Forestry, Forest Management or Ecology?
In the forestry industry as a whole, there are three major streams to look into. If you are mostly interested in working in forestry itself, there are educations that focus on planting, growing and felling trees as part of the forest economy. An example of this kind of education is the Skogsmästare education in Skinnskattenberg.
For those of you who are interested in the accounting of forestry and making plans for tracts of forest land, you are looking into forest management. Examples of this kind of education are Landscape Architecture from SLU in Alnarp, or Forest Ecology in Uppsala.
Finally, if the topic you are looking into is ecology and biology, and you have a head for science, then you might want to look into Forest Ecology. In Sweden the primary education is the Skogsvetarprogrammet in Umeå.
The Swedish Education System
Swedish universities are arranged according to the European system, with three-year bachelor studies (In Swedish: Kandidat) followed by one year Magister studies or two year master studies.
In order to enter university's basic courses you need to meet the minimum entry requirements. These are Swedish 3, Mathematics 2, English 6 and "Samhällskunskap" (social awareness).
If you have an education from another country, there is an organization called UHR (universitets- och högskolarådet, the council for university and college studies) who can do a judgement of your diploma and how it relates to the Swedish educational system.
Should you need additional courses to qualify for university studies, you can usually get these for free through your municipality. If you're from abroad it's very likely you will need to study Swedish at least.
If you already have a Bachelor university degree or higher, you may be able to join advanced courses and programs (magister and master) even if you do not meet the requirements for joining basic courses, because the advanced courses are all taught in English.
Which Route to Follow?
There are three main routes into the Forestry sector, and they depend on your current skills and career level, as well as your available time:
- Complete a Gymnasium (high school) level education in Forest Technician, which allows you to work as an arborist or lumberjack.
- Complete a University degree in either Forest Management or Forest Ecology which will allow you to work as a lumber purchaser, planner or team lead.
- Find a job at a Forestry company or related organisation using your current skills, and then add courses and education as you go along to round out your skills.
This education is three years and is given at the Skogsmästarskolan in Skinnskatteberg, in the Västmanland province. Here you will be taught about leading a team of foresters, and a deepening of the work and skills required as part of the practical jobs as a forester or ranger.
In order to join this education you will need to have basic skills in terrain vehicles, motor saws and woodslore, as well as at least 6 months of experience at a forestry company. While difficult to get into if you did not plan to from gymnasium on, it is possible to follow a "basic forestry year" in order to meet all these requirements.
This "skoglig basår" is taught in Uppsala, but there are also equivalents to this in locations such as Vännas in North Sweden and Ljusdal in the middle of Sweden.
You can find more information about this education here (in Swedish).
Forest Economy or Forest and Landscape
There are two studies taught at Sweden's agricultural university which are more specialized, but still give access to a wide range of forestry topics. Those are Skogsekonomi (Forest Economy) in Uppsala, and Forest and Landscape in Alnarp.
Forest Economy is aimed towards those people who want to manage a forest from a financial perspective, build plans on how to develop it, and either earn money through the sales of lumber or have a career making forest plans for people who do. It's less physical than Skogsmästare, so it's perfect if you are good with finance and have an entrepreneurial streak. I would recommend this route if you already have a good education, or if you are less attracted to hard work out in the woods and rather are looking for a job that is more office-based.
On the other hand, Forest and Landscape is a more artistic or architectural education focusing on forest as a part of the overall landscape in its area. With this education, you are more likely to work in community planning and focus on tourism and national parks. Its main perk is that it is fully English-language, so anyone who can prove sufficient skill at English can join—no need to first learn Swedish! The downside is that this bachelor draws many international students, so competition will be fierce to get in!
Once, jägmästare was its own prestigious five-year education in Umeå that contained everything that could be desired of a Master in forestry, from forest science and technology to law and ecology. It was a very demanding study to get into, and over time it did not fit in with the Bachelor-Master structure that other university degrees conformed to.
As a result of this, in 2021 the structure of the Jägmästare degree was changed into a 2-year Master program, for which one could qualify by completing one of the underlying SLU educations (Forest and Landscape in Alnarp, Forest Economy in Uppsala or Skogsvetarprogrammet in Umeå), with maybe a few specific courses.
To qualify you will first need to have complete 300 academic points, of which 135 in forest science, 15 in biology, 15 in ecology, 30 in entrepreneurial topics. The remaining 105 points can be of any specialized topics that fit with the general theme of forestry.
You will be able to find more information about this education here (in Swedish only)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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