The forest industry is incredibly important to the well-being of Canada and Canadians: we need forests to remove carbon dioxide from the air and to stop soil erosion; to maintain biodiversity and ensure the survival of many species of flora and fauna; to build houses and for paper products; and finally because forests have long been a part of Canadian cultural heritage.
Since Canada contains approximately 10% of the Earth’s forests, there are many opportunities for students to grow their career options in the forest industry.
Jobs in forest pay better on average than other industries in Canada, earning about 11% more.
“Currently the industry is in critical need of skilled labour such as Mechanical, Chemical and Electrical Engineers, Chemists and Bio-Scientists, Millwrights, Pipefitters, Steam Engineers, Silviculturalists, Heavy Machine Operators, Accountants, Human Resource Co-ordinators, Sales and Marketing Specialists and many, many more,” says Monica Bailey, Director of Marketing Communications at the Forest Products Association of Canada.
Most jobs in the forest industry require some kind of post-secondary training, either at the college or university level.
College training programs specific to forestry allow grads to pursue careers as a Forest Technician or Technologists, who complete supervisory and technical work that supports forestry research and management, forest harvesting and resource protection as well as environmental protection. Many work in the forestry industry, but others may work for federal or provincial governments, industry or for consulting firms.
University degrees are a little bit more diverse and can cover several different faculties, with options like Forest Business Management, Forest Ecology, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, GIS, Environmental Engineering or Dendrology.
Depending on the specific degree program and focus, graduates may work in a variety of industries including forest products, but also for private companies, industry and government.
There are also numerous apprenticeship possibilities in the forestry industry for young people considering more hands-on approaches to their careers.
If you’re considering branching out into the forest industry, Monica says that there are many options for students both before and after graduation: “Many forest product companies offer apprenticeships, co-op placements and summer jobs,” she says. “We encourage students to take advantage of these openings by reaching out to the forest companies in their regions.”
In a labour market report from the Forest Products Sector Council, the forestry industry is expected to have to fill up to 130,000 jobs by 2020, with 60,000 of those jobs to be filled in the next eight years by women, recent immigrants and Indigenous peoples with the right education, experience and training.
Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection