Wood Science: Academic Requirements, Professional Outlook

Wood Science

Wood is an important natural resource. We use it for shelter, for fuel, and in many products. Forests also have important uses besides supplying timber, including recreation for humans and habitat for wild animals. The proper use and management of forests and wood products will ensure that we have enough resources to be comfortable while also using trees at a sustainable level, so our forests can be there for future generations.

The Academic Requirements

Wood Science majors learn about forest and wood products and the technology used in the industry. Students will take courses in the physical and social sciences, and possibly also in business and marketing, management, sales, and conservation of natural resources.

Some programs are more technical, with classes such as Furniture and Cabinet Design and Manufacturing. Other programs are more broadly-based, especially those that focus on whole-forest ecology and conservation. Deciding what kind of career you want to have will help determine which type of program is best for you.

Here are some courses that we've seen:

  • Environmental Conservation
  • Dendrology & Wildland Plants
  • Wood Products & Processing
  • Introduction to Statistical Quality
  • Economics
  • Wood Structure, Identification & Properties
  • Furniture & Cabinet Design & Manufacture
  • Advanced Soil Microbiology
  • Fire Ecology
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Forest Entomology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Plant Biology
  • Forest Products Marketing
  • Principles of Management & Production

Professional Outlook

Depending on what kind of degree program you go to, you can choose a variety of different jobs. Forest and conservation workers help to manage forests by monitoring forest health and ecology, supervising logging and tree removal activities, and implementing stream and soil protection programs. These workers may be exposed to hazardous conditions, since some work will be done outdoors, potentially in bad weather and in isolated areas. There will also be some travel involved. Most of the time, however, conservation workers are supervising from a safe area or working in an office to come up with conservation plans and present them to others. Working hours vary from job to job.

Some Wood Science majors become foresters. Foresters follow agency or company guidelines to help manage the forest for a variety of uses. Harvesting timber is one important use, but foresters also help with soil and resource conservation, supervise public recreation activities, monitor stream and river quality, and do many other tasks. Job candidates should be in good physical shape, and most have a four-year degree.

Wood Science graduates who earned technical degrees can work in construction and similar fields. Carpenters often work with wood; for example, a carpenter may cut, fit and install doors and frames for a building. Many carpenters are self-employed, and work is usually steady enough to offer job security.

Here are some job titles that we've seen, including some of the organizations that offer them, all of which included a requirement for experience in Wood Science:


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