Chainsaw and Skidder Operators

(NOC 8421)

in All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

Chainsaw and skidder operators use machinery and equipment to cut down, process, and load trees at logging sites. They work for logging companies and contractors.

Job Outlook

Limited

Read more

  • Estimate Decline employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate -140 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate High rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

  • Estimate 415 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 1430 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent and jobseekers may face competition. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline significantly over the next few years, which will limit the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Chain Saw and Skidder Operators most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. With employment conditions being seasonal in nature, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year are fairly common. Also, a average portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

Hourly Pay

N/A

Minimum

N/A

Median

N/A

Maximum

Annual Pay

$62

Minimum

$12,268

Median

$37,545

Maximum

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

Hourly Pay

$13.00

Minimum

$18.00

Median

$30.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$4,009

Minimum

$23,520

Median

$87,170

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Chainsaw and skidder operators use machinery and equipment to cut down, process, and load trees at logging sites. They work for logging companies and contractors.

Job duties

Chainsaw and skidder operators:

  • Use chain saw to fell, de-limb and buck trees at the logging site and loading area.
  • Use cable, or grapple skidder to move or yard the felled trees from the logging site to the landing area for processing and transportation.
  • Assess site, terrain, and weather conditions before felling and yarding trees.
  • May work as member of a team rotating between chain saw operation and skidder operation.
  • May maintain and perform minor repairs on skidders, chain saws and other equipment.

Sample job titles

  • bucker - logging
  • chain saw operator - logging
  • cordwood cutter
  • cutter - logging
  • forest worker - logging
  • logger
  • skidder operator - logging
  • wood cutter - logging

Skills

  • You should enjoy working outdoors and be prepared to spend time in isolated areas. You must be able to work alone and as part of a team. An awareness of safety is important. Physical stamina may also be needed.

Job requirements

  • High school may be required.
  • A college program for forest workers may be required.
  • Formal training in chain saw operation and maintenance and several months of on-the-job training are usually provided.
  • Experience as a logging and forestry labourer or logging machine operator may be required. Experience requirements vary depending on the type and location of woodlands operations.
  • Provincial certification or a forest worker program certificate is required in some provinces.
  • Workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) and first aid certificates may be required.

Other considerations

  • Most workers only work part of the year with employment peaking in the summer months. There is a trend toward company certification of chain saw operators in larger companies. Chain saw operators often must own and maintain their own chain saw. There is some mobility among jobs within this group as chain saw and skidder operators often work in teams and rotate jobs. Mobility is also possible to logging machinery operators. Mobility may be limited from eastern and central forest zones to western forest zones where tree size or steep terrain may require different cutting and yarding methods. Progression to supervisory positions or self-employment as a logging contractor is possible with experience.

By the numbers

Quick look

455

employed in 2016

71.1%

employed full-time

38.9%

self employed

2.2%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
97.8%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
N/A

median age

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

14,665

employed in 2016

78.0%

employed full-time

20.0%

self employed

15.1%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
84.9%
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44.6

median age

Where will I likely work?

42.2%

North Shore

$14,716 median annual income
23.3%

Southern

$8,420 median annual income
14.4%

Annapolis Valley

$10,220 median annual income
11.1%

Cape Breton

$10,692 median annual income
8.9%

Halifax

N/A

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

73.7%

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

10.5%

Manufacturing

7.0%

Retail trade

5.3%

Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services

3.5%

Educational services

Top levels of education

35.6%

High school

$12,239 median annual income
34.4%

Less than high school

$15,010 median annual income
17.8%

Trade Certification

$10,735 median annual income
7.8%

College Diploma

N/A
2.2%

Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

35.7%

Less than high school

$23,463 median annual income
30.8%

High school

$19,301 median annual income
13.7%

College Diploma

$29,551 median annual income
13.4%

Trade Certification

$31,535 median annual income
4.4%

Bachelor

$17,956 median annual income

Education & training

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Natural Resources Management and Policy

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs prepare students to plan, develop, manage, and evaluate programs to protect and regulate natural habitats and renewable natural resources. They include courses in the principles of wildlife and conservation biology, environmental science, animal population surveying, natural resource economics, management techniques for various habitats, applicable law and policy, administrative and communications skills, and public relations.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture

Truro, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Maritime College of Forest Technology
Fredericton, NB
Forest Nova Scotia
Hildon, NS
Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Occupational Health and Safety Division
Halifax, NS

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.