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Job Descriptions > Forestry Technicians


Modern forest management employs many “technicians”, who are skilled people experienced in the “technical” tasks that do not necessarily engage heavy equipment, tools or arduous labor. These methodological forestry tasks are considered “technical,” because they depend on applied-knowledge & skills in data recording, instruments, measurements, location, designation, interpretation, inspection, assessment, judgment, planning, monitoring, negotiation, supervision, and written & verbal communication.

Being a Forestry Technician encompasses a wide range of projects that demand technical jobs engaged in many complex activities, such as: contract inspection, inventory, harvest preparation, timber harvest operations, road building & maintenance, reforestation, site clean-up, tree stand care & thinning, fuel reduction, firefighting, erosion control, stream enhancement, habitat improvement, recreation maintenance, and property survey. Hundreds of forest technicians work daily to plan, assess, inspect, measure, layout, direct and monitor projects. These technicians assist professional foresters, engineers, biologists, geologists, contractors, landowners, and purchasers to implement projects important to manage the forest for renewable commodities and natural resource values.

These jobs perform technically-demanding work outdoors in the forest, and may work alone independently, in pairs, or in small groups. The technician spends much of their day at ever-changing outdoor locations, walking over forested, rough terrain, and traveling to/from remote forest jobsites. Technicians often drive to forest jobsites using employer-provided vehicles (pickup truck or other high-clearance), and technician is typically responsible for its basic service and refueling.

These highly-sought jobs often require job-tailored or specialized training, including some post-high school education or trade school certificate, as well as ample job experience. Becoming a proficient technician takes a tremendous amount of skill and experience, often learned by working your way up-the-ladder in related jobs, such as a forestry aid. Inexperienced new employees start in entry-level jobs to learn the trade from an experienced technician. Job experience usually can substitute for education in these skill-driven jobs.


BIOLOGY / HYDROLOGY TECHNICIAN
Resource/Biology Technician The resource/biology technician may perform a variety of different outdoor assignments, for the purpose of helping implement forest management projects that achieve desired natural resource objectives and multiple-uses. This job description outlines several different types of technician duties, which work on forest projects intended to benefit or maintain water, wildlife, fish, recreation and so forth. Resource technician may work independently to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on forest slopes, and use their applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Technician assignments may include: survey & inventory, locate & assess, field measure & record, field designate, plan & design, quality control, contract inspect & administer, and contract prepare. Resource technicians also assist the professional biologist, hydrologist, soil scientist, geologist, range conservationist, archeologist, landscape architect, or recreation manager. Just a few of the different forest assignments a resource technician may be involved with, include:

  • Contract inspection & oversight for resource work
  • Contract preparation, mapping and permitting
  • Stream survey for fish presence/fish habitat/large wood
  • Road drainage assessment for upgrades
  • GIS mapping of wetlands & streams
  • Wildlife habitat assessment
  • Snag inventory; wildlife tree creation
  • Endangered species surveys
  • Special resource site identification
  • Cattle grazing survey for forage utilization
  • Trail relocation; campground hazard tree removal
  • Identify high landslide hazard areas
  • Survey for cultural artifacts, historical attributes
  • Determine aesthetic seen areas from critical viewpoints
  • Assist the resource professionals for projects

Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of numerous natural resource instruments, electronic devices, and field data recorders. Communicates safe travel on single-lane forest roads using citizens band (CB) radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying instruments.

Prior Experience: Work as a forestry aid or forestry crew; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in natural resource technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced technician; demonstrated safe performance; written handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

DRILLING EXPLOSIVE SPECIALIST
The rock technician (drilling/explosives) performs an unusual outdoor assignment to safely break-apart solid rock in a rock quarry, or at a forest road construction project. The rock technician drills deep holes into hard rock, sets explosives into those holes, then explodes/fractures the rock into workable stone sizes—which can then be processed through a rock crusher to make gravel and other construction rock products. It is a precise art & science to use the rock drilling rig, and set the proper explosive charge, for the purpose of safely breaking the desired amount of rock. Operates the rock drilling rig, which is a mobile compressor-powered pneumatic drill, mounted on tracks. Rock technician places correct amounts of dynamite into the holes, then safely explodes (“shoots”) the charge to send the planned quantity of broken rock into the desired direction. Hazardous explosives and equipment must be safely stored, handled, and detonated using rigid procedures. This technician works with other professionals, technicians, and forestry crews on road construction or quarry rock crushing projects. May drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on rough forest terrain, and use applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of drilling equipment and explosives handling. Communicates safe explosives activities, drilling, and travel on single-lane forest roads using multiple electronic devices and radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying drilling supplies.

