Individuals who are employed in the forest and conservation field perform a variety of functions relating to the conservation of timberlands and maintenance of forest facilities such as roads and campsites. Forest and conservation technicians plant and remove trees, compile data characterizing forest tracts, and provide technical assistance on conservation of natural resources. These tasks are all performed under the supervision of a forester, who is responsible for the overall management of a particular parcel of forested land.
Forest and Conservation Programs
Generally, forest and conservation workers need a high school diploma. Since many forest worker positions provide only seasonal employment during the warm weather periods, students are often employed to perform short-term labor intensive tasks.
The Society of American Foresters accredits dozens of associate degree programs in forest technology. These forest and conservation programs are offered at technical and community colleges and a number of them are designed to provide easy transfer to a 4-year college or university. Technician training is generally offered at technical institutes although the type of training typically includes less theory than that offered at technical or community colleges.
The length of programs at technical institutes varies, although certificate programs lasting one year and associate degree programs lasting two years are most common. Some schools offer cooperative-education programs or internships which allow students the opportunity to work locally while attending classes. Participation in such programs can significantly enhance a student's employment prospects.
Forest and Conservation Worker Schools
Students who would like to continue on in their education to become foresters are encouraged to attain a bachelor's degree in forestry. The following forestry schools offer degrees in forestry and are accredited by the Society of American Foresters:
- Purdue University: This university located in Indiana offers bachelor's degrees in forestry and sustainable biomaterials.
- The University of Alaska: The Fairbanks campus of this state university offers a bachelor's degree in natural resource management.
- The University of Georgia: The Warnell School of Forest Resources offers a bachelor's degree in forestry, in addition to a bachelor's degree in natural resources recreation and tourism.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at this university offers a bachelor's degree with a concentration in resource conservation and restoration ecology.
- The University of Maine: Bachelor's degree students at this state university in Orono can major in forestry, as well as ecology and environmental sciences.
Forestry Education Requirements
When hiring forest and conservation technicians, employer preferences vary in terms of educational qualifications. Many employers prefer job candidates to have at least one or two years of specialized training. Some favor candidates with an associate degree while some others prefer a bachelor's degree.
The forestry education requirements for foresters vary by state, but in general, both licensing and registration require completion of a 4-year degree in forestry and a period of forestry work experience. In addition, licensure usually requires candidates to take and pass a comprehensive written exam.
Many foresters pursue certification as a means of professional advancement. The Society of American Foresters certified foresters who have at least a bachelor's degree from one of its accredited programs (or from a forestry program that is substantially equivalent); five years of qualifying professional experience; and who are able to pass a qualifying examination.
Resources for Forestry Workers
- American Forest & Paper Association
- Forest Resources Association, Inc.
- USDA Forest Service
- National Resources Conservation Service
- National Association of Environmental Professionals
- National Park Service
- The National Forest
- U.S. Forest Service
- Society of American Foresters
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Conservation Scientists and Foresters, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/conservation-scientists.htm
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forest and Conservation Workers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/forest-and-conservation-workers.htm
- Purdue University, https://ag.purdue.edu/fnr/Pages/undergrad-grad-programs.aspx
- The University of Alaska, http://www.uaf.edu/snras/forest_sciences/
- The University of Georgia, http://www.warnell.uga.edu/
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://academics.aces.illinois.edu/majors/nres
- The University of Maine, https://nsfa.umaine.edu/