Chain Saw and Skidder Operators

(NOC 8421)

in All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

Chain saw and skidder operators operate chainsaws to fell, de-limb and buck trees at logging and loading sites; operate skidders to move or yard the felled trees from the logging site to the landing area for processing and transportation; and assess site, terrain, and weather conditions before felling and yarding trees. They are employed by logging companies and contractors.

Job Outlook

Average

Read more

  • Estimate decline sharply employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 25 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate High rate of unemployment in 2016

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

  • Estimate Decline slightly employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 910 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate High rate of unemployment in 2016

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is not a large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities may not be that frequent. 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 small percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are not expected to be a major 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.

The median employment income for 26% of Chain Saw and Skidder Operators who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $15,274. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

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

$11.55

Minimum

$16.00

Median

$31.88

Maximum

Annual Pay

$4,009

Minimum

$23,520

Median

$87,170

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Chain saw and skidder operators operate chainsaws to fell, de-limb and buck trees at logging and loading sites; operate skidders to move or yard the felled trees from the logging site to the landing area for processing and transportation; and assess site, terrain, and weather conditions before felling and yarding trees. They are employed by logging companies and contractors.

Job duties

Chain saw and skidder operators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Operate chain saw to fell, de-limb and buck trees at the logging site and loading area.
  • Operate 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

To work in this field, 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

  • Completion of high school may be required.
  • Completion of 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.
  • Previous 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 are part-year workers; employment peaks 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

290

employed in 2016

76.2%

employed full-time

44.8%

self employed

2.2%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
97.8%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
51.5

median age

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

14,665

employed in 2016

84.0%

employed full-time

22.0%

self employed

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

median age

Where will I likely work?

41.8%

Northern

23.1%

Southern

14.3%

Annapolis Valley

11.0%

Cape Breton

8.8%

Halifax

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

Northern

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

63.9%

Forestry and Logging

9.8%

Wood Product Manufacturing

6.6%

Agriculture

6.6%

Retail Trade

3.3%

Management, Admin & Other Support

What is the age of Employment?

45.0%

55-64

27.5%

45-54

15.0%

25-34

12.5%

35-44

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

42.3%

45-54

26.1%

55-64

18.9%

35-44

8.1%

25-34

3.6%

65+

Top levels of education

37.2%

High school

$15,512 median annual income
34.9%

Less than high school

$16,163 median annual income
18.6%

Trades certificate

$12,706 median annual income
5.8%

College certificate or diploma

$26,059 median annual income
2.3%

Bachelor's degree

N/A

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

34.0%

Less than high school

$14,445 median annual income
31.5%

High school

$14,229 median annual income
14.3%

College certificate or diploma

$21,289 median annual income
14.0%

Trades certificate

$19,107 median annual income
4.3%

Bachelor's degree

$15,980 median annual income

Education & training

Adult high school/secondary diploma programs

This program is typically offered at the high school level.

The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) administers, coordinates, and supports the development and delivery of adult education programs through learning partners in Nova Scotia. Our learning partners include the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations that offer tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED, empowering Nova Scotians to achieve their learning and employment goals.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Siège Social: 1695, Route 1

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0

(902) 769-2114

Nova Scotia Community College - Adult Learning

PO Box 220

Halifax, NS B3J 2M4

(866) 679-6722

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Forest technology/technician

This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.

This instructional program class includes any program that prepares individuals to assist foresters in the management and production of forest resources. These programs include courses in woods and field skills, tree identification, timber measurement, logging and timber harvesting, forest propagation and regeneration, forest firefighting, resource management, equipment operation and maintenance, record-keeping, sales and purchasing operations, and personnel supervision.

There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Maritime College of Forest Technology
1350 Regent Street
Fredericton, NB E3C 2G6
Tel: (866) 619-9900
Fax: (506) 458-0679
Nova Scotia Forestry Association
PO Box 696
Truro, NS B2N 5E5
Tel: (902) 895-1179
Fax: (902) 893-1197
Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia
PO Box 696
Truro, NS B2N 5E5
Tel: (902) 895-1179
Fax: (902) 893-1197
Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Occupational Health and Safety Division
PO Box 697, 5151 Terminal Road
Halifax, NS B3J 2T8
Tel: (902) 424-5300

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.

Job postings

Chainsaw with operator wanted

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