SOC Code: 19-1032


Pay Band(s): 4 and 5 (Salary Structure)


Standard Occupational Description: Manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine the best time for harvesting. Develop forest management plans for public and privately owned forested lands.


Forester positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Natural Resources Career Group:


Natural Resource Specialist III

Natural Resource Specialist IV


While Forester within the Commonwealth are all located within the Natural Resources Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   


Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Agricultural Services

Environmental Services

Life and Physical Science

Public Safety Compliance

Training and Instruction


(Technical and Functional Expertise)



Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Foresters commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


1.      Managing one's own time and the time of others.

2.      Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

3.      Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

4.      Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

5.      Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

6.      Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

7.      Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision-making.

8.      Using mathematics to solve problems.

9.      Talking to others to convey information effectively.

10.  Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.




Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Foresters commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Knowledge of:


1.      Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

2.      Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

3.      Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Foresters commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Ability to:


1.      Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

2.      Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

3.      Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

4.      Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

5.      Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

6.      Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

7.      Generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

8.      Speak clearly so others can understand you.

9.      Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

10.  Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).




Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Foresters.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


1.      Monitor contract compliance and results of forestry activities to assure adherence to government regulations.

2.      Establish short- and long-term plans for management of forest lands and forest resources. Supervise activities of other forestry workers.

3.       Choose and prepare sites for new trees, using controlled burning, bulldozers, or herbicides to clear weeds, brush, and logging debris.

4.      Plan and supervise forestry projects, such as determining the type, number and placement of trees to be planted, managing tree nurseries, thinning forest and monitoring growth of new seedlings.

5.       Negotiate terms and conditions of agreements and contracts for forest harvesting, forest management and leasing of forestlands.

6.      Direct, and participate in, forest-fire suppression.

7.       Determine methods of cutting and removing timber with minimum waste and environmental damage.

8.       Analyze effect of forest conditions on tree growth rates and tree species prevalence and the yield, duration, seed production, growth viability, and germination of different species.

9.      Monitor forest-cleared lands to ensure that they are reclaimed to their most suitable end use.




Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.


The occupation of Forester has Realistic and Investigative characteristics as described below:


Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.




Generally this is not required for Forester positions in state government.  However, the Forester is hired at the Moderate Fitness Level. The Forester is expected to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and the Emergency Vehicle Operation Certification (EVOC) within six months of employment. Foresters must obtain a Pesticide Applicator's license within one year of employment.




The Forester is an academically qualified graduate of a college or university (Society of American Foresters accredited program) earning a degree(s) in forest ecology, forest management, or other related natural resource sciences (with advanced degrees); and, otherwise qualified, certified or licensed to practice professional forestry.  The Forester serves the Commonwealth in a defined area (county/ies) as the scientific expert in a team of trained people organized to assist non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) owners in planning for the protection, management, conserving the land base and land use planning of their forest resources in Virginia. The Forester is responsible for technical accuracy in resource data-collection, sound analysis of forest conditions, and thoughtful precise prescriptions so that forest decisions are based on sound science assuring the protection and sustainability of forest resources.


According to the Code of Virginia, all Foresters hired by the state must possess a bachelor's degree from a Society of American Foresters (SAF) accredited program in Forest Management, Forestry, Forest Ecology, or related Forestry field.


Foresters who wish to perform specialized research or teach should have an advanced degree, preferably a Ph.D.


The State Council of Higher Education lists Bridgewater College and Washington & Lee University as Virginia educational institutions offering a Bachelor degrees in forestry.


The Virginia Department of Forestry is the primary employer of foresters for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their web site provides more information on forestry careers in Virginia.


The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is responsible for:

·         Protection of 15.8 million acres of forest land from fire, insects and disease.

·         Management of 16 State Forests and other state lands totaling approximately 50,000 acres for timber, recreation, water, research, wildlife and biodiversity.

·         Assistance to non-industrial private forest landowners through professional forestry advice and technical management programs.


The Virginia Department of Forestry provides additional training opportunities in many topics. The Training Program Opportunities are available for Foresters in combination with structured courses developed, scheduled and conducted for employees of the Department.




Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.


The Commonwealth Competencies are:


1.      Technical and Functional Expertise

2.      Understanding the Business     

3.      Achieving Results

4.      Serving the Customer

5.      Teamwork

6.      Interpersonal and Communication Skills

7.      Leadership and Personal Effectiveness


The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 


Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!


For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 



Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)



For example: Forester








Natural Resource Specialist III



Natural Resource Manager I


Natural Resource Specialist IV



Natural Resource Manager II





Natural Resource Manager III



















Sample Career Path


Natural Resource Specialist III

The Natural Resource Specialist III role provides career tracks for foresters that provide senior technical support or serve as the scientific expert in resource management protection, customer relations and education, recreation, and/or research projects and programs. The work involves inventory, data collection, and resource analysis; developing management plans based on technical/scientific principles and practices; prescribing solutions to resource management problems; and developing narrative and/or statistical reports.


Natural Resource Specialist IV

The Natural Resource Specialist IV role provides career tracks for advanced-level foresters (Staff Specialist) located in a central or field office that provide internal and external customer services to natural resource programs statewide. Employees consult on silviculture and forest management, health, and protection; watershed management and water quality; marketing and wood utilization; forest renewal, research or demonstration programs or projects, urban/community forestry or conservation education. Work involves the ability to manage multiple program priorities.


Natural Resource Manager I

The Natural Resource Manager I role provides career tracks for managers of staff in a natural resource facility or geographic area for which they have program management responsibility. Employees typically perform related program administrative functions such as hiring and training staff, preparing and monitoring budgets, overseeing procurement, collecting revenues, and/or inspecting or overseeing small capital outlay projects. Employees typically manage fish hatcheries, state parks of small to moderate program complexity, a forestry center, a group of wildlife management areas, or a natural resource district.


Natural Resource Manager II

The Natural Resource Manager II role provides career tracks for managers of regional or statewide forest management and protection operations or programs requiring subject area expertise and managerial competencies, a major state park operation with multiple programs and services, or statewide park districts. May manage enforcement of resource protection policies, regulations and laws. Some employees are responsible for programs with multiple components, managed through subordinate supervisors.


Natural Resource Manager III

The Natural Resource Manager III role provides career tracks for managers who serve as directors or assistant directors for a major natural resource division comprised of multiple programs. Employees typically manage on a statewide basis in forestry, marine resource, natural heritage, state parks, or watershed management.



O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

Society of American Foresters:

Chief, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture: