If you love working outdoors or enjoy the feel of nature as you go about your daily activities, it would be a great idea to consider pursuing a career in the forestry field. With the high number of high-paying forestry jobs, a career in this field can provide you with the financial security you need.
According to the Wildlife Organisation, 31% of our planet is covered with forest and the need for trained professionals to protect and preserve the resource will always be high. Challenges such as growing populations continue to put pressure on forests while global warming makes forest lands more vulnerable to wildfires and erosion.
For this reason, there’s a need for well-trained professionals to help protect, conserve and restore forests for ecological balance. That’s why there are many high-paying career opportunities in forestry and conservation.
Most high-paying careers in forestry require a bachelor’s degree in forestry or another closely related degree. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you can choose to focus on key areas such as forest biology, forest fire science, forest management, or forest business.
High paying career opportunities in forestry in 2022
Below is a list of fifteen high-paying forestry jobs you can consider once you complete your bachelor’s degree. Most of these jobs pay as high as $75,000 a year.
Silviculturists study the regeneration, quality, composition, and growth of the trees in forests and other natural habitats. They collect the data on the type and species of trees and identify the availability of standing timber.
Silviculturists also oversee plans for planting new trees, determining the ideal number of trees to be planted, identifying land to be cleared for new trees, and removing or moving trees.
Apart from having the knowledge to spot diseases and pests that can ravage woodlands, silviculturists are also familiar with the trees’ history, how they adapt to varying environmental conditions, their nutrient requirements, as well as their overall resistance to diseases.
The average annual salary for silviculturists in the United States is $46,648 with the top-paid 10% earning more than $84,000 a year.
2. Forest engineer
Forest engineers provide support for forestry and land management efforts. Their duties include supporting forest sustainability plans, determining the best routes for rail systems and roads through the forest, and overseeing engineering projects taking place in or near forests.
Forest engineers can work in different settings, including hydrology, survey planning, and even as construction managers. It is among the high-paying career opportunities in forestry, with their mean annual salary being $69,390 and the highest-paid earning more than $86,500 a year.
3. Forest ranger
Forest rangers play a vital role in preserving federal and state forests and parks. They monitor wildlife behaviors & ecological changes, survey forest lands, educate the public on forestry matters, advise landowners and lumber industry representatives, and help prevent and fight wildfires.
They can also carry out rescue missions in forests and public parks, collect and store wildlife data, and enforce laws to protect forest lands.
Salary for forest rangers varies depending on factors such as location, employer, rank, and experience. Their annual salaries range between $47,750 and $76,250. Those in supervisory ranger positions earn more than $85,800 a year.
4. Forest fire prevention specialist
The primary role of forest fire prevention specialists is to stop wildfires before they start. They inspect forest areas, identify potential fire hazards, and recommend the removal of the hazards. They may also come up with effective measures to counteract the dangers of wildfires and are responsible for ensuring everyone follows fire prevention regulations.
These experts can also suggest rules such as placing bans and/or limits on fireworks, campfires, and other activities more likely to cause wildfires. They can also participate in public outreach to create awareness on fire prevention and how the public should respond in the event of a wildfire.
The mean annual salary for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists is $52,130. The highest-paid earn more than $86,270, which makes this one of the best high-paying forestry jobs in the U.S.
5. Procurement forester
Procurement foresters procure timber for logging companies and their duties include overseeing the supply and procurement process, securing logging contracts, planning transportation of timber, and overseeing logging inventory.
They also ensure efficient operations to limit wastage at the mill and ensure the low-grade wood and extra wood are used to make other products. The average annual salary for procurement foresters in the U.S. is $54,424 and the highest-paid earn more than $76,000 a year.
6. Log buyer
Log buyers work in the forestry industry to negotiate log prices and build lasting relationships with log suppliers to ensure continued procurement. They also sell excess lumber or logs made from the logs procured, oversee wood delivery to and from their sites, and manage log inventory.
Log buyers can also represent their companies at trade events, assess current and future markets and trends, and make sure the company understands and complies with the state and federal laws and regulations regarding lumber and forestry.
The national average salary for log buyers in the U.S. is $40,190. It is one of the high-paying forestry jobs with the highest-paid earning more than $95,600 a year.
This is one of the little-known careers that pay well ideal for people who love jobs involving trees and plants. Arborists plant, maintain and care for trees and other plants. They are responsible for the health of trees, create tree care plans, and implement the plans by providing services such as planting, fertilization, pruning, and insect & disease control.
