Helicopter rides aren’t part of a typical work week in most professions. Cruising at altitude is, however, commonplace for forest technologists.
To get technologists to remote locations and allow them an initial look at those locations, helicopters are often the vehicle of choice. Forestry professionals also have their share of paperwork, but the outdoors are their real office, whether at 300 metres above the ground or with boots on the ground.
If a career without four walls is appealing, consider enrolling in the College of New Caledonia’s Natural Resources and Forest Technology program. CNC’s well-established program is based in the heart of British Columbia’s forestry sector and is led by instructors with real-world experience in the industry.
“This is where the forest is, and this is where the active management of the forest is – more here than anywhere,” says instructor Ed Morrice, who spent a decade in forestry before he began a teaching career at CNC that has stretched for 30 years. “We also have the CNC Research Forest, which really helps the program maintain relevance. The Research Forest is all about student engagement – the idea of active management in a forest that we’ve got management control over, and we’re doing all kinds of innovative things around leading-edge forest applications.”
Below are Morrice’s top five reasons to use CNC’s two-year NRFT diploma program to springboard yourself into a career in forestry or natural resources.
Train for a meaningful, impactful career
“It’s satisfying in that you’re doing something positive for balancing environmental, social and economic concerns, which, together, are that sweet spot of sustainability,” Morrice says. “It’s very much a future-looking career. We’re not managing the forest for today, we’re managing it for 100 or 200 years from now.
“Nobody else manages the land base in B.C. as broadly as we do,” Morrice adds. “If you’re going to do any development – pipeline, powerline, road, recreation site – you’re going to disturb forest in B.C. We’re 60 per cent covered in forest, so you’re going to disturb the forest. You need a forest professional to assess that intervention.”
Wide variety of jobs within the career
“There’s flexibility in what type of job you do, although most of our graduates work in the forest sector because that’s where the jobs are – demand exceeds the supply, particularly in Northern B.C.,” Morrice says. “The best place to start is as a technologist because you can get your feet on the ground and learn the basics – planning and development of cutblock layout, road planning and layout, and harvesting supervision, which has been listed as a major skill shortage in Canada. Some choose growing and planting of the trees and planning data collection for ecosystem assessments. One of our students, on her graduation, took on the management of a two million seedling planting project for a major provider.
“We have a whole sector that’s consulting,” Morrice adds. “Consultants do timber valuation, road and cutblock layout, layout and logging practices for high-lead logging. They’ll use UAVs (drones). That’s another piece, the whole technology application – GPS, UAVs. We use UAVs pretty extensively and the data from those to do our jobs. We also have several graduates working for mines. One of them is an environmental manager right now. So there are other opportunities through that skill transferability to all natural resource activities.”
Step right into employment
“There’s a 90 per cent employment placement in the forestry and natural resource sector,” Morrice says. “Our students get jobs in their first year of the program and careers coming out of the second year. That first summer, they’ll be working, usually in an entry-level position doing things like GPS or quality control around planting. They’ll also do cutblock layout, assisting with road engineering. Fairly quickly after graduation, if the capability is there, they’ve got full-time work. One firm has them in a full-time position fairly soon after graduation and their starting wage is $60,000 per year, plus.”
Have an outdoor office
“Forestry is ‘out there,’ and that’s what our students are doing,” Morrice says. “Forest technologists and foresters are out there, in small communities, working in remote areas, using helicopters, quads, their feet, snowshoes. It’s like an adventure tourism job. But it’s more than a job – it’s career, it’s lifelong. It’s a positive contribution to moving ahead.”
Open the doors to endless possibilities
“Coming out of our program, you can become registered as a Registered Forest Technologist but you can also register as a Registered Biology Technologist,” Morrice says. “Maybe about a quarter of the class will go on and complete a degree in forestry or do an enhanced biology track. Those lead to being a Registered Professional Forester and a Registered Professional Biologist. So there are lots of transfer options. If you want to continue on and do a Masters degree or a PhD, we’ve had students follow those tracks as well.”
Next start date: Fall 2021
- Length: two years
- Available at the Prince George Campus
- Fees: Estimated at $11,691
Learn More about Natural Resources and Forest Technology
Read more about the program, admission requirements, and learn how to apply.