Working in remote forests, logging workers chop down the trees we need to keep many industries going. This job is all outdoors, all hard duty, and very dangerous. Falling timber, chainsaws and heavy, moving machinery make this job a constant challenge – and the 2nd most dangerous job in America.
Job description: Logging workers cut down and transport trees and lumber to be used as raw materials in various industries. They work in teams, which consist of:
- Fallers – Cut down the trees with chain-saws or other heavy machinery.
- Buckers – trim the branches and tops of the fallen trees, and then cut the logs into smaller pieces.
- Choke Setters – fasten steel cables or chains around the logs to be pulled and towed away to the processing area.
Other logging positions are:
- Log Sorters – mark, sort and divide the logs into groups according to type, size, and future processing.
- Logging equipment operators – operate heavy equipment that fells, bucks and cuts logs and lumber into smaller pieces for transportation.
- Log graders and scalers – review logs, search for defects and size the worth of certain logs and timber.
- Miscellaneous positions – beginners with no experience usually start by laboring, carrying around equipment and tools, cleaning branches and brush, and loading timber.
Work environment: Logging workers operate outdoors, usually in remote areas, on difficult terrain (slippery, rocky, muddy, protruding roots) and in all types of weather. Workers work with heavy equipment, chainsaws, and loading / pulling equipment in a noisy environment. Strong winds are dangerous, as they can change the course of a falling tree. Workers must also be aware of snakes, poison ivy and any other natural dangerers in the forest.
Fatality rates: In 2010, the fatality rate was 92 per 100,000 workers – making it the 2nd most dangerous job in America by fatalities.
Gender: Nearly all male – there is a small amount of women who work as loggers (around 1%).
What makes it a dangerous job: Logging workers must be aware of danger all the time: falling trees, moving logs, branches, operating dangerous equipment (such as chainsaws) and difficult terrain don’t make it any easier to do the job. Also, logging workers need to look out for snakes, insects, poisonous plants and the weather itself (from heat and humidity to very cold conditions). Ear protection is vital – loud noise is a constant .
Hours / Lifestyle: Many loggers commute to work every day, but some, operating in remote areas, stay on or near the site.
Pay: Wages vary according to skills, experience and location of the job itself. Fallers usually earn more than other logging workers – the median annual fallers wage is $38K. The median annual wage for logging equipment operators, logging graders and logging workers is $34K.
Requirements: Usually a high school diploma is enough. Logging workers must possess physical strength and stamina, as this job has tough physical requirements. Also, logging workers must be team players, and have good awareness and quick decision making properties, since the situation can change rapidly on site.
Training: Logging workers usually learn on the job – starting as laborers and making their way up from there.
Career opportunities: A logging worker will usually advance from common laboring positions to operating heavy equipment, and some will become fellers and buckers – after being taught how to bring down a large, expensive tree safely and with as little damage as possible.
Job opportunities: As expected, logging jobs are available only in forested areas and states. Most logging jobs are in the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Oregon.
Job prospects: There should be plenty of job opportunities – as some older loggers find jobs that are less physically demanding,
Photo by: Amio Cajander / flickr