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It all depends on what you want to do.

There are plenty of options you just have to know what you want. Master of Forestry is a two year coursework based masters and tends to be catered towards people who have a bachelor's in a different field. If you have a bachelor's in natural resources, it would be possible to finish the degree in one year. Depending on what you want to do, your options range from getting an AS in Forest Technology to getting a BS in Forestry to getting an MF (Masters of Forestry).

As you would expect, job prospects are much higher with an Master of Forestry. Most Masters programs are meant to be completed in 2 years, but without experience in things like dendrology (tree ID) it could take you at least an extra year to get caught up with the basics before you can really delve into Master's level forestry studies.

Getting in to the field is easy, getting the position you really want is another thing entirely.


I can't stress enough that university shouldn't be your only route to research.

The Thompson School

The professors at the University of New Hampshire write the SAF standards for all SAF accredited schools.

The Thompson school owns a Timberjack cable skidder, brand new CAT 574 forwarder, professional sawmill, grapple truck, and industrial wood chipper. You'll learn how to manage a forest, harvest a forest, mill products from that forest, grade wood products, climb trees, write a professional forest management plan, write and manage a controlled burn and draw maps using a tape and compass.

The professors also own the equipment that make it possible for Stihl to put on the lumberjack competitions.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University has an excellent College of Forestry. Multiple family members of mine are graduates with successful careers. Their forest engineering program has money, excellent teachers, and smack dab in the middle of some good timber.

Oregon state is probably best in the west, but if you want to stay in the south there are probably better schools

University of Montana

University of Montana has one of the most respected forestry schools around. They actually own a very large experimental forest right by the University.

Additionally with all the forest service land around its relatively easy to get seasonal forestry work. Added bonus, Missoula is an awesome college town.

Wageningen University

If you're feeling adventurous, Wageningen University in the Netherlands offers an excellent Bsc (and Msc) that combines forestry with wider nature management and a solid policy/society perspective.

You wouldn't be the first American and it's a very internationally oriented university. Good facilities and most courses are taught in English!

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In North America historical Forestry and logging mainly tried to make as much money by cutting as much top tier quality lumber as possible.

Forestry is a tool, it can be used for bad or good, you simply need to know how to use it.

One suggestion I would make that is really applicable to all branches of forestry is to take a couple of courses in GIS if you haven't already. Competence in GIS is something that can help you to stand out among other applicants for many forestry (or natural resource) jobs.

Another suggestion is that communication skills can play a crucial role in a forestry career. You would be surprised how import dispute management and conflict resolution are for many forestry jobs.

Courses in public speaking are a common requirement for undergraduate forestry majors. At the graduate level, a course in conflict resolution might be helpful, again regardless of the specific branch of forestry you end up finding employment in.

Also, another super important thing to keep in mind- even in forestry/natural resources management, the unfortunate reality is that as you advance through your career, that jobs you have are going to be more and more likely to have relatively little field time.

Today Forestry and logging are generally much more sustainable and environmentally friendly and there are foresters that do a lot more than oversee logging operations. Still, don't fool yourself into thinking any extraction is beneficial for the environment.

The jobs with the greatest amount of field work are nearly always the ones that pay the least.

Unless you're willing to stick with entry level positions the rest of your life, there's a good chance that over time you may find yourself working more and more in an office setting with each advancement.

But in general foresters are land managers and stewards, researchers and data collectors, policy makers and regulatory enforcers. And sometimes loggers.

Urban Forest Management

Urban forest management is really growing. Trees are being constantly attacked by new diseases and insects constantly. Urban trees are worth a lot of many to private land owners and municipalities alike.

Lots of people are required to do the legwork, analyse the data and develop programs to manage these trees.

Wood Science

Wood science is more about how to use wood; finding novel ways to use the material and improve on systems that already do.

Its the field that is allowing us to build 20 story buildings out of wood alone, or create biologically sourced products.

Park management

Park management is a solid field to work in. Earnings can be initially low (20K to 40k), as you will likely have to start in either front line work (think warden, data collection or maintenance) or in an office as a support role in mapping and/or GIS.

Earning is as much as any government employee can earn; enough to live on, even be prosperous on and have disposable income after a few years, but you'll never drive a ferrari. Senior positions come close to the 60K a year mark. A highly motivated person can make 6 figures as an independent forester/timber cruiser.

Today forestry comes down to either logging, rehabbing post logging, monitoring disease/bugs timber scaling, or fighting fire.

Sometimes all of the above except scaling, which is usually a third party type deal.