Careers with a Forestry Degree


If you’re thinking about a degree in forestry, odds are you have a general, or maybe even quite specific, career path in mind already. If you don’t, there’s no need to worry; the skills and knowledge you’ll gain by pursuing this degree will serve as excellent preparation for a wide variety of forestry careers.


Forestry graduates go on to all sorts of exciting careers, for a wide variety of organizations. Some go on to become forest technicians, others forest engineers, while others still go all the way to executive management in organizations that manage forest lands, or distribute forest products.


You know what, some even go on to careers off the beaten path, becoming outdoor adventure guides!


Does the career you have in mind require the expertise that only a graduate degree can offer you? You’re covered there too; an undergraduate degree in forestry also serves as excellent preparation for advanced study in the various areas of Forestry, such as Forest Management, Forestry Business, Forest Biology and Forest Fire Science.


So, if you want to know more about where this degree can take you, read on below. This careers guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree.


Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other information related to these careers. We’ve also included forestry-specific scholarships to help you pay for school!



What a Forestry Degree Teaches You

Undergraduate forestry degree programs are meant to provide you with a core knowledge base that will allow you to become successful in a variety of careers in forestry.


A forestry curriculum is typically composed of courses that will provide you with a foundation and basic understanding of biology, mathematics, chemistry and statistics, as these will be important areas of knowledge to be familiar with prior to learning about issues in forestry.


Once a foundation in related sciences has been laid out, you can begin to explore issues directly related to forestry. At this point coursework and other work, such as lab and project-based work, will include lessons in forest ecology, inventory, water quality, wildlife habitat and the identification of tree species. Many Forestry programs also add lessons in computer applications such as geographic information systems (GIS) and resource assessment programs.


In order to become a successful forestry professional, you will have to understand how to develop, use, and communicate your knowledge for the purpose of sustaining and enhancing forest resources. For this reason, you are also taught how to integrate biological, social, political, economic, and historical considerations into forest management decisions.


The development of forestry professionals is extremely important, and undergraduate degrees in this field play a very pivotal role in their development. After all, forests are extremely important to our planet. Forest ecosystems supply our water, regulate our climate, help purify the air, protect soils and serve as habitat for wildlife.





List of Relevant Careers

The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying forestry at the university level serve as an excellent foundation for the following careers (not an inclusive list):



Community Planner

Conservation Officer



Forest Engineer

Forester / Forest Manager

Forest Technician

Forestry Consultant


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Land Manager

Natural Resource Policy Analyst


Outdoor Adventure Guide

Park Warden

Parks Planner

Procurement Forester

Public Relations Specialist

Range Manager

Soil Conservationist

University Professor

Wildlife Manager


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.



Who Hires Graduates? Where Might You Work?

A degree in this field can offer you a very unique skill set, one that is applicable to careers in forestry in the areas of land management, GIS operations, forest engineering, consulting, strategic management, academia, and everything in between!


Below are some examples of the types of organizations with which you might find work as a forestry grad:


• Government agencies (such as the Forestry Service and Natural Resources departments)

• Management consulting firms

• Land use consulting firms

• Timber producers, distributors and procurers

• Forest engineering firms

• Private land owners

• Outdoor recreation companies

• Utility companies

• Colleges and universities



Work Functions of Careers in This Field

Below are some examples of work functions you may find yourself responsible for performing, if you choose a career in the field upon graduation:


• Dealing with the development and care of forests

• Timber sale administration

• Performing fire, insect and disease control duties

• Working with biologists and conservationists

• Using prescribed fire to enhance wildlife habitat

• Managing urban tree resources for cities and municipalities

• Providing assistance and advice for private land owners

• Liaising with other forestry professionals with different specialties, such as engineers





Employable Skills of Graduates

Through coursework and hands-on work, a degree in forestry can provide you with a skill set and knowledge base that is unique to the major, and highly applicable to many careers in forestry. Below are some examples:


• Able to effectively communicate knowledge of forestry and related natural resources

• Knowledge in issues related to such resources as fishery, wildlife, soil and water 

• In-depth knowledge of forest ecology and forest management

• Able to apply knowledge of forestry topics to complex situations



Average Salary Levels of Graduates

The salary you could earn with a degree in this field varies based on a wide variety of factors, such as:


• The type, size, and budget of your employer

• The discretion of your employer

• Your level of education and experience

• Your level of certification (if applicable)

• The region in which you work 

• How much overtime you are able to work (if applicable)

• The amount of responsibility inherent in your position

• Your level of experience (it’s worth noting that people with several years worth of experience can often earn substantially in their profession more than what’s listed below)


The salary you could earn as a graduate of a forestry program is also highly dependent on the occupation you pursue. Below is an overview of the average earnings of people in a few career fields that are relevant to a degree in forestry. Please note however, that the salary information listed below is meant only to serve as a guideline. In many cases, workers in these fields can earn a much lower, or much higher salary, than what is listed below. 



