How To Work in the Forest Department: Key Qualifications

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 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.

Many people who enjoy nature and the outdoors choose to work for the forest department. Working for the Indian Forest Service can be a rewarding career path with many unique responsibilities. If you're interested in working with the forest department, it's helpful to learn more about what you can expect from the career. In this article, we explain what it's like to work in the forest department and how to start your career.

How to work in the forest department

The Indian Forest Service (IFS) is an organisation that works to manage natural resources and forest land. The forest department involves a variety of positions that create policies and lead conservation efforts. Many people who enjoy spending time outdoors are interested in working for the forest department. You can follow these steps to start your career:

1. Finish high school

The first step in the process of becoming a member of the IFS is to finish high school. Although it is not compulsory to study science subjects, choosing them is beneficial for the next step. Studying commerce or humanities subjects can limit your options in choosing a bachelor's discipline, although you can still be able to qualify if you have studied the required subjects.

The more important thing is to ensure that you complete your high school with a good score so that you can join a reputed university for your bachelor's degree. Getting a good score in your high school also helps in demonstrating a good academic background and commitment.

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2. Earn your bachelor's degree

Getting a bachelor's degree is a requirement to apply for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the central recruitment agency that oversees all civil services examinations. Here, it is mandatory to have studied one of the following subjects in your bachelor's degree to be eligible for IFS:

  • Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science

  • Botany

  • Chemistry

  • Geology

  • Mathematics

  • Physics

  • Statistics

  • Zoology

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3. Prepare for and complete the UPSC examination

Once you have completed your graduation and are over 21 years of age, you are eligible to apply for the exam to join the Indian Forest Services. The UPSC exam has three stages, and it's considered one of the toughest entrance examinations in the country. Most people take coaching classes to prepare for these exams and begin their studies concurrently during the last year of college.

The first stage, which is also called the preliminary examination, consists of questions from a wide variety of subjects, including, general knowledge, politics and specialised subjects. Depending on your performance, you may qualify for the next stage of the written examination, also called the main examination. This stage has several papers and contains both multiple-choice questions and subjective essay questions. Only your performance in the main exam contributes to the final ranking.

4. Give the UPSC interview

The final stage in the UPSC exam is the interview or personality test. During the interview, you can complete multiple assessments. Current and past officers, board members and other subject matter experts conduct the interview. There is no set theme for the interview questions, but they might gauge your numerical ability, specific occupational knowledge or general knowledge.

To prepare for your interview, be sure to have a clear answer that details why you're choosing IFS over other disciplines. Most coaching institutes conduct mock interviews to help aspirants prepare for this part of the process. All your answers should be thoughtful, composed and balanced. The final selection process usually considers your performance in the main examination and the interview.

5. Complete your training period

All candidates who clear the UPSC examinations and are fit for the IFS go to the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy for training. The training usually lasts up to two years and can be an intensive process. During this time, officers learn about all aspects of the job, including the responsibilities, the laws they have to uphold and the scope of their authority. Officers also learn how to report to seniors, follow protocols and complete internal processes of the IFS.

Once you have completed your training, you're a fully qualified officer of the Indian Forest Services and can get a posting. The location might change periodically, and your role can also change with more experience. As your career advances, you may be eligible to take on additional responsibilities in the forest department.

Related: Types of Workplace Training: Definitions and Examples

Forest department job responsibilities

People who work for the forest department have a range of responsibilities related to protecting forests. Some typical job duties include:

  • implementing policies that are geared towards ensuring environmental stability and progress

  • ensuring the sustenance of plant and animal life in their jurisdiction

  • protecting and developing forests to assist with the national climate change policy

  • improving the livelihood of communities that depend on forests for their survival

  • working to ensure that indigenous and migratory species survive and thrive

  • visiting and inspecting conservation sites

  • assisting and reporting to senior officers

  • meeting and collaborating with other professionals

  • staying up to date on changes in legislation and other industry information

Forest department roles

There are many roles in the forest department that you can explore, including:

  • Forest Range Officer (FRO): A Forest Range Officer is responsible for monitoring and managing the forest range and government property.

  • Assistant Conservator of Forest: This role is responsible for providing assistance to high-level roles in the forest department.

  • Deputy Conservator of Forest: People in this role are responsible for managing policies and issues related to the environment and forest area.

  • Additional Chief Conservator of Forest: This role provides assistance to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, including any tasks and duties assigned to them.

  • Principal Chief Conservator of Forest: The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest serves as the leader of the forest department. This individual has the important role of managing all of the forest land and issues related to it in India.

Related: 5 Tips To Boost Your Career Growth for Professional Success

Forest department work environment

People who work for the forest department can work in a variety of environments. Sometimes, they work in an office to complete work like writing policies. They might also work in nature to inspect natural areas and determine conservation approaches. This allows people who work for the forest department to enjoy spending time outdoors in the nature of India.

Related: Top 10 In-Demand Jobs (With Primary Duties and Requirements)

Tips for working in the forest department

Here are some additional tips for working in the forest department:

Improve your skills

One tip for getting a job with the IFS is to improve your skills. People in this occupation typically need skills in:

  • Communication: Communication skills are important for people who work for the forest department, as they may collaborate with other professionals and write policies and other documents.

  • Critical thinking: These professionals need critical thinking to make strong decisions and solve problems related to conserving the natural environment.

  • Professionalism: Professionalism is an essential career skill, and it can help people in this field perform their jobs properly.

  • Independence: When working in the forest department, you may need to complete many tasks alone, making independence an important skill for this career path.

  • Occupational knowledge: People in this field also need deep occupational knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. They should understand the forest land in their area, including the plants and animals that occupy it, so they can make the best policy decisions.

You can improve your skills by practising them in real-world situations, taking online courses and completing other professional development activities.

Related: Top In-Demand Skills To Develop for Career Advancement

Learn more about your area

Another tip for excelling in the forest department is to learn more about the forest land in your area. Take the time to learn about the plants and animals that live in the natural environment, and learn how you can preserve the ecosystems found in your forests. You can develop your knowledge by conducting research online, reading books and speaking to local professionals.

Build a network

Building a professional network can help you advance your career in the forest department. Try to make connections with people you meet in your education and in other roles of the forest department. They can help you find advancement opportunities and even recommend you for jobs. This can help you keep advancing your position in the forest department. You can also use your network for advice and guidance throughout your career.

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