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Author Topic: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?  (Read 4110 times)

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Offline AsherADK

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Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« on: January 12, 2016, 01:59:23 PM »
I'm a 21 year old currently enrolled in a Computer Science program at SUNY Plattsburgh. Unfortunately as this next semester comes closer and closer for me, I keep feeling like this isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'm very "tech-savvy" as they say, but I enjoy my time spent outdoors much more. I'm an avid hiker and in general, love being among trees more than buildings. Being part of the management and preservation of the forest of any state or country seems like something I could enjoy for the rest of my life.

I live in the Adirondack Park of New York State, and my home is within driving range of Paul Smiths College which offers a bachelor degree in Forestry. I've always liked the idea of forestry as a career, and I am not really sure why I have not pursued it. I guess my concern has always been the viability of this career in the coming years. So my question really is how viable is forestry as a career? Assuming I do well in school, will I be able to land a job in this field fairly early out of the college gate? I've already earned an Associates Degree of Science at a SUNY accredited school with heavy emphasis on biology and environmental science in the courses I have taken.

For those who have there Forestry degrees and work in this field, are you happy with your job and is this something worth pursuing?

As well sorry if my thoughts seem all over the place. The last few days I've spent contemplating which career I should pursue and its's been stressful to say the least. I'm hoping someone who already practices Forestry can help put my thoughts in the right direction.

Offline beenthere

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2016, 02:40:26 PM »
It is a great career.  Might not pay out as much, but then pay isn't always the most important part of a job if it is enjoyable. IMO, go for it. Always can change out.
And plenty of application of computers in Forestry...
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2016, 02:41:34 PM »
Not what it used to be, but with computer science background you could do worse.  Most foresters with a new degree start at the bottom, you will be one step ahead of them.
The Ranger, home of Texas Forestry

Offline Stephen1

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 04:35:55 PM »
I do not believe you can go wrong in Forestry. Our resources and their management will always be in demand.
Find something you like to do and convince someone to pay you do it.  8)
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 05:25:14 PM »
When my friend and I were being driven to the New York State Ranger School in the winter of 1958 by his dad we were talking about the job opportunities and pay.
His dad who was a grad of Syracuse college of Forestry said remember boys don't let it be the money which can be scarce, but do it for the love of the profession.
We both never looked back.
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 05:28:26 PM »
I forgot to add check out the Ranger School.
Smittys is good but RS is better IMO.
But then I am prejudiced.

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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 05:47:25 PM »
Degrees in computer science and forestry would go well together in this day of increased technology being used in forest management. However, the higher you go with the attraction of more $$$, the farther you will get from the trees. ;)
~Ron

Offline ESFted

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2016, 08:10:16 PM »
Check out the possibilities at SUNY ESF.  A lot of choices relating to the great outdoors in addition to forest and resources management. Some good opportunities in the environmental studies areas.
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Offline CJennings

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2016, 06:15:59 PM »
It depends on what your goals are and what you want to do with your life. You won't get rich as a forester. The job market is a bit tough but not necessarily worse than many other fields these days. Just remember that private forestry work is going to be different from state or federal. The management goals are different. The government can afford to have longer rotations and less intensively managed stands, and sometimes they have no choice because of lawsuits. Private industry is going to be production and profit oriented, which doesn't necessarily mean bad management just different management. While in school try to get a taste of each if you can land summer employment with each sector of the industry in different summers.

I got my MF degree in Maine last spring and got a job afterwards as a seasonal forestry technician with the U.S. Forest Service in the UP of MI. What an adventure that turned out to be as I got to spend a lot of time around Lake Superior and got out West on wildfires too for a bit. My primary job was in timber sale prep, selecting and marking trees to be cut (or not cut), etc. Tree selection in a harvest has a major impact on the future of that forest so it's more than just spraying paint around. I loved the job and working with the Forest Service in spite of the red tape that's a bit daunting at times. Getting a full time year-round position with them is challenging to say the least. I don't know anyone there who didn't work seasonal for a while before getting it. The nice thing is I have 6 months of vacation time, the downside is I have 6 months of no pay unless I do self-employment for the winter or have a winter job somewhere. I came home to VT for the winter to get some work done on my woodlot and take care of some family stuff. I'm not interested in making tons of money, I don't spend much and was able to save up enough for the off season this summer by being kind of cheap. I like to spend a lot of time in the woods, and I have some personal interests in some research I will be using my land for (on butternut canker). So my current line of work works quite well for me. It might not be the lifestyle for you, but there are many options in forestry.

The higher you go as a forester in the Forest Service (or in any organization) the less time you'll spend in the field so keep that in mind. The full time foresters aren't doing much of the data collection or actual layout and marking of timber sales on the ground or such, technicians do that. The foresters are in the office writing prescriptions or contracts or reports, and much of their field work is to either inspect work or to address questions that the technicians have (i.e., examine potentially sensitive areas or clarify a prescription that doesn't seem to align with field conditions). I love working out prescriptions and writing those reports (I think I was the only one in my class whose favorite class was silviculture) so I am actively looking to move higher up long term but as I said above I like my current situation fine. You may find you don't like the office work as much as the field work.

Have you chatted with anyone in the forestry department at SUNY? You may consider taking an introductory course and see what you think after that. I know the undergrad students at UMaine had a first class that covered many different topics very broadly in forestry which would be great to give you a feel for things, I'm sure SUNY has something comparable.


Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2016, 04:49:25 PM »
I echo the above comment.
I was a private consulting forester and private landowners are usually around for only 1 or 2 rotations, unless they have a very long life.
govt foresters be it state or federal  have the privilege and mandate to manage for the long run.
My son is a sr. forester for NYS dept of Environ Cons and he wont take a promotion as it means 95 percent or even more office time.
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Offline clearcut

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2016, 07:20:13 PM »
Another consideration is lifestyle. Most forestry positions are in rural areas or near small towns. I think that is a good thing, but have friends that really enjoy living in an urban environment.

Also foresters tend to get established into one area. Knowledge of local soils, climate, forest composition, markets, contractors is something that is not easily left behind.

Computer scientists can work anywhere, but most work in larger cities.


Offline Magicman

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Re: Is Forestry a Good Career To Pursue?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2016, 08:29:43 AM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum AsherADK, and I wish you the best with your decision.   :P   8)
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