Career Change

Thinking of a change of career? Could forestry be the answer?

Some foresters have a straightforward career path, they study forestry in college, then go to university, then apply for jobs in forestry. The forestry sector, due to its ever changing nature, offers more varied paths into the industry.

Depending on how you look at it, changing career can be either daunting or incredibly exciting. Whichever it is the opportunity to work in the great outdoors is often a driving force behind many peoples’ decision to look at forestry when thinking of a career change. 

For those considering a change of career, many skills acquired in other sectors are valued in the forestry sector. Depending on the individual’s field of interest, there are various courses available on the subject of forestry. The most appropriate qualifications/training for those looking to enter the forestry sector will depend on a range of different factors. For example the person’s experience, existing qualifications, physical capabilities, aspirations and geographical location may all influence the options available to him/her. 

Almost all forestry roles require entrants to hold or work towards a full driving licence; many also require a licence to tow a trailer. Budding foresters should seek to acquire the basic ‘licences to practice’, such as chainsaw maintenance & crosscutting, pesticide application, clearing saw and tree felling. To operate forestry equipment a current First Aid at work qualification is also required. Completing any of these short courses while preparing to change careers will put you at an advantage to those without such qualifications. However, you should keep in mind that there is a cost to completing licences to practice and the achievement of those tickets does NOT guarantee employment. In fact many employers will take staff on without licences to practice and then assist with the funding of required licences to practice when and if necessary. 

If you are able to study part time or via distance learning before you change career, there are a range of theory based forestry qualifications available to you. This would provide you with the opportunity to achieve the basic forestry knowledge required without having to attend college/university full time, thus making it a more affordable option.

As with many industries, sector experience is regarded as extremely valuable. Many forestry and woodland organisations provide useful volunteering opportunities which will allow you to develop the practical skills required at times to suit you.

Don’t forget the value of industry connections! The saying “it’s not what you know but who you know”, is as relevant in forestry as in any other industry sector. Many forestry and woodland management organisations provide excellent opportunities to network at conferences, meetings, socials and events.

Career change options in forestry and urban forestry

  • Distance learning opportunities – distance learning provides you with the opportunity to complete studies while continuing in paid employment. This may make completing forestry qualifications in preparation for your career change a more affordable option.
  • Licences to practice – Those looking at a change to a more practical career in forestry should consider the industry approved licences to practice qualifications as a first step. However, you should keep in mind the cost of these qualifications as while they could be valuable they will not guarantee employment.
  • Forestry Jobs – Some forestry jobs may not require you to have any specific industry qualifications. Some forestry employers provide on the job training that can be completed with the support and guidance of your employer.

24+ Advanced Learning Loans

Those over 24 who want to study a course may be eligible for a government-backed loan.

For further information: 24+ Advanced Learning Loans