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Careers in Forestry

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

Careers in Conservation

urban forester with a forestry consulting firm. "As a born and raised fan of the city, I am happy to be part of the team that is ensuring a successful future for the urban green space of St. Louis."

Part of today's demand for trained foresters comes from traditional, resource-based forestry enterprises, both public and private. However, urban forestry is becoming a more important discipline as cities address their environmental, development, aesthetic and quality-of-life issues.

Forestry used to be primarily a male occupation. Today, however, more women are studying forestry in our colleges and entering the ranks of professional foresters.

Foresters earn salaries equivalent to many other professions requiring a college degree. Recent starting salaries have been in the mid-$20,000 to mid-$30,000 range. Forest industry positions often pay more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2001 indicated that the median salary for all foresters was about $44,000, with 50 percent earning between $35,000 and $54,000.

In February 2002, Terry Clark, Science Manager for the Society of American Foresters, reported that salaries for SAF members were "clustered around a pay range of from $30,000 to $55,000. Another large group , representing upper level government employees, earned $70,000-$75,000, and a third group earned over $80,000 per year."

Today's job market provides a broad range of job opportunities open to foresters. Most of them require a university education leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry.

Forest management

Many landowners, both private and corporate, actively manage their woodlands, creating demand for the services of foresters like Jeremy Wilson, a graduate of the University of Missouri. Wilson runs a company that performs forest thinning, tree planting and timber sales.

"Despite the heat and the paperwork, I wouldn't trade my job for anything," Wilson said. "I love being able to work with landowners and help them address their varying interests. The diversity of tasks that are involved in forestry assures that I'll never be bored."

Based on a landowner's needs and goals, a forester may recommend tree planting, forest thinning or a harvest. They may also suggest activities to make the forest more desirable for deer, turkey and other wildlife.

David Massengale is the district silviculturist for the Mark Twain National Forest Salem Ranger District. He writes management prescriptions for stands of trees. Examples of prescriptions include tree planting or stand improvement. He maintains the district computer database where all tree stand data is kept.

"The best part of the job has to be

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