Labour market information Explore careers by essential skills

Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

You can use this profile to:
Find a job
Write your resume and prepare for job interviews
Plan your career
Determine which career may best suit you based on your skill set
Manage your workforce
Write job postings, assess employee performance and develop training

Find out more about this occupation

For more information on this occupation, look at the related job profile. It provides information on prevailing wages, job prospects and other skill requirements.

Look up job profile

Lumber Graders and Other Wood Processing Inspectors and Graders(9436)

Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders inspect and grade lumber, shingles, veneer, waferboard and similar wood products to identify defects, ensure conformance to company specifications and classify products according to industry standards. They are employed by sawmills, planing mills, wood treatment plants, waferboard plants and other wood processing companies.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read memos outlining orders, including numbers and sizes. (1)
  • Read company memos or bulletins about changes to grading procedures. (2)
  • Read company procedures when problems arise or instructions must be clarified. (2)
  • Read reports from lumber grading inspectors. (3)
  • Read grading manuals or standards booklets published by lumber grading associations, explaining grading characteristics and specifications. (3)
  • Read machine manuals to troubleshoot or set up machines and equipment. (3)
  • May read textbooks to research new products when grading a new type of wood. (3)
  • May read texts and manuals published by the forest industry to understand regulations and to instruct new employees. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read signs and posters about the safe operation of saws. (1)
  • Read grading stamps and parts lists. (1)
  • Read labels on client and broker files. (1)
  • Read barcode labels affixed to each board to check that products are correctly labelled. (1)
  • Mark wood materials with letters or codes with special crayons when grading, such as "C" meaning clear, "P" meaning premium knotting, or codes indicating how much scrap should be cut off the end of the piece of lumber. (1)
  • )
  • Read shipping forms. (2)
  • Refer to sketches and pictures in handbooks and manuals displaying defects such as knots, machine bites and torn grain. (2)
  • Read work orders which specify product quantities and dimensions. (2)
  • Read monthly inspection reports. (2)
  • Read tables giving specifications and tolerances for various grades of wood products. (2)
  • Read forms detailing grade statistics by category and volume. (2)
  • May read computer screens or printouts listing how many products have been graded and the average number of mistakes made in grading different types of lumber. (2)
  • Refer to schematic drawings of machinery to troubleshoot mechanical problems. (3)
  • Complete operator production reports, including downtime, the number of products in each grade, length of time to grade them, numbers of boards downgraded and stock numbers. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write notes to themselves about tasks to complete. (1)
  • May complete written records for supervisors, indicating how much lumber is cut, how much is ready for shipping and noting machine malfunctions or problems with runs. (1)
  • Complete operator production reports including formatted sections for production statistics and larger writing areas for other information, such as the reasons for downtime. (2)
  • May write letters to inform sawmills of their accreditation status. (2)
  • May write report forms to lumber associations, when sawmills continually fall below grade. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May schedule work crews, taking into account the amount of time it will take to finish runs. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Total the number of board feet graded during each quarter of a shift and the total number of board feet at the end of each shift. (1)
  • Measure the length, width and thickness of wood products such as veneer sheets or pieces of lumber to see that they meet grade specifications. (1)
  • Measure knot holes and other irregularities appearing on the lumber to determine how they will affect the grade. (1)
  • Use callipers to take precise measurements when they are checking machinery to ensure it is cutting to the correct size. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • May calculate the average number of units of each grade produced per shift. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the number and size of defects such as worm holes to decide how to grade the wood. (2)
  • Estimate measurements of wood products to ensure they fit grade specifications. (2)
  • Estimate how many pieces of good wood can be salvaged from a piece with one major defect. (2)
  • Estimate the number of boards that can be sanded and graded on a shift. (2)
  • Estimate the number and size of defects on veneer sheets in order to grade them. They make estimates of up to ten categories for each of eight different grades. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Inform co-workers when starting up trimming machines so that they will stand clear. (1)
  • Speak with shippers or truck drivers to clarify orders or to determine when their services are needed. (1)
  • May tell their assistant which grades to put into the various bins and which lumber goes into which pile. (1)
  • Exchange opinions on grading decisions with co-workers and foremen. (2)
  • Discuss work schedules with co-workers. (2)
  • May explain work procedures to trainee graders. (2)
  • Discuss mechanical problems with millwrights and electricians. (2)
  • Co-ordinate work with office staff, employees at planing mills, forklift drivers and other graders. (2)
  • Discuss priorities, quality control measures and borderline grades with foremen. (2)
  • May take orders from customers and help them select wood to suit their purposes, when sales staff are unavailable. (2)
  • Participate in staff meetings to discuss grades and production and safety issues, and to establish work priorities and procedures. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Deal with machine malfunctions such as sorter machine jams. They must stop the machine, lock it out and make necessary adjustments or call for service help. (1)
  • Encounter wood that is so high in moisture levels that it sets off moisture alarms. They must wait until the wood is dry before grading it. They may raise kiln temperatures to dry wood faster. (1)
  • May have to consider ways to speed production when deadlines are tight. Adjusting roller bars on the line, changing saws or repositioning wood are ways of increasing production. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether substandard pieces of wood can be made acceptable to grade standards if they are sectioned into several smaller pieces. (2)
  • Decide whether to refuse a delivery which does not conform to standards, and what penalties should be imposed for fraudulent deliveries. (2)
  • Make instant decisions on how to grade and trim boards, on how the number and size of defects affect grades and whether to scrap products or sell them to reduce wastage. Grade decisions must fall within a 5% error tolerance, and can significantly affect production quality and profit margins. This decision making is at the core of the job with thousands of decisions being made during a shift. (3)
  • Decide whether work priorities set by their supervisors need to be adjusted in view of urgent orders or orders of large volume. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders follow production schedules set by their foremen. They may help to formulate these schedules by participating in meetings with other staff. Their tasks are dictated by the speed of production line belts or grading tables and the speed of co-workers, such as lathe operators who feed sheets to sections of the line and assistants who tend to the bins where the sheets are fed. Tasks are repetitive and require intense concentration. Work can be interrupted by equipment malfunctions, inspectors needing to provide training or running out of stock. Planning and organizing of job tasks is short term, focussing primarily on grading high volume loads quickly and reacting to problems. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the qualities and characteristics of many different types of wood.
  • Memorize the nature of various defects in wood to spot them and make decisions quickly.
  • Remember details of work orders.
  • Remember grade symbols, grade standards and codes that go on lumber.
Finding Information
  • May call trucking companies to verify shipments. (1)
  • Refer to grading manuals, pocket guides and consult with other graders or supervisors if unsure how products should be graded. (2)
  • May refer to training manuals and charts in textbooks from past training courses. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use other computer applications. For example, they may enter and read tallies on computerized counters. (1)
  • They may access quality control information on a database. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders work independently when grading. They may co-ordinate work with partners or helpers, such as those tending bins. They rotate tasks with other workers several times during the day since the concentration level required is too intense to work at grading continuously. Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders work in production teams with other graders, production foremen and quality control inspectors.

Continuous Learning

Lumber graders and other wood processing inspectors and graders have an ongoing need to learn. They attend mandatory refresher courses on grading where new rules are explained or training provided for new positions. They must review classification norms and write monthly exams. They may also be required to take a first aid course and maintain this certification.

Date modified: