Home | Contact | Site Map
TechWORKS! Career Information Profiles


Our forest industry does a lot more than cut down trees. The industry is committed to good forest management. That means knowing what species, age and size of trees exist in any given area, so plans can be made for responsible harvesting and sustainable development.

A timber cruiser gathers information on volume, species composition and grade or value. The data not only helps foresters plan harvesting and planting activities, it provides base data for the Ministry of Forest Appraisal. The ministry uses this data to determine the stumpage fee it will charge companies for harvesting activities.

As a timber cruiser, you will select and implement the appropriate sampling method for the area to be analyzed. You will measure the trees in the sample and map the area.

Here are some brief descriptions of the different timber cruiser levels:

Level 1 - Compasser

This is an entry-level position. You would work under direct supervision and assist the timber cruiser in data collection. To be a compasser, you need to complete all competencies in Level 1 and have a minimum of three months experience at this level. You need endorsement by an accredited timber cruiser or evaluator.

You will adjust declination and set bearings on a compass, measure field distances, and determine tree height, diameter, age and growth increment. You will also be able to identify common species and tree pests.

Level 2 - Cruiser-in-training

This is an intermediate working level. You will work with limited supervision and be responsible for recording data that will meet the Ministry of Forests' criteria. For this position, you will have completed all competencies in Levels 1 and 2. You will also have a working knowledge of the Ministry of Forests' cruising manual.

You calculate tree height and age, and you will use specialized equipment to plot radius factor calculations to establish a variable radius plot. You will be able to relate aerial photograph features to a map, determine tree quality, spiral grain, sweeps, lean and log qualities, and you'll identify and record damage from beetles, fires and uprooting.

Level 3 - Accredited Timber Cruiser

This position is an operational working level. You will have completed all competencies in Levels 1 through 3, and have a minimum of six months experience at this level. You will be responsible for recording data that will meet Ministry of Forests' criteria, and will supervise and instruct subordinates.

You will be able to determine field location by compass triangulation (using two or more identifiable points relating to both the base map and aerial photograph). You will be able to perform pre- and post-cruise plan mapping, have a basic knowledge of sampling theory, decay waste and breakage factors, and be able to prepare a timber cruise for compilation by plot-type designation and area determination.

Level 4 - Accredited Timber Evaluator

This is a senior working and supervisory level. You will have completed all competencies in Levels 1 through 4, and have a minimum of two years experience at Level 3. You will be able to organize and conduct a timber cruise from beginning to end. You will be responsible for training and auditing subordinates.

You will have competent knowledge of equipment, field measurements, mapping, determining timber volume and value, conducting field audits and training, in addition to competence with everything in Levels 1 through 3. You will have a working knowledge of sampling theory, decay waste and breakage factors, compilation procedures and log grade algorithms.

Where Will You Work?

As a timber cruiser you will most likely be employed in the private sector, although there are rewarding careers available with the Ministry of Forests. Timber cruisers do most of their work in the forest, under varying physical or geographic conditions. You need to be in good physical condition for this work. You can expect to work from eight to 10 hours per day, five days a week, in two-week shifts. Most work sites require travel; this is generally provided by the employer.

How Much Will You Earn?

Average annual salary: $50,000

How Does the Future Look?

The future in this industry looks to be stable in the upcoming years. Not a large amount of growth is expected, but job openings will remain steady.

How Can You Get Started?

In high school, be sure to take courses in mathematics, biology and, if your school offers a forestry class... sign up!

What Will You Need?

To enjoy working as a timber cruiser you must enjoy the outdoorsÉ in all kinds of weather! You can expect to spend time away from home and you must be comfortable flying in small aircraft. Teamwork is very important in this field, but keep in mind that there will be times of solitude. You should enjoy problem solving and have a good grasp on your communication skills.

Your best course of action after successfully completing high school would be to enroll in a Forest Resources program (available, for example, at BCIT or Selkirk College). This two year program will give you the necessary education to apply for entry level jobs as a compasser. After your post secondary training, it is a matter of getting that first job, gaining experience and working your way up through the different timber cruiser levels. Another option is direct entry to the workforce after high school graduation. If you take this approach you will learn the required skills on the job.

Post Secondary Possibilities

Accredited Status
Renewable Resources
College of New Caledonia
Forest Resources
Forest Resources
Malaspina University-College
Forest Resources
Forest Resources
Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Natural Resources Technologist Forest Resources
Northwest Community College Forest Technology Technologist Forest Resources
Northwest Community College Integrated Resources Management Recognized Forest Resources
Selkirk College Forestry Recognized Forest Resources


  • Programs listed are those accredited by the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC); check www.asttbc.org for updates on accredited programs.
  • Check with your career facilitator or counsellor for other sources of information applicable to education options for this technology.
  • Salary figures indicated in the 'How Much Will You Earn?' section are extracted from ASTTBC's Member Compensation Survey or other Canadian sources applicable to the specific technology discipline. These figures are representative only; actual figures will vary depending on academic training, practical experience, job responsibilities and location of employment.
  • The TechWORKS! web site is an important online resource and provides links to career information that will be of interest to students pursuing a career in technology.


Home | Contact | Site Map