Prior Experience: Licensed User of Low or High Explosives & Blasting Agents, by the federal ATF; work as an engineering technician, at a rock quarry, or logging/forestry crew; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in engineering or forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced rock technician; demonstrated safe rock performance; written drilling and explosives handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

FIRE TECHNICIAN
The fire technician performs a variety of mostly outdoor assignments, to implement complex projects dealing with forest fire prevention, fuel hazard reduction, and firefighting. Some fire projects may use tree harvesting or prescribed fire to accomplish important goals, while other projects reduce the woody forest fuels that create hazard of unwanted and destructive wildfires. And, if a forest fire happens during the summer, the fire technician may be dispatched to a firefighting “incident management team.” This technician may work independently to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on rough forest terrain, and use their applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Fire technician assignments may include: contract inspect & administer, contract prepare, survey & inventory, locate & assess, field measure & record, field designate, plan & design, quality control, appraisal, and bid & negotiate. Just a few of the forest assignments a fire technician may be involved with, include:

  • Contract inspection & oversight for road & trail work
  • Contract preparation, mapping and permitting
  • Planning, location and design for fuel thinning projects
  • Prescribed under-burning of light forest fuels
  • Piling and burning of logging debris, “slash,” to reduce hazards
  • Supervise firefighting crews on a large wildfire
  • Communicate with recreation users about forest fire prevention
  • Inspect logging operators to assure fire prevention
  • Work with rural forest homeowners to reduce woody fire hazards near homes
  • Plan prescribed burns to prevent air quality intrusions
  • Plan to construct fuel breaks, where future fires could be contained
  • GIS mapping of fuel treatment and wildfires
  • Assist the professional fire managers and foresters

Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of numerous instruments, electronic devices, tools, and field data recorders. Communicates safe burning activities, firefighting, and travel on single-lane forest roads using multiple electronic devices and radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying tools and instruments.

Prior Experience: Work as a forestry aid, forestry crew or logging crew; capable of passing qualified firefighter tests; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced fire technician; demonstrated safe firefighting performance; written fire management handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-fire training.

FIREWATCH
A specialized job that watches for fires, the “firewatch” is assigned to outdoor logging and road construction operations, where heavy equipment is used. During the summer, the firewatch is responsible for safely observing & patrolling an industrial operating area for several hours after its daily shutdown—to assure that no sparks ignite to cause a forest fire. Commonly, a firewatch is also assigned to reside in a camper trailer near the operating area, performing additional full-time fire prevention and security oversight of the valuable timber, logs, machinery, and tools on the jobsite. Firewatch walks and drives on forest roads throughout the operating area; also, must be capable of operating fire pump and firefighting tools to safely attack a fire start. Travel around forest jobsites in a truck on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Communicates safe firewatch activities, firefighting, and travel on single-lane forest roads using radios and cell phones. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying tools and instruments.

Prior Experience: Drivers License; preferred experience on a logging or forestry crew; learn from work with experienced firewatch; demonstrated safe firefighting performance; written fire handbooks and other guides; on-the-job-fire training.

FORESTRY AID
The forestry aid is an entry-level job that performs a variety of mostly outdoor tasks, assignments, for the purpose of helping a technician implement forest management projects. The aid is an apprentice that typically works with another technician; though they may still be required to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites. The aid walks on forest slopes, and learns applied-knowledge to help complete tasks. Forestry aid assignments may help to: contract inspect & administer, contract prepare, survey & inventory, locate & assess, field measure & record, field designate, plan & design, quality control, and assist forestry and natural resource technicians. Requires learning to use numerous natural resource instruments, electronic devices, and field data recorders. Communicates safe travel on single-lane forest roads using citizens band (CB) radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying instruments.

Prior Experience: Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred experience on a forestry crew, or study in natural resource technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced technician; demonstrated safe performance; written handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

FORESTRY TECHNICIAN
The forestry technician performs a variety of mostly outdoor assignments, for the purpose of implementing complicated forest management projects. This technician may work independently to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on forest slopes, and use their applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Forestry technician assignments may include: contract inspect & administer, contract prepare, survey & inventory, locate & assess, field measure & record, field designate, plan & design, quality control, appraisal, bid & negotiate, purchase & trade, and assist the professional foresters. As the most common technician job, the forestry technician has four different specialties:

  1. Sale Preparation Technician—Performs jobs such as: timber cruising; timber marking; unit boundary layout & traverse; cable profiles; harvest designation; GIS mapping; inventory examinations
  2. Timber Harvest Technician— Performs jobs such as: timber appraisal; logging contract inspection & oversight; log quality control; log yard/deck sorts; bidding; log buying; timber procurement
  3. Reforestation Technician— Performs jobs such as: regeneration plans; contract inspection & oversight for tree planting, site preparation, erosion control seeding, cone collection, stocking survey, seedling protection, release-vegetation control, predator control, invasive brush control, slash piling
  4. Stand Management Technician— Performs jobs such as: pre-commercial thinning; fertilization; forest protection; fire prevention; road monitoring; road gating & access management; recreation management; GIS mapping of features; special uses

Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of numerous forestry instruments, electronic devices, and field data recorders. Communicates safe travel on single-lane forest roads using citizens band (CB) radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying forestry instruments.

Prior Experience: Work as a forestry aid, logging crew or forestry crew; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced forestry technician; demonstrated safe performance; written forestry handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

LAND SURVEYOR
The survey technician performs a variety of mostly outdoor assignments, involving the survey of real property that’s forested. Surveying projects identify landlines, property boundary locations, and the whereabouts of other legally-mapped features, such as easements for roads or utilities. This technician may work independently to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on rough forest terrain, and use their applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Survey technician assignments may involve several activities:

  • Contract inspection & oversight for surveyor work
  • Contract preparation, mapping and permitting
  • Topographic survey
  • Landline and corner location
  • Property boundary posting
  • Road rights-of-way survey & post
  • Easement or utility survey & post
  • GIS mapping of land attributes o Assist with survey needs on engineering projects
  • Assist the professional land surveyor

Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of numerous surveying & engineering instruments, electronic devices, and field data recorders. Communicates safe travel on single-lane forest roads using citizens band (CB) radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying surveying instruments.

Prior Experience: Work as a forestry aid, surveying crew or forestry crew; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in surveyor, engineering or forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced surveying technician; demonstrated safe performance; written surveying handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

LOG SCALER
The person measures the dimension and volume of logs, or the “log scaler,” is a technician that performs the exacting work of measuring individual logs to record their volume, grade and species. The scaler often works for an independent third-party company that provides unbiased, accurate log volume data. Accurate and honest log volume is critical because the payment for timber, and forestry contract work, is typically based on this scaled measurement. This technician usually works outdoors,and may work independently, or in teams, at a mill yard location, or a designated roadside scale site (called a scale ramp), where logs are usually delivered by truck. Requires skilled use of forestry instruments and field data recorders. Requires special safety clothing, outdoor standing & walking, and climbing over downed logs, while carrying forestry instruments.

Prior Experience: Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred experience as a forestry aid, logging crew or forestry crew; preferred study in forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; successful completion of log scaling class; learn from work with experienced log scaler; log scaling certification; demonstrated honest & ethical scaling performance; written log scaling handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.

ROAD MANAGEMENT TECHNICIAN
The engineering technician performs a variety of mostly outdoor assignments, for the purpose of implementing complicated forest road and construction projects. This technician may work independently to drive a vehicle to often-changing forest jobsites, walk on rough forest terrain, and use their applied-knowledge to complete the tasks. Engineering technician assignments may include: contract inspect & administer, contract prepare, survey & inventory, locate & assess, field measure & record, field designate, plan & design, quality control, appraisal, and bid & negotiate. This technician performs jobs that involve several activities:

  • Contract inspection & oversight for road & trail work
  • Contract preparation, mapping and permitting
  • Planning, location and design for roads and trails
  • Road & trail construction
  • Bridge and road drainage construction
  • Rock quarry crushing and road surfacing
  • Geotechnical engineering for road and quarry stability
  • GIS mapping of roads, facilities, etc
  • Road maintenance over the long-term
  • Assist the professional engineers

Travel to forest jobsites in a truck is on both highways and on unpaved, narrow, winding, steep forest roads. Technician works to safely route-find and drive to jobsite. Requires skilled use of numerous engineering instruments, electronic devices, and field data recorders. Communicates safe travel on single-lane forest roads using citizens band (CB) radios. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed trees, while carrying engineering instruments.

Prior Experience: Work as a forestry aid, surveying crew or forestry crew; Drivers License; high school diploma or GED; preferred study in engineering, surveying or forestry technology at high school, trade school or community college; learn from work with experienced engineering technician; demonstrated safe performance; written engineering handbooks and technical guides; on-the-job-training.