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Logging/Forestry Equipment Operators

Logging / forestry equipment operators use machinery and equipment to fell, skid, process and load trees at logging sites and to construct and reclaim temporary forest access roads.

  • Avg. Salary $50,522.00
  • Avg. Wage $27.79
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Equipment Operator, Feller Buncher Operator, Forestry Equipment Operator, Forwarder Operator, Log Loader Operator, Portable Chipper Operator, Processor Operator, Skidder Operator, Tree Cutter

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: Cable Yarding System Operators (8241.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Logging Machinery Operators (I151) 
  • 2011 NOC: Logging machinery operators (8241) 
  • 2016 NOC: Logging machinery operators (8241) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Logging/Forestry Equipment Operators is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Cable Yarding System Operators

Interest in driving - operating machines to transport trees from logging areas to landing and log-loading sites in mountainous terrain; and in assisting mechanics with major breakdowns and dismantling equipment


Interest in comparing information to clean and maintain yarder machinery; and in ensuring proper equipment conditions and normal operations


Interest in making minor repairs

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 Mar 04, 2021

Logging / forestry equipment operators perform a broad range of logging operations to harvest timber. They use machines to convert standing trees into forms suitable to be transported in log-haul trucks for use in mills.

Logging / forestry equipment operators work in natural settings to meet environmental, log quality and utilization standards. The complex machines they operate may require manipulating levers and foot pedals and using onboard computers to monitor and control operations.

Depending on the harvesting method, several logging / forestry equipment operators may be required at each logging site. These may include:

  • Feller-buncher operators who operate tracked, excavator-like machines that cut trees at the base and pile them in bunches to be moved elsewhere
  • Delimber operators, who operate machines that remove limbs and log defects from felled trees and buck logs to meet requirements
  • Harvesters, who operate machines that can fell, de-limb and cut trees into logs of full or short wood lengths. The logs are then bunched into piles for delivery to roadsides
  • Skidder operators, who operate rubber tired, 4-wheel drive machines that move trees from the harvest area to the roadside and pile trees to allow easy access for delimber or process operators
  • Processor operators, who operate excavator-like machines that de-limb and process trees at the roadside. This usually involves stripping limbs, cutting logs into predetermined lengths and piling them for loading
  • Forwarder operators, who load and carry logs over undeveloped trails to the roadside
  • Log loader operators, who raise logs as smoothly and accurately as possible and place them on log haul trucks to form balanced loads within legal axle-weight limits. Once the logs are at the mill, log loader operators take the logs off the log-haul trucks
  • Portable chipper operators, who operate machines that reduce whole trees to chips at the harvest site roadside. They then blow the chips into tractor-trailer units to be hauled to pulp or paper manufacturing plants

Working with logging / forestry equipment requires skill and concentration. To operate increasingly sophisticated equipment, operators also monitor on-board computers that illustrate machine health, productivity and location in the operating area. Operators must have the knowledge required to make harvesting decisions that can have a long-term impact on the forest.

For example, tree processor operators must know about log quality and be able to interpret printouts generated by onboard computers. They also must be able to maintain complex equipment. Operators should also have basic mechanic skills to run pre-checks on equipment before operations start, or to perform minor repairs on equipment in the field.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 04, 2021

Logging / forestry equipment operators may work primarily in comfortable cabs, or outdoors in noisy environments and extreme weather conditions. They may work on steep, wet or uneven terrain. Maintenance and minor repairs are commonly conducted on the machines in these outdoor environments. Operators regularly lift items weighing up to 10 kilograms. Occasionally they are required to manually lift loads weighing up to 20 kilograms.

Hours of work may include 12-hour shifts and night shifts. Operators may commute daily to the logging site or be away from home for periods of a week or more in isolated logging camps.

Logging / forestry equipment operators are exposed to hazards associated with operating heavy equipment and working in a forest environment. Health and safety risks have been greatly reduced through advances in technology, safety engineering and operating procedures.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 04, 2021

Logging/forestry equipment operators need:

  • An interest in working in a forest environment
  • Strength and stamina
  • Good hand-eye co-ordination
  • Accuracy in judging distances
  • Alertness while performing repetitious tasks
  • Communication skills, to pass oral /written exams and handle the required paper work
  • An ability to make quick decisions
  • An ability to work alone and in a team
  • An ability to use a tablet or on-board computer

Operators should enjoy driving and operating heavy equipment, having clear rules and organized methods for their work, and servicing machinery.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 04, 2021

There are no formal educational requirements for logging / forestry equipment operator occupations. Logging / forestry equipment operators learn their skills through occupation-specific training and while on the job. However, applicants must be able to read manuals and other materials that are written at a Grade 9 reading level.

Before they are allowed on site, new hires may be required to have:

  • A first aid certificate
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) training
  • Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) training
  • Sour Gas (H2S) training
  • Ground Disturbance training

The following qualifications would be definite assets when seeking employment:

  • Related experience or training (for example, in hydraulic / electronic heavy equipment operation, hazards assessment or the use of global positioning and data systems)
  • Wildlife safety training
  • Chain saw certificate
  • Equipment maintenance and service training
  • A high school diploma
  • Forestry or environmental courses (for example, training related to water course crossing, harvesting ground rules and log quality)

Most companies provide on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced, competent worker. The length of the training period varies with the type of machine and the trainee’s ability, but usually takes about 6 months. Peak productivity usually takes 1 to 5 years operating. On-the-job training may be supplemented by a few weeks of training sponsored by an equipment manufacturer. Besides equipment training, operators will complete environmental management system training annually. This may be in person, self-study, or online.

Trained logging / forestry equipment operators must be able to:

  • Accurately identify tree species
  • Employ efficient, sound felling and logging practices
  • Maintain equipment effectively
  • Read maps
  • Adapt methods to suit local conditions
  • Understand and meet environmental practice standards

A working knowledge of provincial harvesting rules and regulations governing logging is essential to minimize environmental damage.

Because machinery maintenance is required during the off season and when breakdowns occur, operators should have the mechanical skills required to handle minor repairs and recognize major problems.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 04, 2021

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 04, 2021

Logging / forestry equipment operators are employed by:

  • Logging contractors
  • Forestry and lumber companies
  • Pulp and paper companies
  • Oil and gas companies (for right-of-way cutting)
  • Utility companies (for right-of-way cutting)

Logging / forestry equipment operators often work on a seasonal basis in Alberta, usually from September / October to March / April (depending on the arrival/departure of frost and how wet the ground is). Private contractors may work year-round, depending on the method of logging and where cut blocks are located. Many companies combine their logging operations with other heavy equipment work to create year-round employment.

Operators may advance from operating simpler machines to more complex ones or move into operating other heavy-duty equipment such as backhoes, crawler tractors, scarifiers and graders. For more information, see the Heavy Equipment Operator occupational profile. Those with several years of work experience and demonstrated leadership abilities may advance to crew foreman and supervisory positions. Some purchase their own equipment and become private contractors.

Logging / forestry equipment operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8241: Logging machinery operators. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

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

  • Time of year (see above)
  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 8241: Logging machinery operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 04, 2021

Hourly wages for logging / forestry equipment operators vary depending on the employer and the type of work performed. Some logging / forestry equipment operators work on a piecework basis, which means their pay is based on the volume and quality of work performed.

Logging machinery operators

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 $17.00 $26.50 $21.57 $22.00
Overall $26.00 $34.20 $27.79 $26.60
Top $26.00 $38.50 $32.23 $34.00

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Forestry, Logging, Fishing and Hunting

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
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 04, 2021

Woodlands Operations Learning Foundation website:

Work Wild website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 04, 2021. 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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