If you want to work outside and have a keen interest in conservation then a career as a National Trust Ranger could be for you. With a variety of responsibilities including beach and countryside management, nature conservation and visitor engagement – it’s a career that will see you working outdoors in all types of weather.
To find out more about this job and to gain some tips for those looking to work in the industry, Jobulo talks to Ranger Lesley Wilson.
Tell Us About Your Career Background?
My first job was working for a charity that trained dogs to help disabled people. I was 14 and I worked during the holidays and gave up weekends to do demonstrations. I was absorbed in this field for the next 5 years. When I was 19 I had decided to try something different and became a Beach Lifeguard which I did for three seasons. I needed a change from dog training and was attracted to the outdoor industry so I went to university to study Outdoor Education.
What Attracted You to a Career as a National Trust Ranger?
I have always wanted a varied job. I’m definitely not happy working in an office full time. I love nature and inspiring others to love nature too, so I was looking for a mix of outdoors and education. I also need a job where my dog can come too – this was high on my priority list.
How Did You Break Into the Industry?
Whilst working as a Beach Lifeguard I met the National Trust Ranger who worked on the adjacent beach. I would often stop to chat to him and find out about his work. When a position as an Assistant Ranger came up I was first in the queue. I had knowledge of the site and experience working with the high number of visitors that came there. If that opportunity hadn’t come along I would have volunteered with the Trust to try out the role before committing to a relevant course in conservation or countryside management. I have been working with the Trust for a total of 6 years, and have been volunteering with them when university or travel has meant that I couldn’t take on a full-time role.
Tell Us About an Average Day at Work?
There is no such thing as an average day – this is one of the best parts of the job. I could start the day checking the beach, clearing litter, chatting to beach users and waking up campers. By lunch time I may have taken a school group around to explain coastal processes and our management of the site. In the summer we run activities for children aimed at getting them closer to nature like bug hunts and pond dips. Our wider team manages lots of countryside in the South Downs, so I often get involved in other tasks including managing woodland, maintaining footpaths and working with lots of different volunteer groups.
Is There Much Career Progression Available?
There are National Trust properties all over England and Wales with various opportunities to specialise in aspects of my job. These are highly sought after and to find the perfect one you may have to relocate. There are also other organisations and local councils that employ Rangers, Community Engagement Officers and Education Officers which are all relevant roles to my background and interest.
What Is the Best Part of the Job?
The diversity of work. I meet professors, ecologists, students, children and families from all different backgrounds. We even have film shoots on our land and work with actors, directors and technical support teams. There really is never a dull day.
What is the Hardest Part of the Job?
Occasionally I come across people who have no respect for our natural spaces. These encounters can be very demoralising and you can lose faith in humanity. But for every bad experience there are many more good ones. My colleague would list working in all weathers as one of the hardest parts of the job – but I find getting soaked makes you appreciate being warm and dry. If wet weather is forecast then plan well – and take a dry set of clothing along!
What Skills Do You Need to Have to Become a Good National Trust Ranger?
You have to be adaptable – we are often a jack of all trades, master of none. You could be putting a fence up in the morning and updating a website in the afternoon. You should also be approachable as we deal with people every day and always need to act as ambassadors for the Trust. A team player with independence is important too – you must be happy to work with people but also be confident working alone.
What CV Tips Can You Offer for Those Applying for a Job as a Ranger?
Experience on your CV is vital. If you want to work in this industry you need to see if this sort of work suits you. It isn’t the most well paid career so you need to be passionate about the industry. Volunteering looks great on your CV, even if it’s just for a few hours a week, it will show that you are actively getting involved. It will open up opportunities to paid work as you will be the first to hear of new job openings.
Do You Have Any Job Interview Tips You Can Share?
Research the site or sites before you attend an interview. Knowledge of the place where you hope to be working will not only be a necessity for the job, but it will show that you are taking your application seriously and have put time and commitment into it.
To find out more about working as a Ranger visit the National Trust website.