How to Become a Forest Manager (Forester)


If you want to become a forest manager or a forester, you will need the right education, accreditation, skill set and attitude. A career in this field can be a highly rewarding one if you are interested in nature and the well-being of the environment.


If you’re interested in possibly working in this field, but don’t know where to start, this career guide will teach you just about everything you need to get started. 



Education Needed to Become a Forest Manager

Most employers require candidates who are hoping to become a forest manager to have earned a bachelor’s of science degree in forestry or botany, with preference typically given to those with a forestry degree. Computer skills are also considered a valuable asset, particularly familiarity with GIS and GPS systems.





Forest Manager (Forester) Job Description

Forest managers (also known as "foresters") are responsible for planning, directing and administering programs and initiatives related to managing forested lands. Forest managers plan and oversee the implementation of such forestry management techniques as prescribed burning, thinning, harvesting and planting in order to maintain or improve the health and productivity of a forest. 



General Job Duties

• Develop and deliver public education and awareness programs concerning forestry issues

• Manage the public involvement processes to identify best practices for forest land use

• Develop and implement plans for reforestation

• Oversee tree planting initiatives for areas where trees have been harvested or destroyed by forest fires

• Assess new foresting applications

• Advise government and industry officials on forest management issues

• Plan forest use activities such as grazing, recreational activities, timber harvesting, mining and others

• Perform assessments of damages caused by forest fires, disease, insects and pollution



Accreditation for Forest Managers

To become a forest manager in the United States or Canada you typically need to be accredited by a state/provincial or federal accreditation board. Many states and provinces sponsor some type of credentialing process for foresters and licensing laws.


Both licensing and registration requirements usually require a 4-year degree in forestry and several years of forestry work experience. Candidates typically must also successfully pass an accreditation exam in order to become licensed and registered.


Note: Please visit the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board website for more information on becoming an accredited forestry professional in Canada, and the Society of American Foresters website for accreditation information in the United States



Characteristics of Those Who are Successful

Even with the right education and skill set, becoming a successful forest manager is not guaranteed. If you’re reading the list of personality and intellectual traits listed below, and you recognize many of the traits in yourself, you may be well suited for a career as a forest manager.


• Must have a keen interest in all aspects of nature

• Must be comfortable working both indoors and outdoors

• Must have a concern for the well being of the environment

• Excellent organization and communication skills

• Enjoy working and liaising with other forestry professionals

• Must be able to delegate and direct the work of others

• Must be able to oversee multiple projects simultaneously



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of forest managers can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education, experience and certification

• The size, type and budget of their employer

• Their wage and salary negotiating abilities 

• The region in which they work

• The scope of responsibilities involved in their job


Forest Manager/Forester Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the ‘Conservation Scientists and Foresters’ occupational group is $61,340 per year (May, 2018 figures). The lowest 10% of salaries in the group were at or below $34,020, and the highest 10% were at or above $86,870 per year.


Salary - Canada (Alberta): According to the 2014 Alberta wage and salary survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), the mean salary level of Alberta-based workers in the ‘Forestry Professionals” occupational group is $94,273 per year.


Salary - (B.C.): According to the Province of British Columbia, those working in the “Forestry Professionals” occupational group in B.C. earn an annual provincial median salary of $76,440, or an average wage of between $28.00 and $47.12 per hour.


Please Note: Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of updating this page (July 24, 2019).





Career Advancement Possibilities

Forest managers with a lot of experience typically leave fieldwork in order to increase their focus on office-based duties, such as working with teams to develop management plans and supervising other foresters.


Those who have several years of work experience also may move into related fields such as land use planning, reclamation work, vegetation control, surveying or working in state/provincial/federal parks.


Forestry managers can also purse advanced education in a variety of fields, such as forestry, land use planning, public administration, management and other areas in order to move into other fields, such as research or public policy decision making related to forestry or natural resource management.



How to Get a Job

Forestry management positions are very competitive. Typically plenty of industry experience is necessary to become a forest manager; gaining entry-level employment in forestry is a great way to begin gaining this experience.


Even gaining employment in entry-level positions is highly competitive. Having work experience or internship experience may be a pre-requisite for a permanent job in forestry, depending on who the employer is.


Landing an internship opportunity or getting a part-time job with an organization involved in forestry or conservation are great ways to add beef to your resume and stay ahead of the competition. Speak to your school's career services office, as well as your Forestry or Botany professors and other faculty, in order to learn about any available positions.



Who Employs Them? 

There are employers representing different sectors of industry that are interested in the specific skill set and knowledge base of forest managers, foresters and similar forestry professionals . Below is an example of the types of employers that hire forestry managers.


Sectors of Industry


• Public Administration

• Forestry and Logging 

• Manufacturing

• Professional, Scientific and Technical Services




• Companies that produce forest products (such as lumber, pulp and paper, plywood, panelboard)

• Consulting companies

• Educational institutions

• Government departments and agencies (all levels)

• Utility companies

• Oil, gas and mining companies

• Some foresters are self-employed as consultants



Forest Manager Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "forest manager" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'forest manager', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Conservation Officer 

Forest Engineer 

Forest Technician

Land Manager

Natural Resources Manager

Park Warden

Wildlife Manager



Professional Associations for Foresters

Professional associations for foresters are collections of practitioners, organizations and agencies committed to the support, development and enhancement of careers in the field of forestry and forestry management. This field has a number of professional associations that support ethics in related professions, report current research findings within the field, and foster partnerships among its members.


Below are some of the numerous benefits to becoming a member of a professional forestry association.


• Demonstrate professional commitments as a forester

• Maintain current awareness of industry developments and trends

• May be able to take professional forestry courses

• May be able to participate in industry research projects and/or policy decisions

• Networking opportunities: Meet potential employers, partners and mentors

• Learn about employment and professional experience opportunities

• May be entitled to discounts from sponsors

• Nominate yourself or others for industry awards

• Set yourself apart from other qualified applicants


If you're interested in becoming a forest manager, these websites will be useful for obtaining for more information:



Canadian Forest Service

Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board

Canadian Institute of Forestry

Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists

College of Alberta Professional Foresters

The Consulting Foresters of B.C.

The Silva Forest Foundation


United States

Intermountain Society of American Foresters

Oregon Society Professional Foresters

The Society of American Foresters

US Forest Service




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a forest manager.


Occupations in Alberta:Forester.” (December 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 27, 2019.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Conservation Scientists and Foresters.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 27, 2019.

Explore Careers:Forestry professionals.” (July 2, 2019) WorkBC website. Retrieved November 27, 2019.

Become a Member:Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs).” (n.d.) Association of BC Forest Professionals website. Retrieved November 27, 2019.

Job Profiles in Forestry:Forest Manager.” (August 7, 2018). Careers New Zealand website - New Zealand Government. Retrieved November 27, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Forest Manager

The scholarships in our system that are relevant for becoming a forest manager are all of those that can be found on our Botany Scholarships and Forestry Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this line of work. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Forest Manager