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Forest and Conservation Workers - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Advancement generally takes place by obtaining a bachelorís degree in forestry or related field. A bachelorís degree may also qualify candidates to become a forester.

Forest and conservation workers held about 12,900 jobs in 2008. About 58 percent of all forest and conservation workers work for government, primarily at the State and local level. Those employed in forest management services may work on a contract basis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. Self-employed forest and conservation workers make up around 1 percent of the occupation.

Although forest and conservation workers are located in every State, employment is concentrated in the West and Southeast, where many national and private forests and parks are located. Seasonal demand for forest and conservation workers can vary by region and time of year. For northern States, in particular, winter weather can interrupt forestry operations.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to experience average growth. Most job openings will result from the large number of workers who leave these jobs on a seasonal basis and from an increase in retirements.

Job Growth
Employment of forest and conservation workers is expected to grow 9 percent over the 2008-18 decade, as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for forest and conservation workers will increase as more land is set aside to protect natural resources or wildlife habitats. In addition, more jobs may be created by recent Federal legislation designed to prevent destructive wildfires by thinning the forests and by setting controlled burns in dry regions susceptible to forest fires.

Recent developments in Western forests may result in the conversion of unused roads into forestland, thus creating some new jobs. Additionally, increasing pressure from a growing number of stakeholders for the United States Forest Service to undertake major road repair may also result in higher levels of employment. Employment growth will, nonetheless, be largely determined by each of these programsí ability to obtain necessary funding.

Some opportunities will stem from employment growth, but most openings will arise from the large number of workers who leave these jobs on a seasonal basis and from an increase in retirements expected over the next decade. The best employment opportunities should continue to be in Maine, the Southeast, and the Pacific Northwest.

Employment of forest and conservation workers can sometimes be unsteady. During the muddy spring season and the cold winter months, weather often can curtail the work, depending on the geographic region.

In May 2008, median hourly wages of wage and salary forest and conservation workers were $10.98. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.98 and $14.75. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.02, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.04.

Many beginning or inexperienced workers earn the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as of July 24, 2009, but many States may set minimum wages higher than the Federal minimum.

Forest and conservation workers who work for State and local governments or for large, private firms generally enjoy more generous benefits than do workers in smaller firms.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Forestry is the art, science, and practice of studying and managing forests and plantations, and related natural resources. Silviculture, a related science, involves the growing and tending of trees and forests. Modern forestry generally concerns itself with: assisting forests to provide timber as raw ...more
Natural Resource Conservation
Conservation authorities are mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of water, land and natural habitats through programs that balance human, environmental and economic needs. Most management programs occur in parks known as conservation areas. ...more