a research scientist.

This web page is designed to help you explore the options that are best for you, with information on job types, educational requirements and additional resources to get you started on your career path.



A career in the forestry industry can be what you want it to be, with a variety of areas of interest and qualification requirements. Below are some of the most common job types in the forestry industry, along with information about on-the-job training, vocational training and educational requirements.


Manage forested lands for economic, recreational and conservation purposes. As a forester, there are a variety of specialized positions focused on restoration, conservation, timber harvesting, procurement or managing protected areas, such as state and national forests. These jobs are available in the state, federal, private and industrial sectors.

  • Education Needed: Bachelor's degree
Technical Forester

Provide technical assistance in planning, conducting and evaluating a number of forestry activities, including timber sales, reforestation and conservation. Generally, a technical forester works alongside or under the supervision of a forester. These jobs are available in the state, federal, private and industrial sectors.

  • Education Needed: Associate degree
Research Forester

Develop, lead, and conduct collaborative research projects across a wide range of forests and provide science-based information and guidelines to operational foresters. Most jobs are available in federal, private and industrial sectors.

  • Education Needed: Bachelor's degree
Wildland Firefighter

Focus primarily on the prevention, detection, suppression and pre-suppression of forest fires. During times of low fire danger, wildland firefighters may perform additional technical forestry services. These jobs are available in the state, federal, private and industrial sectors.

  • Education Needed: High school diploma
Equipment Operator

Drives or controls a variety of equipment used in harvesting, reforestation, fertilization, forest release spray, or road maintenance. Types of equipment that may be operated include bulldozers, backhoes, excavators, skidders, log loaders, feller bunchers, graders, planting tractors, and rake tractors. These jobs are available in the state, federal, private and industrial sectors.

  • Education Needed: High school diploma, additional vocational training available
Mill Operations

Control various machines involved in the pulp and paper or lumber manufacturing process.  Tasks may include woodyard management, paper machine maintenance, managing pulping process, managing sawing process and lumber grading. These jobs are available mostly in the industrial sector. 

  • Education Needed: High school diploma for production jobs, college degree for higher-level positions like engineers and technicians
Truck Driver

Transportation of goods using large trucks, such as tractor-trailers or dump trucks. In the forestry industry, drivers may haul logs, transport forestry equipment, deliver material for forest roads or transport finished products from a mill. Most forestry related truck driver jobs are in the private and industrial sector.

  • Education Needed: High school diploma + Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
GIS Manager

Manages Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and how they are connected to other computer systems within a forestry company. The GIS manager is responsible for the continual improvement of the company's GIS⁠—making sure to keep up with changing technologies and meeting the business needs. A GIS Manager usually leads a team of GIS Technical Analysts.

  • Education Needed: Bachelor's or Master's Degree
GIS Technical Analyst

Works with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which hold information about the land and trees a forestry company manages. A technical analyst will pull data from the GIS system and provide it in the form of spreadsheets, reports, paper maps, digital maps, etc. The analyst will also provide GIS support and training to foresters and serve as a technical resource to foresters and other employees in the company. 

  • Education Needed: Associate or Bachelor's degree

Educational Requirements

There are forestry career options for all levels of education. Many positions in the industry require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, such as a number of forestry-related heavy equipment operator jobs. Other more specialized positions, such as a log truck driver, require that you receive certification through a vocational program.

There are also degree-level job positions in the forestry industry. A forester requires a four-year bachelor's degree. Some positions require additional education, such as research forester, which typically requires a master's degree. Below are some of the schools that offer vocational and college-level educational programs relating to forestry.

