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What Logging Workers Do About this section

Logging workers
Loggers cut trees with hand-held power chain saws or mobile felling machines.

Logging workers harvest thousands of acres of forests each year. The timber they harvest provides the raw material for countless consumer and industrial products.


Logging workers typically do the following:

  • Cut down trees
  • Fasten cables around logs to be dragged by tractors
  • Operate machinery that drag logs to the landing or deck area
  • Separate logs by species and type of wood and load them onto trucks
  • Drive and maneuver feller–buncher tree harvesters to shear trees and cut logs into desired lengths
  • Grade logs according to characteristics such as knot size and straightness
  • Inspect equipment for safety, and perform necessary basic maintenance tasks, before using the equipment

The cutting and logging of timber is done by a logging crew. The following are examples of types of logging workers:

Fallers cut down trees with hand-held power chain saws.

Buckers work alongside fallers, trimming the tops and branches of felled trees and bucking (cutting) the logs into specific lengths.

Tree climbers use special equipment to scale tall trees and remove their limbs. They carry heavy tools and safety gear as they climb the trees, and are kept safe by a harness attached to a rope.

Choke setters fasten steel cables or chains, known as chokers, around logs to be skidded (dragged) by tractors or forwarded by the cable-yarding system to the landing or deck area, where the logs are separated by species and type of product.

Rigging slingers and chasers set up and dismantle the cables and guy wires of the yarding system.

Log sorters, markers, movers, and chippers sort, mark, and move logs on the basis of their species, size, and ownership. They also tend machines that chip up logs.

Logging equipment operators use tree harvesters to fell trees, shear off tree limbs, and cut trees into desired lengths. They drive tractors and operate self-propelled machines called skidders or forwarders, which drag or otherwise transport logs to a loading area.

Log graders and scalers inspect logs for defects and measure the logs to determine their volume. They estimate the value of logs or pulpwood. These workers often use hand-held data collection devices into which they enter data about trees.

A logging crew might consist of the following members:

  • one or two tree fallers or one or two logging equipment operators with a tree harvester to cut down trees
  • one bucker to cut logs
  • two choke setters with tractors to drag felled trees to the loading deck
  • one logging equipment operator to delimb, cut logs to length, and load the logs onto trucks

Work Environment About this section

Logging workers
Workers spend their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas.

Logging workers held about 48,500 jobs in 2021. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up logging workers was distributed as follows:

Logging equipment operators 34,300
Fallers 5,600
Log graders and scalers 4,500
Logging workers, all other 4,200

The largest employers of logging workers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 24%
Sawmills and wood preservation 12
Crop production 2
Support activities for agriculture and forestry 0

Logging is physically demanding and can be dangerous. Workers spend all their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas. The increased use of enclosed machines has decreased some of the discomforts caused by bad weather and has generally made logging much safer.

Most logging work involves lifting, climbing, and other strenuous activities, although machinery has eliminated some heavy labor. Falling branches, vines, and rough terrain are constant hazards, as are dangers associated with felling trees and handling logs.

Chain saws and other power equipment can be dangerous; therefore, workers must be careful and must use proper safety measures and equipment, such as hardhats, safety clothing, hearing protection devices, and boots.

Injuries and Illnesses

Despite the industry’s strong emphasis on safety, logging workers sometimes get injured on the job. And although fatalities are uncommon, fallers experience one of the highest rates of occupational fatalities of all occupations. Most fatalities occur through contact with a machine or an object, such as a log.

Work Schedules

Workers sometimes commute long distances between their homes and logging sites. In more densely populated states, commuting distances are shorter. Logging work is often seasonal, and workers can find more employment opportunities during the warmer months because snow and cold weather adversely affect working conditions.

How to Become a Logging Worker About this section

Logging workers
Most logging workers have a high school diploma.

Most logging workers have a high school diploma. They get on-the-job training to become familiar with forest environments and to learn how to operate logging machinery.


A high school diploma is enough for most logging worker jobs. Some vocational or technical schools and community colleges offer associate’s degrees or certificates in forest technology. This additional education may help workers get a job. Programs may include field trips to observe or participate in logging activities.

A few community colleges offer education programs for logging equipment operators.


Many states have training programs for loggers. Although specific coursework may vary by state, programs usually include technical instruction or field training in a number of areas, including best management practices, environmental compliance, and reforestation.

Safety training is a vital part of logging workers’ instruction. Many state forestry or logging associations provide training sessions for logging equipment operators, whose jobs require more technical skill than other logging positions. Sessions take place in the field, where trainees have the opportunity to practice various logging techniques and use particular equipment.

Logging companies and trade associations offer training programs for workers who operate large, expensive machinery and equipment. These programs often culminate in a state-recognized safety certification from the logging company.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Logging workers must communicate with other crew members so that they can cut and delimb trees efficiently and safely.

Decisionmaking skills. Logging workers must make quick, intelligent decisions when hazards arise.

Detail oriented. Logging workers must watch gauges, dials, and other indicators to determine whether their equipment and tools are working properly.

Physical stamina. Logging workers need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly.

Physical strength. Logging workers must be able to handle heavy equipment.

Pay About this section

Logging Workers

Median annual wages, May 2021

Logging workers


Total, all occupations


Forest, conservation, and logging workers



The median annual wage for logging workers was $46,330 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,560.

Median annual wages for logging workers in May 2021 were as follows:

Fallers $47,700
Logging equipment operators 46,400
Logging workers, all other 46,090
Log graders and scalers 37,820

In May 2021, the median annual wages for logging workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Sawmills and wood preservation $37,170

Workers sometimes commute long distances between their homes and logging sites. In more densely populated states, commuting distances are shorter. Logging work is often seasonal, and workers can find more employment opportunities during the warmer months because snow and cold weather adversely affect working conditions.

Job Outlook About this section

Logging Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Total, all occupations


Forest, conservation, and logging workers


Logging workers



Overall employment of logging workers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 7,200 openings for logging workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Projected employment of logging workers varies by occupation (see table). The mechanization of logging operations and improvements in logging equipment have increased productivity, which is expected to reduce demand for logging workers, especially those who work by hand. However, the need to prevent destructive wildfires by thinning susceptible forests is expected to support some demand for logging workers.

Employment projections data for logging workers, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Logging workers

45-4020 48,500 46,700 -4 -1,800 Get data


45-4021 5,600 5,100 -9 -500 Get data

Logging equipment operators

45-4022 34,300 33,200 -3 -1,100 Get data

Log graders and scalers

45-4023 4,500 4,600 4 200 Get data

Logging workers, all other

45-4029 4,200 3,800 -8 -300 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about timber-cutting and logging careers, visit

Forest Resources Association



Log Graders and Scalers

Logging Equipment Operators

Logging Workers, All Other


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