How to Become a Logger: Tips From the Pros

Felling is an important skill to have if you want to become a logger.

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a logger? The thought of working in a dark, sordid factory or boring, sterile office environment is enough to make anyone want a career outdoors. Luckily, it’s an attainable goal! While basic chainsaw skills and mechanical knowledge is a plus, to become a a logger, you only need the ability to work hard in harsh conditions and to learn on the job. We’ve asked five experienced loggers from around the US to give us their best tips on how one can become a logger with no experience. With a deficit of tradesmen nationwide and lumber prices climbing, there is no better time to begin a new career working in the woods.

Call Up and Ask For a Chance

Every logging outfit is begging for labor these days. If you want to become a logger, the best thing to do is to start reaching out to outfits and asking if they need any help. If you can show that you are a hard worker and dedicated to learning the craft, most loggers out there will be happy to train you. But be warned: It’s a tough job!

Dale S. from Oregon

While good advice in any career, the truth of the matter is you won’t find a job until you ask. If you don’t know any logging outfits in your area, it can be good to contact a local forester or forest management company and ask if they know anyone looking for work. Foresters have good connections in the industry, and they will almost certainly point you in the right direction.

Understand the Specific Hurdles of Logging in Your Area and Prepare For Them

The practice of “logging” is pretty broad. It means a few different things depending on what part of the country you live in. Each type of logging calls for its own challenges and skill sets. Out west, logging is done with manual chainsaw felling on mountain sides. It can be hard physical work in hot, dry weather on tough terrain. In the Northeast, most logging is done in the cabs of machines. You can sit comfortably in the summer and winter. It’s a lot safer too, but sitting in a machine can get boring, and you need to understand the mechanics of the machine you operate and be able to do basic maintenance. That adds an extra layer of skill needed.

Mike D. from Maine

Logging is as diverse a trade as the forests loggers harvest. It’s important to do your research and understand exactly what the job looks like in your area. Risks will vary too. Logging is the most dangerous job in America, but a feller-buncher operator doesn’t face nearly the risk of a manual faller. There are other risk considerations, such as the safety of logging roads, venomous insects and animals, and extreme weather.

Consider Taking a Training or Certification Course

A lot of employers are willing to train a dependable and dedicated worker, but if there is some available in your area, it doesn’t hurt to get some training. There are courses in chainsaw use and tree felling, and I’ve even heard of community courses offering courses in machine operation geared toward the logging industry. That type of training can make you more appealing to employers and give you a chance to learn in a safe, controlled environment.

Ben T. from Minnesota

Chainsaw training courses can be found throughout the country. Dedicated community college logging programs are harder to find, but they exist. Even taking a class or two on diesel mechanics can be beneficial, as diesel maintenance and repair is a useful skill on any logging job. Of course, most skills related to logging will be learned on the job, but that doesn’t mean that taking a course or two can’t make you immensely valuable to any future employers. If you live in an area with a large logging industry, look into local educational resources and see what they offer.

Have Humility and Be Willing to Start Low

At first, you will likely be doing the most mundane jobs, and the pay won’t be where you probably want it. You have to stick to it and understand that you are learning. It will take a while before you learn the ropes and become a truly valuable member of a logging team. You have to be willing to start at the bottom of the totem pole.

Jameson K. from Washington

As with many jobs, your first job in logging will likely be “entry level.” With logging, there is good reason for this: logging is a complex job that requires a good deal of training. Because a lack of skill can not only lead to logistic and financial headaches for the company, but also injury or death to you or your coworkers, it is important to be humble and accept starting at the bottom of the totem pole. Just stick with it and you’ll be the CEO of Douglas fir in no time!

Don’t Give Up

Understand that you are going to have those days. There will be days you want to hang it all up and go work at Walmart. Whether it’s a mechanical breakdown, a close call in a dangerous situation, or a day when everything goes wrong, there will be days you question your sanity and wonder why you wanted to become a logger in the first place. The key is to never give up. Get back out there and keep going! Through persistence, you will get better, and you will find logging to be one of the most rewarding occupations out there. I’ve been through more than you can imagine on the job, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Dylan P. from New York

Persistence is key. I can tell you first hand: There will be bad days on the job. There will be horrible days on the job. Work through these hardships. They will pass. As you learn the ropes things will get better. There will always be bad days, of course, but they will lessen, and you will become more skilled in dealing with them. Just remember, no matter what happens, it’s better than working in an office. Try to have fun, and enjoy your new career!

You Too Can Become a Logger

Logging is an in-demand and underrated profession in the United States. Moreover, it is a good-paying and rewarding career that doesn’t require extensive education (that you have to pay for). Hopefully, with the advice of some of the old-timers in this article, you will be inspired to get out there and start cutting!

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