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Getting Started in Forestry


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SAF reviews both forestry and forest technology degree programs in the United States and Canada. SAF does not endorse one program of instruction over another, since there are many personal variables in selecting the most appropriate school (curriculum, tuition, financial aid, placement record, size, location, etc.). All programs listed (see links below) have passed rigorous review by the Society, and are well respected by employers.

Associate Degree Programs
If you’re interested woods-oriented field skills, review the SAF Accredited and Candidate Forest Technology Degree Programs for more information. These programs provide a two-year associates degree upon completion. Graduates, known as forest technicians, usually work in the forest under the supervision of a forester conducting such tasks as measuring timber and associated forest resources, inspecting harvesting, road building and regeneration operations; monitoring product utilization; locating property lines and features.

Forestry Degree Programs
The SAF Accredited and Candidate Professional Forestry and Urban Forestry Degree Programs include institutions that offer a bachelors degree or higher. Accreditation ensures that these programs have been reviewed for appropriate course work required by the forestry profession and are sought by employers of professional-level graduates.

Additional Factors to Consider

  • Geography: The location of an institution often has a major impact on the way a program meets its teaching objectives. Practical experience will often focus on the resource conditions and major forest management issues of that region. As a result, employers often hire graduates from programs in their immediate region.
  • Emphasis on Research: Programs that offer undergraduate (bachelors) and advanced degrees (masters, doctorate) may expose students to a greater emphasis on research than applied forestry. These programs often are national leaders in providing students with insight into new trends and advances in research within the forestry profession.
  • Placement: Programs that offer undergraduate degrees usually cater to local private industry or public resource management agency needs, and have a high placement rate for competent graduates.
  • Curriculum: Forest resource management education is currently quite broadly taught at most institutions within the country. There are a variety of disciplines covered in the curriculum that prepare the graduate for a variety of occupations upon graduation.

Review several programs and request information on their curricula, their job placement for graduates, and the specific benefits from attending their program. They should inform you of subject areas that they emphasize and the type of forester they graduate.