Forest and Conservation Technicians

Summary

Forest and conservation technicians
Forest and conservation technicians measure and improve the quality of forests, which includes fire suppression activities.
Quick Facts: Forest and Conservation Technicians
2012 Median Pay $33,920 per year
$16.31 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 34,000
Job Outlook, 2012-22 -4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2012-22 -1,200

What Forest and Conservation Technicians Do

Forest and conservation technicians measure and improve the quality of forests, rangeland, and other natural areas.

Work Environment

Forest and conservation technicians typically work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations and in all types of weather. The work can be physically difficult.

How to Become a Forest and Conservation Technician

Forest and conservation technicians typically need an associate’s degree in forestry or a related field. Employers look for technicians who have a degree that is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

Pay

The median annual wage for forest and conservation technicians was $33,920 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of forest and conservation technicians is projected to decline 4 percent from 2012 to 2022.Heightened demand for American timber, wood pellets, and biomass will help overall job prospects for forest and conservation technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of forest and conservation technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about forest and conservation technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Forest and Conservation Technicians Do

Forest and conservation technicians
Technicians monitor the activities of loggers and other workers who harvest the forests’ natural resources.

Forest and conservation technicians measure and improve the quality of forests, rangeland, and other natural areas.                                  

Duties

Forest and conservation technicians typically do the following:

  • Gather data on water and soil quality, disease, insect damage to trees and other plants, and conditions that may pose a fire hazard
  • Locate property lines and evaluate forested areas to determine the species, quality, and amount of standing timber
  • Select and mark trees to be cut
  • Track where wildlife goes, help build roads, and maintain trails, campsites, and other recreational facilities
  • Train and lead seasonal workers who plant seedlings
  • Monitor the activities of loggers and others who remove trees for sale as timber or for other reasons
  • Patrol forest areas and enforce environmental protection regulations
  • Communicate with foresters, scientists, and sometimes the public about ongoing forestry and conservation activities
  • Suppress forest fires with fire control activities
  • Train other forestry workers and coordinate detection programs

Forest and conservation technicians generally work under the supervision of foresters or conservation scientists and may themselves supervise forest and conservation workers.

Increasing numbers of forest and conservation technicians work in urban forestry—the study and management of trees and associated plants, individually or in groups within cities, suburbs, and towns—and other nontraditional specialties, rather than in forests or rural areas.

Work Environment

Forest and conservation technicians
Forest and conservation technicians typically work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations.

Forest and conservation technicians held about 34,000 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the largest numbers of forest and conservation technicians in 2012 were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service74%
State government, excluding education and hospitals14
Local government, excluding education and hospitals7

Most forest and conservation technicians work for federal, state, or local government or on privately owned forest lands. Most government technicians are employed by the federal government. Technicians in the eastern United States usually work on private forests. Because many national parks are in the West and Southwest, most technicians in these areas work for the federal government.

Forest and conservation technicians typically work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations and in all types of weather. The work can be physically difficult. They must walk long distances, sometimes on steep slopes and in heavily forested areas or wetlands.

When working near logging operations or in wood yards, technicians must wear a hardhat.

Other technicians work closely with the public, educating people about forest conservation or the proper use of recreational sites.

Work Schedules

Most forest and conservation technicians work full time and have a routine work schedule. Seasonal employees may work longer hours and at night. In addition, technicians may need to work longer hours to respond during emergencies.

How to Become a Forest and Conservation Technician

forest and conservation technicians image
Forest and conservation technicians typically need an associate’s degree in forestry or a related field.

Forest and conservation technicians typically need an associate’s degree in forestry or a related field. Employers look for technicians who have a degree that is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

Education

Forestry and conservation technicians typically need an associate’s degree in a forestry technology or technician program or in a related field. Most forestry and conservation technology programs are accredited by SAF, and every state has accredited programs.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in forestry technology or a related field. Associate’s degree programs at community colleges are designed to provide easy transfer to bachelor’s degree programs at colleges and universities. Training at technical institutes usually includes less theory and education than that in community colleges.

Coursework for an associate’s degree in forestry technology or a related field includes ecology, biology, and forest resource measurement. Some technicians also have a background in a geographic information system (GIS) technology and other forms of computer modeling.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Forest and conservation technicians conduct a variety of field tests and onsite measurements, all of which require precision and accuracy.

Communication skills. Forest and conservation technicians must clearly instruct forest and conservation workers, who typically do the labor necessary to take care of the forest. Technicians must also follow instructions given to them by foresters and conservation scientists.

Critical-thinking skills. Forest and conservation technicians reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve forest conditions and must react appropriately to fires.

Physical stamina. Forest and conservation technicians often walk long distances in steep and wooded areas. They work in all kinds of weather, including extreme heat and cold.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some forestry technician positions require related work experience. For example, technicians who work for The United States Forest Service in fire management positions typically need some previous experience in fighting wildfires or in wildfire suppression.

Pay

Forest and Conservation Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2012

Life, physical, and social science technicians

$41,130

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Forest and conservation technicians

$33,920

 

The median annual wage for forest and conservation technicians was $33,920 in May 2012. 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 $24,930, and the top 10 percent earned more than $53,780.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for forest and conservation technicians in the top three industries in which these technicians worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and
hospitals
               $35,700
Federal government, excluding
postal service
                 33,400
State government, excluding education and
hospitals
33,400

Most forest and conservation technicians work full time and have a routine work schedule. Seasonal employees may work longer hours and at night. In addition, technicians may need to work longer hours to respond during emergencies.

Job Outlook

Forest and Conservation Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Life, physical, and social science technicians

10%

Forest and conservation technicians

-4%

 

Employment of forest and conservation technicians is projected to decline 4 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Heightened demand for American timber, wood pellets, and biomass will help overall job prospects for forest and conservation technicians. Most growth in employment over the next 10 years is expected to be in state owned forest lands. Because more people are living near federal and state forests, more technicians and other forestry and conservation workers will be needed to combat fires and protect property.   

Employment projections data for Forest and Conservation Technicians, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Forest and conservation technicians

19-4093 34,000 32,800 -4 -1,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of forest and conservation technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Agricultural and food scientists

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists work to ensure that agricultural establishments are productive and food is safe.

See How to Become One $58,610
Biological technicians

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Bachelor’s degree $39,750
Conservation scientists and foresters

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters manage overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.

Bachelor’s degree $59,060
Firefighters

Firefighters

Firefighters control fires and respond to other emergencies, including medical emergencies.

Postsecondary non-degree award $45,250
Forest and conservation workers

Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests. Under the supervision of foresters and forest and conservation technicians, they develop, maintain, and protect forests.

High school diploma or equivalent $24,340
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Forest and Conservation Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forest-and-conservation-technicians.htm (visited October 01, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014