forest worker

How to become forest worker

What does a forest worker do?

Forestry involves large tree plantings managed for timber production, biodiversity, water protection or landscape enhancement and recreation purposes. It covers small, broad-leaved and community forests as well as planting and managing large coniferous forests, raising young trees in nurseries and delivering timber to wood-using industries.

Forest workers are involved in a range of tasks related to the establishment, maintenance and protection of forested areas and the harvesting of timber.

The work can involve tree planting; sawing timber; cutting coppice; maintaining, thinning and felling trees using chainsaws or computerised harvesting machines; spraying to control weeds and insects; road building and fencing.

Forest workers use equipment ranging from hand tools such as axes, sickles and billhooks to mechanised equipments such as chainsaws, high-tech harvesting machines and timber wagons. They may also use tractors and lorries.

Those working as forepersons carry out practical tasks and organise and supervise staff. They may carry out tasks such as laying out planting schemes; completing timesheets; ordering materials and measuring and dispatching timber.

Forest workers are very often self-employed contractors, who will also need to carry out the administrative tasks associated with running a business.


What's the working environment like for a forest worker?

Forest workers usually work around 39 hours a week. Some late nights, early starts and weekend work may be necessary.

Self-employed work is seasonal and may involve working long days at peak times such as harvesting.

The work is physically demanding and involves walking long distances through densely wooded areas, lifting, climbing, and other strenuous activities.

Safety clothing, such as safety helmets and eye protectors, is worn for some jobs.

What does it take to become a Forest Worker?

Forest workers need:

  • a high level of physical fitness
  • an interest in working outdoors
  • to be practical, mechanically-minded and good with their hands
  • the ability to work as part of a team as well as alone
  • common-sense and awareness of potential dangers
  • good communication skills
  • to be able to deal tactfully yet firmly with the public.


Forest worker career opportunities

Increasing mechanisation of forestry operations has led to reductions in the workforce, although there are skills shortages in practical areas such as tree felling and thinning.

As well as the Forestry Commission and private forestry companies, employers include small contractors and organisations such as the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and county Wildlife Trusts. There may be opportunities to work abroad, for example in commercial forests in Canada.

Contract work is more common than direct employment.

Forest workers can be promoted to foreperson and those willing to study for further qualifications can advance to management levels.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a forest worker that is not mentioned on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Royal Forestry Society
102 High Street
HP23 4AF
Tel: 01442 822028

Forestry Commission
231 Corstorphine Road
EH12 7AT
Tel: 0131 334 0303

Lantra House
Stoneleigh Park
Nr Coventry
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)
Stoneleigh Park
Tel: 024 7685 7300

Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
EH28 8NE
Tel: 0131 333 2040



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