Forestry is a very good industry to work in, people treat you very fairly and there are so many learning opportunities and challenges along the way
I started as a 4th Class Power Engineer, progressed to a 3rd Class Power Engineer and now I am the Relief Chief Operator. What I like most about the forestry industry is it is self-sustaining and recycles waste products such as: chips, fines, and hog fuel.
My advice is you can’t go wrong with a career in forestry, if you enjoy working in a team environment but also being independent to work alone at times too. It’s a very good industry to work in, people treat you very fairly and there are so many learning opportunities and challenges along the way.
To create a healthy work/life balance, I use my holidays to go on vacation. I find the shift schedule is really good with the days we work to our days off. The company helps by being understanding with changing schedules when needed or if wanted, excused days if needed, and always very family orientated.
- Jasmine Energy Plant /3rd Class Power Engineer
My job at West Fraser lets me weigh and balance biology, ecology, socio-economics, and much more. If you enjoy diversity in your day, being outside and the idea of contributing to the management of one of BC’s greatest resources, forestry is a great career choice
My first job in forestry was as a tree planter during summer break from university. It was tough work, but a great way to get used to being in the bush every day and get an introduction to real forestry. The next summer I worked for the Federal Government assessing stream health. At graduation, started working for West Fraser in silviculture, and I have since switched over to the planning department and have been a Planning Forester. I’ve also taken on roles including Safety Representative and the coordinator of my division’s summer student program.
My job at West Fraser lets me weigh and balance biology, ecology, socio-economics, and much more. It’s great to be able to have a job that allows for time outdoors and time indoors (on some rainy days a desk is a nice place to be!). Contributing to an industry that is renewable and such an important part of BCs economy is another big plus.
If you enjoy diversity in your day, being outside and the idea of contributing to the management of one of BC’s greatest resources, it’s a great career choice. I create a work life balance by only taking on extra roles/activities that really add value to my or my family’s life. Balancing a full-time career and a young family is certainly challenging, but I’ve been able to find a balance that works. I rely on the help of my husband and family, but also on the flexibility of West Fraser. It makes a big difference in making family life a lot easier.
- Janelle Planning Forester
What I like about the forestry industry is that it offers many diverse fields of employment depending on your interests and strengths
I graduated from NAIT’s Forest Tech Program, and my first job was in a forest nursery tending to seedlings/plants, research plots and other greenhouse duties. I later joined the woodland department doing cutblock layout, regen, surveys, scaling logs, dealing with weight/scale trucks, doing land use contracts with oil & gas, industry and farmers. Several years ago I joined Slave Lake Pulp as a Utility Operator and learned to offload some of the chemicals used in the process of making pulp.
My advice to women considering a career in forestry is to have conversations with people already enrolled in the forest industry studies or working in forest industry jobs. What I like about the forestry industry is that it offers many diverse fields of employment depending on your interests and strengths, you can work in both private and government sectors.
- Carmen Utility/Chem Prep Operator
One of my goals is to be able to produce a future stand that will be a better forest then what was there previously.
I ran my own consulting company before I joined West Fraser as a Silviculture Supervisor. My biggest draw to forestry is being able to work outside, hands on in the field. I like being able to come back to a block after it has been planted and seeing how the stand has progressed. One of my goals is to be able to produce a future stand that will be a better forest then what was there previously.
I also like that the forestry industry is continually changing with new ideas from individuals and adapting to the advances in technology. I find it beneficial to try out new ideas to see if we can make improvements on our current projects and programs.
If you have a passion for the outdoors, then a forestry career will be a great choice, but forestry is more than just working outdoors. There are a lot of different opportunities ranging from harvesting and silviculture to manufacturing and research. Get as much experience as you can to see what area interests you the most.
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life ~ unknown”.
- Shari Silviculture Supervisor
It is very important to me to have a career where I am making an impact
I have been in the forestry industry for four years. I started as a Silviculture summer student and worked as a Silviculture Assistant my second year there. I’m currently a Silviculture Supervisor with West Fraser and I run all the herbicide activities and take care of the aerial seeding program at our division. I also help with mechanical site prep and pile burning during the winter months.
