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Careers In the Logging Industry

Institutions of Higher Learning focusing on a degree in the Forest Industry

Is Working In The Forest Industry For You?

John Deere ForwarderTimber harvesting, the most basic forest management activity, is an important part of keeping both forests and the communities that depend on them healthy and sustainable. Skillful logging creates wildlife habitat and protects streams from erosion and landscapes from fire, while supporting our country’s seventh largest industry: forest product manufacturing.

Building products, paper products, and packaging materials are derived from harvested timber, as are a wide variety of consumer products, such as tissue and medical dressings—and new products are constantly under development. Forest-based materials are also becoming an important part of the quest for renewable energy. The people who harvest, process, and transport timber—loggers—make it all possible. Nationwide, demand for forest products is growing, and the demand for logging services is also growing!

What does it take to work in logging?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration classifies logging as a hazardous occupation, and logging workers must be at least 18 years of age.

Do you like:
• Outdoor, all-weather work?
• Teamwork?
• A “project” orientation, with new challenges each day?
• Overtime opportunities?
• Working with heavy equipment?
• Opportunities for advancement?
• The satisfaction of helping he environment?
• Life in a small community?

Important: Are you drug-free?

A career in logging may be right for you!

Most states have active logging associations. They can help you learn about local opportunities for entry-level logging workers and connect you with potential employers and training opportunities.

Learn more at

What Is Logging Like?

Logging contractors, or timber harvesters, are small businesses. Most employ fewer than ten, although a few multi-crew operations may employ 50 or even 100 personnel. Some are integrated, full-service operations; others may specialize in thinning, in-woods chipping, or high-lead operations. Some logging contractors negotiate directly with landowners for harvesting rights; others contract to harvest and deliver timber purchased by others.

Logging is time-sensitive! A conventional work day begins early in the morning, often just before or after sunrise , and ends after a full day’s work. Both markets and weather may require a crew to work overtime—or to work on maintenance when circumstances delay field operations.

What Types of Jobs Are on a Logging Operation?

There are many configurations, but here are the general categories.

Motor-Manual Logging Operation
A chain saw operator fells the trees, a skidder operator skids them to a staging area, or landing, where a slasher operator, or sometimes a manual chain saw operator, cuts them to length, and a loader operator sorts them and lifts them onto a truck. A truck driver trims the load and transports it to market. On a “high-lead” operation, a suspended cable (rather than a skidder) conveys the harvested log to the landing.

Forestry Ponsse ProcessorMechanized Logging Operation
Most operators work within machine cabs, rather than with chain saws. Contractors may use any of several harvesting and skidding configurations, all of which require skilled operators for cutting trees and skidding them to the landing. Methods for delimbing vary, from stationary “gates” (through which the skidder operator backs his “twitch” or “bunch”) to sophisticated mechanical means. A “knuckleboom loader” loads the trimmed trees or logs onto a truck for transport.

Cut-To-Length Operation
An operator within a cab with computerized measurement capabilities severs the standing tree and, still gripping it with a processor-head, strips off the limbs, and cuts it to specified lengths. A wheeled or tracked forwarder then picks up the processed pieces and transports the load to the landing. A loader then transfers the fully processed logs to the truck for transport.

In-Woods Chipping Operation
Wood chipping whole treesMany pulpwood and forest biomass loggers today convert their harvest to chips in the woods and deliver chips, rather than U, to mills that use wood in that form. A grapple operator at the landing pushes harvested trees into the in-feed, where a mechanized process chips or grinds the stems and blows the resulting product into a van for transport to the mill.

Also – Most loggers build their own access roads and install temporary or permanent bridges or culverts; those tasks require skilled dozer or excavator operators. Loggers employ, or contract the services of, truck or van drivers, who must be able to navigate vehicles in the woods, as well as on the highway, to haul logs or wood chips to a mill or processing point. In addition, personnel trained as mechanics may be employed to undertake field or shop repairs, although often equipment dealer organizations take most of that responsibility.

Thank you to the American Loggers Council for this great information.

Additional Career Opportunties

  • Maintenance & Trades
  • Management & Executives
  • Mill Operations
  • Silviculture & Reforestation
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Technologists & Technicians
  • Wildfire Firefighting
  • Administration
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Conservation & Fisheries
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Logging Operations
  • Health, Safety & Training
  • IT, Computers & GIS

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