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FAQs   >   International Applicants

Information for International Applicant

Welcome and congratulations on your decision to consider living in and working as a Professional Forester in Ontario.  The Ontario Professional Foresters Association is endeavoring to ease the process for internationally educated and trained forestry professionals towards becoming active members of the OPFA and employed in the field of professional forestry

We encourage you to utilize our full website and read all of the material it has to offer.  Most of the information you need is available on the public side of the website, however this area of the OPFA website was prepared specifically for internationally educated and trained applicants and will deliver material and information that should inform and better prepare you for any employment and membership processes.

How can I work in professional forestry in Ontario and Canada?

Except for a few Canadian Provinces, you must be a Registered Professional Forester (R.P.F.) to work in professional forestry. To become a R.P.F. in Ontario, your current education, training, and experience will be assessed to determine if you are competent.  The assessment procedures were developed by the Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations (CFPFA) and are designed for both foreign-trained individuals and graduates from forestry programs not accredited by the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board.  These procedures have been adopted by each regulatory body in Canada.

What are the main requirements?

To be considered for registration in Ontario, you must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Have graduated from a four-year, science-based baccalaureate degree, or equivalent.
  2. Can demonstrate that you meet the competencies of the current Certification Standards.
  3. Have 18 months adequate forestry-related experience.
  4. Have adequate sponsorships from OPFA members.
  5. Have adequate character witness reports from OPFA members or other professionals.
  6. Can demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and ethics.
  7. Successfully pass the OPFA Ontario Forest Policy and Administration exam.

A career map has been produced by the OPFA to assist internationally trained foresters to work as professionals in Ontario.  It can be accessed using the following weblinks. Career Map (English) and Career Map (French).

What is professional Forestry in Ontario?

The scope of practice for professional forestry in Ontario is detailed in the Professional Forester’s Act, 2000.  The following information comes directly from sections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Act:

The practice of professional forestry is the provision of services in relation to the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests and urban forests where those services require knowledge, training and experience equivalent to that required to become a member under this Act and includes,

a)      the designing, specifying or approving of silvicultural prescriptions and treatments, including
timber harvesting;
b)      the appraisal, evaluation and certification of forests and urban forests;
c)      the auditing of forest management practices;
d)      the assessment of impacts from planned activities on forests and urban forests;
e)      the classification, inventory and mapping of forests and urban forests; an
f)       the planning and locating of forest transportation systems, including forest roads.

The practice of professional forestry does not include acts performed in relation to the management or manipulation of forests if they are performed,

a)      personally by individuals on land which they own;
b)      by a person acting within the scope of practice of a profession, trade or occupation that is
listed in the regulations;
c)      by persons responding to an emergency situation such as a forest fire;
d)      by persons acting under the supervision of a member;
e)      by students enrolled in a forestry education program and under the supervision of the
course instructor in the program;
f)       by a member of the armed forces while on duty; or
g)      by a person engaged in scientific research.

How Can I Learn About Ontario’s Forests?

Ontario forests represent two per cent of the world’s total and are home to approximately 85 billion trees. Of the 71 million hectares of forested land in Ontario about 90 percent are publicly owned and known as Crown forest. Approximately 10 per cent of the forested land in Ontario is held in other types of ownerships (private, First Nations, Federal, and protected areas). The Government of Ontario oversees the management of Crown Forests, including commercial logging (harvesting) on over 26 million hectares.

A glance at any map showing the natural features of Ontario reveals a vast swath of forest that covers two-thirds of the province. From the tolerant hardwoods and deciduous forests in the south, to the boreal forest in the north, our forests have helped shape our province and will continue to do so for many generations to come.

Ontario’s forests are relative newcomers, sitting on lands that were shaped by continental glaciers, water and wind just 15,000 years ago. The trees became established on what was then a barren landscape as the ice retreated and waters receded south. (Source: Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website)

Forest Industry
Ontario’s forest sector is a key component of the province’s economy. In total, it supports almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs in over 260 Ontario communities. Of these communities, 40 are categorized as highly dependent on employment in the forest sector to survive. An additional 63 are identified as being moderately dependent.

Websites Providing Information

Forest Certification

What is the state of forestry employment?

