Forest and Conservation Technician

What Does a Forest and Conservation Technician Do?
Forest and conservation technicians work with conservation scientists or foresters to study and understand the elements of natural lands. In an effort to preserve nature’s rangelands and forests, forest and conservation technicians collect data on the size and condition of these vast areas, as well as the plant life, water supply and soil quality. Some of their activities include measuring timber, observing wildlife movement, assisting in road building operations and detecting property lines. Technicians also monitor the overall health and safety of the natural lands, such as its soil quality, any insect damage or diseased trees and plants and note poisonous plant life. They may participate in conservation activities, like forest propagation and maintaining recreational facilities. Other forest and conservation technicians work in urban forestry, which is the study of trees in cities. A major focus of technicians’ work is protecting natural lands and monitoring wildlife habitats, in addition to conserving soil, water and other sparse resources.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Forest and Conservation Technician?
The employment outlook for forest and conservation technicians should be favorable, with an expected job increase of 9 percent by 2018. State and local governments will provide many job opportunities within forestry specialties. This growth can also be attributed to the increased focus on conservation problems, such as environmental protection, consumption of water resources and control of invasive, damaging pests. With the ongoing demand of tree-based products, more forest and conservation technicians will be needed to monitor the use of natural lands to obtain these products and ensure that no one forest or rangeland is wiped clean of its plant life and wildlife. The salary outlook for forest and conservation technicians is also positive, with plenty of opportunities to increase pay and receive helpful benefits. Forest and conservation technicians made an average salary of $32,000 in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest levels of employment were in governmental work, such as federal executive branches, state and local governments and higher education institutions. For more information on forest and conservation technicians’ wage estimates and industry profiles, go to the Bureau’s Occupational Employment Statistics.

How Can I Become a Forest and Conservation Technician?
Before you can enter the field of forestry and conservation technology, you must complete the necessary educational and training steps first. Most forest and conservation technicians have at least an associate degree in applied science or science-related technology. An associate degree covers the fundamentals of science, math and conservation techniques that will protect natural lands and preserve their resources. During your two-year formal education, you will perform field experiments, by observing land samples, collecting data, and writing reports to interpret your findings. Once you have completed your educational training, you will be eligible to enter the exciting, challenging field of forestry and conservation. For job listings and technician career information, visit the Society of American Foresters.