SAF Certified Foresters
SAF Certified Foresters
Proven Professionals
Find a Certified Forester
Becoming a Certified Forester Hiring a Certified Forester
Print Version

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

Option #1
An earned degree at the baccalaureate or master's level from a SAF-accredited degree program.

Option #2
An earned degree at the baccalaureate, masters or doctorate level in forestry or related natural resources. The earned degree(s) must have 56 semester credits as specified in the forestry-related coursework areas a-d. (See forestry-related coursework) Examples of "related natural resources" include, but are not limited to, environmental studies, wildlife management, range management, or ecology.

Forestry-Related Coursework
For option 2, the SAF Staff under the direction of the Qualifications and Admission Committee of the Certification Review Board will review the degree content or additional credits to ensure content in four subject matter areas. 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.

Option #2
A minimum of 56 credit hours is required with 51 credits in the following distribution with an additional 5 credit hours in any of the forestry-related coursework areas.

    a. Ecology and Forest Biology - 15 credit hours
    b. Measurement of Forest Resources - 12 credit hours
    c. Management of Forest Resources - 15 credit hours
    d. Forest Resource Policy, Economics, and Administration - 9 credit hours
The other 5 credit hours may in be in of the above forestry-related coursework area.

The four subject matter areas are as follows:

a. Ecology and Forest Biology

  • Dendrology; forest vegetation, or plant taxonomy
  • Forest soils; or advanced soils (junior level or higher)
  • Forest ecology/ biology; silvics; wildlife biology/ecology; conservation biology; or wetland ecology
  • Forest entomology and pathology; integrated pest management
  • Fire ecology; or wildfire management

b. Measurement of Forest Resources

  • Forest mensuration; forest resource measurements
  • Land surveying; photogrammetry/remote sensing; principles and applications of geographic information systems
  • Forest resource inventory; forest inventory design, sampling methods and analysis; statistics

c. Management of Forest Resources

  • Silviculture; or advanced forest ecology (senior level or higher)
  • Forest resource management plans - design, development, implementation and analysis (timber, watershed, wildlife, recreation, endangered species - combinations - or urban forest applications)
  • Forest engineering; forest operations; timber/forest resource harvesting

d. Forest Resource Policy, Economics and Administration

  • Forest/natural resource policy - policy development and administration, law and regulation development and implementation
  • Forest/natural resource economics - markets, human resources, finance, business management
  • Professional ethics; responsibility and integrity, standards of practice, client/public/professional relationships

Experience Requirement

The experience requirement varies by educational option.

Options #1 and #2
Applicants must have five or more years of qualifying professional forestry experience within the past 10 years in two of the four experience areas.

ALL APPLICANTS must provide documentation, for each area, the time devoted specifically to activities in forestry, including a résumé to demonstrate that professional experience is experience areas below:
a. Resource Assessment

  • Collect preliminary data for a parcel of forest land (e.g., soils, cover types, access, stream and riparian areas, and legal and regulatory environment) using both on-the-ground and external data collection methods to identify the inventory strategy required for the property and to determine general condition, land capabilities, and management options.
  • Inventory selected resources to establish management direction and to facilitate achieving the stated objectives using accepted quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
  • Inventory forest condition (e.g., weeds, insect, disease surveys, fuel loading, and damage) using accepted survey methods in order to establish the basis for decision-making.
  • Delineate property boundaries using appropriate methods and licensed surveyors when required in order to determine the scope of the area to be managed.
  • Perform a resource supply-and-demand assessment for a discrete geographical area to determine availability and market conditions.
  • Determine potential productivity of the land base for identified resources using accepted procedures in order to evaluate management options.
b. Stakeholder Analysis and Relations
  • Identify potential stakeholders using relevant sources (e.g., landowner consultation, regulatory bodies, ownership records, lease documents, regionally important resource professionals and/or groups) to discern the level of their involvement in developing a strategy or management plan.
  • Evaluate the relative importance of each stakeholder's position to determine its level of impact on management planning and implementation, using legal and objective criteria.
  • Solicit input as appropriate by engaging stakeholders to incorporate their concerns effectively in management planning and implementation.
  • Review management options and their implications through consultation to assist the landowner in establishing objectives.
  • Advocate the importance of science-based forest policies, laws, and practices using appropriate channels of communication and influence to ensure the long-term capacity of the land to provide the variety of goods and services required by society.
c. Management Planning
  • Confirm land ownership using legal records to assure authority to make management decisions.
  • Describe the management goals determined in the stakeholder analysis in order to establish priorities and direction for management.
  • Describe the existing resource condition using the resource assessment to provide a basis for developing science-based management options.
  • Develop management options by evaluating economic and operational factors to meet owner objectives.
  • Establish management options using stakeholder input, existing laws and regulations, and the resource assessment in order to select the preferred option to meet owner objectives and address foreseeable conflicts.
  • Identify applicable standards, regulations, and practices by reviewing appropriate federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and voluntary practices to develop compliance strategies.
  • Describe operational methods and techniques by formulating the silvicultural system and associated practices as appropriate to achieve the established owner objectives.
  • Establish monitoring and adjustment strategies in order to ensure that owner objectives are met and conflicts mitigated by defining applicable procedures.
d. Execution of Management Plan
  • Implement the management plan using specified activities (e.g., surveying, harvesting, reforestation, site preparation, hazard reduction, road building) and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and voluntary practice standards in order to meet the owner objectives.
  • Develop a budget by estimating costs and revenues for specified activities in order to fund the management plan.
  • Prepare contracts or work plans by developing and negotiating detailed specifications in order to implement the management plans.
  • Administer contracts or work plans to ensure monitoring and enforcing specifications meet management plan objectives.
  • Monitor activities by measuring specified variables and indicators in order to ensure that the goals of the management plan are met.
  • Identify changes as they occur by monitoring indicators in order to adapt the management plan.

Copyright © 2016 Society of American Foresters
5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-2198
P: 301.897.8720   -   toll free: 866.897.8720   -   F: 301.897.3690   -   Email: