Advances in science are responsible for creating many of the materials used in modern structures and products, but wood remains a common raw material in construction and manufacturing. Lumberjacks are workers that fell trees using axes, saws and other logging equipment to prepare lumber for transport. Lumberjacks are also called tree "fellers" or "fallers." Lumberjacks typically learn the skills they need through on-the-job training and do not have education beyond high school.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual income of tree fallers was $42,620 in May 2011. This figure is based on an average hourly wage of $20.49 and assumes 2,080 hours of work a year. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $51,440 a year on average, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $22,510. Fifty percent of workers in the occupation earned between $28,570 and $51,440 a year.
The term “lumberjack” is usually applied to workers who actually fell trees. But the logging industry employs workers to fill several other roles to assist with lumber extraction. Lumber equipment operators use heavy machinery to clear the way for felling and load timber onto trucks. Lumber truckers transport timber to mills and supervisors oversee logging operations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that lumber equipment operators made $34,670 a year on average in May 2011, while logging truckers made $34,030. Supervisors and managers earned $55,030 on average.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that California was the top paying state for fallers in May 2011, and that workers in the state averaged $71,650 a year. Other top states for lumberjacks included Washington, where workers made $60,670 a year on average; and Oregon, where workers earned $54,610 on average. Washington employed the most fallers of any state, followed by South Carolina and Oregon. Workers in South Carolina earned $42,590 a year on average.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for logging workers to increase by 4 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is 10 percentage points slower than the national average for all occupations. Despite the comparatively slow growth, new workers should have decent job prospects due to the need to replace workers who leave their jobs in favor of other opportunities that are not as physically demanding.