Career Development

Lumberjack Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Though people often associate the term “lumberjack” with the stereotypical image of an axe-wielding man in flannel chopping down trees all day, that’s not actually what being a lumberjack means.

Though people often associate the term “lumberjack” with the stereotypical image of an axe-wielding man in flannel chopping down trees all day, that’s not actually what being a lumberjack means.

Today’s modern lumberjacks are involved in every step of the logging process, from cutting down trees to transporting logs to sawmills and beyond. There are many different jobs within this field, with each one requiring different skillsets and training. From extractive logging to forest management to pulp or paper manufacturing, there are several specialized roles within the lumber industry for those interested in working in this field.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a lumberjack and what it takes to become one yourself.

Lumberjack Job Duties

Lumberjacks are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Operating chainsaws to fell trees and clear brush
  • Identifying tree species and determining whether they are commercially viable or endangered
  • Trimming branches from logs with hand tools to prepare them for transport or further processing
  • Loading logs onto trucks, railroad cars, or river rafts using cranes and other heavy equipment
  • Delivering lumber to customers and logging crew
  • Using measuring devices to determine the volume and quality of lumber produced in a day’s work
  • Performing maintenance on equipment such as trucks and tractors

Lumberjack Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for lumberjacks is $51,996. The highest earners of the profession are making over $100,000 per year.

The number of jobs for lumberjacks is expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to the increased use of logging machinery and automated processes in the business of harvesting trees and producing wood products.

Lumberjack Job Requirements

To become a lumberjack, you’ll need to have several qualifications.

Education: The educational requirements for this position are minimal because much of the skill set can be learned through on-the-job training. Prospective lumberjacks should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may also require additional education. 

Training: On-the-job training is provided by employers, which helps prospective lumberjacks improve their skills and gain valuable experience. Seasoned employees take candidates under their wing and pass down valuable information, like the best times of day to chop trees and how to operate heavy machinery. This training typically lasts between three and six months. If you work as an apprentice, you may complete a fixed period of training that includes both classroom work and on-the-job time.

Certifications: While certifications are not required to enter this career field, some professionals choose to pursue them. These certifications allow employees to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and adherence to safety standards.

Lumberjack Skills

A good lumberjack must have the following skills:

Physical strength: A lumberjack works with large, heavy trees and logs. He or she must be able to lift, pull, push, and carry these trees and logs in order to move them around the forest. Lumberjacks must also have strong arms to swing an axe quickly and accurately.

Communication skills: A lumberjack’s communication skills will help him or her do his or her job more efficiently. When working with a team of workers, a lumberjack should communicate well with everyone on the team about what they are doing at any given.

Knowledge of safety procedures: A working knowledge of safety procedures will help you do your job more safely and efficiently.

Mechanical skills: Lumberjacks must know how to operate various pieces of machinery, such as chain saws, skidders, loaders, chippers, grapple skidders, and forwarders.

Decision-making skills: Lumberjacks need to make quick decisions when they’re working in the woods. They may need to decide which trees to cut down, where to move logs, and whether to call for help if someone is injured.

Sense of direction: Lumberjacks need to know how to read a compass, find their way with a map and GPS, and navigate by landmarks.

Lumberjack Work Environment

Lumberjacks work in remote locations, far away from the city.  They often work long days. They may begin their day by using chainsaws to cut down or remove logs that are too large for logging equipment. Then they use powerful tractors and machines to load the harvested logs onto trucks. Sometimes, the schedule is irregular with time off between jobs. 

They must be able to withstand extreme weather conditions, such as rain, snow, heat, and storms. Often they are required to lift heavy machinery or logs so it’s important for them to have a strong back for this kind of work. Lumberjacks often get injured by sharp tools or falling trees, so it is important that they are physically fit. 

Lumberjack Career Advancement

Lumberjacks are the backbone of the logging industry. It is their work that makes it possible for loggers to collect timber and transport it to sawmills. 

Many lumberjacks work their way up the ranks to become supervisors, forest managers, or foremen. A foreman oversees the operations of multiple lumberjacks. This position requires strong leadership skills and strong communication skills since the foreman is communicating with the loggers and the mill operators at all times.

Other more hands-on positions to move onto are a crane operator, a grade-sorter, or a head sawyer.

Lumberjack Trends

Here are three trends influencing how lumberjacks work. Lumberjacks will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Community Empowerment

As forests become increasingly threatened by pollution and logging, the role of the lumberjack is changing to reflect an increased emphasis on community empowerment.

As opposed to focusing solely on harvesting trees, this new breed of lumberjack is often focused on preserving forests in addition to creating wood products for home improvement projects.

Additionally, this trend means that it is not enough for these workers to simply be skilled at their jobs—they also need to be knowledgeable about environmental policy in order to prevent the further destruction of natural resources. 

Businesses Look to Recycle Logs

In recent years, the demand for lumber has been decreasing as more consumers seek sustainable alternatives. In response, many businesses are looking to move towards a “circular economy” model where they will recycle their own materials instead of producing new ones.

Logs are no exception—as more businesses realize that they can sell previously used logs for significantly less than it costs to produce new ones, recycling will become increasingly important in this field. 

New Forest Land Clearing Techniques

Forest clearing is an important part of the lumber industry, but it is also one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the forestry industry.

New forest clearing techniques are allowing for more efficient and less damaging ways to clear forests, which can reduce negative impacts on wildlife and even help reduce carbon emissions.

How to Become a Lumberjack

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you want to make a career as a lumberjack, you should be prepared for a lot of hard work. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before attempting this line of work; those who take on this profession will often work long hours during the week and spend weekends alone in the woods. Additionally, it can be dangerous to work with large machinery, which is why it’s important that all new hires have proper training before beginning their careers.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for lumberjacks will emphasize their physical strength as well as their experience with the equipment they will use on the job. In addition, it’s important to list any training you have received from previous jobs, or special certifications, because employers will want to ensure that you are correctly trained and able to handle any emergencies. If possible, mention any safety improvements that you have introduced or led, along with similar contributions that you have made in other areas such as machinery maintenance or building new accommodations.

Include a resume objective statement at the top of your resume which highlights your ability to provide a safe work environment and your willingness to work hard. 

3. Applying for Jobs

The best way to find a job as a lumberjack is to become an active participant in the forestry community. This means learning how to handle heavy machinery, staying up-to-date on forestry trends, and connecting with others who are already working in the field. This includes both people who work for companies that offer these services and individuals who run their own businesses, like loggers or millers. 

Also, look for jobs on Monster.com and other job search engines, connect with lumberjack associations on Facebook, and keep your eye out for opportunities at lumber companies in your area.

4. Ace the Interview

The key to passing an interview for a job as a lumberjack is to be prepared. Research the company, the industry, and the specific position you are aiming to fill. Your interviewer will likely try to assess your knowledge about logging and woodcutting. This means you should practice answering questions about this subject matter, so you won’t be caught off guard during your interview.

You may also be asked about your ability to work under pressure as well as your experience with teamwork. They will want to know how adaptable you are to new challenges or unexpected circumstances. Lumberjacks often work in difficult conditions, so it is important not only to demonstrate that you’re capable of handling these situations but that you would enjoy them as well.

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