Countryside ranger/warden
Agricultural, Natural, Animal Care

Countryside Rangers/Wardens work in the countryside, taking care of the land and buildings and providing information to visitors. They help people to understand, enjoy and respect forests, hills or parks. They may also be required to work in nature reserves, coastal areas, heath and moorland and national parks.

Work Activities

Countryside Rangers/Wardens may be responsible for planting hedges, laying footpaths and putting up signposts. They take people on guided walks and set up nature trails. They are responsible for patrolling an area, looking out for signs of damage and carrying out any practical maintenance. They will be responsible for tree planting and planning and maintaining habitats for plants and animals.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring the success and progress of plants and animals
  • Maintaining fencing and buildings in the local area
  • Planting trees, clearing ponds and monitoring the habitats of animals and plants
  • Taking people on guided walks and setting up nature trails
  • Looking after rare trees, shrubs or plants
  • Patrolling the area looking for signs of damage and carrying out practical maintenance
  • Keeping records and listing the number of plants and animals in the local area
  • Assisting in emergencies such as fires, floods and mountain rescues
  • Managing exhibitions and resource centres as well as taking part in community projects
  • Giving talks to the public, being responsible for their safety and answering their queries

Countryside Rangers/Wardens spend most of their time working outdoors, driving or walking around their area. Work takes place in all weathers and can involve walking over difficult terrain so you must be physically fit and prepared to work in tough conditions.

The hours are long and can include weekend and evening work (on a seasonal basis). To gain experience, voluntary, seasonal and part-time opportunities are often available.

Future career progression may depend on the organisation for which you work. It is likely that you will need to move from employer to employer in order to progress. With experience, it may be possible to enter lecturing, consultancy or research work. You may also be able to progress to the role of Countryside Officer or a more managerial position which would be more office based. Alternatively, you could choose to move into leisure management, agricultural or horticultural work.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for Countryside Rangers/Wardens

  • A strong interest in wildlife and the countryside
  • Enjoy being outdoors in all weathers
  • Excellent communication skills as you will be talking to the public and also potential funding organisations
  • Confident about speaking in public and have excellent written and spoken skills
  • Report writing and research skills
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • A good level of physical fitness
  • An ability to supervise and train other estate workers and volunteers
  • Excellent practical skills
  • A friendly and sociable manner for dealing with the public
  • A firm and confident manner for enforcing local by-laws and regulations
  • An ability to work both in a team and independently
  • Sound IT skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of Countryside Rangers/Wardens

Examples of typical employers include:

  • The Forestry Commission
  • The National Trust
  • The National Trust for Scotland
  • The Nature Conservancy Council
  • A Local Authority Country Park
  • The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • Natural England
  • The Countryside Council for Wales
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust

Qualifications

Qualifications and training required

Formal academic qualifications are not always required, but some GCSEs /National 5s would be useful. Competition for jobs is very fierce so many employers ask for Degrees, HNDs or Foundation Degrees in a relevant subject. These subjects could include Countryside Land and Rural Management, Environmental Conservation, Environmental Science, Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences.

Entry into a degree course requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs grades 9 – 4 (A*- C) and 2 A levels. An A level in a science subject may be preferred. In Scotland degree courses require 3-5 Highers usually including 1-2 sciences and National 5s including English and Maths.

Entry is also possible with lower level qualifications which could include City and Guilds Land Based Services level 2 and 3 Certificates and Diplomas in Countryside and Environment. There are also BTEC level 2 qualifications in Countryside and Environment as well as a level 3 National Diploma in Countryside Management and NC in Scotland.

It may also be possible to enter this career through an Intermediate or Advanced level apprenticeship. An Intermediate Level Apprenticeship usually requires 4/5 GCSEs at grades 9 – 4 (A* - C) including English and maths. An Advanced Level Apprenticeship usually requires 8/9 GCSEs at grades 9 – 4 (A* - C) including English and maths. Modern Apprenticeships may be available in Scotland and include Rural Skills at SCQF levels 5,6,7.

Most training is usually carried out on the job and courses for professional development are provided by Lantra National Training Organisation.

A driving licence is essential for this job and employers often prefer applicants who are aged 21 years or over. Most entrants into this work have completed at least six months of voluntary work for an organisation such as the Wildlife Trust or the National Trust.

Once employed, it will be necessary to complete further short training courses in areas such as coppicing, species identification and habitat management.

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