Sustainability is a huge reason why I got into this industry. It is very important to me to have a career where I am making an impact and in the Silviculture department I can do that. We take care of the reforestation on a cutblock after harvest and prescribe different methods of treatment so that we can bring back a successful stand.
My advice to women is to not be intimidated and that anything is possible if you just put the work in. The number of women joining this industry has grown tremendously. There are so many aspects to forestry such as field, technology, research, and teaching that are pursuable. Getting into forestry was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The experiences and skills that I have obtained so far have been great.
Creating a work life balance can be difficult sometimes, depending on which projects you are working on. I try to make sure that I give myself time to recharge and leave work at the office. I also have amazing superiors that are very understanding and flexible. Outside of work, I really enjoy playing sports and love taking photographs. I’m constantly taking pictures wherever I go. Traveling is a huge part of my life and I’m grateful that I work for a company that lets me take time.
- Rashelle Silviculture Supervisor
I like the extensive opportunities for learning, growth and advancement in the field.
I started as a warehouse operator before becoming finishing line operator, and now I’m a dewatering operator. I like the extensive opportunities for learning, growth and advancement in the field.
To women in the industry or looking to get into the industry I say “go for it!” In a society where for so many years these types of industries were male-dominated, it’s empowering to see more & more women entering the workforce and thriving. There is so much more as women we have to offer as part of these communities & Slave Lake Pulp plays a huge role as a strong foundation for young women to succeed and accomplish goals throughout their career.
As a mother of two teenagers, life can be hectic but Slave Lake Pulp provided me with a work schedule that fit my lifestyle and afforded me with reasonable time away to spend with my family. With so many different positions available to choose from, there are options for schedules to best suit your needs.
- Carmen Production (operator)
I am able to get outside and explore the nature around me, while I help create sustainable healthy forests for the generations to come.
I started out logging for a local logging contractor in Williams Lake for 4 years. I ran equipment and progressed to a supervisor for the logging company. I then moved to West Fraser as a Woods Assistant. I worked in this role for about 1.5 years, after which I was promoted to Operations Supervisor.
I like the diversity, and the challenges that I am able to work through. The geographical regions you get to explore, and I am constantly learning. I am able to get outside and explore the nature around me, while I help create sustainable healthy forests for the generations to come.
My advice would be to get your hands dirty! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and work hard. You can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it!
I am able to create a work/life balance by having weekends and evenings free to spend with my family and friends. I also get to enjoy my passion of the outdoors most days at work, so this is helpful for enjoying my job immensely. West Fraser is great about helping to do this by creating good working hours and supporting us in time off to make sure we are rested and get to enjoy time doing the things we love. They are flexible about the hours you work as well to help with the schedule needed by your family.
I spend a lot of my free time in the summer camping, fishing, or hunting. In the winter I enjoy spending time playing hockey, or snowmobiling. I am extremely lucky that a lot of my passions go so well with my job.
- Amanda Operations Supervisor
I love the work. Sawdust smells like home to me. I like working in the forest industry because it is a great career that allows for workers to support a family and to be a part of the culture of B.C.
I started at Williams Lake Plywood in cleanup while I was attending university, and later started working summer production. I took every opportunity for more training and I progressed to a permanent position as the Safety Representative for my crew. I was a member of the Safety Committee for four years, representing two different crews in that time. It was through my experience as a safety rep that I developed a real passion for workplace safety and decided to pursue it as a career. Today I am training with our current Safety Resource person and I love the work.
Sawdust smells like home to me. I like working in the forest industry because it is a great career that allows for workers to support a family and to be a part of the culture of British Columbia. Multiple generations of my family have been raised on timber dollars and I am very proud of where I am and where I come from. I also enjoy working in the forest industry because there is room for personal growth and development, especially within a company like West Fraser that covers a vast amount of territory. There are positions for varying skills in the forest industry and opportunities for training to build those skills.
For women considering a career in forestry, I say do it! Too many times my friends have avoided applying for work at the mill because they feel it is a “man’s job.” I certainly would recommend plywood to women and we have a high percentage of women working at our plant. I believe if you are willing to work hard and are smart about how you do it, you can achieve it.
