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Foresters plan, administer and direct programs related to managing forested lands and related renewable resources.

  • Avg. Salary $94,619.00
  • Avg. Wage $47.36
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Research Scientist, Woodlands Manager, Arborist, Harvesting Supervisor, Woodlands Supervisor, Land Use Planner, Forest Resource Planner

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Forestry Professionals (2122) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Forestry Professionals (C022) 
  • 2011 NOC: Forestry professionals (2122) 
  • 2016 NOC: Forestry professionals (2122) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Forester is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Forestry Professionals

Interest in precision working to conduct advanced research into areas such as tree improvement, nursery seedling production, forest soils, forest ecology, forest mensuration and forest operations


Interest in synthesizing information to plan and conduct public relations, educational and extension programs related to forestry; and in providing advice and recommendations as consultants on forestry issues to private woodlot owners, companies and municipal, provincial and federal governments


Interest in supervising programs to plan and direct woodlands harvesting, reforestation, silviculture, fire prevention and fire suppression programs, road building, wildlife management, environmental protection and insect and vegetation control programs; and in developing and overseeing programs for tree seedling production and woodlands nursery operations

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Oct 20, 2014

Foresters work in close consultation with other land and resource management specialists to ensure that forest land is managed wisely. Their objective is to optimize production of forest resources and minimize adverse impacts on the land, water and wildlife.

Foresters may:

  • prepare and manage plans for reforestation or forest renewal, and oversee seed and tree planting programs for areas where trees have been harvested or burned by forest fires
  • assess and deal with the impacts of wild fires, insects, diseases or pollution on forests and develop strategies to minimize forest losses
  • prepare and manage long term engineering plans and oversee forest engineering activities such as road layout and construction, bridge construction and culvert installation
  • plan and supervise long term timber harvesting sequences and operations to minimize the impact of harvesting on aesthetics, wildlife, soil and water resources
  • supervise timber harvesting contractors, tree planters and site preparation contractors 
  • plan forest land use activities such as recreational activities, domestic grazing and timber harvesting operations
  • plan and supervise access or well site drilling operations, power or pipelines
  • calculate and trade carbon credits 
  • advise government and industry officials on forest management issues and assess new forest management applications
  • use remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) applications
  • manage public involvement processes to identify best practices for forest land use
  • oversee the business aspects of forest use
  • develop and deliver public education and awareness programs
  • develop and use computer programs to aid in forest management.

Foresters may work in various industries related to forestry such as business and finance, oil, gas and mining, environment, power generation and product supply. They may also work in land inspection and enforcement to ensure that forest cleared lands are reclaimed to their most suitable end use, or that outdoor recreational activities and commercial land uses comply with the guidelines and regulations set for forested public lands.

Foresters working in watershed protection and wildlife management monitor wildlife populations and assess the impacts of forest operations on population and habitats, and study water yield variations following surface disturbances.

Forest research scientists and forestry research officers may work in forest management science and research areas such as:

  • investigating the impact of forest operations on soils, water, wildlife and their habitats
  • assessing human and environmental impacts (for example, air pollution, tree diseases, insects, fires and climate changes) on forest habitats
  • investigating and developing forest regeneration techniques
  • developing and testing new forest products and harvesting processes
  • conducting research on tree improvement (for example, developing superior trees through genetic selection)
  • assessing how changes in forests impact humans on a social and economic level
  • investigating new or alternative ways of enhancing forest renewal opportunities and/or minimizing the negative impact of harvesting.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 20, 2014

In entry level positions, foresters may spend a considerable amount of time working outdoors in the field, by themselves or with small crews. They may work in remote sites or bush camps or hike in rugged country, wet muskeg areas or over steep terrain in all kinds of weather conditions. Forest fire control activities are physically demanding and hazardous. To avoid harsh weather conditions and being outdoors for extended periods, foresters use various portable devices and GIS navigation. Foresters often use all-terrain vehicles, trucks, helicopters or skidoos which have made it easier to move around the forest.

Foresters may choose to continue working in field oriented positions but many Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) work primarily indoors, planning and administering programs or conducting research. Much of their time is spent on activities such as:

  • accumulating and analyzing data
  • working with a large team of professionals (for example, biologists, hydrologists) to complete land use plans
  • corresponding and meeting with industry, government and environmental group representatives
  • facilitating meetings with all land users
  • developing provincial and federal forest policy
  • writing reports or scientific papers
  • delivering presentations.
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Foresters need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to complete the required academic training
  • the ability to work effectively alone and in a team environment
  • good organizational and communication skills
  • a keen interest in all aspects of nature and a serious concern for the environment
  • the ability to direct the work of assistants and oversee several different projects at the same time.

Foresters should enjoy exploring things in depth, developing innovative studies and programs, dealing with people and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Foresters must have a university degree in forestry.Forestry research positions usually require at least a master's degree in forestry; often, a doctoral (PhD) degree is required for independent research positions. Computer skills are a definite asset, particularly familiarity with GIS and GPS systems.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Outdoor experience (camping, bush travel, use of all-terrain or four-wheel-drive vehicles) is a definite asset. The Alberta Junior Forest Rangers program, operated by Land and Forest Services, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, provides work related forestry experience for senior high school students.

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 20, 2014


Foresters plan, administer and direct programs related to managing forested lands and renewable resources.


Under the Regulated Forestry Profession Act [pdf] and the Registered Professional Foresters Regulation [pdf], you must be registered with the College of Alberta Professional Foresters (CAPF) to use protected titles reserved for regulated members. These titles include:

  • Registered Professional Forester
  • Registered Forester
  • Professional Forester
  • Forester-In-Training

Registration is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and intend to practise forestry on public lands.

What You Need

Registration requires:

  • An approved 4-year bachelor's degree in forestry, or equivalent
  • At least 2 years of suitable post-graduate work experience as a forester-in-training, or equivalent
  • Successful completion of the college's professional examination on Alberta forest policy and legislation

For detailed official information about registration requirements, contact the College of Alberta Professional Foresters (CAPF).

Working in Alberta

Foresters who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered foresters in Alberta and the jurisdiction which the applicant originates have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and the College of Alberta Professional Foresters (CAPF) website.

To learn about certification for internationally educated foresters, see Forester Registration Process.

Contact Details

College of Alberta Professional Foresters
200, 10544-106 St. NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5H 2X6

Call: 780-432-1177
Fax: 780-432-7046

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Foresters are employed by the following types of organizations:

  • companies that produce forest products (such as lumber, pulp and paper, plywood, panelboard)
  • consulting companies
  • educational institutions
  • government departments and agencies
  • power companies
  • oil and mining companies.

Some foresters are self-employed private consultants.

Because competition for entry level forestry positions is often keen, related summer work experience is practically a prerequisite for permanent employment.

After several years of work in junior positions, foresters may assume responsibility for assessing data gathered by forest technologists and forestry workers, planning and implementing projects and supervising technologists and forestry workers who do fieldwork. With additional experience, foresters may move into management and administrative positions.

Foresters who have several years of work experience also may move into related fields such as land use planning, reclamation work, vegetation control, surveying or working in provincial parks.

Foresters are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2122: Forestry Professionals. In Alberta, 96% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Salaries for foresters doing reclamation and remediation work or resource management and planning work in the environment industry, energy industry or other natural resources industries may be higher than in the forestry sector.

Forestry professionals

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $30.59 $45.40 $39.13 $41.20
Overall $35.10 $54.29 $47.36 $50.22
Top $35.40 $57.76 $51.62 $53.32

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 20, 2014

Alberta Junior Forest Rangers website:

College of Alberta Professional Foresters website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Dec 01, 2012. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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