How to become an apprentice countryside officer: Amelia's story

Meet Amelia, 17, from North Yorkshire, to find out more about life as an apprentice conservation officer at the Ribble Rivers Trust. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"Having a break between school and work helped me develop my confidence and skills."

Can you explain what your job is and the kinds of things you do day-to-day?

I'm an apprentice conservation officer. My work is very seasonal so it depends on the time of year and what needs to get done. I do practical tasks like tree planting and building fences in the winter. In the summer, we do other work like preventing the erosion of river banks.

I also do engagement work with school groups and the community to try and get them into volunteering with the Trust.

As part of the apprenticeship, I go to college once every two weeks. At college, it’s theory-based, so I'm getting in-depth knowledge about why we do the work we do.

What skills do you use at work?

Communication skills are very important. I have to give clear instructions to volunteers who work with us.

I have to have good time management skills. You need to be aware of how long volunteers are working for. Organisation is important as well, because if you don’t take the correct tools and resources, then your volunteers won’t have anything to do.

Because we sometimes work with teams of volunteers in remote areas, it's especially important to be aware of any health and safety risks.

Amelia volunteered at a charity that now funds her apprenticeship.

Was there anything you studied at school that made you interested in this kind of work?

I was always very interested in Geography and Science but when I chose to do it at A-level I found I didn’t enjoy it.

My apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to take the practical aspects of those subjects which I really love and turn those into a job. For example, at work I use the surveying and geographic information system (GIS) mapping skills that I learnt in Geography.

Top tips

  • Research your options and make sure you pick subjects that you enjoy
  • If you want to work with charities and smaller companies, I’d strongly suggest volunteering and work experience placements, because getting references (recommendations from people you have worked with) really helps when you look for jobs
  • Finding the right job can help your mental health. I wasn't in a good place when I finished my A-levels but I've been much better since I started my apprenticeship.

Amelia’s conservation apprenticeship will provide her with relevant experience to apply for a job as a countryside officer. They manage, protect, and improve the rural environment.

What to expect if you want to be a countryside officer

  • Countryside officer salary: £18,000 to £50,000 per year
  • Countryside officer: 39 to 41 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a countryside officer?

  • Typical entry requirements: Some people become countryside officers through a university degree. Relevant subjects include Countryside or Environmental Management, Ecology and Geography or Biology. You’ll need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma and two or three A-levels for a degree. Apprenticeships in environmental conservation usually require five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. Organisations like The Conservation Volunteers, the National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts offer training for volunteers.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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