SAF Certified Foresters
SAF Certified Foresters
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Eligibility Requirements

To qualify to take the certification examination, all applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements.

Only current Certified Foresters qualify for the Certified Forester/Forest Certification Auditor exam.

Commitment to CF Standards of Professional Practice

Every Certified Forester or Candidate Certified Forester and applicant agrees to the CF Standards of Professional Practice. Signing the Certification Examination Application indicates acceptance of and willingness to comply with the Standards.

Education Requirement

Minimum education criteria can be met through one of three options described in detail below. It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate that he or she meets fully all eligibility criteria before being granted permission to sit for the CF examination.

Option 1
An earned degree at the baccalaureate or master’s level from a SAF-accredited or SAF-candidate curriculum.

NOTE: No doctoral or non-US degree programs and very few masters’ degree programs are or have ever been SAF-accredited. Associate programs will be eligible for accreditation beginning in 2009. An applicant with a degree from an SAF-accredited associates program must meet all education requirements provided in Option 3 to qualify for Certified Forester.

A list of institutions with accredited programs can be found on the Society of American Foresters website ( Please verify that a degree is accredited. SAF staff is able to assist you in determining whether your degree was received from an accredited program.

Option 2
An earned degree at the baccalaureate, master’s, or doctorate level in forestry from a non-SAF accredited curriculum so long as the degree content is approved by the Qualifications and Administration Committee (QAC) of the SAF Certification Review Board as meeting the course content in the subject matter areas outlined in Option 3 below.

Option 3
A baccalaureate degree in a related natural resources field along with a minor or an associate’s degree in forestry. Examples of “related natural resources field” include, but are not limited to, environmental studies, wildlife management, range management, or ecology.

If the baccalaureate degree is not in forestry, the degree content must be approved by the QAC.

The QAC will review the degree content to ensure that it contains courses or significant course content totaling between 56-72 credit hours, but in any event no less than 56 credit hours in forestry-related coursework.

The credit hours required in the following forestry-related coursework areas, a-d, total 51; the remaining 5 hours may be in any of the forestry-related coursework areas. For purposes of this section, “forestry-related coursework” is defined by four subject areas.

A “credit hour” shall be the equivalent of a semester credit hour, and not a quarter credit hour. One semester credit hour is equal to 1.5 quarter hours. A one semester credit hour course consists of 15 contact hours of class, lecture or recitation. A contact hour is defined as a minimum of 50 minutes in a 1 hour period. Two laboratory hours (a minimum) are equal to 1 contact hour of class, lecture or recitation.

Every applicant must submit an original certified final transcript showing the date and name of the professional forestry degree earned. Photocopies will not be accepted. If more than one degree is required to show coverage of required courses, all transcripts must be submitted.

For those applicants applying under options 2 or 3, applications must include a course description or syllabi to verify that the eligibility requirements have been met. Applicants may be requested to submit additional documentation.

Forestry graduates from all countries are invited to apply for certification; however, collegiate credits taken outside the United States often vary from the American system. Applicants who have earned credits from non-US programs must organize and present course titles, credits, and contents in the format listed in the application. SAF reserves the right to require independent verification of coursework completed at a non-U.S. based institution.

Experience Requirement

Certified Forester credential
Each applicant must demonstrate proficiency in two or more of the following four areas of professional forestry-related work experience.
  1. Resource Assessment
  2. Stakeholder Analysis and Relations
  3. Management Planning
  4. Execution of Management Plan
A full description on each area is available

Each applicant must have five-years or more of qualifying professional experience within the past 10 years, and can only include experience following conferral of the first forestry degree. Employment prior to conferral of first qualifying degree, including academic internships and cooperative work agreements, cannot count toward the experience requirement.

Candidate Certified Forester credential

Applicants must have less than five-years of qualifying experience in the past 10-years upon receipt of the application. Applicants do not need any professional forestry-related experience to apply for the Candidate Certified Forester credential.

Qualifying experience must follow the conferral of the first qualifying forestry degree. Employment prior to graduation, including academic internships and cooperative work agreements, cannot count toward the experience requirement.

Experience Credit for Advanced Education
Time spent in pursuit of an advanced academic degree may be credited toward professional experience, subject to the following:
  • A maximum of one (1) year of experience credit will be allowed for completion of the master's degree, a maximum of two (2) years' credit for the PhD, and a maximum of three (3) years' credit for a master's and PhD.
  • Experience credit will be given only upon completion of advanced degree(s) in forest resources management or a closely related discipline.
  • Applicants requesting experience credit for advanced degree work in forestry or a closely related discipline must request this credit on the Professional Experience Form of the CF application.

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