How To Become Forest Officer: Duties and Eligibility

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Forest officers safeguard the forests under their jurisdiction from illegal tree felling, poaching and encroachment. They also undertake the survey, estimation, conservation and reporting of the forest's botanical and zoological resources. By understanding the demanding requirements of this profession, you can decide if you want to pursue this career. In this article, we explain what a forest officer is and give information about their responsibilities, job educational qualifications and eligibility criteria and discuss how to become a forest officer.

What is a forest officer?

A forest officer is a designated Group B gazetted government officer of a state forest service and is the executive in charge of a forest range. Forest officers conserve, protect and manage forests, maintain the related revenue and expenditure and write and submit work reports. They delegate tasks to and oversee a subordinate staff of forest guards, forest watchers, forest section officers and forest deputy rangers. They report to and take orders from the assistant conservator of forests and the divisional forest officer.

Related: How To Become an Agriculture Officer: A Complete Guide

What are the responsibilities of a forest officer?

The principal responsibility of a forest officer is to preserve forest resources and prevent all illegal activities that could damage or destroy forest trees, plants, animals and birds. Some of the Indian forester job work duties include the following:

  • conducting regular surveys of forest flora, fauna, topography, soil and acreage

  • delegating tasks to subordinates and supervising their work

  • remaining alert to prevent poachers, hunters, trespassers, vandals and encroachers

  • relocating or providing medical aid to injured animals and birds

  • guarding against and fighting forest fires

  • preventing sheep, goats and cattle from grazing on forest land

  • initiating tree plantation in the forests to expand the forest cover

  • overseeing the legal, commercial exploitation of forest resources

  • collecting forest revenue and paying for executed forest works

  • seizing illegally cut timber or poached animals or animal parts

  • supervising the construction of forest trails, roads, bridges, canals, dams, cabins and fences

  • examining the setups for telephone and electricity lines

  • considering claims for agriculture, mining, sawmills and other plants

  • attending to special privilege cases like hotels, tourist rest places, food outlets or stores

  • placing informative signboards and warning placards at appropriate locations

  • completing paperwork and reports for the forest department and forest ministry

Related: How To Be Professional at Work: A Complete Guide

What is the eligibility criteria for a forest officer?

You can become eligible for forest jobs in India after passing the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)'s Indian Forest Service (IFS) Examination. The Indian government conducts the competitive IFS exam at the All India level to recruit qualified forest officers. The exam consists of two successive stages, the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination (Objective Type) and the Indian Forest Service (Main) Examination (Written and Interview).

What are the requirements of the IFS examination?

To be eligible to appear for the IFS examination, it is necessary to fulfil the following criteria:

Nationality

Indian citizenship is essential for forestry jobs in India. If the Indian government issues an eligibility certificate, citizens of Nepal or Bhutan or Tibetan refugees that qualify certain conditions can also apply to jobs in forestry. Similarly, Indian-origin migrants from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam and various East African countries can be eligible for a forester job in India.

Age limit

Candidates interested in a forestry vacancy can appear for the IFS exam if they are between 21 to 32 years of age in the examination year. The UPSC extends the age limit up to five years for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC /ST), ex-servicemen and officers and Jammu & Kashmir residents. The extension is up to three years for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and ten years for handicapped people.

Mental and physical standards

It is crucial to be mentally and physically fit and meet the health standards required by the UPSC. The central government has set up Central Standing Medical Boards (CSMB) in designated hospitals. You can undergo a medical examination in any one of these before or after the personal interview round. If you are medically fit to discharge the duties of a forest officer, you may receive an Indian forester job appointment.

Educational qualification

A bachelor's degree in any medical, science or engineering field from a recognised university is a minimum requirement to appear for the IFS exam. You can give the preliminary examination if you have given the exam for the bachelor's degree and are still to get the results or if you intend to give the graduate exam. If you pass the Preliminary Examination, the UPSC will check the proof of passing the graduate exam before allowing you to appear for the IFS (Main) Examination.

How to become a forest officer

You can become a forest officer by following these steps:

1. Complete 10+2

Passing the 10+2 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) in the science stream from a recognised board is an essential first step in pursuing a job in forestry. You can choose physics, chemistry and biology or physics, chemistry and mathematics as the major subjects. As college admissions can be very competitive, getting more than 85% is important.

2. Give college entrance exams

You have to pass competitive college entrance exams and sometimes personal interviews to gain admission into the college of your choice. Here are some entrance exams that you can take:

  • All India Pre-Veterinary Test (AIPVT)

  • Joint Entrance Examination – Main (JEE Main)

  • Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced (JEE Advanced)

  • National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA)

  • National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)

  • National Entrance Screening Test (NEST)

  • Banaras Hindi University Undergraduate Entrance Test (BHU UET)

  • Indraprastha University Common Entrance Test (IPU CET)

  • Aligarh Muslim University Engineering Entrance Exam (AMUEEE)

3. Obtain a bachelor's degree

You require a bachelor's degree to appear for the IFS exam. The bachelor's degree can be of three years or four years duration. It can be in animal husbandry and veterinary science, agriculture, zoology, botany, geology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics or engineering.

4. Submit IFS exam application

You can visit the UPSC website to access the online IFS exam application form. It is available in two parts and you can fill it using a drop down menu. Include your personal details, contact details, the examination centre you want, signature, photo ID and the prescribed fee.

5. Take the preliminary examination

Follow the UPSC instructions to appear for the preliminary examination. The exam is available in English and Hindi and consists of two papers with objective type questions. Each question has four alternatives for an answer. You must use only a black ball pen to mark your answers.

6. Pass the main examination

You can appear for the main examination if you pass the preliminary exam. It consists of a written exam and an interview. The written examination is in English only. It consists of six papers of the conventional essay type, with general knowledge and general english being compulsory and the four others that you can select from a list of optional subjects. These include botany, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, geology, agriculture, agricultural engineering, animal husbandry and veterinary science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering. If you score the minimum qualifying marks, the UPSC will invite you for an interview.

7. Clear the personality test

A board of competent observers will interview you to assess your suitability for the IFS. They may ask questions related to your academic study and general knowledge questions about local, national and international events. The purpose is to have a meaningful conversation and discover your mental qualities such as intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, observation powers, judgment ability and mental alertness. They also want to find out if you are tactful, can take the initiative, are capable of leadership and have integrity. Understanding topography, appreciating nature and having an adventurous spirit can improve your selection chances.

Related: Aptitude Test for Career: Definition, Types and Top 12 Tests

8. Undergo medical checkup

As per the Civil Services Examination (CSE) Rules of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India, good mental and physical health is a necessary part of candidate selection. Being a forest officer requires plenty of physical exertion, and a medical checkup can determine if you can discharge your IFS duties. A Central Standing Medical Board (CSMB) will do the checkup at a designated hospital. You may also have to complete a walking test, covering 14 kilometres in four hours if you are a woman and 25 kilometres at the same time for men.

9. Get work training

Training for IFS probationers includes a four-month foundation course at Mussourie's Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, a 20-month, technical, forest-specific course at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun, and a year's field training with stipend in an assigned state. The training covers law, economy, polity, culture, fieldwork, forest and wildlife management, motor mechanics, first aid, swimming and handling weapons. After completing the training, the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, will award you a master's degree in science in forestry.

Related: What Is a Probation Period and What Happens After It?

What is the salary of a forest officer?

The national average salary for a forest officer is ₹3,71,700 per year. You may earn more as you advance in the ranks. The higher positions consist of more desk work and decision making than fieldwork.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles