Gamekeepers usually work on country estates. They manage wildlife and their habitats, carry out pest control and manage game animal stock for country sports.
You could be:
- breeding and managing game birds, deer or fish
- burning heather to make better grazing for game birds
- using a gun and other methods to control vermin such as foxes, crows or rats
- organising shooting and fishing parties, arranging the sale of game afterwards and keeping records of what was shot or caught
- supervising staff such as beaters, who flush out birds from their cover during shoots
- checking that anglers have the correct permits
- patrolling the estate looking for poachers
- training a gun dog and working with it
- repairing fences, game enclosures, and other equipment, and cleaning guns.
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.
Underkeepers can earn around £11,000 a year and single-handed keepers can earn £14,000 a year and above. Head keepers can earn £20,000 a year and upwards.
You may get accommodation rent-free or at a reduced rate. You may also get use of a vehicle, clothing and other allowances. You can also earn extra through tips from shoot or fishing days.
- The work is outdoors in all weathers and it can be muddy, wet and cold.
- You may have to deal with poachers.
- You often have to work on your own.
- Working hours can be long and may vary depending on the time of year.
- You would live and work in the country, often on a country estate, away from towns.
- Your employer may provide you with accommodation and a vehicle.
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- A good general education is useful. However, entry can be competitive so it is also helpful to have a group of subjects at National 4 or 5.
- You may get in through a Modern Apprenticeship. As of 2016, there is a new framework in Rural Skills at Levels 2 (SCQF Level 5) and 3 (SCQF Level 6/7).
- You could take a National Certificate (NC), National Qualification (NQ), Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) in gamekeeping and wildlife management or conservation, countryside skills, countryside management or a similar subject before applying for a job.
- Entry requirements for the NC are up to 4 subjects at National 4 or 5; for the HNC or HND normally 1-2 Highers or the NC are required.
- Previous countryside work experience is helpful, for example in agriculture or forestry.
- You usually need a full, clean driving licence.
- You need to be fit as there is a lot of active outdoors work, often on rough ground.
- You should not suffer from hay fever or be allergic to animals.
- As you will use a shotgun, you must have the necessary licence.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- interested in nature, the countryside and the environment
- good with your hands
- sharp-eyed and observant
- reasonably fit and willing to do physical work
- able to work on your own without supervision
- able to kill vermin and deal with the death of the animals you rear for sport
- aware of health and safety issues
- able to use a gun safely.
- Training is normally on the job, often combined with study for a relevant qualification.
- You might be able to take a part time college course to get an HNC, NC or a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ).
- SVQs in Game and Wildlife Management are available in five specialisms at Levels 2 and 3 (SCQF levels 5 and 7): Deer, Gamekeeping, Game Rearing, Lowland and Upland/Grouse.
- Organisations such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the British Deer Society (BDS) may be able to provide information on other courses and training opportunities.
- There can be a structured promotion route from underkeeper to second underkeeper or beatkeeper.
- With further experience, you can become ‘single-handed’ gamekeeper on a small estate.
- You could become a specialist keeper such as a deer stalker or water bailiff.
- You might progress to head gamekeeper on a large estate with responsibility for supervising other staff.
- Some gamekeepers move into related fields such as conservation, countryside management or forestry.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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