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: 120
In general, workers in this group operate machines to harvest, transport and process timber. Specific duties depend on the type of machinery used. The following descriptions are typical for a large logging operation. Within smaller logging operations, a worker might perform several or all of these duties.
Mechanical harvester and forwarder operators:
Mechanical tree processors and operators:
Cable yarding operators:
Workers in this group work outdoors and are subject to a variety of weather conditions. Work environments can be challenging since conditions often include loud machinery, unstable ground and steep slopes. Hazards such as trees falling and cables snapping are also present. All work sites make safety the number one priority and follow strict safety regulations to reduce risks of such hazards.
Most workers in these occupations work full time, however, most work is generally done during winter months when logging typically takes place. As a result, these workers are not typically employed throughout the full year. Seasonal work can vary depending on the location of the work (i.e., coastal versus interior regions).
Shifts vary from 8–12 hours depending on the worker's position and the location of the work. Longer shifts are more common in logging camps as well as in the northern and interior parts of the province where there are less operating days in a year. Overtime is more common in logging camps. Rotating shift work is also common. Operators typically work 40–50 hours per week.
Since job sites are often located in remote areas, workers may be required to travel and remain on site for extended periods of time.
Source: 2016 Census
Completion of secondary school may be required to work in this profession. On-the-job training is provided and is typically three to 16 months long, depending on the type of machinery used. Other training and requirements may include:
The Safety Accord Forest Enterprise (SAFE) Companies program, requiring forest companies in B.C. to be safety certified, is leading towards the development of standardized training for logging equipment operators. Certification through training will be required for all logging equipment operators B.C. in the near future, as it currently is a requirement for fallers.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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Employment in the forestry sector was hit hard by the world recession in general, as well as by the collapse of American home building. It reached record lows in 2008 and 2009, with work 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.
In the short term, new jobs will be created in B.C. in response to the need to harvest pine beetle damaged wood. There may continue to be activity in B.C.'s interior after the pine beetle problem has been taken care of. Other species of timber that are ready to be harvested have been left untouched since most resources have gone towards solving the pine beetle problem.
Also, as the economy recovers, good opportunities for job seekers will continue due to the limited number of experienced workers available to fill openings that arise from job growth and retirements.
Across B.C. high retirement rates and the inability of most firms to recruit and retain young workers to replace retirees are contributing to a labour shortage in this occupation. Many experienced machine operators have left the forest sector to seek work in the Mining and Oil and Gas industries, which previously offered more consistent work and similar pay. In addition, most new, young workers interested in machine operation also looked for work in the Mining, and Oil and Gas industries for similar reasons.
Negative public perceptions of the forest sector and the unwillingness of many young people to live outside of urban centers is also making it difficult for logging companies to find new workers. This problem is expected to worsen over the next five to 10 years as more workers retire.
Advances in technology will negatively affect demand for some forestry occupations, as they allow more work to be completed with fewer workers. The use of more advanced equipment and mechanization will continue to result in the elimination of some entry level positions and a need for more skilled workers.
Workers in this occupational group can progress to more advanced machinery operating positions with experience. Promotion to logging and forestry supervisory positions is also possible but rare.
Some workers may purchase their own equipment and operate as contractors.