- Jessica Shift Coordinator/Alternate Safety Resource
I started my accounting career in public practice in 2008 and received my Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 2014. I joined West Fraser shortly after as a Divisional Accountant at Sundre Forest Products. I was there just under two years, before being promoted to my current position as Divisional Controller at Blue Ridge Lumber.
Starting in public practice exposed me to many different companies in various industries. I love that I now get to work with one company and specialize in one industry. The contributions that I make are valued and used to make informed business decisions. Every day is different and brings a new challenge. The varied nature of the role means I get to use different aspects of my CA training on a daily basis, which is something I really value.
One of the things that has always impressed me about West Fraser is how, for a very large company, it really feels like a family-run business. Blue Ridge Lumber is a great place to work because of the people. Everyone that works here takes a lot of pride in the job they do and the industry that they are in.
West Fraser promotes a family-first culture and they stand by it. Having five young children, this is very important to me and allows me to better balance responsibilities in my life. Living in Whitecourt, AB, only a half-hour drive from the mill also helps with this. For a small town, it has many amenities and a lot of great activities for young families. Edmonton is also close enough to make day trips possible.
- Jeff Divisional Controller
I entered forestry because I wanted a career path that was challenging and rewarding. After completing my first year at the University of Alberta, I received an offer to work for West Fraser as a Silviculture Assistant in Blue Ridge. I had an excellent summer filled with hard work and tons of fun, and I first experienced those challenges which I sought.
I’m now on my second summer working in Blue Ridge, this year within Quality Control at the sawmill. I’m learning about a number of functions within the sawmill, planer mill, energy plant and kilns, as well as some woodlands operations.
What makes my job particularly satisfying is that every day provides a new and interesting challenge; the world of forestry is so complex. West Fraser makes sure that its students make meaningful contributions to the industry, all the while making sure that our safety is always the number one concern.
Even though West Fraser is a large company—you have endless options and resources to support learning opportunities—you feel like a family here. The people that work for West Fraser care deeply about your wellbeing, and make sure that every day you experience something you haven’t before. There are so many positives and benefits to working for West Fraser; I highly suggest to any student looking for a place in forestry to look into this company.
- Gillian Quality Control Student
I started working for West Fraser right after I graduated from high school. Following that, I completed a diploma in Natural Resources and Environmental Technology at the College of New Caledonia, and am now entering my final year of the Forest Ecology and Management degree program at UNBC.
My goal over the next few years is to work towards certification as a Registered Professional Forester, enhancing my ability to make a positive contribution to the management of BC’s forest resources.
The best part of my job is getting out to the bush every day. Outside of work, I do a lot of activities in BC’s backcountry, so it’s great to be able to help preserve and manage the beautiful places where we live.
Students can expect a fun, challenging, and rewarding experience in the forest industry, and West Fraser in particular is an innovative company with friendly, hard-working staff.
- Tristan Silviculture Summer Student
In 2012, I graduated from high school and began a two-year diploma in Electrical Engineering Technology. I spent the next three summers as a summer student at Blue Ridge Lumber and, after graduating, I struggled to find a job in my field so I asked to stay on full-time as an operator at Blue Ridge.
After a year of working on production I started training for Quality Control (QC), and shortly after transferred to High Prairie to be the QC supervisor in the sawmill.
The best part about my current job is getting to work with a wide variety of machinery in the sawmill and learn how it all works. There’s a lot of investment in the mill coming up, so I’m looking forward to seeing all of the new technology that will be coming in the future.
I like working in High Prairie. The people in the sawmill are all very close knit and there are three lakes all within a 30-minute drive of the mill, so I can go fishing after work.
If you’re thinking about coming to work for West Fraser, expect to find a company that’s committed to you. Here, hard work and dedication pay off if you stick with it.
- Kody Quality Control Supervisor
At 7 years old I decided that I wanted to become a professional forester, just like my father. In particular, I wanted to supervise logging operations; I’ve always been fascinated by the machines, processes and technology used in harvesting.
