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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.
There are many jobs in the forest products industry in the forestry professionals category. It’s a diverse mix of jobs, but each one plays a role in forest operations management. Forestry professionals guide decisions and policies relating to forest land management. These roles are considered professional because they require specific educational qualifications combined with operational experience.
As a forestry professional, you may find yourself working with a wide range of people — landowners, purchasers, managers, technicians, contractors, and other professionals — to manage the forest in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. If you enjoy intellectually demanding work that also gets you outdoors, consider becoming a forestry professional. Some of your week could be spent walking over rough terrain and driving to remote forest job sites.