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Although the landscape of logging has changed drastically over the years, a number of the same jobs still exist in the timber industry today as they did more than a hundred years ago. At the same time, a wide range of new jobs have been created to help support the modern timber industry. These range from analytic jobs that focus on computers of GPS mapping, to environmental jobs that look at saving and preserving habitat for endangered species or taking care of watersheds, to helping to handle the bureaucracy that exists now and did not historically.
Of course, the most obvious job available in the timber industry is as a logger. While modern loggers may use different tools than their predecessors, the job is largely the same: to fell trees and get them ready for processing. The conditions in the modern timber industry are much better than they were in the past, and long gone are the days of company stores and run-down work camps. Modern loggers can expect to make a good, livable wage, and have a number of protections to minimize the physical risk they take when going out to work an inherently dangerous job.
In addition to the loggers, there are a number of direct support staff who need to help get the logs from the forest to the mills. These include loaders, who often operate things like forklifts or cranes, and who are usually a specialized position. It also includes truck drivers, who drive out to a site every day, wait for the truck to be loaded, and then drive them to a mill for processing. As the timber industry is often most active in the most remote parts of the world, this can be a surprisingly difficult job, as large, heavily-laden trucks need to be transported on often unkempt, tiny rural roads.
An entire workforce operates the mills that turn fresh trees into saleable lumber for the timber industry. This includes processors at the mills, mill operators, and support staff. Mill operations can be surprisingly dangerous, and so pay can be quite good, although the dangers have been reduced in recent years by a wave of technological advancements in the area of mill safety. Different sized mills may have different job requirements, with people needed to mill enormous redwoods into long lengths of lumber all the way down to those feeding excess wood into chippers or pulpers to make supplies for gardening or the paper industry.
With added environmental restrictions, the timber industry now also has to employ an entire support staff dedicated to making sure they meet their legal obligations to look after the natural world. Naturalists may be employed to do things like go out and survey land to make sure excess cutting isn’t causing too much runoff into rivers and destroying the watershed. They may also look out for habitat of endangered or protected animals, which can involve things like going out in the middle of the night hooting for owls to track where they are living and raising their young.
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