Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Green Job Series: Careers in Sustainable Forestry [Fourth Installment]

This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series profiles science technician occupations in sustainable forestry.

Science Technician Occupations

Biological technicians, environmental science technicians, and forest and conservation technicians typically assist and are supervised by conservation scientists, environmental scientists and specialists, soil and plant scientists, foresters, and wildlife biologists.

Job Duties

Biological technicians may set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, and test tubes. They gather and prepare plant, water, and soil samples for laboratory analysis to test for pollution levels, diseases, and other factors that help determine the overall health level of the forest. Biological technicians may work in laboratories or outdoors, collecting samples and taking measurements.

Environmental science and protection technicians often work on teams with scientists and other technicians, to solve problems related to environmental degradation and public health. They may assist with inspections of forest lands, to ensure that environmental regulations are being followed. They also set up equipment to monitor pollution levels; collect samples of air, soil, water, and other materials for laboratory analysis; and prepare charts and reports that summarize test results.

Forest and conservation technicians work to improve the quality of forests and other natural resources. They assist with a variety of tasks, including gathering data on water and soil quality, assessing fire hazards, selecting and marking trees to be cut, tracking wildlife, and monitoring the activities of loggers and other forest users. Forest and conservation technicians may also supervise forest and conservation workers.

Education and Training

Biological technicians and environmental science and protection technicians typically have an associate's degree or comparable postsecondary training. Novice technicians are often trained on the job by more-experienced technicians. Technicians may receive their training at a technical or community college.

Forest and conservation technicians typically need an associate's degree in forestry or a related field. Employers look for technicians who have a degree that is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Many technical and community colleges offer programs in forestry technology or a related field. Some states have licensing and registration programs for forest and conservation technicians. These programs usually have requirements for education and work experience.


The table that follows shows wages for selected science technician occupations in May 2012. The wages shown are median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Biological technicians $39,750
Environmental science and protection technicians $41,240
Forest and conservation technicians $33,920

For more detailed information on science technician occupations in sustainable forestry, follow the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

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