The Work: What you do depends on your boss. State and federal foresters monitor trees for disease, analyze soil and water quality, supervise loggers, and draft long-term conservation strategies for stands of giant redwoods. Consulting foresters help private owners of small tracts manage trees and wildlife. Timber company employees oversee harvested land, decide what gets the saw next, and coordinate replantings after clear-cutting.
Time Outside: 50-75 percent.
Payback: $27,000-$60,000 for government jobs; up to $80,000 for private sector.
Prerequisites: Get a B.S. in forestry from SUNY in Syracuse (315-470-6600; www.esf.edu), or aim high with an advanced degree from The Yale School of Forestry (203-432-5100; www.yale.edu/forestry). State jobs require that you pass a standardized forestry exam.
Networking: The Society of American Foresters (301-897-8720; www.sfnet.org) provides a database of needy employers for its more than 17,050 members.
Peon to Pro: "With a B.S., you can get a job," says Larry Nance, of the Arkansas Department of Forestry. "But to know your job takes about three to four years." And promotion to district ranger requires ten to 15.
Drudge Factor: Much of your time—more than half for seasoned foresters—can be spent squinting at computerized graphs instead of romping through the woods.
Outlook: Like trees, the profession is slow-growing, but there's an increasing need for foresters within private firms and green groups that manage sustainable tracts.