As an arborist, you can work in-house for a nursery, landscaping, or tree care company or opt to work for state or national parks service. Most arborists work as consultants where they provide one-time or scheduled services.
The average annual salary for arborists is $48,584 and the highest-paid 10% earn more than $74,000 a year.
8. Wildland firefighter
Just as the name suggests, these are trained firefighters who put out wildfires and forest fires. It is one of the most dangerous jobs as your job involves going into the wild to fight and put out raging fires.
Departments such as the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service employ wildland firefighters.
Although their average annual salary is just $56,360, wildland firefighters can earn as high as $169,500 a year, which makes it one of the highest-paying forestry jobs in the U.S.
9. Fire ecologist
According to the National Park Service, fire ecologists seek to understand how plants and animals in different habitats respond to and adapt to fires and how fires can change or shape future ecosystems. They gather science-backed data and ensure they get integrated into the fire and land management goals, decisions, and practices.
In order to accomplish their goals, fire ecologists oftentimes collaborate with other scientists and resource managers to come up with fire management goals that meet the current land management goals, design and implement programs that monitor whether the goals are met, and identify questions that need science-backed answers.
The average annual salary for fire ecologists is $67,750 and the highest-paid earn more than $87,000 a year.
10. Wildlife biologists
Wildlife biology is among the best career opportunities in forestry that focus on the health and safety of wildlife. They observe the impact activities carried out by logging companies and those on recreational retreats have on the wildlife and determine if the removal or displacement of natural resources has a negative impact.
Wildlife biologists play a key role to ensure the continued reproduction among endangered species, help restore habitats, and develop wildlife conservation plans.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wildlife biologists enjoy an average annual salary of $70,510. The highest-paid earn more than $106,300 a year, making this one of the highest-paying forestry jobs in the U.S.
Foresters oversee the growth and well-being of trees and plants in forest zones, which essentially involves wildlife conservation and land management. They also help plant new trees, remove trees, and ensure the sustainable use of trees for timber.
Foresters also help wildland firefighters suppress forest fires, supervise forestry technicians, protect the wildlife, and ensure projects undertaken within the forest zones do not negatively impact the natural habitats of wildlife.
Foresters earn an average annual salary of $66,000 and the highest-paid enjoy annual wages of more than $93,000.
12. Forest consultant
Forest consultants work primarily with private forest owners to help them determine the best possible use of woodlands. Forest owners might have interests such as timber sales, tree planting, recreational designs, habitat management, and forest protection among others, and forest consultants are the experts to help them decide the best option.
Forest consultants also help forest owners with applications to property tax and cost-share programs and can provide expert advice when the forest owners are dealing with contractors.
Forest consultancy is among the high-paying forestry jobs with their average annual salary being $59,372. The highest-paid earn in excess of $84,900 a year.
13. Forestry technicians
Forestry technicians work under land managers and are responsible for ensuring the natural forest environments stay the same so that natural ecosystems and wildlife species can flourish.
Their daily tasks include gathering information on wildlife, controlling weed growth, assessing land for re-growth, and identifying areas affected by harsh weather or insect infestation.
The mean annual salary for forest technicians is $42,780 and the highest-paid earn more than $60,900 a year.
14. Consulting utility forester
The role of consulting utility foresters is to inspect vegetation surrounding utility infrastructures such as power and gas lines. They carry out surveys and identify potential hazards the vegetation cause and, when necessary, offer safety recommendations such as pruning or removing the vegetation.
Consulting utility foresters can also evaluate and audit removal and pruning plans to ensure safe and successful removal or pruning of the vegetation. These professionals earn an average annual salary of $43,950. The highest-paid earn close to $65,000 a year, which makes it one of the high-paying forestry jobs in the U.S.
15. Tree trimmer
Tree trimmers use safety tools to remove limbs from trees that pose a threat to property and utility infrastructure such as power lines. They work under the supervision of arborists who advise them on the safest and best removal tactics.
They are required to safely remove damaged, dead, or overgrown branches without causing harm to infrastructure. The average salary for tree trimmers is $38,355 a year and the highest-paid get more than $65,000 a year.
High-paying career opportunities in forestry
Although we have highlighted just fifteen high-paying forestry jobs, there are other jobs you can do if you love working in nature. As noted, most of these jobs can earn you more than $75,000 after years of service and with more experience.