Forestry careers in Ontario are available in 2 sectors where related employment opportunities may be found, the Public and the Private sectors.

The Public sector includes all levels of government.  Federal, provincial and municipal governments employ foresters to manage, maintain and administer forested lands owned by these governing authorities.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for the management of the Crown forests on behalf of the people of Ontario. Lands that are owned by governing authorities may be used as provincial and city parks, conservation areas and research institutions.  Increasingly, Ontario municipalities are employing professionals to manage their urban forests. Public sector employment opportunities are generally posted on government websites as well as in some of the larger national and local newspapers.  The OPFA encourages the Human Resource departments of government agencies to post their available forestry positions on the OPFA website as well.

The Private sector consists of private companies and institutions.  These include pulp and paper, lumber and other wood product industries, forestry research and biotechnology companies, tree nurseries, educational institutions such as universities and colleges, as well as many large and small independent consulting firms and not-for-profit organizations.  Most of these companies will post career opportunities on their own websites as well as in newspapers and again on the OPFA and other forestry related websites.  Most private consulting firms do not post job opportunities, but the networking opportunity of OPFA membership is an excellent way to gain access to those positions.

Although, the public and private sectors provide the ‘traditional’ forestry careers, urban forestry is the fastest growing sector of forestry employment in Ontario today.  There are many exciting career opportunities in urban forestry.

An important consideration in finding employment is the development of a personal “network” that will put you in direct contact with individuals who may be familiar with current employment opportunities in Ontario.  A network is simply a group of individuals who you can call on for advice or information and in this case should be familiar with or have some personal contacts in forestry in Ontario.  These individuals may include relatives, colleagues, friends and mentors.  Discussions with them are very helpful in identifying available opportunities.

Can I apply for a forestry position without being a member of the OPFA?

Yes.  There are many forestry-related jobs that do not necessarily require R.P.F. status.  These positions may be entry level or under the supervision of an R.P.F. or may be such that the applicant would be expected to achieve R.P.F. status at some future date.

How do I go about establishing my network?

Start with people you know-friends, colleagues, mentors (see notes on OPFA’s mentoring program).  Do they have any personal contacts in forestry or do they know of anyone who either has these contacts.  Or, do they know of anyone who might know someone else who knows someone who might have these types of contacts?  It is a matter of talking to people in order to make contact with the individual(s) who have the knowledge and information (employment opportunities) that you are seeking.

Other suggestions for establishing contacts include visiting the University of Toronto or Lakehead University to talk to professors about possible opportunities, attending information centres, public meetings on forestry issues, visiting forestry departments in municipalities and conservation authorities.

Where are most of the employment opportunities located?

The majority of employment opportunities are located outside of the major urban centres of Toronto, Ottawa and London. Most are located in Northern Ontario (that part of Ontario north of the French River) so a willingness to relocate is a consideration.

What is the best way to set up my resume?

It is suggested that applicants use examples of resumes that are available at the bookstore or library.

Is the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry the only source of government employment in Ontario?

No.  Positions are also available with the Government of Canada, in municipal government, conservation authorities and with government agencies, boards and commissions.

Will a volunteer position help me gain employment?

Yes.  Such positions are usually available in not-for-profit organizations (eg. Forests Ontario, Ontario Nature, etc.). Volunteering provides individuals with the opportunity to practice their skill sets in a working environment, gain first hand knowledge about forestry issues, to demonstrate professional ability and to develop a personal network.  Most of these types of organizations have websites that describe their activities and job opportunities.

How do I apply?

If you wish to become a Registered Professional Forester in Ontario, you must be approved as a Full (Registered Professional Forester) member by OPFA.  If your degree is from outside Canada you can seek assistance in your application process by using the “Applicant’s Manual” produced by the Canadian Federation of Professional Foresters Associations (CFPFA).  This handbook is designed to provide a consistent approach across Canada to assist credential assessment for graduates from non-accredited programs and foreign trained applicants.  Also, OPFA has produced a “Career Map (English) and Career Map (French)” to assist you with your application.

All candidates for Full membership, within the last 5 years, must have completed 18 months of progressive forestry experience in Ontario after graduating from their forestry degree program (or equivalent).  The Registration Committee may recognize relevant forestry experience outside Ontario to meet part of this requirement.

