Education and Training: None
Salary: Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook: Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
Loggers cut down trees and load the logs onto trailers and railroad cars. Most loggers work for large lumber companies. Approximately half of the loggers in the United States work in Oregon, Washington, California, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Georgia.
Fallers are loggers who cut down trees marked by foresters. Fallers usually work in pairs, some distance away from other loggers. By working far from the others, they reduce the risk of injury to themselves and others from falling trees. Fallers use a chain saw to make a V-shaped cut into the tree's trunk. Then they go to the other side of the tree and cut toward this V. Soon the tree begins to fall. The loggers must keep out of the way of falling trees. Once the tree is cut down, buckers use chain saws to cut off the limbs and branches. Then they cut the trunk and the larger limbs into logs. Log scalers measure the fallen tree to determine how much lumber the tree will yield.
Chokers wrap chains around logs that are lying on the ground. They attach these chains to either winches or tractors that pull the logs to loading sites. A winch is a powerful machine with a coiled chain used for pulling. If the ground is very rough, chokers use pulleys to move the logs. Two or three chokers usually work together under the direction of a rigging slinger. When necessary, rigging slingers help the chokers. They also drive the tractors that pull the logs. If they use winches to pull the logs, loggers known as yarders run the winches. Loggers must guide the logs as they pull them between stumps and over ditches.
After loggers pull the logs to the loading site, loader engineers and their assistants take over. Loader engineers drive machines designed to collect logs and drop them onto trailers and railroad cars. Then the engineers take the logs to lumber mills where they are cut into boards of lumber.
Education and Training Requirements
There are no specific education requirements for loggers. Some firms prefer to hire those who have a high school education. All loggers are trained on the job. Because logging is done in the wilderness, most firms look for workers who like to be outdoors. Loggers must be strong and fast on their feet. Therefore, logging companies like to hire workers who have been active in sports or have experience doing hard work.
Getting the Job
Interested persons can apply directly to logging companies. State employment offices and local newspapers in logging areas may provide additional job leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Experienced loggers can become supervisors of logging crews. They can receive promotions to jobs in which they fix and adjust logging equipment. Others can become truck drivers and equipment operators.
The need for loggers is expected to decrease through the year 2012 due to increased mechanization, imports, and forest conservation efforts. However, the industry needs workers to replace those who retire or leave logging to take up other work.
Loggers usually work in crews of five to fifteen workers and work outdoors in all kinds of weather. In the summer the woods where they work are often hot and muddy. In the winter loggers face snow, sleet, and cold. The logging industry is more hazardous than most other industries. Workers must be careful of falling trees and heavy equipment. Many loggers find, however, that the pleasures of working in the wilderness outweigh these hardships.
Loggers generally work thirty-six to forty hours a week. In some parts of the country logging is a seasonal activity, and loggers may have to move or find other jobs for part of the year. Many loggers belong to labor unions.
Where to Go for More Information
American Forest and Paper Association
1111 Nineteenth St., NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036
American Loggers Council
P.O. Box 966
Hemphill, TX 75948
Forest Resources Association (FRA)
600 Jefferson Dr., Ste. 350
Rockville, MD 20852
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
9000 Machinists Place
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings vary based on the specific job, size of establishment, experience on the job, and geographic area; salary ranges from minimum wage to $25.46 per hour. Benefits for full-time employees usually include paid holidays, paid vacations, and health insurance.