Logger / Timber Cutter

How to Become a Logger
Logger Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Logger
Logger Salaries
Influential Professional Loggers
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Logging Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Logger

If you are interested in becoming a logger (also known as timber cutter), the first important tip is to move to a geographic area where logging is prevalent. In the United States, that usually means the Pacific Northwest where timber giants Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific have large operation centers.

A good way to get experience cutting timber is by getting a job with a tree trimming or clearing company. While not the same as logging, they are often willing to train workers and this is a great way to gain experience working with chainsaws, climbing, and felling trees.

When you do go to apply for a job with a logging company, be flexible. Don't expect a high-end position right away; generally people without a lot of experience have to be willing to do the dirty work for a while in order to get their foot in the door.

What does a Logger do?

The job of a logger has changed significantly in the last 100 years with the advent of modern tools and technology. Gone are the days when lumberjacks (now a largely defunct term) used axes of hand saws to harvest timber. While the basic task of cutting down trees remains the same, the methods and tools used now are more modern.

Modern loggers use chainsaws, harvesters, and feller bunchers to cut down trees. The trees are then de-limbed and cut into logs of optimal length. The logs are then moved using heavy machinery such as a "skidder" or "forwarder" which can push, pull, or shovel the logs to their initial destination. The logs are then transported by helicopter or a cable system to a landing. From the landing, the logs are moved to a saw mill by truck.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Logger?

No formal education is needed to become a logger. Additionally, it is not a position that requires certification or a license. Someone interested in being a logger must enjoy working outdoors and not mind working in cold or inclement weather. Loggers are usually physically strong people as the job requires significant manual labor. Loggers must be able to follow directions and pay attention to details. If a logger is careless or inattentive, the job can be very dangerous for them and those around them.

Speaking of the danger, it is very important for anyone considering the logging industry as a career to note that it can be a very dangerous occupation. It is suggested that if you have a family, discuss your decision to become a logger with your spouse or loved ones before making your final decision.

How much does a Logger make?

The average annual salary for a logger in the United States is $42,000. This can vary widely depending on the logger's experience level. Some workers breaking into the industry can earn as little as minimum wage while some experienced loggers earn over $25 per hour. Earnings can vary further based on the size of the employer and the geographic region where the logger lives. For instance, loggers in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest usually earn more than their counterparts in the south as their cost of living tends to be higher.

Loggers who work for large firms usually enjoy some benefits such as medical insurance, paid vacation, and paid safety apparel and equipment. Generally, those working for smaller contractors only receive basic benefits such as paid vacation.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Steven R. Rogel, is the Chairman and CEO of Weyerhaeuser Company Limited which is a U.S based company and one of the largest in the world.

Charles G. Koch is the Chairman, CEO, and co-owner of Koch Industries, Inc. David H. Koch is the Executive Vice President and the other owner of Koch Industries, Inc. Koch Industries Inc. purchased Georgia-Pacific in 2005. Georgia-Pacific is also one of the largest timber cutting companies in the world today.

Jim Geisinger is the Executive Vice President of Associated Oregon Loggers which is a trade organization for loggers in that state.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Loggers Council (ALC) "was formed in 1994 to serve as a unified, national voice for professional loggers across the United States. Made up of a coalition of state and regional logging associations and councils, ALC represents more than 50,000 employees and reaches over 10,000 logging contractors."

Associated Oregon Loggers was found in 1969 to "to provide business services to contract logging firms and related businesses. We are the largest loggers association (in members) in the USA!" Additionally, they "make information available to the public about [their] industry and forestry in general."

The Montana Logging Association (MLA) was founded in 1976. Their goal is to "provide a unified voice for the family-owned businesses that harvest and transport timber from forest to mill in Montana." They do this by "interfacing with public agencies, legislative bodies and media sources." Their member benefits include "safety services, group insurance programs, and a comprehensive professional accreditation program."

The Great Lakes Timber Professional Association (GLPTA) was founded in 2007 when three smaller regional groups merged. The GLPTA "represents the forest products industry in Michigan and Wisconsin by supplying member services to large and small businesses, professional loggers, professional landowners, haulers, truckers and training specialists." They are a non-profit association and their stated purpose is "to practice, promote, and enhance the forest products industry through public education, professional training and sustainable forestry practices to protect the forests' renewable resources for generations to come."

What are the top cities for Logging jobs?

It is difficult to say exactly which cities are tops for logging jobs. By the nature of the work, the jobs can often be transient. Additionally, companies don't usually advertise job openings publicly as they often have applicants that apply directly to them unsolicited.

The majority of logging jobs are in areas with lots of commercial forest land such as the Pacific Northwest, California, Montana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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