Community Planner

Alberta: $96,293 (ALIS)

Canada: $95,100 (indeed)

United States: $61,254 (indeed)


Conservation Officer

Alberta: $70,214 (ALIS)

Canada: $51,049 (PayScale)

United States: $58,570 (BLS)



Alberta: $84,998

Canada: $69,637 (indeed)

United States: $65,804 (indeed)



Alberta: $93,349 (ALIS)

Canada: $106,426 (indeed)

United States: $49,080 (BLS)


Forest Engineer

Alberta: $99,194 (ALIS)

Canada: $70,536 (Glassdoor)

United States: $86,800 (BLS)


Forester / Forest Manager

Alberta: $94,273 (ALIS)

Canada: $64,928 (PayScale)

United States: $61,711 (BLS)


Forest Technician

Alberta: $63,945 (ALIS)

Canada: $51,000 (PayScale)

United States: $39,180 (BLS)


Forestry Consultant

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $75,504 (indeed)

United States: $66,279 (indeed)



Alberta: $77,090 (ALIS)

Canada: $41,206 (PayScale)

United States: $55,640 (BLS)


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS)

Canada: $54,636 (PayScale)

United States: $43,340 (BLS)


Natural Resource Policy Analyst

Alberta: $55,368 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $65,000 (PayScale)


Outdoor Adventure Guide

Alberta: $20,014 (ALIS)

Canada: $31,020 (PayScale)

United States: $20,320 (Glassdoor)


Park Warden

Alberta: $70,214 (ALIS)

Canada: N/A

United States: $58,570 (BLS)


Parks Planner

Alberta: N/A

Canada: $57,547 (PayScale)

United States: $53,704 (PayScale)


Procurement Forester

Alberta: $85,529 (ALIS)

Canada: $61,830 (PayScale)

United States: $55,000 (PayScale)


Public Relations Specialist

Alberta: $77,090 (ALIS)

Canada: $49,725 (PayScale)

United States: $53,241 (Glassdoor)


Soil Conservationist

Alberta: $75,812 (ALIS)

Canada: $75,000 (PayScale)

United States: $69,170 (BLS)


University Professor

Alberta: $74,877 (ALIS)

Canada: $157,610 (indeed)

United Sates: $76,000 (BLS)


Wildlife Manager

Alberta: $70,214 (ALIS)

Canada: $51,049 (PayScale)

United States: $58,570 (BLS)


The name in brackets next to the salary data for each region is the sources from which the data was obtained. Please note, the salary data that is sourced from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) represents median salary figures, rather than average salary figures.


Salary Data Reference Information

ALIS: Alberta Learning and Information Service (, sponsored by the Government of Alberta. For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

PayScale: Private organization owned by PayScale Incorporated ( For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

BLS: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (, sponsored by the federal government of the United States of America. For details regarding their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

Glassdoor: indeed is a private organization owned by Glassdoor incorporated ( For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.






Areas of Specialization in a Forestry Degree Program

Depending on the school, you may be able to specialize in a specific area within forestry. These areas of focus may provide you with professional training, which will be immediately applicable to entry-level forestry careers.


Forest Biology Focus: Learn about the biology and growth of trees and the ecology of forests as a whole. This focus is very useful for forestry careers related to conservation.


Forest Fire Science Focus: Learn about the ecological process of forest fires, as well as how they can be used in a prescribed manner for the preparation of seedbeds, controlling forest disease and enhancing wildlife habitats. Very valuable for forestry careers related to conservation, as well as those related to forestry land management.


Forest Management Focus: Learn about forest productivity, economics, and conservation. Very useful for forestry careers related to managing public and private forest lands.


Forestry Business Focus: Learn business applications related to forestry management. Very helpful for forestry careers with private timber procurement companies, or self-employment in the forestry products sector.



Gaining Career Experience as a Student

Pursuing an internship (for our purposes also known as a practicum, field placement, or co-op work opportunity) in career fields related to your forestry degree is the best way to gain relevant work experience while you’re still in school. These opportunities allow you to gain professional competencies, while simultaneously offering employers valuable temporary team members.


An internship position can also result in being hired by the sponsoring organization upon graduation. If you’ve done quality work and made a good impression, chances are that organization will want to retain you on a full-time basis once you’ve graduated. They will already be familiar with you and your work ethic, and they will save a great deal of time and expense trying to recruit someone else.



How Do I Find a Forestry Internship?

If these opportunities are an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you, or at least a variety of potential options presented to you. If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, other Forestry department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.



Forestry Scholarships

If you’re a forestry major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to forestry, scholarships for science students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your forestry degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Forest Service

Canadian Institute of Forestry

Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board

Consulting Foresters of British Columbia


United States

Forest Resources Association

National Association of Environmental Professionals

Society for Range Management

Society of American Foresters

United States Forest Service



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