Forestry is the science and art of cultivating, maintaining, and developing forests for current and future uses. Typical tasks of a professional forester include but are not limited to:
A professional forester holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from a Society of American Foresters accredited forestry school. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Spring 2016 Salary survey, students graduating with a B.S. degree in forestry received an average starting salary of $34,412 per year. Starting salaries for those who have earned an M.S. degree averaged $44,111, and for those with a Ph.D. degree averaged $48,281. Starting salaries in various employment sectors will vary depending on experience. To become competitive in today’s economy, students are encouraged to take advantage of internship, cooperative education, and summer employment opportunities.
Companies within the forest products sector hire foresters to plan and conduct forest management activities. Many foresters spend considerable time during the early years of their careers working outdoors.
Most manage land and conduct timber sales for private landowners. Timber companies outsource forest and land management, so consulting firms are doing tasks formally done by industrial foresters. Preparation as a consultant can be done by working for a timber company, university, or consulting firm by building one's reputation and experience. Consultants are very often registered professional foresters.
Forest landowners may manage their own forest land for revenues from timber sales, non timber forest products, and other forest-related activities.
There are a number of these organizations that engage in activities related to forestry. They cover a wide range of endeavors such as conservation, research, and forest certification.
Foresters may eventually become executives in conservation organizations. Duties for upper-level positions often include management planning, contracting for forestry services, preparing reports, working for public relations, and managing budgets.
Such organizations hire foresters to administer or manage their forest land holdings. While many forestry operations are contracted out to consulting firms, these companies do hire a small number of foresters.
Many timber companies and private research organizations hire foresters to plan, establish, measure, and analyze research trials. These positions generally require a M.S. or Ph.D. degree.
Foresters are hired to manage vegetation on rights-of-way controlled by electric companies, natural gas companies, and other utilities.
Some forestry graduates find jobs in sales and distribution of forestry equipment or fertilizers, and chemicals used in the growing and utilizing of timber. Insurance companies also offer opportunities to sell insurance related to the forest industry or other forest-related activities.
A number of organizations hire foresters to work in forestry development overseas. Projects often involve forestry planning, technology transfer, developing community nurseries, initiating reforestation programs and consulting.
Larger courses frequently have a full-time horticulturist on staff that assumes responsibilities for tree management. However, forestry consultants are hired to assist with long-range planning, including tree management. Similarly, they contract with arborists for routine or emergency tree management.
Listed are several federal agencies that employ forestry graduates. Many foresters follow careers in federal agencies leading to top executive positions. Senior level positions often require expertise in management planning, contracting for forestry services, preparing reports, working in public relations, and managing budgets.
These organizations are responsible for the management and regulation of forest resources. Such organizations generally hire foresters who have earned a B.S. or M.S. degree.
Typical duties include the development and implementation of street tree maintenance programs, care and maintenance of trees on parkland; tree farm operations, and developing, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive strategies to manage, maintain, and protect trees in an urban forest.
These positions cover a broad range of topics relevant to the field of forestry. Teaching and research positions generally require a M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Extension specialists plan, coordinate, and conduct educational programs for a variety of forest-related audiences. They also work with public and private organizations to develop educational programs.
The Society of American Foresters accredits the five concentrations under the Mississippi State University Forestry major. The Department is consistently recognized as one of the premier programs in the South and one of the top programs in the U.S. Additionally, the forestry program is ranked in the top 5 among the Southeastern Conference schools. Our graduate program is ranked in the top 20 according to the 1999 Gourman Report of graduate forestry programs in the nation. If you are interested in pursuing a career in forestry from Mississippi State University, please contact the Forestry Department (325-2949), the College of Forest Resources Office of Student Services (325-9376), or the Career Center (325-3344) for more information.
Students or Graduates interested in employment should vist the College of Forest Resources Jobs Database for the most recent information and job postings
Other Mississippi State resources include
Federal Employment resources
State Employment resources