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Forestry and Logging Worker

Kaimahi Waonui/​Tope Rākau

Alternative titles for this job

Forestry and logging workers plant, maintain, measure, cut and clear trees from forests.


Trainee forestry and logging workers usually earn

$47K-$65K per year

Qualified forestry and logging workers usually earn

$65K-$75K per year

Source: Forestry Careers NZ, 2020.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a forestry and logging worker are good due to strong demand.


Pay for forestry and logging workers varies depending on experience.

  • Entry-level forestry and logging workers usually earn between $47,000 and $48,000 a year.
  • Those working towards qualifications usually earn between $47,000 and $65,000. 
  • Forestry and logging workers qualified in an area of logging, such as tree felling or machine operating to Level 3, usually earn between $65,000 and $75,000.
  • Crew managers and specialised operators may earn between $100,000 and $120,000. 

Forestry silviculture workers are usually paid on a piece-rate basis – for example, when pruning they are paid a set amount for every tree they prune.

Source: Forestry Careers NZ, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Forestry and logging workers may do some or all of the following:

  • prepare and maintain the ground surrounding trees
  • plant, prune and thin trees
  • monitor and measure the growth of trees
  • gather aerial data about a tree crop 
  • select and cut down trees
  • use harvesting machinery to drag logs from the bush and remove branches from logs
  • operate loaders to move logs into stacks or to load trucks
  • assess log quality, and cut to size
  • measure and grade logs
  • maintain and repair chainsaws and equipment.

Skills and knowledge

Forestry and logging workers need to have:

  • knowledge of tree and timber types
  • knowledge of tree pruning, felling, cutting and trimming methods
  • knowledge of health and safety requirements in the forest, including first aid skills
  • skill in operating machines and using technology such as drones
  • chainsaw operation skills
  • mechanical skills
  • heavy vehicle handling skills
  • firefighting skills.

Working conditions

Forestry and logging workers:

  • usually work from 6am to 4pm week days, and may work on Saturdays
  • work in forests, bush and scrubland in rural or isolated areas, and may have to travel up to an hour to their workplaces
  • work in all weather conditions, and their working environment may be hazardous and noisy.

What's the job really like?

Forestry and logging worker video

Matt Stewart talks about being a forestry apprentice at Stewart Logging - 2.41 mins. (Video courtesy of Competenz)

Matt: My name’s Matt Stewart and I’ve completed my four-year apprenticeship in machine operations. First off, I started doing a general engineering apprenticeship for four years and then completed that and my dad needed a hauler-operator so I thought I’d come and give him a hand with the engineering background – that sort of helped him out quite a lot.

Grant: This is a family business. My wife runs all the bookwork and Matt – he's my hauler-operator – he’s done an apprenticeship and yeah, he’s done really well.

Matt: I got qualified as a machine operator and a yarder or a hauler. Last year I was awarded Apprentice of the Year and I was proud that I could sort of take that award because I’ve worked pretty hard to get it.

Iain: Forestry's, yeah, it’s a skilled work. You can’t just get anybody off the street and do it. Now they could be driving machinery worth several hundred thousands of millions of dollars. And then the other real big one is obviously health and safety. The well-trained guy needs to be able to do it safely because we’re talking about big machines and big trees.

Yeah, as a forest company we are reliant on Competenz to set high standards for their qualifications. We can’t just have people coming out and getting something that they might have got out of the side of a Weetbix packet. We want to know that when they come on site, they know what they’re doing, they’re doing it safely and they’re doing a good job.

Matt: Yeah, after you’ve finished your apprenticeship in the bush there’s definitely a lot of opportunities to go further up in the rankings. You can get yourself up into management skills or even run a crew yourself.

I’ve learnt heaps. I can’t even explain how much I’ve learnt really. Competenz have been really good. They’ve been on my tail for my books and the role for them was to sort of support me by getting through my apprenticeship and also, where I wanted to head in the future. Yeah, they’ve been great.

