Career Profile: Foresters
Hiking in a forest can be fun, but not if a fire is burning or a disease has killed many of the trees. Forests are important for Canada, not just for recreation, but also for producing the wood that we need for furniture, houses, and many products that we use regularly. Forests are also important for the environment, helping to regulate the climate and produce the oxygen we need to breathe. The job of forester is important for many reasons. If you choose this career, you will have an important role in your community and all of Canada.
Foresters are like professional caretakers of a forest. Especially in the first few years, much of the job is outdoors. It can involve taking samples of bark or of the leaves of plants, checking for insect activity and looking for evidence of animals, and then taking the information back for analysis. During the seasons when forest fires are common, it might involve setting up controlled burns in certain areas to keep the fire from spreading farther.
Once foresters have collected the information, they often go back to a lab to analyze what they have found. The outdoor work can be physically difficult as people need to walk and hike in all kinds of weather, and some people might prefer the research aspect of the role. In large organizations, foresters can divide the work so that the younger and healthier people do much of the outdoor labour. However, all foresters should be prepared to be outside for at least some of the time.
Some of a forester’s tasks are uncomplicated, and people in this field can occasionally start out with a high school education with some courses in subjects like biology and chemistry. Usually, however, people need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in science or a related field with courses in forestry. Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec all have universities with this specialty, including six in BC: University of British Columbia, Royal Roads University, Simon Fraser University, Thompson River University, University of Northern British Columbia, and Vancouver Island University. Some colleges also have programs in the technical aspects of forestry, and some people take both types of courses.
The ability to take and analyze information is important in this job. After a forest fire or disease has gone through an area, or loggers have cut down some trees, foresters need to decide what types of trees would work best in the area. They need to know about soil and how different plants grow. For the best results, they also need to study lakes, streams, rainfall patterns, animal activity, and more. Research and constant learning are important in this job.
Often, foresters’ work is related to universities or governments, but they might sometimes work for private companies or even do contract work for local groups. Currently, job prospects are quite good, especially for people who are willing to move north or to other areas where the forests are. Annual salaries start at about $42,000 and can rise to $94,000 or more with experience. If you would like to help preserve an important Canadian resource, this could be the job for you.
AG Careers. “Forester.” https://www.agcareers.com/career-profiles/forester.cfm.
Bouw, Brenda. “I want to be a forester. What will my salary be?” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/i-want-to-be-a-forester-what-will-my-salary-be/article17117602.
Canadian Forests. “Universities & Colleges.” https://www.canadian-forests.com/universities-colleges.html.
Career Planner. “Forester.” https://job-descriptions.careerplanner.com/Foresters.cfm.
PayScale Canada. “Average Forester Salary in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Forester/Salary.