Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-2DxR47ot8. Quick Facts: Logging Workers 2020 Median Pay Typical Entry-Level Education Work Experience in a Related Occupation On-the-job Training Number of Jobs, 2020 Job Outlook, 2020-30 Employment Change, 2020-30
$42,350 per year $20.36 per hour
High school diploma or equivalent
None
Moderate-term on-the-job training
45,500
7% (As fast as average)
3,100

What Logging Workers Do

Logging workers harvest forests to provide the raw material for many consumer goods and industrial products.

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Work Environment

Logging is physically demanding and can be dangerous. Workers spend all their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas.

How to Become a Logging Worker

Most logging workers have a high school diploma. They get on-the-job training to become familiar with forest environments and to learn how to operate logging machinery.

Pay

The median annual wage for logging workers was $42,350 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employmentof logging workers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 7,400 openings for logging workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for logging workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of logging workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about logging workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.


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Logging workers harvest thousands of acres of forests each year. The timber they harvest provides the raw material for countless consumer and industrial products.

Duties

Logging workers typically do the following:

Cut down treesFasten cables around logs to be dragged by tractorsOperate machinery that drag logs to the landing or deck areaSeparate logs by species and type of wood and load them onto trucksDrive and maneuver feller–buncher tree harvesters to shear trees and cut logs into desired lengthsGrade logs according to characteristics such as knot size and straightnessInspect equipment for safety, and perform necessary basic maintenance tasks, before using the equipment

The cutting and logging of timber is done by a logging crew. The following are examples of types of logging workers:

Fallers cut down trees with hand-held power chain saws.

Buckers work alongside fallers, trimming the tops and branches of felled trees and bucking (cutting) the logs into specific lengths.

Tree climbers use special equipment to scale tall trees and remove their limbs. They carry heavy tools and safety gear as they climb the trees, and are kept safe by a harness attached to a rope.

Choke setters fasten steel cables or chains, known as chokers, around logs to be skidded (dragged) by tractors or forwarded by the cable-yarding system to the landing or deck area, where the logs are separated by species and type of product.

Rigging slingers and chasers set up and dismantle the cables and guy wires of the yarding system.

Log sorters, markers, movers, and chippers sort, mark, and move logs on the basis of their species, size, and ownership. They also tend machines that chip up logs.

Logging equipment operators use tree harvesters to fell trees, shear off tree limbs, and cut trees into desired lengths. They drive tractors and operate self-propelled machines called skidders or forwarders, which drag or otherwise transport logs to a loading area.

Log graders and scalers inspect logs for defects and measure the logs to determine their volume. They estimate the value of logs or pulpwood. These workers often use hand-held data collection devices into which they enter data about trees.

A logging crew might consist of the following members:

one or two tree fallers or one or two logging equipment operators with a tree harvester to cut down treesone bucker to cut logstwo choke setters with tractors to drag felled trees to the loading deckone logging equipment operator to delimb, cut logs to length, and load the logs onto van
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Logging workers held about 45,500 jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up logging workers was distributed as follows:

Logging equipment operators 30,900
Fallers 5,600
Logging workers, all other 5,000
Log graders and scalers 4,000

The largest employers of logging workers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 14%
Sawmills and wood preservation 12
Support activities for agriculture and forestry 4
Crop production 2

Logging is physically demanding and can be dangerous. Workers spend all their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas. The increased use of enclosed machines has decreased some of the discomforts caused by bad weather and has generally made logging much safer.

Most logging work involves lifting, climbing, and other strenuous activities, although machinery has eliminated some heavy labor. Falling branches, vines, and rough terrain are constant hazards, as are dangers associated with felling trees and handling logs.

Chain saws and other power equipment can be dangerous; therefore, workers must be careful and must use proper safety measures and equipment, such as hardhats, safety clothing, hearing protection devices, and boots.

Injuries and Illnesses

Despite the industry’s strong emphasis on safety, logging workers sometimes get injured on the job. And although fatalities are uncommon, fallers experience one of the highest rates of occupational fatalities of all occupations. Most fatalities occur through contact with a machine or an object, such as a log.

Work Schedules

Workers sometimes commute long distances between their homes and logging sites. In more densely populated states, commuting distances are shorter. Logging work is often seasonal, and workers can find more employment opportunities during the warmer months because snow and cold weather adversely affect working conditions.


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Most logging workers have a high school diploma. They get on-the-job training to become familiar with forest environments and to learn how to operate logging machinery.

Education

A high school diploma is enough for most logging worker jobs. Some vocational or technical schools and community colleges offer associate’s degrees or certificates in forest technology. This additional education may help workers get a job. Programs may include field trips to observe or participate in logging activities.

A few community colleges offer education programs for logging equipment operators.

Training

Many states have training programs for loggers. Although specific coursework may vary by state, programs usually include technical instruction or field training in a number of areas, including best management practices, environmental compliance, and reforestation.

Safety training is a vital part of logging workers’ instruction. Many state forestry or logging associations provide training sessions for logging equipment operators, whose jobs require more technical skill than other logging positions. Sessions take place in the field, where trainees have the opportunity to practice various logging techniques and use particular equipment.

Logging companies and trade associations offer training programs for workers who operate large, expensive machinery and equipment. These programs often culminate in a state-recognized safety certification from the logging company.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Logging workers must communicate with other crew members so that they can cut and delimb trees efficiently and safely.

Decisionmaking skills. Logging workers must make quick, intelligent decisions when hazards arise.

Detail oriented. Logging workers must watch gauges, dials, and other indicators to determine whether their equipment and tools are working properly.

Physical stamina.

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Logging workers need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly.