Forestry and Logging Worker
Kaimahi Waonui/Tope Rākau
Forestry and logging workers plant, maintain, measure, cut and clear trees from forests.
Trainee forestry workers usually earn
$32K-$40K per year
Experienced forestry workers usually earn
$40K-$60K per year
Source: Trade Me, 'Salary Guide', December 2015.
Pay for forestry and logging workers varies depending on experience.
- Trainee forestry and logging workers usually earn between $32,000 and $40,000 a year.
- Experienced workers usually earn between $40,000 and $60,000.
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.
Sources: Trade Me, 'Salary Guide', December 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information on minimum pay rates
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(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 and prune trees
- monitor and measure the growth of trees
- 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
- maintain and repair chainsaws and equipment
- measure and grade logs.
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
- an understanding of health and safety requirements in the forest, including first aid skills
- chainsaw operation skills
- mechanical skills
- heavy vehicle handling skills
- firefighting skills.
Forestry and logging workers:
- usually work from 6am to 4pm, 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?
Matt Stewart talks about being a forestry apprentice at Stewart Logging - 2.41 mins. (Video courtesy of Competenz )
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 them 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.
There are no specific requirements to become a forestry and logging worker as skills are gained on the job.
You can complete a national certificate in forest operations while working. This can be done as part of an apprenticeship.
There are no specific secondary education requirements, but NCEA Level 1 maths and English are seen as an advantage by most employers.
Forestry and logging workers need to be:
- motivated and hard-working
- able to make good judgements
- able to work well under pressure
- able to work as part of a team.
Useful experience for forestry and logging workers includes:
- timber mill work
- work as a volunteer firefighter
- experience driving heavy vehicles
- farm work.
Forestry and logging workers need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong. 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 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Strong demand for harvesters
Demand for forestry harvesting workers is high because:
- an ageing workforce means more trainees are needed to replace those who retire
- demand for logs is increasing.
Mixed opportunities for forestry silviculture workers
Job opportunities for forestry silviculture workers are mixed. Demand for:
- tree pruning may decrease because the financial returns from pruned logs have fallen
- tree planting is expected to increase due to financial incentives and government initiatives.
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 December 2015, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- Friday Offcuts website, accessed December 2015, (www.fridayoffcuts.com).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Ministry for Primary Industries, 'National Forest Exotic Description (June 2014)', 2014, (www.mpi.govt.nz).
- Ministry for Primary Industries, 'Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture and Forestry (June 2014)', 2014, (www.mpi.govt.nz).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Last updated 12 June 2017