Forestry Careers

Britain’s forests and woodlands provide a wide range of different career opportunities and there can’t be many sectors that provide a more inspiring and healthy place of work. The forestry sector requires individuals with skills and knowledge from different backgrounds if it is to continue to grow and flourish. A selection of some of the different career opportunities within the forestry sector have been provided for you to help assist you plan your career in forestry.

Please keep in mind this is just a guide and does not cover all forestry jobs and details for a specific job may vary depending on a range of factors.

Chainsaw Operator

Chainsaw operators carry out a range of manual chainsaw related tasks. This regularly involves the removal of felled tree limbs and the crosscutting of logs to agreed sizes. Chainsaw operators can work as part of a forestry crew or as a self-employed contractor. It is an advantage if you hold a minimum of chainsaw maintenance and crosscutting licences to practice. However, you may find some employers will insist on a minimum level of experience. Experienced operators and those who have completed a licence to practice certificate for the felling of trees may be tasked with the removal of small trees.

£9,000 – £13,000 per year (often paid by the hour or as a day rate)

Forest Craftsperson

Forest workers typically carry out practical activities which include tree planting, pruning, thinning and felling. They also work on protecting trees by carrying out weeding, pests control and wider forest management tasks such as fencing, footpath maintenance, coppicing, ride widening and practical habitat creation and management. To gain employment as a forest craftsperson a basic knowledge of forestry and woodland management at level 2 or above would be valuable as would licences to practice in chainsaw operations, pesticide application, tractor and tailor diving and pest control.

£12,000 – £17,000 per year (benefits including accommodation and transport sometimes offered)


Foresters are responsible for the day to day management of forest and woodland site to meet agreed management objectives. These may be commercial, recreational, conservation, aesthetic, educational or a combination of a range of objectives. Duties may include surveys/inventory of trees, wildlife, flora, fauna, waterways and other habitats. Foresters at some sites are responsible for the planning, delivery and evaluation of these tasks while at others they will be responsible for the recruitment, guidance and management of contractors. Whichever system is in place will require the forester to have a high level of knowledge and skill in multidisciplinary forestry. Often a degree in forestry or related subject as well as 2-3 years’ experience in forestry and woodland management is required.

£17,000 – £25,000 per year (benefits including accommodation and transport sometimes offered)

Forestry equipment operator

Forestry equipment operators run and operate skidders, harvesters, loaders and other heavy machinery. Much of this equipment is highly valuable and very technical to operate so requires high levels of skill that can only be achieved through experience. Working with forestry machinery presents its own set of health and safety concerns so employers often seek employees who demonstrate exemplary safety practices as well as a mature attitude. Qualifications are not essential as most positions provide on the job training but those with qualifications in forest harvesting, machinery and engineering are likely to be at an advantage. Licences to practice are available for forestry machinery operators which provide the recipient with proof that he/she has met the sector’s minimum requirements to operate selected forest machinery.

£20,000 – £30,000 per year

Forestry mechanical engineer

Due to the ever increasing development of forestry machinery there is an increasing demand for engineers with a knowledge and understanding of the principles of forestry equipment. Engineers are responsible for the construction, maintenance and upkeep of forestry machines often in the field. Forestry mechanical engineers are employed by large forestry machinery companies or as contractors. This means work is ether in large factories/assembly plants or on-site at locations across the country. Mechanical engineers require high skill and knowledge levels so would typically be at least engineer degree graduates or graduates of an industry apprenticeship scheme. Those with a background in agricultural engineering are also commonly employed within the sector.

£20,000 – £40.000 per year

Forest and woodland manager

The forest manager has a more managerial role. He/she will be responsible for the production, updating and development of the forest/woodland management plan. They require a broad knowledge and a deep understanding of forest management aims and objectives. Typically degree level qualified in forestry, countryside management, land management or closely related field. Skills including GPS, mapping, accounting, planning and contract negotiation make up the role much of which will be spent in an office using a computer. A knowledge of legal requirements, health and safety, funding applications are also highly sought after. A good level of fitness is required and walking over rough terrain is a normal part of the job. Large private estates often employ one or more forest workers, led by a head forester who is usually a forest manager. Many forest managers are self-employed and work under contract to their clients.

£25,000 – £40,000 (benefits including accommodation and transport sometimes offered)

Forestry agents

Agents provide a range of advisory and management roles to landowners (small to large, private to public institutions), to advise on acquisitions and disposals, the planning and implementation of management, sourcing grant opportunities, arranging timber sales on daily or periodic basis.