How To Become a Forestry Consultant in 7 Steps (Plus Salary)
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If you want to turn your passion for nature into a career, consider becoming a forestry consultant. These professionals advise government agencies and private landowners on how to use their natural tree resources. By pursuing this career, you can spend a lot of time outdoors and promote sustainability in your community.
In this article, we discuss the role of a forestry consultant, explain how to become a one in seven steps and review the job's typical salary, outlook and work environment.
What is a forestry consultant?
A forestry consultant is a conservation scientist who advises clients on the use of tree resources. They might help government facilities protect natural parks by creating environmental impact statements and establishing eco-friendly protocols. Some forestry consultants serve private landowners by conducting boundary surveys, providing damage estimates and testifying during litigations. Other responsibilities may include:
Increasing the profitability of logging operations
Helping landowners navigate tax issues
Overseeing tree-planting campaigns
Planning recreational designs around forests
Coordinating pest control efforts
Preserving wildlife habitats
Ensuring deforestation efforts comply with legal regulations
How to become a forestry consultant
Here's how to become a forestry consultant in seven steps:
1. Volunteer outdoors
Consider volunteering with an environmental organization to discover if this career is right for you. You might help clean up litter at a national park or plan a community garden. These opportunities also allow you to determine the consulting area in which you might eventually want to specialize.
2. Earn a college degree
Most forestry consultant positions require candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Consider majoring in a subject like forest management, environmental science or agricultural science. If you want to improve your job prospects and earning potential, you can pursue a master's degree or even a doctorate in your field.
Related: Top 10 Forestry Degree Jobs
3. Complete internships
While post-secondary education teaches you many of the necessary skills for forestry consulting, you can prepare yourself even more by completing internships. Try looking for part-time or summer opportunities through your college. Internships at environmental organizations allow you to build your network and develop skills like communication, project management and analytical thinking.
Related: How To Become a Forester (With FAQ)
4. Familiarize yourself with legal regulations
By planning development projects while adhering to national regulations, forestry consultants can maintain their reputations and protect clients from legal ramifications. Consider reviewing regulatory codes regarding national forests, renewable resources and endangered species. It's also important to be aware of state regulations, so ensure you familiarize yourself with laws relevant to the area where you plan to offer services.
Related: Learn About Being a Forester
5. Become certified
Some states require foresters, including forestry consultants, to become licensed. Examples of states with this requirement include Alabama, California, Maine and West Virginia. If your state requires licensure, ensure you apply through the appropriate state board and study to obtain a passing score on the exam. Renewal requirements usually involve completing continuing education credits.
If your state doesn't require licensure, you can earn certification through a reputable accrediting body. Certification allows any aspiring forestry consultant to demonstrate their industry knowledge and commitment to their career. Two common credentials include the Certified Forester and Candidate Certified Forester through the Society of American Foresters.
Related: Guide To Working as a Forester
6. Gain work experience
Forestry consulting is usually a mid-level position, meaning it's important to gain work experience so that you can advance your career. Try applying for entry-level jobs in forestry and wildlife management. By learning from experienced professionals and exploring different specialties, you can prepare for a career where clients rely on you for expert guidance on how to manage their tree resources.
7. Apply for consulting positions
After gaining around 10 years of forestry experience, you can qualify for more advanced consulting positions. Try to apply for positions at independent consulting firms and emphasize your eagerness to offer customized advice to each client. If you prefer to be self-employed, you might consider opening your own consulting firm. Independent consultants can choose the organizations they work for, whether they're government agencies and conservation groups or mining companies. You also have the freedom to offer comprehensive services or more specific solutions like surveying, herbicide applications or prescribed burns.
Salary and job outlook for forestry consultants
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for all foresters and conservation scientists is $63,750 per year. This amount can vary depending on where you live and how much relevant experience you have. If you're an independent forestry consultant, you may increase your earning potential by setting your own rates and offering specialized services.
As for job outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the employment of all foresters and conservation scientists to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030. The increase is largely due to renewed efforts to prevent wildfires. Particularly in the western United States, state and local governments require the expertise of forestry consultants to protect communities living near dry forested areas.
Work environment for forestry consultants
Forestry consultants tend to work full time during normal business hours. Their jobs are relatively active, as they visit clients' properties to analyze their resources and determine the appropriate recommendations. These professionals may walk long distances through dense forests and encounter natural hazards like wild animals. If a forestry consultant visits a logging operation, they wear protective gear like hardhats to reduce the risk of injury. When they're not visiting sites, these professionals review legal documents and meet with clients in traditional offices.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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