Chainsaw and skidder operators work together to prepare sites for logging and harvesting. These workers operate chain saws to fell, delimb and buck trees, and operate skidders to move or yard the felled trees from the logging site to the landing area for processing and transportation.
People in this occupation:
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 270
Chain saw and skidder operators:
Rotating shift work is common in this occupational group. Operators typically work 40–50 hours per week. Shifts range from 8–12 hours, depending on the worker's position and the work location. Long shifts and overtime are more common in logging camps. Long shifts are also more common in northern B.C. due to the shorter operating season.
Chain saw operators and skidder operators work outdoors in various weather conditions. Working conditions include noisy machinery, unstable ground and steep hill slopes. As well, workers are expected to work independently or at a distance from co-workers at times.
Working conditions have improved for skidder operators in recent years as most machinery cabs are now equipped with heaters and air conditioning.
Job sites are often located in remote areas. As a result, workers may have to travel and remain on site for extended periods of time.
These are very dangerous occupations and there are risks associated with being near falling trees. All work sites follow strict safety regulations due to the hazardous nature of the work.
Source: 2016 Census
Workers in these occupations may be required to have completed secondary school. Workers must be both physically and mentally fit as they work in a fast moving, hazardous, physically demanding environment. Training and requirements in B.C. may include:
Formal on-the-job training is provided and usually lasts 3–16 months, depending on the type of machinery used and the trainee's progress.
Workers who are certified for an occupation by a regulator elsewhere in Canada can apply for the same certification from the regulator in B.C. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who are transferring their credentials from elsewhere in Canada will not be required to complete additional training or testing. However, the B.C. regulator may ask applicants to provide further information such as a letter of good standing, references, or criminal record check.
For those who trained outside of Canada and never received certification from any Canadian jurisdiction, a full assessment is likely needed. Most occupational regulators have a process for assessment and recognize internationally trained applicants.
Contact the BC Forest Safety Council for details on how to apply for certification in B.C.
For information about labour mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca.
View a list of B.C. occupational regulators.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
Every job calls for a certain set of skills. Knowing those skills is the first step in finding a good career fit.
Here, you will find the 35 most relevant workplace skills. Some are more important to achieving success in a certain career than others. These skills may come naturally to you or you may need to gain them through education, training and experience.
See the list of work-related skills below, ranked in order of importance for this career. You’ll also find the skill strength needed, letting you know how capable you must be in that skill.
Check out the list and see if this career matches your skills—take that first step!
Employment in the forestry sector was hit hard by the world recession in general, and it was also particularly impacted by the collapse of American home building. It reached record lows in 2008 and 2009, with employment in the sector nearly 8,000 jobs less than in the previous five years. Labour market conditions for the industry are expected to recoup lost ground in the coming years as the economic recovery strengthens and U.S. home construction increases.
As well, some jobs will be created in response to the need to harvest pine beetle damaged wood, but many openings will arise from retirements or from those who leave the industry to pursue other careers.
There is currently a shortage of fallers in B.C. Factors including an aging workforce, increased harvesting due to the pine beetle problem in the interior, as well as an exodus of many current fallers are contributing to the shortage. Recruitment is difficult due to the part year and hazardous nature of the work, as well as negative public perceptions of the Forestry and Logging industry.
Advances in technology will also likely negatively impact this group since these advances allow more work to be completed with fewer workers. Industry sources report that logging operations on the B.C. coast will use more mechanized skidding and harvesting equipment due to an increase in selective logging operations as more second growth timer is harvested. This will result in an increase in demand for skidder operators, while also gradually decreasing the demand for fallers and chainsaw operators in that region.
Chainsaw operators and skidders may work within either job with relative ease. Many skills are transferable, and these workers can move into other logging-related jobs, such as logging machinery operators.
With additional education and training, workers may get wood processing or sawmill machine operating positions.
Progression to supervisory positions, such as bullbucker, is possible with experience. In the past some experienced personnel have started operating their own contracting companies.