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Career Profile: Forester

Why Is Forestry a Job of Tomorrow?
Rapid population growth and urban sprawl have resulted in an increase in deforestation, leading to more carbon emissions and more previously fertile land turning into arid dust fields. Foresters will be in demand to help control this rate of deforestation and better manage wildlife resources. Employment opportunities for foresters are expected to increase 5 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Foresters make an average salary of $51,190 annually.

What Does a Forester Do?
Foresters work with individuals, industries and the government to keep forested land thriving and healthy. Foresters must find a way to keep the plant life in a specific area devoid of damaging diseases and pests while also ensuring that maintenance of the tract will not cost the landowner excessive money. Some foresters also draft plans on redeveloping previously destroyed land, monitoring the growth of new forests and controlling the growth of established forests. To ensure that new and established forests do not overgrow and deplete their own resources, foresters plan which types of trees to plant where as well as enact controlled burns of certain parts of the forest to encourage healthy plant growth. If too many types of the same trees are planted together, a species-specific disease could ostensibly obliterate an entire section of a forest. Foresters may also be responsible for contacting forest owners on behalf of sawmills about using their trees as timber. When this is done, foresters oversee the logging process to maintain the integrity of the soil and waterways.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Forester?
Foresters must have a bachelor’s degree in forestry, environmental science or another related field. Those who plan on pursuing research or teaching positions should obtain a doctoral degree in forestry. Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete, and a doctoral degree takes an additional three to four years. Courses cover such topics as forest ecology, resource management and taxonomy. Some states offer credentialing for foresters; others offer licensing and registration.

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