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In the forest products industry, heavy equipment operators operate machines like articulated haul trucks, tractor-loader-backhoes, excavators, dozers, loaders and graders. Their duties may include assessing sites and terrain. You may also do material handling work — say, stacking lumber and getting it ready for shipping. Being a heavy equipment operator is a fast-paced, physically demanding job that requires attention to detail and good hand-eye co-ordination.
You could also find yourself driving heavy equipment to perform a combination of operations at logging areas, like harvesting sections of trees for processing in a sawmill. To do this, you would operate a $300,000-feller-buncher machine on a caterpillar track. Manipulating a powerful, but precise, arm with a saw lets heavy equipment operators practise selective, sustainable harvesting.
Generally, you don’t need formal credentials to be a heavy equipment operator. Instead, heavy equipment operators rely on accumulated experience to get and keep jobs. In Nova Scotia, operators must be certified, which involves passing a test. In Quebec, you have to pass four exams. In B.C., you need to complete a specific number of trainee hours to be certified. There are numerous training programs across the country.
Silviculturalists do a variety of jobs related to reforestation. They also help manage, improve and conserve forest lands. There are many different kinds of silviculturalists.
If you choose this career path, most of your work will be outdoors. You need to be fit enough to trek across rough, often steep, terrain. A typical day could see you working as part of team to fight forest fires. Or you could be tasked with marking timber to set up environmentally sustainable forest management harvesting operations. Road and trail construction is another key duty.
The job also offers a chance for advancement because you are exposed to so many different aspects of a forest company’s operation.