Foresters: Salary Overview
Foresters manage public and private forests, parks, and other natural resources.
Their job responsibilities may include inventorying the type and amount of standing timber, estimating its worth, negotiating a purchase, and drawing up contracts.
They also monitor the regeneration of the forest and determine how to conserve wildlife, water quality, and soil stability and may design plans to plant and grow new trees.
Foresters are mainly employed by state or local governments or by federal agencies but they may also be employed by lumber companies or private businesses.
Some foresters work in research- a field where they conduct studies on ecological relations and some also focus on conservation.
Foresters typically spend a lot of time outdoors but sometimes they also worked on computers, indoors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for foresters was $63,270 as of May 2019.
The median annual wage for foresters was $61,790- meaning that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this and half earned more.
Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors, including the forester’s level of experience, education, and industry of employment.
For example, an entry-level forester with a technical school diploma may earn more than an entry-level forester who doesn’t have any education beyond high school
Entry-level employees earned less than $38,890 per year while top workers earned more than $90,080 a year, as of May 2019.
Forester Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, foresters held 9,510 jobs in the United States in May 2019.
The biggest employer for foresters was the state government- a field that hired more than 3,200 workers in 2019.
Other foresters work for the Federal Executive Branch, for local governments, for logging companies, or for companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
The highest average annual wage was earned by foresters who worked in the field of electric power generation, transmission, and distribution- an industry that offered them a mean annual salary of $79,090 in May 2019.
Foresters who worked for sawmills and wood preservation companies earned an average annual wage of $68,970 while those who worked for companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services made around $67,870 per year.
The mean annual wage for foresters was $64,990 in the logging industry and $66,210 in the federal executive branch.
Foresters employed by state governments made a mean annual wage of $57,420 while those who worked for local governments made, on average, $63,990 a year.
Forester Salary by Compensation Structure
Many foresters earn a fixed salary but they may also be paid on an hourly basis.
The mean hourly wage for foresters was $30.42 but some foresters make less than $18.70 while others make more than $43.31, according to BLS.
Some foresters supplement their earnings with bonuses, commission, and profit-sharing.
The compensation package depends on the level of experience and skills, their role in the company, and the employer.
According to payscale.com, foresters made, on average, approximately $2,900 a year in bonuses, $3,000 in commission, and around $6,000 in profit sharing, as of May 2020.
The number of benefits a forester receives also vary depending on their experience and role in the company.
Entry-level foresters who have less than 1 year of experience in the field can receive less than $40,000 a year in total (including salary, bonuses, commission, and profit-sharing) while foresters in their late careers will make more than $65,000-$70,000 in total, according to Payscale.
Mid-career foresters will typically receive a total compensation somewhere in the range of $50,000-$55,000 but depending on your skills and the employer you can make more or less than this.
The report published by Payscale shows that most foresters received medical and dental insurance.
Vision insurance was also quite common; approximately half of the workers in this profession received this kind of benefit.
Many employers also offer paid vacation time.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Foresters. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.