You do not need to pass a language proficiency examination to qualify for OPFA membership or any other CFPFA member organization.  However, to complete the application process and meet the experience requirement, you will need advanced communication skills in English.  Strong communication and interpersonal skills are critical for most employment as a professional forester in Ontario.

To be considered for registration, you must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Have graduated from a four-year, science-based baccalaureate degree, or equivalent.
  2. Can demonstrate that you meet the competencies of the current Certification Standards.
  3. Have 18 months adequate forestry-related experience.
  4. Have adequate sponsorships from OPFA members.
  5. Have adequate character witness reports from OPFA members or other professionals.
  6. Can demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and ethics.
  7. Successfully pass the OPFA Ontario Forest Policy and Administration exam.

All applications must be approved by OPFA’s Registration Committee.  The Registration Committee meets approximately every 2 months.  The candidate will be informed via email when their application is ready for review.  Decisions of the Registration Committee will be communicated within 2 weeks of the meeting date.  Any further requirements will be communicated at that time. When all requirements are met, the Membership package is prepared and should be received by the applicant in approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Application forms can be found in the Registration section of this website under Application Process & Forms.

The “Applicant’s Manual” can be accessed at the CFPFA website using the following link: The Ontario Government provides the website “Global Experience Ontario” as an access and resource centre for the Internationally Trained.  This site can be found at Global Experience Ontario.

We encourage you, as a first step, to make early contact with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association to get the specific details and requirements for registration as a R.P.F. in Ontario.

How Long Does the Application Process Take?

The length of the application process will vary for each applicant.  See the applicable table below for estimated times for the application process.  OPFA Registration Committee meetings are usually held every two months (for meeting dates see this page).

New Full Member Applicants from Canadian Non-Accredited Programs or Internationally Trained Applicants Estimated Timeframe
  • Receipt of applicant’s initial inquiry
  • Application package and instructions sent
1 week
  • Applicant submits complete application package to Registrar.
  • Deadlines for national Credential Assessment Process (CAP) panels are January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1 annually. Assessment are usually completed within 3 months of the submission deadline.
determined by applicant
  • Applicants are informed of the results of the assessment by the OPFA Registrar.
3 – 4 weeks after assessment
  • Applicant and Registrar develop Action Plan to fill identified gaps.
  • Action Plan reviewed by Registration Committee
1 week – 2 months
  • Applicant fills identified competency gaps and notifies Registrar.
  • Applicant passes Ontario Forest Policy and Administration exam (if applicant not accredited in Ontario).
determined by applicant
  • Consideration at next scheduled Registration Committee meeting
1 week – 2 months
  • Applicant fills identified competency gaps and notifies Registrar.
  • Applicant passes Ontario Forest Policy and Administration exam (if applicant not accredited in Ontario).
determined by applicant
  • Consideration at next scheduled Registration Committee meeting
1 week – 2 months
  • Applicant notified of Registration Committee decision
2 – 3 weeks
  • Registration materials sent to applicant when all requirements have been met.
1 month
Applicants not meeting all Full Member requirements may be considered for Associate Membership and may qualify for a limited scope of practice and limited geographic area in which to practise. See New Associate Member Applicants

Can I apply from outside Canada?

Yes. If you are currently practising forestry in another country, and plan to immigrate to Canada, some of the work required to complete an application can be done before coming to Canada.  Collecting the required documentation, including transcripts, educational, and witness materials, will likely be easier if you start before emigrating.

How is the profession regulated?

The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) is responsible for the licensing of professional foresters in Ontario. It is a member based, non-profit, non-political organization with more than 900 members from government, industry, education and the private sector. It is the organization that represents professional foresters in Ontario.

The OPFA is governed by a Board of Directors called Council.  Council consists of volunteer members fulfilling the roles of President, Vice President and Councilors representing six geographical regions set by the OPFA.  As well, Council includes 6 Public Members appointed by the Government of Ontario. The main responsibility of Council to ensure that the public interest is served by ensuring that the OPFA governs its members in accordance with the Professional Foresters Act, 2000, its Regulations and By-laws.  The impact of the Act is that anyone wishing to practice professional forestry in the province of Ontario must be a member of the OPFA.

Full Members are entitled to the exclusive designation of Registered Professional Forester and to use the initials R.P.F. after their name.

Joining the OPFA and becoming an R.P.F. means that you are committed to:

  • The sound management of Ontario’s forest’s
  • The highest professional standards of practice
  • Public accountability for your actions
  • The principles of stewardship and sustainability
  • The adherence to a Code of Ethics

Members may rely on benefits such as:

  • Province wide access to professional, business and social networks
  • An annual business & educational conference
  • Specially designed insurance programs
  • Quarterly issues of the official OPFA publication, The Professional Forester
  • Career prospects and information via the OPFA website
  • Technical information via Practice Guidance and Practice Bulletins
  • Leadership development opportunities by volunteering and active involvement
    in the OPFA, it’s programs and activities

What is the OPFA?

The Ontario Professional Foresters Association (OPFA) regulates the practice of professional forestry amongst its members and licences individuals to practice professional forestry in the Province of Ontario.  OPFA is mandated to carry out its activities under legislation called the Professional Foresters Act, 2000.

OPFA is a member based, non-profit, non-political organization with approximately 900 registered members from all levels of government, industry, private consultants and education.

Individuals may not call themselves a Registered Professional Forester, an R.P.F. or use any similar title that may lead to the belief that they are qualified to practise professional forestry unless they are licensed by the OPFA.

The Governing Council acts as the Board of Directors. The Council consists of at least nine elected members of the Association with representation of at least one Councillor for each of the OPFA’s six regions and five public appointees to Council.

OPFA is committed to actively contributing to the sustainability of Ontario’s forests by assuring the highest professional standards of practice in forestry.  OPFA will carry out this mandate by:

  • Advocating the highest standards of practice;
  • Establishing and enforcing high standards of professionalism among members;
  • Promoting competency and continuing education among members;
  • Influencing forest policy; and
  • Enhancing public awareness.

OPFA is dedicated to regulating its members and ensuring the highest standards in the practice of professional forestry, and in advancing the practice and awareness of forestry for both public and privately owned lands in the province of Ontario.

Membership in OPFA is open to anyone who has or is seeking a career in the forestry profession.

Can I get help as a newcomer?

Career Map (English) and Career Map (French) for Internationally Educated Foresters

Online Services for Ontario Newcomers
Access to Professions and Trades in Ontario
Forestry Careers – Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Information on the Office of the Fairness Commissioner

Unlike most other countries, Canadian provinces passed laws delegating regulation of professional practice to most of the professions.  This is referred to as self regulation.  In order to warrant this trust on a continuing basis, regulatory bodies such as OPFA must be rigorous in applying their standards and processes.  Thus, OPFA and other regulated professions are required to review their registration practices, submit reports annually and undergo compliance audits, to ensure that registration practices are fair as required under Provincial legislation (Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006).

The Ontario government has established an Office of the Fairness Commissioner to monitor the transparency, objectivity, impartiality, and fairness of professions regulators’ registration practices.   More information on the Office of the Fairness Commissioner can be found on their website

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner requires regulated professions to submit reports annually about their registration practices and compliance with the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006. OPFA’s “Fair Registration Practices Reports”  and the “Registration Practices Assessment Report” may be found on the Office of the Fairness Commissioner website after choosing the regulatory body Ontario Professional Foresters Association.

OPFA was required in 2011 to submit a report on its Entry to Practice Experience which includes information on Timeliness of Decisions and reasonableness of fees.  The report can be viewed on the Office of the Fairness Commissioner’s website by searching for OPFA.  Report on Entry to Practice Review.

In 2009, OPFA was required by the Office of the Fairness Commissioner, to appoint a licensed public accountant to conduct an audit on the Association’s Compliance with Agreements, Statutes and Regulations.  The purpose of this audit was to ensure that the OPFA’s registration practices are transparent, objective, impartial and fair. The report can be viewed on the Office of the Fairness Commissioner’s website by searching for OPFA.  Registration Practices Assessment Report.

How does OPFA accommodate applicants with special needs?

OPFA Accessibility Policy

Forestry’s Deeply Rooted Challenges (2007) (1.9Mb)