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Author Topic: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please  (Read 1038 times)

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Offline BeOutdoors79

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Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« on: June 12, 2018, 02:40:59 PM »
Hello Everyone, 

I joined the forum today, and have been reviewing careers in forestry for the past month or so. So...here's my story. If you can provide any positive advice on how to enter a career based in/around forestry, I would greatly appreciate it!

I'm a 38 year old man with a wife, and two young kiddos. I live in California on about 2 acres, love being outdoors and constantly try out new adventurous outdoor activities (whitewater rafting, hiking mountainous terrain, backpacking, bushcraft, etc). I'm skilled in using a variety of tools to cut trees/logs and harvest lumber, such as chainsaws, axes, and log splitters. I have a deep appreciation for the forests and mountains, and I'm dedicated to environmental awareness and stewardship. 

I have a degree in business, and have been working in account management, project management, and marketing, and am just burned out. I want, no I NEED, to work outdoors and be a part of a solution to protect and support the environment. 

Based on my background, what are the best steps I can take to get into forestry? I live in the Paso Robles area of California, and could potentially relocate to Sacramento. Any advice that could help jumpstart my career search in this field is very appreciated!! I'm hoping to have a leg up with my current degree, even though it's not forestry related, to continue to support my family well, while also pursuing a career that's a match for me personally. Thank you!


Offline Gary_C

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2018, 05:02:23 PM »
Let me see if I understand, you are having a mid-life crisis and wish to put your family's future in jeopardy because you love the outdoors?

Best advice I could give you is to keep your present job and make your love for the outdoors your hobby to de-stress from your day job and be a happy camper. Or you could keep your day job, forget your love for the outdoors and spend your nights and weekends getting some training in some outdoor employment area of your liking in hope of getting one of the few opportunities that everyone with a love of the outdoors has on their wish list.

It sounds to me like you have a lot to be thankful for already. You just have to learn to love what you have instead of looking for a greener place. 
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2018, 05:03:58 PM »
Hi and welcome from Nova Scotia.

Sorry no help with the forestry questions but one thing did pop into my mind while reading your post about wanting a career change and your fondness of the outdoors was tourism by hiring out your outdoor skills in the form of adventure guiding.


Offline BeOutdoors79

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2018, 05:32:23 PM »
Let me see if I understand, you are having a mid-life crisis and wish to put your family's future in jeopardy because you love the outdoors?

Best advice I could give you is to keep your present job and make your love for the outdoors your hobby to de-stress from your day job and be a happy camper. Or you could keep your day job, forget your love for the outdoors and spend your nights and weekends getting some training in some outdoor employment area of your liking in hope of getting one of the few opportunities that everyone with a love of the outdoors has on their wish list.

It sounds to me like you have a lot to be thankful for already. You just have to learn to love what you have instead of looking for a greener place.
Thanks for your input, Gary. I was laid off from my job recently, which is why I'm looking for something more fitting to my personal interests. I would never put my family's future in jeopardy. I'm looking to move into something I enjoy, since this is the 3rd job I've had that I've had to endure company layoffs. Getting kinda tired of that concern, especially because I do want stability in my family. Spending time doing training would definitely interest me. I'm trying to find a place to dive into that by making more connections - that always helps!

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 08:40:20 PM »
Welcome to the Forum, this is a great place to be.  I can appreciate and understand your enthusiasm and desire to combine your passion with your income, but --- several things come to mind.  First given your education and relevant job experience you have shared here I can't think of a forestry related occupation you are qualified for that would replace what is probably a decent income you are accustomed to earning short of doing the same type of work, but for a forest related company, and it does not sound like that is the solution you are looking for.  

The second thing that comes to mind is the location you have identified, if someone asked me to list 100 places to look for forestry work I can guarantee you that Sacramento would not have made the cut.  Perhaps Weed, but definitely not Sacramento.  

The other thing that came right to mind is true for just about everyone I know who is in this business, this is a lifestyle choice, not a career, not a job.  That is both a personal choice and reality of what is required to make a go of it in this industry, and don't think that with scale the boss or owner gets to walk away from it more.  I know a guy, in his mid 60's, with a $17 million / year timber business and he drives up to two hours each way per day to harvest sites to oversee his crew - his pickup looks just like mine, full of paperwork, tools, spare parts, numbers to call, you name it.

I am not trying to discourage you here, rather open your eyes to the reality of what it is you are thinking about doing.  Maybe there is something on the side you could start up - small business, service oriented that would work well in the area you live in now, not really tree service work, but maybe heavy landscaping, the stuff a tree service does not do and the lawn mowing guys can't do, try to incorporate resource conservation practices - that has to be a biggie with all the water issues there in California these days.  Up-cycling of urban trees into furniture, flooring, pergolas, etc is a giant market that commands a premium.  Just a thought.     
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 12:25:16 AM »
what about some sort of state or federal park job?  Probably atleast comes with benefits.  


The entry point to forestry is work really hard for very little money.   It sounds like a step backward from where you are now.  
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 06:47:41 AM »
It sounds to me like you have a lot to be thankful for already. You just have to learn to love what you have instead of looking for a greener place.  


Poppycock. You are certainly young enough to reinvent yourself. I have a couple of times, and having worked in the marketing/media related fields I certainly understand. Never was it written that you must be doomed to the same career all of your life--things change, situations change, business changes.

I'd certainly take a scrutinizing look at the reality of your career selection's income opportunity (reality) and determine if you can afford to make the change. Easing into it is prudent, if possible. Can the family adapt/evolve to the new paradigm?

Be cognizant that what is fun as a past-time or hobby, can certainly be worlds apart from being a career. However, being outside is generally a win for most and you'll be hard pressed to find an "old timer" to talk to who was a desk jockey.

Lastly and likely most importantly: happy wife=happy life. Having her endorsement--TRUE 100% in, is key to your success. Some "I told you so's..." compounded with financial strain is a near perfect storm for future doom. I'd put up with a miserable job over a miserable wife ANY TIME! ;)

Welcome to the forum. There's enough collective wisdom here for you to make an informed decision. Good luck! smiley_thumbsup
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 11:22:20 AM »
It sounds to me like you have a lot to be thankful for already. You just have to learn to love what you have instead of looking for a greener place.  


Poppycock. You are certainly young enough to reinvent yourself. I have a couple of times, and having worked in the marketing/media related fields I certainly understand. Never was it written that you must be doomed to the same career all of your life--things change, situations change, business changes.


I'm not sure what you found in my advice as "poppycock" as you certainly did not refute anything I said.
It matters not whether you are talking about job, wife, home or leisure activities, being happy with what you have does not come automatically. You sometimes have to learn to appreciate what you have instead of searching for what you have not. That says nothing about not seeking new opportunities but you always have to evaluate if the new thing is truly better than what you have. 

Neither the grass or the trees are always greener on the other side of the forest.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 01:49:52 PM »
My wife, kids and i moved across the country, leaving a fairly easy life for a very hard one.  We had disposable income to burn and constant screaming matches.  Today we are buckled down and workin our butts off with not a cent to spare, but hardly any fighting and everyone is pretty happy.  Difficulty will either melt your relationship or mend it, and you wont know which one itll be until after the leap.  I expected us to be divorced by now.
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Offline BeOutdoors79

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2018, 02:33:10 PM »
It sounds to me like you have a lot to be thankful for already. You just have to learn to love what you have instead of looking for a greener place.  


Poppycock. You are certainly young enough to reinvent yourself. I have a couple of times, and having worked in the marketing/media related fields I certainly understand. Never was it written that you must be doomed to the same career all of your life--things change, situations change, business changes.

I'd certainly take a scrutinizing look at the reality of your career selection's income opportunity (reality) and determine if you can afford to make the change. Easing into it is prudent, if possible. Can the family adapt/evolve to the new paradigm?

Be cognizant that what is fun as a past-time or hobby, can certainly be worlds apart from being a career. However, being outside is generally a win for most and you'll be hard pressed to find an "old timer" to talk to who was a desk jockey.

Lastly and likely most importantly: happy wife=happy life. Having her endorsement--TRUE 100% in, is key to your success. Some "I told you so's..." compounded with financial strain is a near perfect storm for future doom. I'd put up with a miserable job over a miserable wife ANY TIME! ;)

Welcome to the forum. There's enough collective wisdom here for you to make an informed decision. Good luck! smiley_thumbsup
Thank you PA_Walnut! This is exact kind of positive, realistic, and helpful advice that I was looking for. Theres no doubt that I would be making less money, but Im more apt to strive for a better quality of life in which Im enjoying my time more during a 40+ hour work week, rather than simply earning a paycheck. Theres going to need to be a minimum level of earnings, which I can supplement with some income Im hoping to make on the side with a website Im launching. AND, youre totally right Happy Wife=Happy Life! Fortunately for me, shes supportive of my career move, as long as I can make it work for the family 👍🏼

Offline TKehl

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2018, 03:42:24 PM »
There are a million ways to make money.  I do several in order to support my farming habit.  ;)  With that, I offer 3 drastically different pieces of advice.
 
  •  There is money to be made where ones passion, experience, and abilities overlap.  I hear business, project management, outdoors, and CA and think construction.  Not perfect, but when something you love wont pay the bills but something you like and ticks most of the boxes does, thats an opportunity.  Maybe focus on solar, LEED certification, or etc. to tick that environmental support box.
  • Appliance repair and resale.  Hit craigslist.  Buy broken appliances.  Fix.  Resell with installation.  Take the old one home.  Wash rinse repeat.  😉  This can be done in a garage with a minivan and be a full time income.  If you dont like this idea, go to sidehustlenation.com for a bunch of other ideas.  Why?  This gives you free time to do other things and can be started on a shoestring.  Just dont plan on having regular hours (IE, this is not a 9-5).
  • Take a long hike.  At least a week or two.  Clear your head and see if forestry is what you really want to do or you just needed a recalibration vacation.  It may give you a new perspective.  You may still hate your old job, but you may come up with a completely different idea to what you want.
 
Ill also give the guide option a +1.  Especially with a marketing background, that really could be a good option.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2018, 05:58:01 PM »
[1] Theres going to need to be a minimum level of earnings, which I can supplement with some income Im hoping to make on the side with a website Im launching.
 

[2]Fortunately for me, shes supportive of my career move, as long as I can make it work for the family 👍🏼
[1.]  Never bank on income that SHOULD materialize.  Ive lost two houses, proving it doesnt always go how it should.  
[2.]  The question is how supportive will she be if it fails to work for the family. And what will you do about it?  Are you fluid enough to pull the parachute before a crash landing or will you take the whole gang down with you on this adventure?  
weigh if this is a NEED or a WANT and what collateral damages will there be for each party onboard.  The analogy i used was tarzan swinging from tree to tree by vine.  Youre only safe at the departure branch, and the arrival branch that you may or may not reach.  Its a chance. But calling it quits mid swing is surely a death sentence.  So how bad is the perch you are on, how far and awesome is the one you want to get to, and how good is your wifes grip?
Better have a savings account before you grab that vine.  Remember when you move away from an area you are also losing your entire support network.  Your doctor, your mechanic, her shrink and friends etc etc etc.  That compounds the difficulty.


To do what you are describing requires one to be quite bold, resilient and full of energy and optomism.  Taking some lumps and being humbled are likely.  Itll build character alright.
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Offline lxskllr

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2018, 07:01:53 PM »
I'm 49 and surveyor. Been outside since I was 18. Pay hasn't been great, but I've had a level of freedom, and seen interesting things most people in a box never have. I got laid off during the depression(call it what it was), and thought I'd like to get into IT. Due to my slim resume in that field, combined with my age, I didn't get any bites. Money isn't an issue for me. I'm not rich, but I also don't need much. The depression showed me how little I needed to get by.

Anyway, while applying for jobs, and reading around online, I was getting minor anxiety attacks fearing I'd land one of the jobs I was applying to. Working in a box, bureaucracy, and BS. Nothing like my life up to this point. My old boss hunted me down, and I'm back doing what I always did. The break did me good for a few reasons, and it was good to be back. It's not all roses, but I'm where I should be. The boss is getting old, and I don't want to do this work for anyone else. I'd like to get a side job working on trees myself. Maybe try to get with a small outfit on weekends or something. As I said, I need little money, so I have the luxury of starting *below* the bottom if necessary.

All of which is to say, maybe you just need a break to appreciate what you already have. I suspect your monetary needs are greater than mine, and while I know little about forestry, trades as a general rule are hard work and low pay until you've done them quite awhile. Money isn't everything though, so if being outside really makes you(and the wife!) happy, it might be the right thing to do. Maybe try looking for a side gig to get a real feel of what it's like before you commit everything.

Offline RPF2509

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2018, 08:06:21 PM »
Be outdoors - start by looking at the California Licensed Foresters web site CLFA.org.  There is a shortage of technicians and jobs are there though you are starting a bit late in the season.  The tree harvesting process in CA is complex and there is a need for boots on the ground.  Working for industrial companies is a bit more one locaation then working for consultants which tend to move around a lot.  Calfire is looking for people too but you would only qualify for an entry level position and may not find a job close to home.  Logging companies have a shortage of people as well though jobs often come by word of mouth - their day starts early and is long.  Best of luck - jobs are there for those willing to show up everyday and be lowman on the totem pole for the start

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2018, 04:59:23 AM »
Thank you PA_Walnut! This is exact kind of positive, realistic, and helpful advice that I was looking for. Theres no doubt that I would be making less money, but Im more apt to strive for a better quality of life in which Im enjoying my time more during a 40+ hour work week, rather than simply earning a paycheck. Theres going to need to be a minimum level of earnings, which I can supplement with some income Im hoping to make on the side with a website Im launching. AND, youre totally right Happy Wife=Happy Life! Fortunately for me, shes supportive of my career move, as long as I can make it work for the family 👍🏼


Glad to be of assist. There's some great wisdom added by others here. As I mentioned, good chance that when you figure out what you want to do, there's an abundance of knowledge and experience here that will help light the way. Best of luck.
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Offline BeOutdoors79

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2018, 12:12:21 PM »
Wow - thank you so much for the great advice everyone. I'm humbled to gain so much perspective. I'm up against a lot, but am valiantly optimistic in this adventure. I do NEED to be outdoors, so I'm finding the following options interesting - 

* Forestry
* Solar / Wind 
* Parks & Rec Opps
* CalFire
* City/County Jobs
* Adventure Guide

I'm combing through all outdoor options, while also keeping a pulse on marketing jobs in the area. I feel like I could snag a marketing job, but then I'm back where I am being unfulfilled. I have applied to a few outdoor/adventure brand companies that have marketing needs, but really do NEED to be outdoors to at least some extent. A 50/50 in office/field work would be ideal. I'm going to keep pushing!

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2018, 01:17:44 PM »
I was a facilities mechanic at a major manufacturer.  Lots of indoor work but i also plowed and mowed and did rooftop stuff.  It was a daily blend with tons of variety.  I actually really liked sitting on the mower or plow tractor for half the day, away from the intercom and forklift reverse alarms. 

Maybe groundskeeper at a big corporate place could do for a while.  The big employers are gonna have better pay and benefits than mom and pop places and they dont tend to work you to death like a small business has to. 
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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2018, 09:29:55 PM »
I thought about this thread earlier today.  I looked at a link to jobs at the nature conservancy. They had a variety of different jobs in a variety of locations. Some were field positions, some were not. It may be an option for you to use your background to get your foot in the door with an outdoor job,and move positions as you get more experience. I don't know much about them,  or really anything at all but it may be an option. 
Some of the fire agencies have a maximum age requirement for beginning a career, so you may need to check into that as well. 
Good luck 

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2018, 11:20:40 AM »
So looking at the map I see Paso Robles is near San Luis Obispo and the UC there has a forestry school.  Might be beneficial to go talk to someone there or see if there is a job board.  Also PR is not near any sort of major forest industry so you may have to think about moving to persue your dream/passion.  Before you do that try and narrow down what it is you really want to do.  Business experience is a plus as making a living off the outdoors is a business and you gotta make money to stay in business.  Don't limit your search to just forestry, many outdoor jobs can be found in the recreation or wildlife avenues.  Pay is usually low to start and work may not be year round.  For sure the jobs are out there if you are willing but the pay scale may not support a family of 4 in the beginning.  Maybe save up a grubstake, focus on what you really want to do, then go for it.

Offline BeOutdoors79

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Re: Baring My Soul! - Career Change Advice Please
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2018, 02:35:04 PM »
Thanks again everyone. I took some R&R time, and am now diving into every potential opportunity that I can come across in my local area. I found some potential options with a local Community Parks program, which looks very interesting and fills what I'm looking for. Going to keep trying to use my business skills to land something that fits my personal interests as well. If anyone else has additional resources, or knows good people to connect with, I'm all ears!! 


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