Around 15,000 people work in Idaho’s forest products sector today. They produce over $1.6 billion of wood and paper products each year from a renewable resource — trees. These jobs benefit Idaho’s forest economy and society. Their work results in healthy, productive and sustainable forests for the future.

Idaho’s forest sector provides opportunities for young men and women with a wide range of interests and skills. A variety of employers throughout the state have positions for a wide range of jobs in diverse areas such as research, recreation, land management, new product development, transportation, computer programming and operations, and many aspects of forestry and forest product manufacturing.

Whether you are a high school graduate, working your way through school or want to apply an advanced degree, there are job options and opportunities in Idaho’s forest sector. Career advancement can lead to excellent life-long careers in Idaho’s forests and forest products manufacturing plants and mills. And, wages in Idaho’s forest sector are substantially higher than other industries and well above the state’s average. Competitive wages and benefits are offered by many forest products and forest-related employers.

Wood and paper products manufacturing is a major part of Idaho’s economic base and is the largest basic industry in northern Idaho.

What’s down the road… The future holds tremendous potential and opportunities for Idaho’s 21 million acres of forestland. Innovations and technical advances continue to grow and diversify the fields of forestry and forest products. Industry analysis through 2020 project employment opportunities and growth in the forest sector. Global demand for wood products is rising. In addition, a wave of retirements in the forest sector is expected over the next decade, opening up many more jobs.
A career in the forest sector may be a good fit if you enjoy:

  • Watching wildlife
  • Reading about science or the outdoors
  • Working with computers, high-tech machines and tools
  • Scouting, hiking and camping
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Working with people in teams
  • Scientific research
  • Gardening and farming
  • Making a difference
  • Being part of a community
  • Working in a fast paced environment
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Challenging opportunities

FIND YOUR PATH: A booklet for high school students highlighting forest careers


The following profiles of people who work in Idaho’s forests provide first-hand insights and links to information about the variety of employment opportunities in the forest sector. Check back to this page often as additional profiles are added over time.


The forest sector attracts people who thrive in a dynamic environment. While some jobs require teamwork, others operate independently. The workplace may be outdoors, in the forest, inside a piece of heavy equipment, in an office, a research lab, at a computer station or inside a manufacturing or distribution facility. No matter where they work, forest employees experience a sense of contribution and accomplishment.

Today’s innovative forest sector stays on top of scientific discoveries and new technologies to compete in a highly competitive global marketplace. Ever advancing technology and innovation help men and women working in Idaho’s forest businesses do things better, safer and in more comfortable settings than ever before. A mill worker or logger from the 1980’s would not recognize much of the technology in use in modern forest and mill operations. And job opportunities continue to grow with the ongoing advent and incorporation new technologies.

People who work in the woods may spend much of their day operating complex controls at their own work station or in the cab of a logging machine. These might include on-board computers that provide information needed to maximize the value of every log. Forest and field technicians use a variety of technology to efficiently gather information and solve problems. At the sawmill, laser scanning and computer optimizing technology enables the operators to position logs for the most efficient cuts as they move through electronically-controlled saws.

Crews often depend on teamwork to ensure efficient operations and to address problems. They work together to improve safety, quality and production. Oftentimes operators and crews must learn a variety of jobs. In many forest and wood products manufacturing operations, it’s common to change job sites and work assignments every month or two. Changing assignments gives workers an understanding of the whole process and the importance of each segment.


There are many career opportunities in today’s progressive forestry workforce


The average annual salary for a job in Idaho’s forest sector is $32,300 compared to the all-industry average of $23,500. What a person earns in a profession depends on:

Education level – high school, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate. (Most entry requirements are a high school diploma or GED.)

Location and setting of the work — private sector, university or government agency as well as urban/rural geographical location

Experience – years a person has worked, on the job training and range of activities

Level of Job Responsibility – technician, supervisor, specialist, owner, etc.

Performance and Reliability — how well one performs in a job, strong reference from colleagues and supervisors, commitment to safety

Salaries are usually lower at the beginning of one’s career, but will likely increase over time with strong performance, training and experience. Some jobs offer production or safety bonuses, incentives and overtime.


Private businesses harvest trees and manufacture wood and paper products.

  • Companies with timberlands and tree farms
  • Forest products manufacturers
  • Timber investment firms
  • Logging and forest operators

The federal government manages nearly 80% of Idaho’s forestlands.

State, county and city land agencies and tribal governments also manage forest resources.

Forestry schools employ foresters and wood scientists as faculty members, researchers and managers of research forests.