Forestry Officer

    If you are wondering how to become a forestry officer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of working with animals or agriculture, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Also known as forest managers, forestry officers manage woodland used for timber production, conservation and recreation.

    Typical responsibilities:

    plan programmes for planting and harvesting trees
    plan and supervise general maintenance work
    manage and train staff and supervise self-employed contractors
    make sure health and safety regulations and procedures are followed
    arrange the sale of timber
    develop and maintain good relationships with neighbouring landowners, contractors, local authorities and members of the public
    make sure wildlife and natural habitats are protected and conserved
    manage recreational facilities such as visitor centres, nature trails, footpaths, campsites and car parks.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of forestry officers include:

    practical skills
    the ability to supervise others, and work as part of a team
    the ability and confidence to manage long-term projects
    strong written and spoken communication skills
    a good standard of numeracy
    working knowledge of computers.

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    To become a forest officer you would usually need one of the following qualifications:

    BSc in Forestry
    BTEC HND or foundation degree in forestry.
    For information about foundation degrees see Foundation Degree Forward. To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees see Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You can also find links to colleges and universities offering relevant courses on the Forestry Commission website (in Further Information). Entry requirements for courses vary, so you should check with colleges or universities for their exact requirements.

    You may find it useful to gain work experience before applying for a course (this is essential for some courses). You may be able to get experience by working as a volunteer with an organisation such as the Forestry Commission or the National Trust. See Further Information for contact details.

    As an alternative, you may be able to find work as a forest worker, and progress to more senior positions with a combination of experience and part-time study or work-based qualifications. See the Forest Worker profile for more information.

    Training and Development
    Once you are employed in forestry you may be able to work towards NVQs at Level 2 in Forestry and Level 3 in Treework. Level 3 is relevant for supervisory posts.

    Your first job would usually be technical manager or supervisor. For higher-level posts, you may need full membership of the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF). As a member of the ICF you will have access to opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD).

    When you have two or more years’ experience as a forester, you may be able to achieve chartered status by taking the ICF exams. See the ICF website (in Further Information) for details.

    You could also do training through Forestry Training Services, the training division of the Forestry Commission.

    If you want to study at a higher level, postgraduate courses in forestry (MSc, MPhil or PhD) are also available.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Salaries can range from around £19,000 to £29,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    Jobs are available with the Forestry Commission or with private forestry companies, consultants and contractors, estates, charities, some statutory bodies and local authorities. Most jobs are in rural areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern England.

    There is strong competition for the vacancies that arise. Self-employment is common and some forest managers also act as contractors, taking on forest workers to complete contracted work.

    As a graduate you could find research opportunities with universities and the Forestry Commission. With experience you may be able to move into consultancy work.

    In the Forestry Commission you would usually have good prospects for promotion if you have experience across a broad range of work activities. In the private sector your prospects would vary depending on the size of the organisation.

    Useful resources:
    Royal Forestry Society (RFS)
    102 High Street
    HP23 4AF
    Tel: 01442 822028

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