U.S. Colleges
School of Forest Resources & Conservation
Campus Location:
Gainesville, Florida
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Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources
Campus Location:
Athens, Georgia
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College of Natural Resources
Campus Location:
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Clemson University Forestry and Environmental Conservation
Campus Location:
Clemson, South Carolina
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School of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Campus Location:
Tifton, GA
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Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture
Campus Location:
Nacogdoches, Texas
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School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Campus Location:
Auburn, Alabama
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College of Forest Resources Forest and Wildlife Research Center
Campus Location:
Mississippi State, Mississippi
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College of Forestry
Campus Location:
Corvallis, Oregon
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School of Renewable Natural Resources
Campus Location:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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U.S. Vocational Schools
Forestry Management Technology Program
Campus Location:
Conway, South Carolina
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Timber Harvesting Equipment Program
Campus Location:
Chiefland, Florida
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Forestry Technology
Campus Location:
Waycross, Georgia
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GIS Technician, Commercial Vehicle Driving and Fire Fighting programs offered
Campus Location:
Yulee and Jacksonville, Florida
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AEST Forestry Specialist Certification
Campus Location:
Gainesville, Florida
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New Zealand Forestry Education
UC School of Forestry
Campus Location:
Christchurch, New Zealand
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Forestry Courses
Campus Location:
Multiple Locations in New Zealand
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Resources for Forestry Careers

National Organizations

National Alliance of Forest Owners

NAFO is a national advocacy organization committed to advancing federal policies that support privately-owned, sustainably-managed forests. It eductaes the public and leaders on the long-term benefits of forests from economic, social and environmental perspectives.

North American Forest Partnership

NAFP is spearheading a collaborative communications effort for the forest sector in the U.S. and Canada. Best known for its hashtag, #forestproud, it's on a mission to build trust and pride in the sector.

National Association of State Foresters

NASF serves state foresters throughout the U.S. and focuses on national-level legisaltion, policies and partnerships in the industry. For students, this is a great resource to keep up with the latest forestry issues and news and includes a job board for state and national forestry careers.

National Forest Foundation

NFF is focused on promoting the health and enjoyment of America's national forests and grasslands. The organization's website is a good place to learn about various conservation studies and initiatives. NFF also awards a number of grants each year.

Society of American Foresters

SAF is one of the larger organizations for professional foresters. Its focus is on sustainable forest management, education and moving the field of forestry forward. It offers certification and educational programs and hosts networking events. SAF also has students chapters at most forestry schools.


State Forestry Associations

State forestry associations are another great resource for state-specific data and initaitives. The following are associations Rayonier works with:

Alabama Forestry Commission

AFC's mission is to protect forests, serve and help landowners to carry out responsible forest management, and to educate the public about the importance of forests in both the economy and the environment.

Florida Forestry Association

FFA brings together those who grow and those who use Florida’s forests with a mission is to promote the responsible and sustainable use of Florida’s forest resources. Its goals are to foster regulatory, economic, and social climates that allow the forest community to thrive.

Georgia Forestry Association

GFA is an advocate for forest landowners, forest product manufacturers and forestry-related businesses, focused on ensuring the long-term sustainability of Georgia forestry. It promotes the value of Georgia's working forests and forest industries and strives to educate leaders about responsible forest management practices and landowner rights.

Louisiana Forestry Association

LFA promotes the health and productivity of Louisiana's forests with an emphasis on sustainable forestry. It informs the public about the industry, helps private landowners learn best practices in forest management and reforestation, and educates public school students about wise forest use.

Oklahoma Forestry Association

OFA champions the value of healthy forests and encourages the use of high ethical standards within the industry. It encourages the wise use of all forest-related resources and works to develop public appreciation for the aesthetic, environmental and economic value of Oklahoma's forests.

Oregon Forest & Industries Council

OFIC represents more than 50 Oregon forestland owners and forest products manufacturers and works with policy makers, community leaders and advocacy organizations. It promotes the industry's important role in delivering economic and environmental benefits whie balancing the sustainable use of forest resources.

Oregon Forest Resources Institute

OFRI promotes environmentally sound forestry practices through educational and training programs. Created by the Oregon legislature, it also champions collaboration between forest scientists, public agencies, community organizations, conservation groups and land owners. 

Texas Forestry Association

TFA promotes a climate that advances forestry economically, socially and politically. It uses education, policial action and public relations to promote a better understanding of forest conservation practices throughout the state.


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