/ Countryside Ranger
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1 Get some experience/ do some voluntary work. Doesn't need to be with a prospective employer (though it helps to be known) but some sign that you've got some committment is very important on the CV.
2 For most it's a vocation not a job. This isn't neccessarily healthy, but it tends to be true. Why the career change? Do you like being outside? - that's probably not going to be enough. do you have a longstanding interest in birds/ moths/ dragonflies? - that might be more help
3. Mostly it's about selling stuff - be it gift shop tat or ideas or the latest campaign about meadows. You'll also be the face at the front for litter/ dog mess/ badger culling/ the fact that someone from the council didn't fix Aunty Bessies kitchen once.
4. All the exciting jobs are done by volunteers or contractors. Mostly you'll be applying for grants for other people to spend.
5 Still interested? Get a qualification. A lot of places do part time FE courses, or better yet, a degree. It's a ridiculously over qualified sector.
6 Long hours and low pay are still the norm. Though it's better than it used to be.
7 Public or voluntary sector? Vol sector is often more demanding/ difficult to get started but the work is more interesting and the sites are better (usually) Public sector has lots of pay/ recruitment freezes at the moment. Conservation budgets get cut first
Very rewarding area to work in (not withstanding the above!) but still very competetive.
If you are interested, get volunteering!
And of course don't forget you will have to deal with bears stealing picanic baskets all day long.
I think you might be able to get some experience as a volunteer sooner with your local Wildlife Trust? Not sure if it'd be Yorkshire Wildlfe Trust or if it's split into different areas of Yorkshire, but a google would tell you.
If you can make it apparent that you're experienced in making things and can make yourself usefull, once you've got your first aid it mightn't be too long untill you can cover for team leaders if they're sick or busy, and drive the van of other volunteers and kit out to places for the day, obviously it'd depend on how where you volunteer does things though, so long as your face fits as it were and you seem friendly enough and are okay with groups that's all they're after, along with knowing what you're doing.
I'd definately check out your local Wildlife Trust, i've gained a lot from volunteering for my local Trust.
Apart from the YWT & YDNP you could also try the National Trust as a volunteer.
I work as a countryside ranger down in dorset. I must say it is an amazing job which pays more than just in monetary terms. As stated in the above comments, volunteering is the way to go to get experience and get a good few contacts.
Currently we have a few volunteers with us and one, like yourself, has been working in construction for a long time and needed a change in career. His background has put him in good stead practically, and unlike the other volunteers he doesn't need a lot of direction to be proactive. He is also doing an NVQ in Countryside Management and I have no doubt he will pick up a job once finished.
Good luck. A change in career is a tough decision but if you know what you want to be doing then it is more than worth it.
My lifetime ambition which despite a life sciences degree, the highest outdoor instructing qualifications and living in the countryside I've yet to achieve!
Volunteer! I did my HND Countryside Management at Bishop Burton and got straight on the course because I'd volunteered and worked part time at my local country park. It was really hard landing my first full time job though, loads of competition.
You might find it hard getting a job at the moment. I know of a few councils who have sacked all their rangers and countryside team to cut costs.
I'm not a ranger at the moment, having kids messed that up, but I would go back to it like a shot if I could get a job near where I live now.
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