The best jobs in Canada are forestry or mining manager according to Canadian Business Magazine.

These jobs were also the top job in 2015. They have a median wage of $104,000 with wage growth of 19 per cent and five-year employee growth of 44 per cent. They also have an estimated demand of more than one job per seeker by 2021.

But what is it like to actually be a forestry or mining manager and what makes these jobs so great beyond their prospects and median salary?

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

At its core, being a forestry manager is about seeing the bigger picture of a logging operation by balancing various competing interests and trying to satisfy all parties. Mauro Calabrese has worked in forestry for 20 years and as the planning superintendent for West Fraser Timber in Williams Lake, B.C., he does this juggling act every day.

“My job is to find areas we’re going to harvest for timber in consideration of other values such as wildlife, water quality, scenic or visual quality and first nations use. Your trying to keep first nations’ interests in mind, while trying to extract timber and minimize the impact to these other values.”

At the same time, he has to fulfill the quota for the amount of wood West Fraser Timber needs per year and stay within the government environmental objectives. Plus, while some forestry managers operate within and area model — where what they say goes — Calabrese operates within a volume model, where he’s not the only one making decisions, but shares oversight with other forestry managers.

“There’s a lot of balancing that goes on with weighing of values and coming up with compromises that are going work for the company, the people you’re dealing with and the people in general,” says Calabrese.

Though he works to balance many competing interests at once, that’s half of what makes the job exciting for him.

“It can be challenging trying to balance all of these interests, but it can also be very rewarding when those things work out and you do have people who are satisfied with what you’re doing. You also get to spend time outdoors – usually less as your career goes on – but that’s still a very rewarding part of the job.”

Mine Control

A mining manager also has to balance a lot of different parts as the person who oversees the safety, operations and every employee on the mining site. Operations includes every aspect of getting the raw ore out of the ground and processing it into its final form, such as extracting the 175 million-year-old rock from the earth and overseeing the plant where the ore is crushed, washed and re-crushed to extract the valuables inside. There are also responsibilities the average person would probably not account for.

“The ordering and coordination of the delivery of supplies, food and other day-to-day needs at our fly-in/fly-out remote camp mine site, which is supported by daily employee charter flights and a 400km seasonal ice road we build and use for six weeks during the winter – we’re basically running a small town that has 550 people throughout the year,” says James Kirby, general manager of De Beers Victor Diamond Mine in Northern Ontario for the last four years.

Plus, similar to Calabrese’s account of his role as a forestry manager, Kirby must also account for community interests by visiting community leaders regularly, discussing the mine’s business outlook, and discussing ways that community members themselves can participate in the success of the mine.

“The variety of duties are diverse and the ability to achieve success from what is very specialist and focused work offers great fulfillment,” says Kirby.

So You Want This Job

Though these jobs can take you away from your families for long periods of time, depending on the site you’re working on. It pays very well and provides excellent benefits by all accounts. Plus, if you have a strong sense of adventure, are highly organized and have a number of leadership qualities, these management positions may be for you.

For forestry, Calabrese enrolled in UBC’s Forestry Program, but also finds he has that extra edge with a biology degree as well. “I really find that biology gives me that extra knowledge when I’m evaluating and weighing all of our various environmental considerations. It gives me that extra sensitivity that another forestry manager may not have,” he says.

When it comes to mining manager, Kirby recommends a degree in Mining Engineering and a strong technical background, along with extensive experience in all different parts of the mine to really get to know the process start to finish. He also believes there’s a particular quality that gives his particular brand of mining management something special.

“I must admit there is something extra special about seeing beautiful natural rough diamonds as they emerge at the of our mining process. There’s nothing else like it – especially when you know each and every one will be part of someone’s personal story in the coming weeks and months somewhere in Canada or around the world.”