Countryside rangers or wardens look after wildlife and prevent damage to the countryside in areas open to the public. They give information to visitors and lead guided walks. They are also called recreation rangers.
You could be:
helping to improve woodlands, hills or wetlands for wildlife
monitoring and recording plants, birds and animals and controlling pests
laying nature trails and putting up signs giving information
repairing paths, hedges, ditches and fences and picking up litter
dealing with emergencies such as woodland fires or flooding
giving talks or leading guided walks for children or others
training and supervising volunteers
balancing the conservation of the countryside with public access and enjoyment
keeping records, writing reports and managing a budget.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for suitably qualified countryside rangers or wardens is around £18,000 a year, rising to £26,000 with experience. A countryside officer can earn up to £30,000 a year and above.
Much of your work would be outdoors, but you would spend some time in an office or visitor centre.
Some of the outdoor work would be strenuous and the conditions could be wet, cold or windy.
You might be expected to work irregular hours, including shifts and weekends.
Entry is very competitive so it is helpful to have a relevant qualification.
There are qualifications in a range of relevant subjects, such as conservation, countryside skills, ecology, environmental and countryside management, horticulture and forestry. These are available at a variety of levels from National Certificates and Qualifications (NCs and NQs) through Higher National Certificates and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) up to degree level.
Entry requirements vary from no formal qualifications for some NCs and NQs up to 4-5 Highers for degree courses.
You might get in through a Modern Apprenticeship. There is a framework in Rural Skills at SCQF Level 5 and SCQF Levels 6/7.
Previous relevant work experience is extremely important. This does not have to be paid work; there are good volunteering opportunities with various conservation organisations.
In many cases you will need a full, clean driving licence.
You may need a Disclosure Scotland check, to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You must be fit as there is a lot of active outdoor work and you may need some outdoor skills such as mountaineering or skiing.
A first aid certificate would be useful.
Countryside rangers or wardens work mainly in national parks and country parks. They also work for conservation and voluntary organisations such as the Forestry Commission, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT).