A Forester's Salary and Job Prospects

What Forester Can Expect From His Career

States Where Foresters Are Employed. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A Forestry Graduate's Expected Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most forestry graduates entering the profession as a forester with a bachelor's degree will start with a salary of around 35 to 45 thousand dollars a year, depending on academic achievement and/or some work study internships completed. Those with a master's degree could start a bit higher. Holders of doctorates could start at $80,000 or, in research positions, at $90,000.

 

The median annual salary of foresters in 2014 was $60,000. The middle 50 percent earned between $46,000 and $72,000. 

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook mentions that graduates with a bachelor's degree in natural resources (includes forestry, soil science, range management, wildlife and fisheries) received an average of $62,000 in a May 2014 report.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,000.

Median Salaries by Forest Employment Sectors

Median salaries for governmental forestry jobs vary by the agency:

  • Federal Executive Branch - about $64,000
  • Local Government - about $56,000
  • State Government - about $53,000

Median salaries for forest product industry forestry jobs vary by the manufacturer:

  • Sawmills and Wood Preservation - about $60,000
  • Pulp and Paper Production - about $64,000
  • Logging - about $67,000

Median salaries for private forestry and technical consulting jobs vary by the agency:

  • Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Service - about $73,000

A Forestry Graduate's Employment Chances

The employment of conservation scientists and foresters is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 through 2024.

That is a welcome increase over the last several decade reports. The natural resource professions have grown about as fast as the average for all occupations according to BLS.

BLS says that most of that employment growth is expected to be in state and local government-owned forestlands, particularly in the western United States. The prevention and suppression of wildfires has become a major priority for government agencies managing forests and rangelands west of the Mississippi.

According to BLS "Governments are likely to hire more foresters as the number of forest fires increases and more people live on or near forest lands. Both the development of previously unused lands and changing weather conditions have contributed to increasingly devastating and costly fires." There is also an expected increase in the demand for American timber and wood pellets and is likely to increase the overall job prospects, especially for foresters. 

Restoring lands affected by fires and increased fire prevention campaign funding suggests that, particularly in the southwestern and western states, foresters will be in demand. Conservation scientists and foresters who have developed a strong understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) technology, remote sensing, and other software tools will have an edge on natural resource jobs.