Forestry worker

forest craftsperson harvester tractor driver chainsaw operator
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for forestry worker

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

It’s a great time to join the forest industry, whether you're starting out or changing career. You'll help tackle the climate emergency and work towards a green recovery after Covid-19.

Forestry plays an important part in the nature-based sector. It has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, including creating 18,000 hectares of woodland a year by 2024. This is helping to support Scotland's transition to net zero by 2045.

In this role, you'd carry out practical tasks in forests and woodlands to help care for and protect the environment. You’d plant, prune, and fell trees. You’d also protect trees from pests and disease.

You’d need to be safety-conscious, responsible and may need a good head for heights.

You would:

  • mark and measure trees for cutting down

  • prepare the ground for planting by clearing undergrowth

  • plant new tree seedlings

  • dig out or install drainage systems

  • trim and cut back shrubs and other ground cover to promote the healthy growth of trees

  • use specialist tools to thin out densely wooded areas

  • harvest trees, strip branches and cut felled tree trunks into specific lengths

  • protect the forest against insect pests and disease, particularly young trees

  • clear footpaths and nature trails, and maintain adjoining car parks

Other tasks include keeping recreational sites and woodland areas fit for public use. This may involve putting up fences, gates, footpath signs and public information notices.

You may be responsible for checking and looking after basic fire-fighting equipment near wooded areas. Your work could involve helping to tackle forest fires if necessary.

Working conditions


As a forest worker you'll usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to do some overtime and weekend work during busy periods. Part-time and casual work is possible.


You'd work outdoors in all weathers. This is a physically hard job and you need to be fit. The work can be dangerous as you'll be using power tools and heavy machinery. You may need protective clothing. You'll also need to use a safety harness if working from height and carrying out tree climbing activities.


You may need to do a lot of travelling between different sites, so most employers will expect you to have a driving licence.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Implementing ideas
  • Taking initiative
  • Taking responsibility

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


A good general education is normally required for this role and many employers look for National 4s / National 5s (SCQF level 4/5).

A Higher National Certificate in Forestry (SCQF level 7) would be useful. Most NC courses require applicants to have a Higher (SCQF level 6).

An Modern Apprenticeship is also available through the Forestry Commission. For a Modern Apprenticeship you should have National 5 (SCQF level 5) Maths and English.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • maths
  • science
  • geography
  • computer science

You will also need

  • a driving licence, for the Modern Apprenticeship 
  • to be physically fit

Helpful to have

Previous outdoor work or volunteering experience can be beneficial. It might also be useful to have an outdoor qualification such as the John Muir Award or the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.