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Career and Education Opportunities for Foresters in Missoula, Montana

Forester career and educational opportunities abound in Missoula, Montana. The national trend for foresters sees this job pool growing by about 12.1% over the next eight years. In general, foresters manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes.

A person working as a forester can expect to earn about $23 hourly or $49,720 per year on average in Montana and about $25 hourly or $53,750 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for foresters are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Life Sciences in Montana and not quite as good as general Life Sciences category earnings nationally. Foresters work in a variety of jobs, including: forestry technician, forestry scientist, and fire prevention forester.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Missoula where you can study to be a forester, among two schools of higher education total in the Missoula area. The most common level of education for foresters is a Bachelor's degree. It will take about four years to learn to be a forester if you already have a high school diploma.


Forester video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, foresters manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. They also may inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement.

Foresters monitor contract compliance and results of forestry efforts to assure adherence to government regulations. They also direct, and participate in, forest-fire suppression. Equally important, foresters have to establish short- and long-term plans for management of forest lands and forest resources. They are often called upon to supervise efforts of other forestry staff. They are expected to formulate and implement projects for conservation of wildlife habitats and soil and water quality. Finally, foresters conduct public educational programs on forest care and conservation.

Every day, foresters are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for foresters to map forest area soils and vegetation to estimate the amount of standing timber and future value and growth. They are often called upon to negotiate terms and conditions of agreements and contracts for forest harvesting, forest management and leasing of forest lands. They also decide on methods of cutting and removing timber with minimum waste and environmental damage. They are sometimes expected to study different tree species' classification, life history, light and soil requirements, adaptation to new environmental conditions and resistance to disease and insects. Somewhat less frequently, foresters are also expected to contact local forest owners and gain permission to take inventory of the type and location of all standing timber on the property.

Foresters sometimes are asked to design techniques for measuring and identifying trees. and procure timber from private landowners. And finally, they sometimes have to monitor contract compliance and results of forestry efforts to assure adherence to government regulations.

Like many other jobs, foresters must believe in cooperation and coordination and be able to work independently and make decisions on their own.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Missoula include:

  • Biologist. Research or study basic principles of plant and animal life, such as origin, relationship, and functions.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Utilizing knowledge of various scientific disciplines may collect, synthesize, and take action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, and other sources.
  • Geographic Information Systems Analyst. Study nature and use of areas of earth's surface, relating and interpreting interactions of physical and cultural phenomena. Conduct research on physical aspects of a region, including land forms, climates, soils, plants and animals, and conduct research on the spatial implications of human activities within a given area, including social characteristics, economic activities, and political organization, as well as researching interdependence between regions at scales ranging from local to global.
  • Medical Scientist. Conduct research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health. Engage in clinical investigation or other research, production, or related activities.
  • Microbiologist. Investigate the growth, structure, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, algae, or fungi. Includes medical microbiologists who study the relationship between organisms and disease or the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms.
  • Natural Resource Manager. Research or study range land management practices to provide sustained production of forage, livestock, and wildlife.
  • Park Ranger. Plan, develop, and conduct programs to inform public of historical, natural, and scientific features of national, state, or local park.
  • Scientist. Study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.
  • Soil Conservation Technician. Plan and develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil and water conservation, and sound land use.
  • Zoologist. Study the origins, behavior, and life processes of animals and wildlife. May specialize in wildlife research and management, including the collection and analysis of biological data to determine the environmental effects of present and potential use of land and water areas.


The University of Montana - Missoula, MT

The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, Missoula, MT 59812. The University of Montana is a large university located in Missoula, Montana. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 14,176 students and an admission rate of 96%. The University of Montana has 3 areas of study related to Forester. They are:

  • Natural Resources/Conservation, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated thirty-three and eight students respectively in 2008.
  • Forestry, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctor's degree which graduated thirty-five, five, and seven students respectively in 2008.
  • Natural Resources and Conservation, Other Specialties, one to two year which graduated 3 students in 2008.


Arborist / Municipal Specialist: This credential was developed by the ISA and the Society of Municipal Arboriculture for those involved in managing the complex aspect of trees in an urban environment.

For more information, see the International Society of Arboriculture website.


Missoula, Montana
Missoula, Montana photo by Joshulove

Missoula is located in Missoula County, Montana. It has a population of over 68,202, which has grown by 19.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Missoula, 100, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Missoula cost $89,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, one hundred eighty-six new homes were constructed in Missoula, down from two hundred ninety-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Missoula are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, construction, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 14 minutes. More than 38.0% of Missoula residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.5%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Missoula is 5.1%, which is less than Montana's average of 5.8%.

The percentage of Missoula residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 32.4%, is less than both the national and state average. University Congregational Church, Unity Church of Missoula and United Pentecostal Church are all churches located in Missoula. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Missoula is home to the Health Sciences Building and the KOA El-Mar Kampground as well as Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Fort Missoula Park. Shopping malls in the area include East Gate Shopping Center, Southgate Mall and Town and Country Shopping Center. Visitors to Missoula can choose from Best Western Grant Creek Inn, Comfort Inn Missoula and Sleepy Inn Motel for temporary stays in the area.