In 2009, I attended UNBC and began working with West Fraser as a summer student, gaining experience in silviculture and harvesting operations. After graduating in 2014, I took on a full-time position with the company’s Quesnel Division as an Operations Coordinator. I supervise harvesting, road construction and hauling, as well as ensure that production, quality, environmental and legal requirements are met in a safe and cost-effective manner.
I like being outside and working with the logging equipment, especially with new technology such as tethered machines and selective harvesting. A career in forestry means I not only get to work outdoors in nature, but also play an increasingly integral role in managing it.
The best thing about West Fraser is, if you show you’re keen and eager to learn, they’ll help you pursue your interests and gain invaluable experience and training. I am looking forward to taking on more responsibility by managing large-scale harvest operations projects, such as major road design and development.
- Kyle Operations Coordinator
I am a Mechanical Engineering student and I did my engineering co-op at Cariboo Pulp & Paper.
Until I started working at Cariboo Pulp & Paper, I had no exposure to the forestry industry. My agricultural background coloured my views towards other industries, but my experience with West Fraser provided me with a healthy dose of perspective. The scale of operations present in a continuously-run facility is immense. My understanding of the forestry industry grew in likewise proportion.
While employed by West Fraser, I worked as a Reliability Engineering intern. My responsibilities centered on identifying problem-prone or attention-deficit equipment and remedying their maintenance practices. The diversity of work in my co-op motivated me to approach these challenging tasks like a personal project rather than a chore. My hope is to apply these problem-solving and research skills in completing my engineering degree. After I complete my degree, the opportunity to return to West Fraser would be incredibly enticing.
As an engineer, there are few other industries that will offer a spectrum of tasks that incorporate mechanical, electrical, chemical, structural, instrumentation and manufacturing engineering knowledge. Personally, the best aspect of working at West Fraser was the sense of community within the workplace. I could go boating with my supervisor on weekends and play soccer with members from other departments during the week. In trying to establish myself at West Fraser, I became a part of the community, which was an unexpected benefit. It is something that I will cherish and will actively seek in my future career.
- Logan Engineering co-op student at Cariboo Pulp & Paper
I worked at Cariboo Pulp & Paper mill to complete my reliability engineering co-op. I'm a 3rd year electrical engineering student from the University of British Columbia.
The people at West Fraser are excellent. Not only are they friendly, smart, and funny, but also welcoming. I felt like I was given autonomy to take on projects I was interested in or thought valuable. I felt free to get involved with anything that I could learn from. Everyone was eager to share their knowledge and offer advice and tips.
There was also never a dull moment. There is always something going on and always something to work on. It's basically an electrical engineer's playground: from power generation, to control systems, networks, software development, equipment maintenance and monitoring, there are projects in each field!
- Charles Engineering co-op student at Cariboo Pulp & Paper
It has been a really amazing experience working as a Quality Control Assistant at the Quesnel Sawmill. As an active person, I found this job suits me well. I am fortunate to work with experienced Quality Control personnel to gain valuable knowledge in lumber production, and to practice what I’ve learned about in school (Major in Wood Product Processing, minor in Commerce, UBC).
During my work term, I did quality control tests in both the sawmill and planer mill. These tests help ensure product quality and locate machine related issues. I also conducted studies on both lumber and kiln strip utilization to help identify opportunities for improvement.
Quesnel Sawmill is like a warm family to me because everyone makes me feel supported and trusted. When doing tests and projects, everyone is happy to answer my questions or teach me something new. I get to discuss my thoughts with my supervisor, get objective feedback, and work out results together. I have received so much knowledge from my supervisor during my work term and what I’ve learned will be extremely helpful in my future career in this industry.
I would definitely recommend a work term here to any student looking for a co-op placement in the forestry industry. Working at West Fraser will make you feel happy and accomplished.
- Lily Quality Control Assistant
As a graduate student from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, I came across the opportunity to work as an energy engineer for West Fraser’s corporate office in Quesnel, BC. When I was offered the position, I jumped into my car and drove straight from Vancouver to Quesnel.
I feel like I am one of the luckiest engineers. I get to say that I don’t have to sit on a computer all the time and I travel across picturesque landscapes of Alberta and British Columbia to help West Fraser’s solid wood mills replace inefficient equipment with more energy efficient equipment. While working on these technically stimulating projects, I get to interact and understand the perspective of a large number of employees in the hierarchy ranging from a general manager to a mill operator. In the next few years, I am looking forward to working on more energy projects.
During my engineering career, I’ve worked with several companies. The employee-friendly work ethics and peaceful environment that I found at West Fraser is the best. The warmth, friendliness, and laid back nature of its employees has swept me off my feet. I feel like I work with my family.
While working in Quesnel, I get the opportunity to experience fly-fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, and photography. As a nature lover, these activities help me strike a good work-life balance. I can proudly say that I am having an amazing time working at West Fraser!
- Mohammed Energy Engineer
I began working for West Fraser during my University of British Columbia (UBC) co-operative education term in 2011. Following graduation from UBC with a Bachelor of Science (specializing in wood products processing) and a minor in Commerce, I was hired by West Fraser in recognition for my hard work and fairness. I am thankful for that.
My first full-time job at West Fraser was as Quality Control Supervisor. Subsequently, I advanced to Maintenance Planner and onto Sawmill Superintendent. My current job as Sawmill Superintendent at West Fraser's Chetwynd, BC division is challenging and rewarding. It gives me the opportunity to interact with great people and work with diverse industrial equipment, to ensure the day-to-day operations of the sawmill are running smoothly. In this job, I set goals and work to make sure these goals are exceeded to advance the business into new frontiers.
For the five years I have been with West Fraser, all the jobs I have worked on have been exciting and memorable. I can understand why West Fraser is listed as one of Canada's top employers. I commend West Fraser’s work environment, health and family benefits, social commitment, and the many opportunities for training and development.
I look forward to continuing my career with West Fraser and I plan to work towards the future success of the company.
- Houston Sawmill Superintendent
Working in Hinton Pulp’s Reliability department was a great experience. Upon arrival at the mill for my eight-month work term, I found everyone very friendly and helpful. The support I received ranged from having my questions about the equipment answered to having their location in the mill shown to me.
Throughout the work term, I had opportunities to work on small projects related to lubrication of equipment at the mill. These projects offered me a tremendous opportunity to gain some technical knowledge on how the equipment operates and how their mechanical characteristics affect how they will be lubricated. I also learned the importance of reliability for the efficient operation of any industrial plant – knowledge I consider very useful for all engineering students as they begin their careers. On social front, I found Hinton very exciting and full of fun. I had opportunities to get involved in a wide variety of interesting activities such as hiking in Jasper and cross-country skiing at the Nordic Centre. The positive and memorable experience I had living and working in Hinton will be something that will stay with me for a long time.
- Maryam Engineering co-op student at Hinton Pulp
I’m an outdoorsy person and always knew I wanted to work outside. I wanted a physically and mentally challenging job; this is what attracted me towards forestry. Forestry is just so diverse; there are endless opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.
I get to work in beautiful, wild places knowing that I’m assisting in responsible management and the future preservation of these areas. This job gives a high level of satisfaction. I’d recommend this career path to anybody who places importance on renewable resources, sustainability and the environment.
Once I graduated high school I worked at both sawmill and coal mine jobs. I definitely preferred the sawmill job. I got sent into the woods for the sawmill and I loved it! I applied for Forestry right away. Students going into this field can expect to be challenged. I’m amazed at how much the managers at West Fraser know and can accomplish. Students can expect to have fun too! Imagine waking up, quadding deep into the foothills and directing a helicopter flight….That’s what I did just this morning! If you enjoy solving problems, meeting people and overseeing projects, this may be the job for you.
West Fraser has been great to work for. I’ve never worked anywhere where the managers care so much for their employees. Safety and education are their main priorities. Throughout the summer, they made a point of exposing me to different aspects of forestry, giving me applicable experience. I’ve learnt many new skills working here that will help me complete my degree and work as a future forester.
- Emily Summer student at Hinton Wood Products