Silviculture and forestry workers perform a variety of duties related to reforestation and to the management, improvement and conservation of forests. This occupational group includes forest firefighters.
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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: 20
Silviculture and forestry workers perform some or all of the following duties:
Since work may be located in remote areas, silviculture and forestry workers generally must travel and live at camp facilities for extended periods of time. Work in this occupational group may also be seasonal.
Work usually takes place outdoors under a variety of weather conditions and temperatures. The workweek is typically 40 hours, with weekend shifts as required. Workers may be required to work long hours and 10–12 hour work days are common.
Forestry firefighters' shifts are normally conducted from first light (or earlier if travel is involved) until early evening, when fires are most likely to start.
Silviculture workers, such as tree planters, work a limited season, most typically in spring and summer.
The nature of silviculture and forestry work can be physically demanding, as workers are required to bend, stoop and crouch throughout the work day. In addition, workers are often required to carry heavy equipment and supplies, and walk or move very quickly over steep and uneven terrain. Forest firefighters are exposed to smoke, intense heat and fumes.
Increasingly, workers are required to use computerized information for their work.
Source: 2016 Census
Employment requirements for silviculture and forestry workers may vary from one employer to another. As well, in this diverse occupational group, the amount of education and skill required varies significantly depending on the job and its responsibilities.
Training and requirements may include:
Most training is provided by employers or contractors to their employees. The BC Forest Safety Council also offers a range of courses for small employers and forest workers of all types. For more information please see the BC Forest Safety Council website at www.bcforestsafe.org.
The BC Safe Silviculture Project, a partnership between the BC Forest Safety Council and the Western Silvicultural Contractors' Association, has identified six silviculture functions that require training leading to competency certification. These include resource road driving, ATV operation, power saw operation, prescribed burning, wildfire fighting and silviculture supervision. Training is delivered by a variety of methods (i.e., through employers, in formal classroom setting, etc.).
Environmental management system knowledge is also beneficial.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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Employment opportunities are expected to arise from both new job creation and the need to replace experienced workers who retire. However, due to the small size of this occupational group, the number of openings will be somewhat limited.
In recent years, a number of factors, such as environmental concerns, land use legislation, the rising Canadian dollar, a declining U.S. housing market, trade disputes and mill closures, have reduced the demand for logging activity in B.C.. As a result, the need for reforestation and enhanced silviculture activity (such as pruning, spacing and thinning young trees) has declined. This has reduced the need for silviculture and forestry workers.
On the other hand, other factors may have a somewhat positive impact on this occupational group. For example, a provincial government plan to shift from old-growth to second-growth harvesting in coastal forests involves cultivating faster-growing trees, increased fertilization and a shorter growth-to-harvest cycle. This activity, as well as a planned increase in the planting and harvesting of deciduous hardwoods, would increase opportunities for silviculture workers if put into place.
In addition, climate change is contributing to significant changes in provincial forests. In recent years, the mountain pine beetle and forest fires have destroyed millions of hectares of woodland. The silviculture industry is likely to play a role in the restoration of these areas.
Silviculture and forestry workers are now required to capture more information about a broader array of resources, including fish, wildlife, soils, and cultural and heritage features. There has also been a gradual increase in the amount of technology and mechanization used in these jobs. As a result of these developments, more in-depth training of these workers is required. Industry sources also predict more opportunities for workers highly skilled in prescribed burn and fuel management for ecosystem restoration.
Demand for forest firefighters varies, but is generally steady during long, dry summers. However, the majority of firefighters hired by the British Columbia Forest Service are workers with previous experience who are recalled to work rather than new hires. To learn about other firefighting occupations, see the profile for Firefighters (NOC 4312).
Experienced silviculture and forestry workers may advance to supervisory and project management positions. University-trained professionals could become senior managers or CEOs.
With additional education, these workers may move into related occupations such as forestry technician, technologist or registered professional forester.