Wood Science and Technology Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Many different specialties are contained within the wood science field. Therefore, a broad understanding of many subjects will prove more useful than extensive study of a single discipline. Take as many science classes as possible. Biology, chemistry, and earth sciences will be especially helpful. Mathematics is another important focus area for career preparation. Many jobs in this industry are engineering jobs, which require a solid grasp of advanced math skills. Written and oral communication are important in scientific research, so English and speech classes are good choices to help you develop these skills.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree is required for employment as a wood scientist or wood technician. Many colleges in the United States offer degrees in wood science, wood technology, forestry, or forest products. Courses of study in these programs may include wood physics, wood chemistry, wood-fluid relationships, wood machinery, and production management. Degree programs in chemistry, biology, physics, mechanical engineering, materials science, or civil engineering can also be very useful if combined with courses in wood science.

A master's degree or doctorate is usually required for more advanced work as a researcher. Advanced studies include such topics as pulp and paper science, business administration, production management, and forestry-wood sciences.

Visit https://www.swst.org/wp/education/directory-north-american-schools for a list of colleges and universities that offer baccalaureate and graduate programs in wood science and technology.

Apprenticeships used to be the most common method of training for wood products technicians, but today most earn a certificate or associate's degree from a two-year college. Their course work in wood science includes the identification, composition, and uses of wood. It also covers wood design, manufacturing, seasoning and machining, and methods and materials for making wood products. Some business courses may also be included. Some students may wish to earn a two-year degree first and then transfer to another school to earn a bachelor's degree.

Other Education or Training

The Society of Wood Science and Technology offers professional development opportunities at its annual international convention. Past sessions included “Hardwood Research and Utilization,” “Products, Design, and Manufacturing Technologies,” and “Energy, Fuels, Chemicals.” The Forest Products Society, Society of American Foresters, and the Canadian Wood Council also provide classes and seminars.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for wood scientists and technologists.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is required for entry-level wood science workers. Scientists and engineers must earn a degree and complete an internship or receive other on-the-job training.  

The main personal requirement for success in this field is the ability to communicate well. The ability to understand and use scientific theory is also important in this career, as are curiosity and persistence in your work habits. Finally, an interest in wood and conservation issues is a plus. Workers in this industry should be environmentally aware, as their industry is contingent on the preservation and proper use of wood as a renewable resource.