2021 Forestry Degree Guide
Forestry is a major that combines many aspects of environmental conservation and management. Professionals have the ability to analyze the growth and production of trees, determine the relationship between forests and wildlife, and work to prevent forest fires. If you love the outdoors and would like to use scientific and mathematical skills to problem solve, Forestry may be your major.
Within the general major of Forestry are specific concentrations that allow you to work in different fields caring for trees near dense populations or determining how to grow trees for wood products while maintaining a balance with living organisms in the area. Some specific Forestry concentrations include Forest Sciences and Biology, Forest Management/Forest Resources Management, Urban Forestry, Wood Science and Wood Products/Pulp and Paper Technology, Forest Resources Production and Management, and Forest Technology/Technician.
When deciding on a school, keep in mind employers often employ applicants who have degrees from programs that are accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and other organizations.
Rapid Growth in Forestry Degrees Awarded
Forestry was the 187th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 2,339 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 184 over the prior year, a growth of 7.9%.
There are 94 schools offering degrees in forestry in the United States. Our 2020 Best Colleges for Forestry ranking analyzes 32 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for forestry students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of forestry programs later in this article.
Requirements for Getting a Degree in Forestry
A career in forestry requires a strong background in science, math, and computer science. A successful forester loves the outdoors and enjoys problem solving. Since a lot of the job requires being outside, you should be passionate about the outdoors and in good physical shape. You must also have strong analytical and critical thinking skills so you can properly analyze the data collected and decide how to best approach issues concerning trees, their production and product collection, and their relationship to local populations.
Foresters spend much of their time outdoors, possibly in remote locations, depending on the type of work they are doing. Work is done in all types of weather conditions, can be physically demanding, and may require extended stays at campsites. However, there are career options that allow foresters to work in labs, or work with the public teaching others about conservation and how to properly interact with the natural environment. Most forester jobs follow an average work schedule with occasional long hours when working on projects.
Internships, summer jobs, or work with environmental agencies is the best way to gain experience in the Forestry field. These experiences give students basic knowledge and forestry skills.
Prior Education for a Forestry Program
New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific forestry careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.
Types of Forestry Degrees
There are many different forestry degree levels. Forestry programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest forestry degree you can get. The type of forestry degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to forestry, with approximately 49.5% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for forestry workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma||11.4%|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||8.8%|
This of course varies depending on which forestry career you choose.
Many foresters are employed by state or federal governments, which oversee national parks, and work as forest and park rangers, managers or supervisors. Foresters are also employed by private firms to work as growers, assessors, and consultants or work in offices and labs performing experiments and working to create policies or solutions to forest related issues.
Currently the job market for foresters hasn't seen much of an increase, but the demand for foresters is expected to increase as the concern for environmental issues increases.
Growth Projected for Forestry Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your forestry degree? Forestry careers are expected to grow 3.7% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to forestry.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Worker Supervisors||49,700||2.1%|
|Forest and Conservation Technicians||34,500||3.9%|
|Forestry & Conservation Science Professors||2,300||4.5%|
How Much Money Do People With a Forestry Degree Make?
Recently graduated forestry students earned an average of $38,496 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $27,700 to as high as $65,300. As you might expect, salaries for forestry graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
Highest Paid Forestry Careers
Salaries for forestry graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers forestry grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Forestry & Conservation Science Professors||$92,550|
|Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Worker Supervisors||$50,790|
|Forest and Conservation Technicians||$40,110|
Getting Your Forestry Degree
With over 301 different forestry degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased forestry school rankings to help you with this.
Study Areas in Forestry
One of 5 majors within the Natural Resources & Conservation area of study, Forestry has other similar majors worth exploring.
Most Popular Majors Related to Forestry
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Natural Resources Conservation||21,552|
|Natural Resource Management||2,842|
|Natural Resources Conservation (Other)||151|