Is a Career in Professional Forestry Right for You?
A forestry career is a great choice for those who, love the outdoors, excel in the sciences, are interested in the environment and are team players.
Forest professionals travel the province by truck, ATV, boat, helicopter or float plane and get paid to hike in parts of BC that tourists pay a premium to visit. You are just as likely to find forest professionals working behind a computer, in a boardroom or in a research laboratory as you are working in the woods.
Gone are the days of horse-logging and bush-whacking through the forest. Forestry is high tech and forest professionals use mapping tools like GIS and GPS to create a picture of the forest ecosystem that can be used to develop integrated forest management plans. They also use satellite imagery to monitor forest fires and pests like the mountain pine beetle.
The Forest Sector has a Variety of Jobs and Forest Professionals Earn Above Average Salaries
One in five jobs in BC is related to forestry, making forestry BC's biggest employer. BC will always need qualified forest professionals to look after its 60 million hectares of forests and tackle current issues like the mountain pine beetle and climate change.
There is a wide variety of jobs available for forest professionals. Check out some examples of forestry jobs.
In 2011, 56% percent of Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) made between $61,000 and $90,000 annually, while 56% of RFTs earn $51,000 to $70,000 annually (2011 Report on Members' Compensation & Benefits). The average full-time salary in BC is $1,054.47/week in 2015 (with the hourly wage at $26.58). (Data provided by Welcome BC).
Getting Prepared for your Career
Take Relevant High School Courses
Many post-secondary programs have high school math and science prerequisites. The exact entry requirements will depend on which post-secondary school you wish to attend. More information can be found on the websites' of the post-secondary schools.
As a general rule, if you are considering a career in forestry, the following high school courses may help you prepare:
- BC First Nations Studies
- Sustainable Resources
Join our Student Program - START
START is the ABCFP's program for high-school and post-secondary students. It gives you a head start to a career as a forestry professional. It's free to join and you'll receive complimentary subscriptions to our member magazine, e-newsletters and discounts on forestry-related workshops. Visit the Join Our Student Program page to learn more and sign up.
Get a College or University Education
There are several post-secondary forestry programs in BC that will give you the first-class education you need in order to become a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) or a Registered Forest Technologist (RFT). Check out the list of BC schools.
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Types of Forest Professionals
Two main types of Forest Professionals work in BC – Registered Professional Foresters and Registered Forest Technologists. Other designations like Associate Membership, Special Practice Permits and Natural Resource Professional are also available.
|Registered Professional Foresters
Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) play a lead role on the forestry team. They prepare short and long-term plans for managing forest resources and make sure all forestry activities comply with government and industry regulations.
|Registered Forest Technologists
Registered Forest Technologists (RFTs) are also important members of the forestry team. They specialize in on-the-ground fieldwork and perform technical forestry functions in areas such as silviculture, forest protection, forest operations and forest measurements.
|Natural Resource Professionals
Natural Resource Professionals (NRPs) have education in forestry conservation, management of renewable natural resources, and landscape and local level planning for aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Once registered, they will practise a specific set of skills and work with other forest professionals to ensure BC's forests are properly managed.
There are two subgroups of associate members:
- Timber cruisers. Further broken down into:
- Accredited Timber Cruisers (ATCs), and
- Accredited Timber Evaluators (ATEs)]; and
- Silvicultural Accredited Surveyors (SASs).
ATCs and ATEs are timber cruisers whose job is to provide the best estimate of volume, quality, species composition and value of the timber resource. SASs make use of silviculture plans and prescriptions and other information to conduct or confirm the stratification of a survey unit.
Associate membership is voluntary and a post-secondary education is not required. Those hoping to become associate members must have years of cruising or silviculture surveying experience and pass an exam in order to be accredited by the ABCFP. Timber cruising and silviculture surveying are both entry level jobs so you can get hired right out of high school. Since these jobs entail some professional forestry work, a registered member (RPF or RFT) has to provide some supervision. If you enjoy these jobs, you may want to continue on to college or university to become an RPF or RFT.
Special Practice Permits Holders
We offer three types of special permits to engage in the practice of professional forestry in BC on a temporary basis: (1)Limited Licences to practise; (2) permits for Transferring Professional Foresters (TPF); and (3) permits for Visiting Professional Foresters.