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Timber Scaler

Timber scalers measure logs or trees to determine volume and inspect for defects. They estimate how much timber is suitable for structural uses... 

  • Avg. Salary $63,945.00
  • Avg. Wage $32.35
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Log Scaler

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 Technologists and Technicians (2223) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Forestry Technologists and Technicians (C123) 
  • 2011 NOC: Forestry technologists and technicians (2223) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Timber Scaler is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Forestry Technologists and Technicians

Interest in supervising the construction of access routes, forest roads and forest tree nursery operations; and in implementing and supervising technical functions in silviculture and forest harvesting operations and in co-ordinating activities such as timber scaling, forest fire suppression, disease and insect control and pre-commercial thinning of forest stands


Interest in compiling information to monitor activities of logging companies and contractors, to enforce regulations, such as those concerning environmental protection, resource use, fire safety and accident prevention


Interest in precision working to provide technical support to forestry research programs in areas such as tree improvement, seed orchard operations, insect and disease surveys and experimental forestry and forest engineering research

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 11, 2017

Timber scalers measure the volume of sample truck loads of timber, decked trees or single trees to provide reliable estimates of harvested timber. Volume measurements are used to:

  • ensure the allowable harvest is not exceeded
  • determine how much the company owes loggers for cutting the timber
  • determine how much is owed to the provincial government for timber dues.

Duties and responsibilities vary somewhat from one job to another. For example, some companies expect scalers to buck (cut) logs into usable lengths before scaling them. In other companies, buckers perform this task. In general, however, scalers:

  • measure log lengths and diameters using scale sticks and logger tapes
  • use handheld computers or tally sheets to record measurements in the field and later upload or enter data into computer programs 
  • estimate the loss of volume caused by defects and the shape of a tree
  • identify cull logs containing excessive amounts of unsound wood
  • calculate the difference between gross volume and unusable volume to obtain usable volume
  • keep records of the amount, condition and species of each load of logs scaled.

Industry timber scalers are subject to periodic checks by the provincial government to ensure measurements are accurate.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 11, 2017

Timber scalers work outdoors, primarily in the fall and winter months. They work eight hour days with some overtime required when there is sufficient daylight available. Some scalers do other kinds of work in the warmer months.

Most scaling is done in mill yards. However, some bush scaling is required to determine volumes in logging cut blocks.

This work requires standing and bending for long periods of time. Safety precautions and equipment are required to reduce the risk of injury when working around large equipment or on decks of logs, particularly when they are covered with snow and are slippery.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 11, 2017

Timber scalers need the following characteristics:

  • physical stamina
  • the ability to work in cold conditions
  • the numerical and computer skills required to calculate volumes and keep accurate records.

They should enjoy:

  • taking responsibility for projects that require planning and decision-making
  • having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • performing tasks requiring precision.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 11, 2017

There are no standard minimum education requirements for timber scalers. However, they must know and be able to recognize different tree species and may be required to have at least Grade 10 education to attend training courses. Those who are self-employed need business management skills.

Employers generally prefer to hire people who have experience in the logging industry or related post-secondary education in forestry.

Scalers must be certified by the provincial government. The Hinton Training Centre offers five day provincial certification courses for timber scalers at the Centre and through Northern Lakes College in Grouard and Portage College in Lac La Biche. The colleges also may offer ten day courses which cover the same course content but allow more time for hands-on experience. Graduates who pass an exam are certified as Alberta permitted scalers.

For information about longer forestry certificate and diploma programs that include instruction for Alberta scaler certification, see the Forest Technologist and Forest Technician profiles.

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 11, 2017

Timber Scaler

Timber scalers measure logs or trees to determine the total volume and inspect logs for defects to estimate their usable content. Scalers may measure individual logs or decks of tree length timber.


Under Alberta's Forests Act and Scaling Regulation, scalers who provide harvest information to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development must follow procedures set out in the Regulation and hold a valid scaler's permit. There are two types of scaler's permit: scaler (full) and scaler (modified tree length).

What You Need

Certification for a modified tree length permit requires successful completion of a one day course and exam.

Certification for a full permit requires successful completion of a 30 hour course and an exam.

Scalers must be recertified every five years. For official, detailed information about certification requirements, contact Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development or visit their website.

Working in Alberta

Timber scalers who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory body elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified timber scalers in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Forest Management Branch
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
7th Floor, 9920 - 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta 
Canada  T5K 2M4
Phone number: 780-422-5239
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 310-0000
Fax number: 780-427-0075

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 11, 2017

Timber scalers are employed by wood processing facilities such as sawmills and woodland contractors.

Experienced scalers can move into other positions in mills, advance to supervisory positions or become self-employed contractors. Post-secondary education in forestry may improve advancement opportunities.

Timber scalers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2223: Forestry Technologists and Technicians. In Alberta, 90% 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 eventsaffecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • locationin 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 Mar 11, 2017

Timber scalers working on a contract basis may be paid by volume or a set rate per load. Load rates range from $200 to $285 a load but profits are less because contractors must pay their own costs.

Methods and amounts of payment for scaling services vary.

Forestry technologists and technicians

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 $16.00 $38.64 $27.17 $26.03
Overall $19.75 $49.91 $32.35 $30.57
Top $23.00 $49.91 $39.14 $39.00

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.

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 High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Natural Resources
    • Forestry
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 11, 2017

Hinton Training Centre website:

Work Wild website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jan 04, 2013. 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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