Grant: Yeah, you can make a good career out of it. I have. I started off at the bottom and worked my way through to where I am now and it’s, you know, it’s there for everyone. Anyone can have a go at it. I wish I had started it a bit earlier. But, yeah, I’m making up for it now.

Matt: I guess I looked at it like, I need a solid income with maybe starting a family soon and that sort of stuff, so I really needed to go in the direction of where all the work was and in Gisborne, the forestry is where all the work is at the moment so, definitely pleased I did the apprenticeship in both, and the engineering and the machine side of things. You’re getting a whole lot of knowledge and you’re getting paid for it so it’s a win-win situation.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a forestry and logging worker.

However, you can complete a New Zealand Certificate in Forestry Operations (Level 3) while working. This can be done as part of an apprenticeship.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a forestry and logging worker. However, agriculture and horticulture, construction and mechanical technologies, and maths and English are useful.   

Personal requirements

Forestry and logging workers need to be:

  • practical
  • motivated and hard-working
  • safety-conscious
  • able to make good judgements
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to work as part of a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for forestry and logging workers includes:

  • timber mill work
  • work as a volunteer firefighter
  • experience driving heavy vehicles
  • farm work.

Physical requirements

Forestry and logging workers need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong as they need to move and set up equipment on logging sites. They also need to have quick reactions, good hand-eye co-ordination and a good level of stamina.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Strong demand for forestry and logging workers

Demand for forestry and logging workers in harvesting and silviculture (planting and pruning) is good because:

  • private forest plantings from the 1990s onwards are now reaching maturity, so more forestry and logging workers are needed for harvesting and replanting
  • a number of forestry and logging workers are reaching retirement age, but not enough people are coming through to replace them 
  • the Government is investing in forestry research and sustainable forestry programmes to increase the plantation area on land suitable for growing forests. Forestry and logging workers are needed to help with this. 

According to the Census, 4,827 forestry and logging workers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Technological skills an advantage for forestry and logging workers

It's an advantage for forestry and logging workers to have technical skills and experience because the job is becoming increasingly mechanised. 

It's possible to learn these skills on the job or get support for training. Some of the technical skills you can learn as a forestry and logging worker include:   

  • operating drones for forest aerial survey work
  • using apps for gathering data such as cubic metres of logs processed 
  • controlling operator-free machines remotely.

Range of ways to improve chances of getting into training

You can improve your chances of being trained as a forestry and logging worker if you have:  

  • a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a strong work ethic
  • transferable skills such as experience operating machines 
  • good teamwork skills. 

Most employers of forestry and logging workers are contractors

Forestry and logging workers are usually employed by forestry contractors, who work for forest management companies.


  • Competenz website, accessed June 2020, (
  • Forestry Careers NZ, ‘Forest Manager (Forester)’, accessed June 2020, (
  • Forestry Careers NZ, ‘Manual Tree Faller’, accessed June 2020, (
  • Forest Owners Association website, accessed June 2020, (
  • Farm Forestry New Zealand website, accessed June 2020, (
  • Ministry for Primary Industries, 'Planting One Billion Trees', accessed July 2018, (
  • New Zealand Institute of Forestry website, accessed June 2020, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Waldegrave, J, managing director, NZ Forestry, interview, July 2018. 
  • Younger, P, chief executive, Forest Industry Contractors Association, interview, June 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Forestry and logging workers can progress to manage their own crew and become forestry contractors.

Forestry and logging workers usually specialise in one of three areas of forestry:

Forest Mensuration Worker
Forest mensuration workers may either measure standing trees to work out their size and value, or measure logs in the forest, at wharves or sawmills, to ensure that the logs meet clients' needs.
Forestry Harvesting Worker
Forestry harvesting workers cut and clear trees from forests.
Forestry Silviculture Worker
Forestry silviculture workers plant, prune, thin and release trees in a forest.
A worker operates a log forwarder in a plantation forest

A forestry and logging worker using equipment to clear a forest

Last updated 4 April 2023