Forest officer

Forester, forest manager, woodland manager, assistant head forester

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Forest officers manage forestry workers, plan harvesting activities and monitor planted areas.

Salary range: £19,000 £35,000

How to become a forest officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship


You’ll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject, like:

  • arboriculture
  • countryside management
  • forest management
  • forestry
  • woodland ecology and conservation

A small number of postgraduate courses is available.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information


You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Forestry and Arboriculture
  • Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information


You can get into this job through an arborist or forest operative intermediate apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

More information

Career tips

Most employers will expect you to have 2 to 3 years’ woodland experience to become a forestry officer.

Professional and industry bodies

You could apply for membership of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, which may help with your career prospects and professional development.

Further information

You can find more advice about careers and training in forestry through the Royal Forestry Society and The Arboricultural Association.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • leadership skills
  • knowledge of geography
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of maths
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

  • be able to cope with working at height

You may need a driving licence and access to a vehicle to reach forest and woodland areas.

You may also need the certificates of competence for your work like chainsaw use, chipper use or operation of specialist equipment like a tree harvester.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • managing a budget
  • carrying out a business plan
  • reporting to the head forester
  • planning work to be carried out by staff and contractors
  • managing maintenance of machinery and equipment
  • keeping accurate work records
  • making sure health and safety policies are followed
  • surveying and inspecting trees and sites
  • selecting and marking up timber to be harvested
  • planning, monitoring and evaluating habitat management work

Working environment

You could work in a park, in an office or in woodland.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into consultancy work or a university research role.

You may also be able to apply for chartered environmentalist status. You can find out more about being a chartered environmentalist from the Society for the Environment.

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