Outdoor Outside Jobs Careers by hmu14502


More Info

     At your service

     City careers

     Green fingers

     In the country

     Changing the landscape

     Learning outdoors

What is Connexions?

Something for every 13-19 year old.

Connexions is a new youth service providing advice, guidance, support and
personal development services for all 13-19 year olds. Through Connexions
Partnerships it brings together all the services that help young people and
gives young people access to a Personal Adviser, someone they can trust.

Connexions is an innovative and exciting development in the world of young
people’s services. It’s about helping young people navigate their way through
decision about studying, jobs and careers. Through youth work it’s about
helping young people get the personal development opportunities they need
to fulfil their potential and become the active citizens of tomorrow. It’s also
about helping those who have problems with drugs, alcohol, depression, are
homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless.

Connexions is for all young people helping them to make decisions about their

Once of the cornerstones of the Service is its staff: well qualified, passionate
and enthusiastic practitioners, known as Personal Advisers (PAs). Their role
is to offer the young person appropriate information and guidance. They help
smooth a young person’s path through difficult choices and understand what’s
on offer.

Careers Information and the Working in series

In order to make informed career decision young people need to be able to
access good quality information about careers, education and learning. That
information must be accurate, up to date and impartial. It also needs to
challenge stereotypical images and views where these persist. These are
some of the guiding principles which inform production of the Working in

This well-established and popular set of books is aimed primarily at young
people aged 13+ and they are recommended for inclusion in school and
college careers libraries.

Appropriate professional organisations are consulted to advise on content and
to ensure that the books provide accurate information. However,
qualifications and entry requirements change over time and readers should
always check with other sources of information for the most up -to-date


At your service

Window cleaner
Refuse collector
Postal worker
Satellite TV engineer

City careers

Motorcycle despatch rider
Parking attendant

Green fingers

Garden centre worker

In the country

Countryside warden
Forestry worker
Tree surgeon
Farm worker
Campsite manager

Changing the landscape

Construction site formwork carpenter
Land surveyor/geomatician

Learning outdoors

Outdoor pursuits technician
Outdoor development trainer

Further information

Finding the right career is not just about getting the right qualifications.
Where you work can be just as important. This booklet features people
doing just some of the many jobs that you can do in the great outdoors.

Challenges and hazards

Outdoor jobs offer a whole new set of challenges from those people face in an
office. To begin with, you need to be reasonably fit to do a lot of them, as
postal worker Colleen Fitzpatrick, one of the people featured, found when the
lifts were constantly out of order in the tower blocks on her route!

There are also certain hazards with outdoor work that you will not find in an
office. For instance, learning how to use a chainsaw safely was first on
forestry worker David Wattam’s ‘To Do List’, and there are strict health and
safety regulations about how satellite TV engineer Jon Speed should do his
job and how Eraine Morris, outdoor development manager, should wear
protective clothing when on one of her ‘adventure’ training courses.

Will it suit you?

For some people a warm, dry office is just no substitute for feeling the sun, or
even the rain, on the back of their neck and the wind in their hair. However,
remember that for every warm day in August, there is usually a wet, wintry
one in December.

For certain people, like farm worker Paul Evans, an outdoor job is the natural
thing to do, as they are born and bred to it. Others only decide it is for them
after working in an indoor environment. Lindsey Hargreaves swapped
working in a newsagent’s for a job as a parking attendant. Now she cannot
imagine doing anything else. Tree surgeon Fern Townsend gave up the
comfort of the beauty salon to get back to nature, while motorcycle despatch
rider Simon Newsome lasted just a few weeks in an office before hitting the
open road.

Working outdoors may not suit everyone, but the opportunities are many and
varied depending on your qualifications, experience and interests.

Contact with people

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the collection of jobs in the booklet
is how many involve regular contact with the public. Outdoor work somehow
suggests a more lonely existence than one in a busy office, but it could not be
further from the truth. From collecting money, showing people how to do
something, or just saying a simple hello, people skills are a big part of many
outdoor careers.

The same is true of teamwork, whether it is mucking in on the farm, working
with colleagues to ensure that a land survey is completed accurately and on
time, or making sure that an outdoor management development course runs
smoothly. Refuse collector Andy Harris believes the enjoyment of working
together as a team on the bins far outweighs the downside of anything
strange you might find in them!


The variety of outdoor jobs is endless. Many, like farming and work in the
postal service, are undergoing great change. Other areas, like outdoor
pursuits and garden centres, have never been more popular, presenting
wide-ranging career opportunities.

If you have the urge to work outside or if you can hear the call of the wild
summoning you, then put on the sunscreen or dig out your boots, and enjoy a
working life in the great outdoors.

Getting in

   There is no set route into outdoor work. Entry requirements can range
    from no qualifications to degree level, depending on the job.

   If there is one common factor among the jobs, it is the need to be
    reasonably fit. Many jobs involve lifting and carrying or spending most of
    the day on your feet.

   Some of the jobs also call for practical skills and you will often need to get
    your hands dirty too.

   Check out the ‘Getting in’ sections throughout the book for information
    specific to each job featured.

Note: Salary information can be found in Occupations produced by
Connexions. Also available at www.connexions.gov.uk/occupations/

There is a whole army of people working outdoors who are dedicated to
helping make our lives as comfortable and convenient as possible. For
instance, they deliver our post, collect our rubbish and clean our
windows. Some even tune in our televisions.


Shane Oldham After helping out on a friend’s window cleaning round,
Shane Oldham decided to set up his own business, Daylight Window
Cleaning. He now employs three other cleaners, as well as using the latest in
window cleaning technology.

What’s your typical working day?

We do a set area every day. It’s a mixture of houses, factories and offices. In
all we’ve got about 2,500 buildings that we clean and we try and do them all
once every two to three weeks. Domestic work (houses) is our bread and
butter, while the commercial work usually pays more.

What hours do you work?

We start about 7.30 am and finish at 4.30 pm. If we do a lot of shops we’ll
probably start earlier to get things done before they open.

Because of the weather we have to be adaptable and that can mean working
weekends. We always have a break for lunch and get to know where all the
good cafes are in each area we work!

What equipment do you use?

The basic tools are a squeegee, cloth, hot soapy water and ladders. Some
cleaners, particularly those that specialise in offices and tower blocks, will also
use cradles and ropes for abseiling.

We also use a special water fed pole system to clean office windows. It
means we don’t have to use ladders all the time and one of us can work from
the ground in total safety. We carry the water for this in our van.

How do you get into the industry?

Before trying to start up on your own, it’s important to learn the trade. There
are still lots of individual window cleaners but more and more small firms are
setting up, so try and get in with one of them. It’s not really recommended to
work on your own any more because of the safety aspect of going up ladders.
How did Daylight Window Cleaning come about?

I got to a certain level working for other people and decided to move on and
start employing people and looking for more commercial work. If you go down
this route you need business skills as well, such as bookkeeping. You need
to be good at pricing work, otherwise you can end up working for nothing.

How do you price a job?

Pricing is generally based on the number of windows and the area you are
working in.

Any other skills?

Remember you are providing a service. You’ve got to make sure you do a
good job every time because there are a lot of window cleaners out there and
it’s a very competitive field.

You need to be good at dealing with people and you’ve got to be able to take
criticism. If you start arguing it won’t be long before you’ve lost your whole

Do you get many bad payers?

There’s no contract with domestic customers, as it’s all based on trust.
Building a relationship with them is important, and can help develop loyalty.
You do get the odd one that won’t pay and that’s why you’ve got to keep
taking on new customers. With commercial work you tend to get a contract to
carry out the cleaning for a set period of time.

What’s the worst part of the job?

Working outdoors in the winter – you need to be very strong-willed to keep
going sometimes!

Do you need to be fit?

We can do 150 houses in a day so you need to be reasonably fit as you are
on your feet all day, and going up and down ladders. We generally put two
people on a house at a time, one doing the lower floors, the other up a ladder.

Shane’s tips

   Common-sense and a willingness to work are more important than

   Contact the National Federations of Master Window and General Cleaners
    – they can tell you everything you need to get started in window cleaning.

   If you are going to start on your own you need to be able to drive.
Shane’s route

   Helping out on a friend’s round.

   Learnt the trade on the job.

   Set up Daylight Window Cleaning.

Getting in

   No qualifications are needed although a head for heights is important.

   Training is on the job and an NVQ/SVQ in Cleaning (Windows, Glass and
    Façade Surfaces) is available.

Andy Harris Each year in Britain we produce an incredible 435 million
tonnes of rubbish. It is a mountain that needs to be moved, and one of the
people who helps keep it under control is refuse collector Andy Harris. Andy
works for a company called Onyx on the Wirral, Merseyside. It is a job he has
been doing for four years.

What time do you start work?

We get in at about 7 am, have a quick brew (cup of tea) and then find out
what patch we’re working. Then it’s straight into the wagon and off we go.

What’s a ‘patch’?

It’s the area we’re going to collect rubbish from that day. We’ve got either
hours to do it and because it’s a task and finish job, if you finish within the
allocated time, then you can go home.

Who do you work with?

There’s a driver – who rarely get out of his cab – and five loaders.

Do you deal with wheelie bins or black bags?

We only do bags on our round but some local authorities use wheelie bins,
which have to be fitted onto a hoist at the back of the wagon and lifted on.
The bags get thrown on the back of the wagon. When it’s full we have to go
to a landfill site and tip it all out. That happens two or three times a day.

Do you need to be very fit?

It helps, because there’s lots of lifting and carrying, and you walk a fair few
miles every day too.

Is it a dangerous job?

It can be, so we’ve all done health and safety courses. We’re always wary of
things like glass and broken bottles that might be in the bags.

We get provided with lots of protective clothing, and you need it too. There
are high visibility yellow vests so that motorists can see us. Then there are
gloves, safety boots and special double thick trousers to stop anything digging
into our legs. And because we’re out in all weathers, we’ve got special wet
suits too.
Do you get much contact with the public?

You get to have a chat with some people and they soon get to know your
face. On some patches there are locked gates, so we have to knock on doors
and ask people to unlock the gates for us. You sometimes get a cup of tea
and even a sandwich if you’re lucky!

What are the best and worst parts of the job?

The best parts are finishing early and having a laugh with your mates. The
bad parts are that things can get a bit smelly and dirty, but you soon get used
to it.

What do you aim to do next?

I’ve done a GNVQ in Customer Services while I’ve been here. There are lots
of other NVQs you can take too in customer care and health and safety. If
you pass them you can move on to become a supervisor. That’s what I’m
aiming to do.

And the money?

The pay is very good and there’s usually overtime too, if you want it.

Andy’s tips

   You need to be sociable, and having a sense of humour helps too.

   There is a lot of physical work involved so you need to be fit.

   It’s a great job if you like working as part of a team.

Getting in

   No academic qualifications are needed.

   Training is carried out on the job and NVQs/SVQs in Waste Management
    Operations are available.

   Contact your local council for details about who runs the refuse collection
    service in your area.

Colleen Fitzpatrick works for Royal Mail in Belfast. She is one of a small
army of people that helps to deliver an incredible 81 million cards, letters and
packets across the UK every day.

How did you come to work for the Royal Mail?

The opportunity came up while I was at school finishing my exams. The
whole idea of working outside appealed to me straight away. I had to take an
aptitude test to start with which covered basic numeracy and literacy. We
also had tests to make sure we could understand various post codes.

When does your day start?

I have to get up at about 4.00 am every morning, which wouldn’t suit
everybody but you soon get used to it. I get to the delivery office at about
5 am and start sorting out all the post into street order. I use something called
a frame, which is basically lots of pigeon holes lined up next to each other.
Each hole represents a different street. Sorting the letters can get a bit

Then we load our round into our post bag a nd we’re off. We have to be
prompt with our deliveries every day as people rely on us getting their post to
them at a certain time.

I do my round on foot but in the countryside bikes are quite common. My
round is a mixture of residential and business addresses.

You’d think that shops receive the most post but actually it’s students. There
are loads of them living on my round, which means I always have a heavy
mail bag.

I have quite a lot of registered post too. People have to sign for this when you
deliver it. If there’s no-one in then it goes back to the sorting office. I leave a
card telling them where and when they can collect it.

What about second post?

I finish the first round at about 10.30 am, then it’s back to the delivery office to
sort out the mail for the second delivery. I finish my second round by 2 pm as
there’s very little second post compared to the first. The rest of the day is
then mine, which is one of the best bits of the job!

Do you have to work weekends?

We have to work on Saturdays too but there are no deliveries on a Sunday.
Even postal workers are allowed one day off a week! If anyone’s on holiday
or off sick we have extra staff at the delivery office who can cover their round.
Is it a tiring job?

Luckily any big objects are delivered by van, but you still have to be pretty fit,
especially when you’ve got lots of tower blocks on your round.

Do you need any special skills?

You need to be an expert at reading handwriting! Some of the writing you get
on envelopes is nearly impossible to read. If it’s really bad then it goes back
to the sorting office where we try to see if there are any more clues as to
where it’s going, or where it came from.

What are the good and bad parts of the job?

The early mornings are great in the summer when the sun’s starting to come
up, but it can get a bit scary when it’s still dark in the winter. Bad weather is a
pain, but as with everything you soon get used to it. I haven’t been bitten by a
dog yet. You get to know where they live a nd some owners will lock them up
when they know you are due to call.

Is it a lonely job?

Not at all. I’ve got to know a lot of people on my round, so there’s always
someone to have a quick chat with. You actually have a lot of contact with

Colleen’s tip

   Postmen and women need to be confidence because you are dealing with
    people all the time who may want to ask you questions about their post or
    have a query about the service.

Getting in

   General reading and writing skills are very important.

   Contact your local delivery office for details of vacancies (see telephone
    directory) or for more details about the Royal Mail, visit

Jon Speed works for Sky, installing satellite dishes and servicing people’s
satellite-systems. He loves being in charge of his own work rota.

Describe a typical day

First think in the morning I collect the stock and paperwork delivered from our
national distribution centre in Sheffield.

The next thing is to plot the best route for the day and make contact with all
the customers to give them an idea of when I’m going to be there. I try and
accommodate people if they’re busy, although it’s also in my interest because
I’m paid a bonus based on the number of customers I see and the quality of
my work.

At the end of the day I return all the completed paperwork and order new

How do you go about a typical installation?

It always pays to find out exactly what the customer is expecting so they
aren’t disappointed when you’ve finished. For instance, some people want
the dish on the back of the house when it has to go on the front to get a good
reception. You have to explain why.

Health and safety is very important in this business and there are set ways to
do things, especially as we always work on our own. I am supplied with a
hard hat, goggles, overalls and gloves. My drill is battery powered to avoid
using mains electricity. Sometimes I have to wear a safety harness which is
hooked on to my ladder. If I go up as high as three sections of ladder I may
have to attach the ladder to the wall.

I fix the dish to the outside of the house by drilling holes and then screwing in
some hefty bolts. I then attach the dish to the TV and a te lephone line. That
means drilling more holes and running cables both inside and outside the
house. I then have to tune the whole system into the customer’s TV and

How long does each installation take?

On average between 1½-2 hours. With Sky a standard day is five
installations and one service. Services involve fault finding and ensuring
problem-free viewing in the future.
What are the hours like?

Everything is flexible and you can choose when you start work because the
job is not office based. My day starts at about 7.30 am, and I try to get
everything done by 4 pm. There’s quite a lot of scope for overtime. I currently
work six days one week, seven days the next, so I get one day off a fortnight.
I have to work some weekends because that’s when people are at home.

What do you like about the job?

The best thing is that you are basically your own boss, although that might not
suit everyone. It’s a very flexible job. Private use of the van is useful.

And the bad bits?

Working in bad weather is the worst bit, although when it’s really hot, wearing
all that safety gear can be uncomfortable.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve had to put a dish?

I had to fit one on a narrowboat once. I told the customer that as soon as he
moved his boat he’d lose the signal but he still seemed quite happy.

Is there any training?

There’s always on-going training because Sky are always brining out new
equipment. I obviously need to know how to use it before I can install it. I’ve
done an internal customer relations course as well.

What are your ambitions?

It would be great to get more involved in the technical side of how things
actually work.

Jon’s tips

   It’s not all about technical know-how, most of the job involves

   Customer care skills are very important.

   Basic DIY skills are all you need to put the dish up.

   You need to be able to drive.
Getting in

   Satellite TV engineers are employed by specialist contracting firms and
    may also install cable TV systems as well. It is usual for companies to
    take people on without any previous qualifications and provide training.
    Jon spent a week in the classroom and then 13 weeks on probation with
    more experienced people, learning on the job.

   Foundation Modern Apprenticeships in Telecommunications, leading to
    NVQ/SVQ level 2 (Installation and Maintenance of Aerial Equipment and
    Associated Feeders) may be available.

Working outdoors does not just mean working in the countryside, as
these two careers show. Whether it is getting a package from A to B as
quickly and safely as possible, or ensuring the roads are clear enough
to do it, there are plenty of outdoor careers in the city to explore as well.


Simon Newsome is a motorcycle courier in London, delivering parcels and
packages. The job is hard and can be dangerous but on a good day, he says,
there is nothing better.

How did you get involved?

I was looking for a job that wasn’t office based and came across Camelot
Training, who provide training for motorcycle couriers. I already had a driving
licence and Camelot took me through an NVQ in Transporting Goods by
Road. It covered how to use a radio, knowledge of London, and what to do in
certain situations, such as when a parcel isn’t packed properly and you have
to take it back and explain why you can’t deliver it.

They then put me in touch with a company called MCP, who after a probation
period, took me on full-time.

What are your typical working hours?

Because I’m self-employed I can start anywhere between 7 am and 10.30 am
but you’re expected to do a ten-hour day. I don’t work nights because there
are very few deliveries then.

How do you get your jobs?

I phone the office before I leave home in case there’s anything local to pick
up. Sometimes you get in and end up waiting around for jobs. At other times
the jobs are stacked up, just one after another.

I once did seven jobs in a day and another time I did twenty four. The
average is somewhere in between. It’s good to get a couple of big jobs each
day rather than lots of little ones.

Is there plenty of work?

Work has been hit hard by the fact that more and more documents are now
sent via e-mail.

What do you do in between jobs?

I try and find somewhere like a park to sit down and relax.
What about equipment?

The company supplies the radio and a bib with their logo on. You need to
supply your own good quality boots, leather trousers, leather jacket and
helmet. If you come off the bike without safety gear on you are more likely to
get badly injured.

Do you own your bike or hire it?

Some people hire them but I’ve got my own so at least I know what it can and
can’t do, and a bit about its history.

Have you been asked to make any strange deliveries?

I was sent to McDonalds the other day to get someo ne a burger!

Normally people have a rough idea of what we can carry. We’ve got vans as
well as bikes so if you can’t get it on your bike you have to tell them. You still
get paid the minimum for turning up.

What makes a good courier?

Patience is vital, as is maturity. You also need to be forgiving because if
someone cuts you up and you get angry, then you are going to start driving
angrily, and that increases your chances of having an accident.

You are riding for 50-60 hours a week sometimes and you quickly learn how
to ride a bike well.

You’d be amazed at the people who become couriers, I’ve known an
ex-lawyer join up simply because he’d rather ride a bike for a living then sit in
an office all day.

Is it a stressful job?

It can be because one mistake while driving and you can end up injured.
You’ve got to remember that someone else’s mistake can also have a drastic
effect on you. Last year I had three accidents in three weeks.

What are the good and bad parts of the job?

It’s great on a sunny day, riding through the countryside. The roads are
empty, you’re having the time of your life, and you’re getting paid to do it.

However, if it rains you get wet, and when it’s hot you sweat because of your
leathers. The pollution is also bad. You come back covered in black grime.
Wearing a mask isn’t really practical because you are on the radio all the time.
And the future?

I won’t do this job forever but it’s something I can always fall back on. There
are people who have been doing it for years but for most people like me, it is
just a temporary job.

Simon’s tips

   If you want to race round on a bike and have lots of fun this job isn’t for

   If you can, it may be useful to maintain your bike to save on garage costs.

Simon’s route

   Seven GCSEs and three A levels.

   Completed most of a psychology degree.

   Decided office work was not for him.

   Joined MCP to help pay the bills while he is writing his first book.

Getting in

   No academic qualifications are required although some literacy skills are
    needed for map reading.

   You must be at least 17 and some employers prefer those over 25.

   NVQ/SVQ Level 2 Transporting Goods by Road is available.

   Candidates must have a full motorcycle driving licence.

Lyndsey Hargreaves works for Control P lus, a private company that patrols
the streets and car parks of central Manchester, making sure people do not
park their vehicles illegally. She began working as a manager in a
newsagent’s but soon decided it was not for her. The great outdoors

When do you start work?

At 7.30 am we are briefed by a supervisor who tells us what routes we are on
that day – they tend to change all the time so motorists don’t know where we’ll
be. I set off at 8 am.

What equipment do you use?

I have a hand-held computer, a printer and a radio. I thought it was going to
be really heavy when I first saw it all but it’s not too bad. A uniform,
waterproofs and shoes are provided too, although you can wear your own
shoes as long as they are smart and black.

What are you looking for on your beat?

Any vehicles that are breaking the law. Usually it’s vehicles whose pay and
display tickets have run out, or those that are parked on yellow lines. Some
parking bays say you can’t return to park there within a certain time. I have to
keep an eye on this and enter car details into my computer all the time,
otherwise I can’t issue a ticket later. We also check parking meters and
sometimes have to arrange for vehicles to be clamped or taken to a pound.

We also patrol some of the city’s car parks. Traffic wardens, who work for the
police, are still responsible for things such as the zig-zag lines near schools
and on pelican crossings.

Do you have to issue a set number of tickets each day?

No – we aren’t set any targets and we’re not on commission either.

Do motorists ever ‘have a go at’ you?

If you’re nasty to them, they are going to be nasty back. You’ve got to treat
people in the same way as you’d want to be treated. There is an evening shift
but then you go round i n a vehicle rather than on foot. You’re never in any
dangerous situations and there are always other patrols nearby.

Do you have to explain why you’ve given someone a ticket?

If people ask me then I explain why. If I’m not sure whether I should issue a
ticket, I just call the office for advice.
When does your day finish?

We have to be back at the pound at 3.40 pm for a de-brief. If there are any
special events going on in the city we have to make notes about things like
broken paving stones or ‘litter black-spots’. This gets passed on to the
council. We also have to report any yellow lines that aren’t clear or any road
signs that are damaged. We offer a service to the public too – I’m always
being asked directions.

Do you need to be fit to the job?

When I started I hardly did any exercise but now I walk between eight to ten
miles a day.

The good and the bad parts of the job?

If you like being out and about then it’s great, although it’s pretty miserable
when it’s raining. You’re left to get on with your job and as long as you do
what the company expects you to, then you’ll be fine.

Is there any on the job training?

I had a week’s classroom training to start with to learn about traffic law and
then I went out shadowing a more experienced member of staff for a few
weeks. After a three month probation you automatically start an NVQ on On
Street Parking at Level II.

What are your ambitions?

I’d like to become a supervisor.

Lyndsey’s tips

   Just go for it. Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about the job because
    it’s great.

   Remember, you spend most of the day on your feet.

Skills and Qualities

   Good handwriting

   Communication skills.

   Ability to understand and A-Z.

   Some local knowledge (when you are asked directions).
Getting in

   Most companies ask for a minimum of five GCSEs/S grades.

   Basic reading, writing and numeracy skills are needed.

   Contact your local council to find out who runs the service in your area.

For many people working outdoors means the chance to get their hands
dirty, get back to their roots, and be at one with nature! We have picked
two jobs that show there is a lot more to working with plants than a spot
of weeding.


Robert Thomas Gardeners work in a variety of settings, in Britain’s
magnificent formal gardens, as self-employed gardeners for a number of
individuals, or in the parks run by local authorities. Robert Thomas is one of
the gardeners who works for Manchester City Council, helping to keep four
parks in the south of the city looking at their best all year round.

Is there a typical day?

Every day is different because our work depends on what season it is. The
kind of things we do are sweeping leaves, edging the paths, mowing the
areas where the kids play, and planning up the beds. We don’t grow our own
plants but buy them in, so we spend some time either picking them up from a
nursery, or unloading a delivery van.

I enjoy planting bulbs and pruning roses the most. We’re also in charge of
making sure things are looking tidy and emptying all the bins.

We use a lot of specialist equipment, such as a petrol-driven edging off
machine for cutting the grass away from the paths, and an electric
hedge-cutter. I also use hand tools like spades, saws, hoes, and pruning
gear. I’ve been on a course for all the power tools, so I know how to use them
safely. I’ve also completed some general gardening courses, covering things
like pruning and how to dig properly without hurting your back.

What are the hours like?

I work from 7.30 am – 4.45 pm in the summer, but only until 3.30 pm in the
winter. We tend to be busy all year round. There’s always something that
needs doing. The parks are open all year round and we need to keep them
looking at their best.

Do you work alone, or as part of a team?

It depends on the type of job I’m doing. With weeding and a few other jobs
I’m left to get on with it, but on some of the bigger jobs I’ll work as part of a
team, particularly when there’s a lot of heavy lifting involved. Working
together is very important, and it’s good to have company when you’re
Is the work demanding?

Some of the work can be quite physical, such as lifting machinery in and out
of the truck, pushing wheelbarrows full of earth, or dragging logs to be cut up.
We often have to clear up after storms when the winds have broken branches
off trees. These have to be taken to the tip.

Do you have much contact with the public?

I’m always chatting to the people using the park. They come up and ask
questions about plants, and tell us when they would like to see in the park.
We always try and answer them, or direct them to the boss.

Anything you don’t like about the job?

The worst part of the job is having to do lots of weeding, and then in the
autumn having to rake up leaves. It can get boring, especially if you have to
do it in the pouring rain. If the weather’s sunny then it doesn’t really matter
whet you’re doing – it’s just great to be outside.

What’s next for you?

I’m quite happy as I am. There are always new courses coming up and the
opportunity to learn how to use new machinery.

Robert’s tips

   Try and get some part-time or voluntary experience first, to make sure you
    really know that you like gardening.

   Make sure you go on as many course as you can.

   You’ve got to enjoy working outdoors in this job. It can get really cold
    unless you wrap up warm.

Robert’s route

   Answered an advert in the local paper.

   Taken many training courses in how to use tools and machinery.

Getting in

   There are no set entry requirements although specific courses and
    colleges may require formal qualifications.

   There are various training schemes available including Modern
   There is a huge range of other qualifications from Royal Horticultural
    Society training programmes and examinatio ns to NVQs/SVQs.

   Contact the Royal Horticultural Society or the Institute of Horticulture for
    further details.

Kate Newman The British public spend a massive £3.16 billion a year on
their gardens, which means garden centres have ne ver been more popular.
One of the people helping us to fill our borders and hanging baskets it
Kate Newman, who works at Castle Gardens in Dorset.

Have you always had green fingers?

My interest in plants is really down to my Gran. She was always buying me
plants. I spend a lot of my spare time outside in the garden at home.
Gardening is like a bug, once you’ve got it, it’s hard to get rid of it!

When I left school I decided I wanted to work in horticulture, so I started doing
work experience at Castle Gardens, two days a week.

What does your work involve?

A typical day includes general plant maintenance, such as watering, weeding
and taking off any dead leaves, which we have to carry out whatever the
weather. We also work at the till, which we all do on a rota basis, and deal
with customers’ queries and complaints.

Do you enjoy dealing with the public?

It’s such an important part of our job and it’s great to be asked questions
about plants. When we are outside working on the plants, we spend a lo t of
time advising customers about what sort of plant grows best in the shade or
which are best in full sunlight.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love bedding plants – all the really colourful stuff. We use them in hanging
baskets, pots and containers. It’s a chance to get your hands dirty and do
some proper gardening outside in the fresh air. And it’s a great feeling when
you see the flowers coming into bloom.

So it’s pansies and marigolds all the time then?

At the Garden Centre you have to do a bit of everything, whether it’s trees,
shrubs or seeds. You don’t get the chance to just concentrate on an area that
you like. But that’s good because it means you learn more about the whole

What are the hours like?

You need to be flexible. Normally I do 9 am to 5 pm but the busiest times for
garden centres are weekends and bank holidays.

What equipment do you use?
Normal gardening tools, like a trowel, fork, spade and secateurs. I don’t use
any specialist equipment.

Do you have much time for growing plants?

We transplant plants that have grown too big for their pots and take some
cuttings which we grow in poly-tunnels, which are like greenhouses but look
more like plastic tents.

However, we are more involved with selling plants than growing them. We
buy most of them from a wholesaler. When they arrive we have to store them
and make sure they are all in good condition before they go on sale.

Kate’s tips

   Remember that rain, wind and frost are just as much a part of the job as

   You must be interested in plants and gardening.

   You need to know what course you want to do because there are so many
    different ones covering different area of horticulture. Make sure you read
    the prospectuses carefully.

   The money gets better as you become more qualified.

Kate’s route

   Joined Castle Gardens in September 2001.

   Work in a local garden centre.

   Currently completing her first diploma in horticulture, three days a week at

   Next year she hopes to start her B.Tec Higher National Diploma.

Getting in

   There are no set academic qualifications and most training is carried out
    on the job.

   There are various training schemes available including Modern

   BTEC/SQA diplomas in horticulture are available at several levels.

   NVQs/SVQs in Commercial Horticulture are also available.

   Local garden centres are listed in your telephone directory.

We call the countryside the great outdoors. The careers you can follow
here are many and varied, from working with people to working with
animals and trees.


Hilary Wood is part of the Mersey Valley Countryside Warden service, that
managers over thirty countryside areas in Manchester and Trafford. She
specialises in educating local people about the Mersey Valley and running
school visits. She can introduce children to the exciting world of mini-beasts
and pond dipping.

Why have you got involved with the education side of things?

At first I thought I wanted to work with nature in the middle of nowhere but
then I realised that I was more interested in trying to get my enthusiasm about
nature over to other people. Now I spend a lot of my time planning and
conducting school visits to our sites.

What do you do on a school visit?

Pupils usually arrive at around 9.15 am. Primary school pupils are the most
common visitors. We have about 30 pupils at a time plus teachers and
parent-helpers to help keep control. The children are always very excited.

We do things like pond dipping, looking for mini-beasts or different plants
around the woodlands, or playing environmental games.

Do you have other roles?

I help out with the land management of our sites. I started wardening by
doing practical conservation work as a volunteer.

Because my speciality is working with people, I also go out to community
groups, trying to encourage all sorts of people to visit the Mersey Valley. I do
this by organising different activities such as walks, children’s events and
specialist nature activities.

What are your typical working hours?

We do a 35 hour week plus one out of every three weekends and a couple of
evenings a month.

What happens at the weekends?

We go out on patrol and take the opportunity to check some of our smaller
sites, the places that don’t get visited so much. We do minor maintenance
work and some litter picking, and note any more serious damage.
It’s also good to show the public that we are a visible presence, as we do
have to deal with anti-social people, particularly those riding motor bikes a nd
staring fires. We also hold events for the public at weekends.

What makes a good countryside warden?

You have to be flexible and self-motivated. What you don’t get in this job is
someone breathing down your neck, telling you what to do.

You need to have a passion for wildlife and nature conservation. It’s what
keeps you in a job which is not highly paid. In my role, you need to be good
with people too.

So it’s not just you, a pair of binoculars, and a fantastic view then?

Being a countryside warden has changed, even in the remote areas, because
it is now much more about getting local people and visitors involved in what
you are doing.

Have any strange things happened to you at work?

When you work with the public, anything can happen! They can say so many
funny things and you have to keep a straight face. They have a strange view
of what we are here for, too. They ask us to come and collect dead ‘things’
from their gardens, or even leave them outside the office for us.

Hilary’s tips

   You have to be willing to move around the country when you start a career
    in nature conservation.

   If you haven’t got any qualifications then spend a few years volunteering
    for as many different nature conservation organisations as you can. That’s
    regarded as valuable experience.

Hilary’s route

   Degree in politics.

   Voluntary work for conservation organisations.

   Paid work for the RSPB.

   Worked on nature reserves in Scotland and Wales.
Getting in

   There are no set entry requirements.

   Many people volunteer to work over the winter and are then given a
    summer contract, although this could be a long way from where you live.

   Some employers look for qualifications, from NVQs to degrees, in subjects
    covering countryside management, nature conservation and ecology.

David Wattam has worked his way up through the forestry industry and now
owns his own business, Ridings Forestry and Tree Care. Here he explains
how managing Britain’s forests involves a lot more than just shouting ‘Timer!’

What does a forester do?

I cover a wide range of jobs from planting new native woodlands and
managing established ones, to consultancy and advice on all aspects of
forestry. I work with local authorities, farmers, woodland organisations and
large estates.

What about the Forestry Commission?

The Forestry Commission controls huge areas of the UK’s forests both for
commercial production and recreational use. It still employs some foresters
but lots of the work is now done by huge harvesting machines, rather than
gangs of workers using chainsaws.

I am involved with the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Grants Scheme
which helps to create new woodlands, many using native broadleaf trees like
oak, ash and wild cherry, along with some conifers.

How to you go about planting a forest?

Planting usually takes place during the winter. When we’re planting
woodlands we use thousands of trees called transplants which we plant
individually. We then hammer in stakes next to the trees as a support against
the wind and put a tree tube around them. This works like a greenhouse so
they grow faster and it protects the tree from herbicides and animals.

What are the main skills you need?

You’ve got to be fit and you’ve got to enjoy working outdoors in all kinds of
weather. You need to be aware of health and safety regulations and have a
good knowledge of trees too.

Is it a dangerous job?

The Health and Safety Executive are very strict. To use a chainsaw
commercially you need your NPTC (National Proficiency Test Council)
Certification. You often have to wear a hard hat, boots and gloves, and
special chainsaw trousers too.

I employ subcontractors when working with a chainsaw as it’s dangerous to
work alone.
What other things does the job involve?

Within a managed plantation we thin the trees that means taking out a
proportion to improve the spacing for the final crop. This involves using a
chainsaw. The timber can then be sold depending on what type of tree it is.

I also spend time erecting and maintaining fencing and on ride management,
which is keeping the paths through the forest passable and cut back. We use
all flail mower or brush cutter to do that. In certain areas we leave the grass
long to encourage wildlife.

I also carry out woodland surveys which look at the age and different species
of trees within a woodland and assess how much timber is actually there.

What are the good and bad parts of the job?

You’ve got to love the job to do it – it’s not something you can go into
half-heartedly, because a run of bad weather can really dampen the spirits.
Depending on where you are flies can be a real problem and midges can eat
you alive!

David’s tip

   If you are going into forestry the first thing you need to do is to get your
    chainsaw certificate. After that there’s a whole range of forestry
    qualifications available from NVQs through to degrees.

David’s route

   Three A levels and started working for a landscaping company.

   HND in Arboriculture and Urban Woodland Management.

   Tree Officer for Beverley Borough Council.

   BSc Honours in Forestry.

   Field Officer for the Forestry Contractors Association.

   Own business.

Getting in

   There are no minimum requirements to work as a forestry worker but a
    good standard of numeracy and literacy is important.

   There is fierce competition for jobs so qua lifications can give you an edge.

   You must have a Chainsaw Competency Certificate as awarded by the
    National Proficiency Test Council.
   Several colleges and training organisations run forestry training schemes.
    Contact your nearest Forestry Commission office for details.

Fern Townsend works for Bartletts, one of the biggest firms of tree surgeons,
or arboriculturists, in the world. It is a job she loves, and having trained as a
beauty therapist, Fern was only too please to swap her nail file for a

So what does the job entail?

There are usually two of us on a job, one as the climber, the other as the
groundsman. The climber goes up the tree using ropes and harnesses,
cutting branches off with a chainsaw and dropping them down for the
groundsman. It’s their job to clear the area as quickly and efficiently as

You have to drag all the branches to the chipper, which basically cuts the
wood up into little pieces for taking away in a lorry. You have to make sure
the area is clean and tidy when you’ve finished.

The groundsman also needs to make sure the climber is safe in the tree and
the ropes are out of the way of the chainsaw and overhead power lines.

If you are working in the street you need to be aware of pedestrians too and
perhaps cordon an area off. For really big jobs you may even have to contact
the police.

What equipment do you use?

When you start one of the first things you do is learn to use a chainsaw. We
have two types – ground saws, for cutting up logs on the ground so that they
are easier to handle. Then smaller climbing saws which we use in the tree.
There are also hand saws for pruning, a stump grinder, for getting rid of the
old stumps, and the chipper.

What about safety gear?

The company supplies all the basics, a helmet, gloves, trousers and boots
that are made of Kevlar (a very strong material). The trousers are front and
back protected so that if you hit them or the boots with a chainsaw, the fibres
from the Kevlar knot up in the chain to protect you.

Why do people need tree surgeons?

There are lots of reasons. A big tree in a small garden can cause damage to
the foundations of a property, or a tree might be diseased or dying which
makes it dangerous. It also helps the trees grow by pruning or thinning them.
We can spray trees with pesticides and fungicides as well, or give them a
good feed of fertiliser.

Can you choose which trees to cut down?
If trees have a Tree Preservation Order, or have birds’ nests in with eggs or
chicks, we can’t cut them down.

What are your typical hours?

7.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday, with sometimes overtime over the
weekend. I used to start at 4 am as a gardener, so this is luxury in

What training do you get?

There is a lot to learn it’s unbelievable! Most of the training is on the job and
I’ve learnt lots from my foreman, not only on how to do the job but also about
the type of trees we are dealing with. It’s a constant learning process.

Do you need any particular skills?

You need a good head for heights and a lot of common sense. A driving
licence is useful because we drive five -tonne lorries with a two-tonne chipper,
so you need one with a C1+E Sub-category.

Are there any downsides to the job?

You’ve got to be able to put up with the rain and when it’s hot, the specialist
chainsaw trousers make you very hot. The most frustrating thing is having to
do jobs without enough space and only limited access.

Fern’s tips

   Go to college and learn about arboriculture but get part-time work at the
    same time, so you are also learning on the job.

   You have to be prepared to work hard.

   You can either work for a big company or a small local firm.

Fern’s route

   A levels

   Worked as a horticulturist.

   Qualified as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist, reflexologist and sports

   Changed careers to work outdoors.
Getting in

   There are no set minimum entry requirements but you will need a
    reasonable standard of literacy and numeracy as well as physical fitness.

   Most employers require a driving lice nce.

   Some companies offer training while you are employed. The National
    Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) and the Scottish Skills Testing Service
    (SSTS) award competence certificates for skills such as chainsaw use and
    tree pruning and felling. Training is usually via short courses.

   You can also start training by taking a full-time college course. These

   The City & Guilds National Certificate in Horticulture with an arboriculture

   The BTEC National Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture or Countryside
    Management (woodland Management).

   The Royal Forestry Society’s Certificate in Arboriculture.

   NVQ/SVQ level 2 in Arboriculture and level 3 in Tree work (Arboricutlure)
    may be available).

Paul Evans works on Trenewydd Fawr, a mixed farm with both crops and
livestock, in Pembrokeshire, South Wales. Having been born and bred on a
farm, he never really considered any other career. ‘It’s great fun,’ he says,
‘and you’re out in the fresh air all day rather than being stuck in an office.’

How does your day start?

I start at about 7.30 am when I have to feed the young calves. They are
mostly kept in sheds rather than out in the fields. Calf rearing means bucket
feeding them as they’ve been taken away from their mothers so that the
mother’s milk can be used for human consumption.

Some places have young animals all year round but we have a calving
pattern. We start ‘serving’ the cows in about July, which means putting the
bulls with them. In nine months they will be giving birth. At the same time I’m
still rearing those that were born a few months ago. The female calves are
used to restock and dairy herd, while the male are kept as beef animals and

Is it hard sending the animals to be slaughtered?

It’s just one of those things. That’s what you’re there for, getting the animals
ready for market, so you try not to get too attached to them.

How else do you look after the animals?

After what happened with the foot and mouth epidemic we have to be very
vigilant and check the animals regularly for any signs of disease. We have to
keep the animals well bedded down and mucked out. The farm needs to be
hygienic so there is a lot of washing down to be done.

If the animals go down with something then it’s up to us to look after them and
given them any medicine that the vet may have prescribed.

The cattle spend most of the year out in the fields but during the winter we
bring them down to the sheds which are a lot warmer.

What about the crops?

The main crop I deal with is silage . It’s just normal grass that we cut down
with a combine harvester or special attachment on a tractor. We then store it
in a silage pit to use as animal feed over the winter. There’s wheat, barley
and rape on the farm too.

Who do you work with?

There are 14 of us working on the farm. Some days we work on our own, but
if there’s a big job on, such as collecting in the silage, then we’ll all work
together. Most of the time you are unsupervised, and trusted to get on with
the job.

How do the seasons affect your work?

Planting takes place during the spring and winter. During the summer we
have to spray the crops about once a month. From the middle of July through
to September we start harvesting. Then it’s back to ploughing, sowing and
the whole cycle begins again. We still manage to get four weeks holiday a
year though.

What equipment do you use?

Tractors are very important. We can fit different implements to them for
ploughing, spreading fertilisers, digging and spraying crops. Loaders are like
tractors but used for lifting and carrying, and then there are general trailers for
carrying bulky stuff. You need to know a bit about mechanics so you can
carry out general repairs. You also need a special certificate to drive the
loaders and a driving licence to drive tractors on the roads.

We do a lot of fencing too which means digging holes, putting up posts, and
stretching and cutting wire.

Is there any training?

Most of it is on the job training. You pick things up as you go along.

When do you normally finish?

It depends on the time of year, the weather and what needs to be done, but
anywhere between 4 pm onwards and sometimes as late as 10 pm. You
need to be flexible and most weekends I’ll come in to feed the young stock.

What are your ambitions?

I’d like to manage my own farm one day.

Paul’s tips

   You’ve got to be hard-working.

   You must be willing to get dirty and muck in.

   You have to be prepared to work in all weathers.

Paul’s route

   Two-year NVQ level 3 in Agriculture.

   Day release for specialist certificates.
Getting in

   No formal qualifications are needed to enter farming. It is a career that
    suits people who have an enthusiasm for the outdoors and who enjoy
    working with animals and crops.

   Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the la nd-based industries and the
    environment, have a list of relevant courses such as NVQs/SVQs and the
    agricultural colleges that run them.

   Entrants could approach farmers directly and/or regional contacts at the
    National Farmers Union for details of employment opportunities in their

   Farms are becoming more specialist and larger, with more structured
    career paths being introduced.

Paul Major Noisy neighbours, barking dogs and lost tents – it is all in a day’s
(and night’s) work for Paul Major, who managers the Holmsley campsite in the
New Forest on behalf of the Forestry Commission.

What’s the campsite like?

It covers 130 acres so it’s pretty big. We can take 600 units (a unit is a tent or
caravan) which is enough room for about 2000 people. We’re open for 33
weeks this year but roughly 20 of those will be quiet with only about 50 -60
people staying here. You have to take this into account when employing and
stocking the shop.

What do you do when it’s shut?

In theory I get four months off but money can get tight, so in the past I’ve
taken part-time casual work to see me through. Now I do administration for a
lot of the other Forestry Commission campsites in the area.

What’s a typical day like?

I try not to start work before 8 am, although if there’s a problem I may start
earlier. The day starts with a walk round the site and then I’ll be in reception
to meet guests as they arrive. I also give advice to campers on things such
as where to go and how to put their equipment up to help their stay go

I spend some time dealing with grievances from guests such as noisy
neighbours or barking dogs. We try and make sure there is no noise on the
site after 11 pm. I usually have to go and have a quiet chat with people and
occasionally have to ask them to leave. It can sometimes be a bit

There’s a lot of paperwork involved too, from booking people in, paying the
staff, insurance and things like that. I employ about 13 staff on a seasonal
basis. I pay them from the retainer I receive from the Forestry Commission.
The site shop also requires organising and stocking.

What happens if there’s an accident on site?

I’m a first aider but if there’s anything major I’ll just call an ambulance.

Do you use any special equipment?

No, we just call in plumbers or electricians as and when we need them.
There’s some site maintenance to carry out, such as cutting the grass, and
obviously cleaning the shower blocks.

When does your day finish?
I could end up working until past midnight because I also like to do a late night
walk around the site to make sure everything is OK.

In many ways you are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as you’re
never really off duty. People can wake you up in the middle of the night with
the most ridiculous problems. ‘I’ve lost my tent,’ is a particular favourite!

Somebody has to be on site all the time and if it wasn’t me then I would have
to pay someone else to do it. I live on site with my family in a static caravan.
It’s not so much a job as a lifestyle. I do it because I enjoy the outdoor life.

What are the main skills you need?

My main role is organising other people, so you’ve got to be good with the
public. You definitely need some business skills and to know your way round
a computer. You also have to be good with money and be able to budget
throughout the year.

It sound like a pretty tough lifestyle?

I do work long hours but I can still plan my own day. I lasted just five weeks
working in an office. I hated it. I need to work outdoors.

One of the downsides though is that because summer is our busiest time, we
never have a summer holiday.

Paul’s tip

   In general, sites owned by organisations like the Forestry Commission pay
    better than privately run sites. You’ll find most job vacancies advertised in
    the specialist caravan and camping magazines.

Paul’s route

   A degree in chemistry.

   Decided that working indoors was not for him.

   Casual work at campsites in the south of England.

   Contract with the Forestry Commission.
Getting in

   There are no formal entry requirements.

   A good general standard of education is necessary.

   Elements of NVQs/SVQs in Leisure and Tourism cover campsites.

   Some business and computer skills are useful.

Our landscape is constantly changing whether in the town or in the
country. In the countryside the landscape changes in a natural way as
rain, wind and sea take their toll. Then it is up to surveyors to monitor
the change and sometimes put back what nature has taken away.

In our towns and villages, a skilled army of tradesmen and women
shape the environment by the houses, offices, shops and roads they
help build.


Scott Dowdy Most people start work on a building site as a general labourer
before moving on to specialise in a certain area. Scott Dowdy did just that.
After an introduction to the construction company Adenstar from his father,
Scott spent a couple of years learning the ropes. He then trained to become
a formwork carpenter, one of the many skilled jobs on a construction site.

What is formwork?

It is a kind of mould for reinforced concrete which we build from timber and
plywood. It’s used for making structures like restraining walls in multi-storey
car parks, bridges and the skeleton of a block of flats. We call the moulds
‘shutters’ and once we’ve built them, steel reinforcement is added, where
concrete is poured in and left to set. The concrete is delivered by lorry to the

We normally work in pairs because shutters can be as big as 8 metres by 6
metres. When the concrete has ‘gone off’ (set) general labourers take off the
shutters and clean them.

What skills do you need?

You need to be good with your hands, and at putting things together. We
basically build the shutters from scratch using timber and nails, so you need
to be good at understanding drawings. Marking out and cutting wood is part
of our everyday job.

Accuracy is important as we try and make sure that we are never more than
2 mm out. Slabs of concrete might look unimportant but they perform a
crucial job when they are in place and help to hold a structure up.

You need to have some understanding of the force and physics involved, so
that you reinforce the shutters in the right places.
Is that the end of your role?

I’m also a qualified banksman which means I can give directions to crane
drivers and guide them in when it comes to lowering the concrete slabs into
position on a building.

What are the hours like?

We usually start at 8 am with a half hour break at 10 am, and the same at
1 pm. We get off home at about 4.45 pm. There’s overtime if you want it on
Saturday mornings when you are paid double money.

Is there any training?

I’ve just completed my NVQ level 2 in Formwork and a Construction Skills
Certificate from the CITB. Adenstar are very keen on training. It shows
clients that we are a skilled workforce and can do a good job.

Is it dangerous work?

Unless you know what you are doing and are aware of possible dangers, a
building site can be a dangerous place. We all have safety equipment such
as a hard hat and steel toecap boots, and goggles if we are doing any cutting.
You need to be happy working high up on a building too.

What are the highs and lows of working on a building site?

As with all construction jobs, it’s great if you like working outdoors. The only
time we really go inside is when we’re working in the shell of a building. That
doesn’t stop the wind and rain getting in but it makes you appreciate being
outside in the summer.

Scott’s tips

   You need to be able to do heavy work.

   Don’t just rush straight into a job. Think about all the different jobs that are
    available on a building site and choose one that suits you best.

Scott’s route

   GCSE’s

   Decided to work with his father in the construction industry.

   Spent a couple of years doing general labouring.

   Trained as a formwork carpenter.
Getting in

   Some construction companies recruit general operatives and increasingly
    provide training in a number of skills to craft level.

   Construction Apprenticeship Scheme or Scottish Construction
    Apprenticeship Scheme or a Foundation Modern Apprenticeship
    (Skillseekers in Scotland, Modern Apprenticeship (Northern Ireland) or
    National Traineeship in Wales), leading to NVQ/SVQ level 2, may be
    available. They all involve on the job training.

   The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Certificate of Training
    Achievement is awarded for passing short college courses while at work.

Steve Waggot works for Halcrow Group Ltd in Leeds. His work involves the
precise measurement and mapping of the environment, both on the land and
offshore. Steve specialises in surveying areas that are likely to be affected by
flooding, using the latest hi-tech equipment.

What sort of project to you work on?

We recently undertook a beach monitoring scheme on the Lincolnshire coast.
It involved measuring the level of the beach at set points. We then compared
this to previous measurements and worked out how much and had been
washed into the sea over a six month period. The client could then replenish
the beach with the same mount of sand. This can play an important part in
flood protection.

We’ve worked on the Norfolk Broads too, carrying out a hydrographic
(water-based) survey of the river channels and a topographic (land-based)
survey of the banks. Again the data is used to develop flood defences.

A lot of the work is carried out for organisations like the Environment Agency.

What equipment do you use?

There’s been a huge leap in technology over the last few years. Everything is
automated, and much quicker than before.

One of the main pieces of equipment is called a RTK-GPS (real-time
kinematic global positioning system). It’s carried as a backpack with a radio
link to a base station and a hand-held data logger. It uses satellites to work
out where we should be taking our readings.

We sometimes use a theodolite (an instrument for measuring angles) when
we can’t get a GPS signal but even they have their own on-board computers
to record everything automatically.

Because I specialise in hydrographics, I also use the GPS on a boat linked to
an echo-sounder and a transducer which sends acoustic pings down to the
river bed. I then measure the time it takes for the echo to return and work out
the river’s depth.

Is it a dangerous job?

You could be working on a main road with traffic or on a beach with a strong
tide, so we undertake risk assessments before every job. We are then aware
of any potential hazards.

Everyone has to wear life jackets when they are near water, and no-one is
allowed on a boat unless they have a qualification from the Royal Yachting
Do you work alone or as part of a team?

You always work as part of a team. It’s very rare that you work on your own
but it you do you must call the office every hour or so to let them know you are

What are your typical working hours?

You can start and finish at any time – it’s very project specific. Sometimes it’s
down to things like the tides, while jobs like surveying railway tracks need to
be done at night, when they aren’t in use.

Is there a lot of preparation before a job?

We need to contact land owners to get permission to work on their land, make
sure we’ve the staff and kit available, and let the c lient know exactly what we
are going to be doing. There’s quite a lot of travelling involved and we also
send surveyors abroad.

Is there any training?

A lot of it is on the job training, learning from the surveyor you are working
with. We also do training days with equipment manufacturers.

Do you need to be fit?

It’s a physically demanding job especially when you have to walk up and
down a beach for eight hours carrying equipment.

What makes a good land surveyor?

You’ve got to enjoy working outside come rain or shine, and be a team player.
Attention to detail is crucial as we have a lot of checking procedures. You
also need to be aware of your surroundings and remember exactly what it is
that you are trying to achieve.

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you at work?

We were surveying the River Ouse and two porpoises started following the
boat. It was superb. You get to see plenty of wildlife in this job and you can
be out in the middle of nowhere and something will fly past!

Steve’s tip

   You need to work hard and give the job some time to develop. You’ll
    always be learning because technology is changing so quickly.
Steve’s route

   Degree in surveying and mapping science.

   Joined the National Rivers Authority.

   Transferred to Halcrow.

   Completed the two year RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)
    Assessment of Professional Competence to become a chartered surveyor.

Getting in

There are two main routes into a career as a land surveyor.

   As a graduate – most degree courses specify GCSE maths and A levels/
    H Grades or equivalent, such as BTEC/SQA Higher National Diploma.
    Relevant degree courses include surveying, hydrographics and
    environmental management. Entrants with a non-related degree will be
    expected to follow a separate surveying course once they are employed.

   For non-graduates – The Survey Association (TSA), a commercial
    organisation, runs a two-year, block release course for candidates already
    employed in the industry. The entry requirements are the same as for a
    degree. An NVQ/SVQ level 3 in Spatial Data Management is currently
    being developed by the TSA.

To become a chartered surveyor you need to obtain an accredited degree and
complete the Assessment of Professional Competence.

From corporate team building to outward bound weekends, working in
outdoor management and outdoor pursuits offers plenty of
opportunities to develop people and pursue your own interests.


Duncan Shaw is an outdoor pursuits technician at Brathay Hall, a 360-acre
youth and management development centre, in the Lake District. ‘I’d always
been interested in the outdoors but never really thought of it as offering a
career,’ he says.

How did you get involved with outdoor pursuits?

I started a degree in bio-medical science but decided that it wasn’t for me.

I spent a couple of years doing temporary jobs to fund my way through
various governing body awards such as mountain leadership and canoeing. I
then approached Brathay Hall for a job.

Some companies run a trainee scheme where you work voluntarily, but you
get experience and some help towards paying for the courses.

There is a whole range of qualifications from orienteering through to archery.
First aid is also needed, and the more ‘tickets’ yo u have, the more employable
you are.

What are the hours like?

It depends what you are doing. If we’re on site we normally start at about
8.45 am to discuss the forthcoming day and anything that may have
happened the day before. Then we work through until about 5 pm. If you are
off-site the day can start earlier and finish later.

What’s a typical day on site?

My main role is to set activities up for the trainers. I go over all the safety
aspects of a course with the clients, such as how to put a harness on, and
then show people what to do. These are what we call the hard skills. The
trainers explain why they are doing it – their role is all about soft skills.

After that I take a back seat although I’m watching what’s going on all the time
to make sure no-one is in any danger. These means the trainer can
concentrate on teaching.

What about off-site activities?

About 60% of activities are on site and 40% off-site. An off-site day is often
based around something like a two -day hike. We give the clients a navigation
briefing about how to use a map and compass and take them through the
route and what to expect.

We’ll usually walk the first couple of hours with them to make sure they’ve
picked up what we’ve taught them, and if they ask us to, we’ll spend the night
with them in a mountain hut. You get time off in lieu for that.

Who visits Brathay?

Everyone from young offenders to board members of multi-national
companies. The way we work it is that the corporate side subsidises the
activities we do for young people.

What key skills are required?

Teamwork is vital and you must be fit. Attention to detail is important too
because your job is to make sure activities are done safely. If you set
equipment like ropes up wrongly or tie the wrong kind of knot, it could lead to
an accident.

You also need good people skills. You are dealing with clients all the time
and it can be a bit daunting having to stand up in front of a group of strangers
and explain how to do something, such as how to abseil. It’s not a job for shy

What about training?

There are always new courses about the latest outdoor techniques and
activities. It’s usually a case of reaching an agreement with the management
about how many you can go on. And then you’re expected to pass on what
you’ve learnt to the rest of the team.

Is it a dangerous job?

There is a dangerous side to the work but if you stick to the rules and don’t
take any risks, it’s fine.

What’s your favourite bit of the job?

It’s great meeting different people everyday and you get to travel all over the
UK and even Europe if that’s where a client decides they want to run an

Of course working outside is a massive bonus but as with all outdoor jobs you
have to take the rain with the shine. The only other drawback is that
sometimes the days can be very long. You could work a 15 hour day, but it
doesn’t happen often.
Duncan’s tips

   See if you can find someone who will give you a work placement.

   You must be motivated, otherwise you’ll soon be overtaken on the career

   If you don’t enjoy something like walking on the fells, this career isn’t for

Duncan’s route

   Completed his Duke of Edinburgh Award at school, along with four A

   Started but didn’t finish a degree course.

   Passes various professional exams that qualified him as an outdoor

   Began working full-time at Brathay Hall.

Getting in

   There are no formal educational requirements – it is all about specialist
    professional qualifications.

   Mountain leadership and canoeing qualifications are the normal starting

   It can be a competitive industry so the more qualifications you can get the
    more employable you become.

   Any experience of working at an outdoor pursuits centre is useful.

Eraine Morris combined her love of the outdoors and helping people develop
by creating her own Outdoor Development training company, Field Dynamics.
She and her business partner use the countryside, the water and various
outdoor facilities, in order to train people in management and personal
effectiveness techniques.

Why do you use the outdoors?

I believe that people learn better and retain more information if they are given
the opportunity to have an experience. The outdoors allows them to have this
more easily than being indoors would. There’s so much more I feel I can do
when I use the countryside or water as my training playground, rather than
just four walls and my imagination!

Being outdoors adds an extra dimension to training and often gives people
added energy. In my experience, they are more likely to remember what they
are being taught because all their senses are involved.

Who are your customers?

We have groups of people usually from companies who want training in some
aspect of management, such as teambuilding, leadership or communication
skills. The groups can be any size from eight to a hundred. The bigger the
group, the more staff we employ so we can maintain a ratio of one trainer per
eight to ten participants. This is important from a safety aspect, so that
trainers can be aware of every person in their group and ensure no one is
taking unnecessary risks.

Where do you run the courses?

It very much depends on what the customer wants. There are various
outdoor development centres throughout the UK that we hire. They have
facilities and equipment for many different activities, such as canoeing,
abseiling, raft-making and climbing.

Often the centres are set in beautiful countryside and we use this as part of
the training. For instance, we might take each group to a different part of a hill
or cliff, give them a map and instructions to find their way to an agreed point
within a certain timescale. Alternatively we might blindfold some people and
get others to lead them somewhere without speaking.

Everything we do has a purpose and can teach people all manner of skills,
from teamwork to communication.
What other activities can you do?

There are a few ropes courses that we use. People often refer to these as
outdoor adventure playgrounds! Low ropes are where people are never very
high off the ground. They make their way round a course standing on wires
using ropes or trees, or each other, to balance themselves.

Another activity is where teams help each other pass through a giant ‘spiders
web’, again without touching the ground. A favourite one is where groups use
long planks and ropes as skis. They all have to move at the same time to
make any progress at all. Great for teaching teamwork skills.

For high ropes, typical activities include climbing a telegraph pole and leaping
off to grab a trapeze, or walking up an inclined log and then walking across a
beam several metres off the ground.

High ropes teaches people about taking on personal challenges as well as
teamwork (the rest of the team supports the climber). Of course, safety is
paramount and everyone wears protective helmets and safety harnesses.

How long do courses last?

Anything from half a day to a week.

What hours do you tend to work?

It varies. I work office hours if I’m working on a proposal for a course or
preparing materials, such as activity instructions and trainer packs of
information for an event.

When I’m running an event, I have to be there to prepare the site a couple of
hours before the participants turn up and stay on afterwards to clear up.
Preparation involves making sure all the safety equipment is in the right
places, the refreshments are ready and the course materials are all set out
ready for when participants arrive.

What do you love about what you do?

The fresh air and being creative about how we can use the outdoors to learn.

Anything you don’t like?

The weather when it’s wet and cold! Also the long hours can be very tiring
when on an event.

Eraine’s tip

   You can either start out in this area as a trainer and the specialise in the
    outdoors as I did. Or you could start as an outdoor ‘technician’ or
    instructor and work your way up to training groups of people.
Eraine’s route

   Psychology degree.

   Training consultant.

   High ropes course qualification.

   Mountain Leader qualification.

Getting in

   Formal training as a teacher is an advantage for work in outdoor education
    or water sports.

   There are several organisations offering climbing or ropes qualifications. It
    is best to contact your nearest outdoor centre to find out what is available
    in your area.

   The Mountain Leader Award (Summer) is for leaders of parties going
    hillwalking in summer conditions – it does not include rock climbing or
    technical rescue. The Mountain Leader Award (Winter) is the same, but
    for winter conditions. The Single Pitch Award is for supervisors of parties
    climbing on single pitch rock climbs. All these awards are open to people
    aged 18 and over.

   The Mountain Leader Training Board recommends that candidates have
    academic qualifications such as geography, geology, biology or a teaching
    qualification to support their technical qualifications. Academic
    qualifications may improve job prospects with schools, colleges, youth
    groups, outdoor education and environmental centres. Candidates must
    also have a current First Aid certificate.


Working in Agriculture         The Forestry Industry     Many of the organisations listed
and Horticulture               Handbook                  below will also be able to supply you
Connexions                     Forestry Development      with leaflets and other information
                               Council (0131 220 9290)   about careers in outdoor jobs.
Working in Construction
Connexions                     Director of Courses in    Occupations –
                               Land-based Industries     Connexions (includes salary
Working in Houses and          Farming Press Books       information). Also available on the
Gardens                        (08700 780271)            web at
Connexions                                               www.connexions.gov.uk/occupations


Farming                         Forestry work                 Countryside management

Lantra                          Forestry Commission           Countryside Agency
Lantra House                    231 Corstorphine Road         John Dower House
National Agricultural Centre    Edinburgh                     Crescent Place
Kenilworth                      Scotland EH12 7AT             Cheltenham GL50 3RA, UK
Warwickshire CV8 2LG            Tel: 0845 3673787             Tel: 01242 521381
Tel: 024 7669 6996              www.forestry.gov.uk           www.countryside.gov.uk
                                Forestry Contracting          British Trust for Conservation
TGWU (Transport General         Association                   Volunteers
Workers Union)                  Dalfling                      36 St Mary’s Street
Transport House                 Blairdaff                     Wallingford
128 Theobalds Road              Inverurie                     Oxfordshire OX10 0EU
Holborn                         Aberdeenshire AB51 5LA        Tel: 01491 821600
London WC1X 8TN                 Tel: 01467 651368             www.btcv.org.uk
Tel: 020 7611 2500              www.fcauk.com
www.tgwu.org.uk                                               Countryside Management
                                Campsite manage ment          Association
National Farmers Union                                        Writtle College
164 Shaftesbury Avenue          British Holiday & Home        Lordship Road
London WC2H 8HL                 Parks Association             Writtle
Tel: 0207 331 7200              (BH&HPA)                      Chelmsford
www.nfu.org.uk                  Chichester House              Essex CM1 3RR
                                6 Pullman Court               Tel: 01245 424263
                                Great Western Road            www.countrysidemanagement.org
                                Gloucester GL1 3ND            .uk

                                Also check out the Forestry
                                Commission’s Forest
                                Holiday’s website:
Gardening                       Motorcycle despatch work          Refuse collecting

Royal Horticultural Society     The Despatch Association          Waste Management Industry
(RHS)                           The Limes                         Training & Advisory Board
80 Vincent Square               2 Stow Road                       (WAMITAB)
London                          Magdalen                          Peterbridge House
SW1P 2PE                        King’s Lynn                       3 The Lakes
Tel: 020 7834 4333              Norfolk PE34 3BT                  Northampton
www.rhs.org.uk                  Tel: 01553 813479                 NN4 7HE
                                www.despatch.co.uk                Tel: 01604 231950
The Institute of Horticulture                                     www.wamitab.org.uk
14/15 Belgrave Square           Outdoor management
London SW1X 8PS                 development                       TV Engineering (satellite and
Tel: 020 7245 6943                                                cable)
www.horticulture.org.uk         Mountain Leader Training
                                Board (UK)                        e-skills UK
The Growing Careers             Siabod Cottage                    Call2Contact
Partnership                     Capel Cung                        1 Castle Lane
c/o Writtle College Career      Conwy                             London
Guidance Service                LL24 0ET                          SW1E 6DR
Chelmsford CM1 3RR              Tel: 01690 720314                 Tel: 0207 963 8920
Tel: 01245 424257               info@mltb.org                     www.e-skills.com
www.growing-careers.com         www.mltb.org
                                                                  Tree surgeon work
Construction site work          Outdoors pursuits
                                                                  The Arboricultural Association
CITB                            Institute for Outdoor             Ampfield House
Bircham Newton                  Learning                          Romsey
Kings Lynn                      The Barn                          Hampshire SO51 9PA
Norfolk                         Plumpton Old Hall                 Tel: 01794 368717
PE31 6RH                        Plumpton                          www.trees.org.uk
Tel: 01485 577577               Penrith
www.citb.org                    Cumbria CA11 9NP                  Window cleaning
                                Tel: 01768 885800
Land surveying                  www.outdoor-learning.org          National Federation of Master
                                                                  Window and General Cleaners
The Survey Association          Parking attendant work            Summerfield House
Marine House                                                      Harrogate Road
Thorpe Lea Road                 Many private companies            Reddish
Egham                           now operate these services.       Stockport
Surrey TW20 8BF                 Contact your local authority      Cheshire SK5 6HQ
Tel: 01784 223769               or check the telephone            Tel: 0161 432 8754
www.tsa-uk.org.uk               directory to see who runs the     www.nfmwgc.com
                                services in your area.
Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors (RICS)      Postal work
Parliament Square
12 Great George Street          The Royal Mail website is at
London SW1P 3AD                 www.royalmail.co.uk or
Tel: 020 7669 4757              contact your local post office.
www.rics.org                    Addresses should be listed
                                in the telephone directory.
Also check out

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