What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£20,000 – £25,000
Please describe the work that you do.
Mostly botanical-/habitat-based survey work including National Vegetation Classification, Herbivore/Habitat Impact Assessment, peatland surveys, plus some more specialised surveys such as site condition monitoring of designated sites (mostly habitats & vascular plants) & surveys tailored to the requirement of the client. Have previously carried out breeding bird surveys, bird vantage point surveys, protected species, invertebrate surveys…
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
Seeing so much of Scotland, and the fact I’m self-employed & have built up a good number of contacts mean I can, to some extent, choose the work I do. Therefore I get to work on more inspiring projects with people who have values I share. I also have more spare time for “continuous personal development”.
What inspired you into this career?
I did do a year as a student placement at a National Nature Reserve which I loved but the part I enjoyed most was getting to visit other NNRs & seeing new things in new places. I also started getting bird survey work at this point and developed my botanical skillset. From this, I started getting offered work & those who subcontracted me helped show me the potential enjoyment to be had by being self-employed. I did take a job with a consultancy but left at the end of my probation period as all of the things I like about being self-employed were pretty much taken away. So I went full-time self-employed after that & haven’t looked back.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
This is my second year officially self-employed & I’ve discovered how much work is too much work. Took on far too much at the start of the year & haven’t had a good work-life balance from the end of March to mid-September. Good to learn though! But honestly, if there’s something I don’t know how to do then it’s on me to learn how to do it so my career progresses all the time. I’ve spoken to some friends who’ve said they spent years in consultancy & felt they really only started learning things when they went self-employed, e.g. in a company if you don’t know how to do something on GIS then you ask the GIS specialist to do it, if they haven’t already taken on the full task themselves. I don’t have that luxury so have to learn but I do have friends who can help me if I’m really stuck.
What education/training did you have?
Countryside Management BSc (Hons) at Scotland’s Rural College (now called Wildlife & Conservation Management). A really broad-brush course that gave me a lot of context to a lot of things I work with or alongside, but that also let me focus on the area I was most interested in.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Take every opportunity you can. I don’t think you have to spend all your spare time looking at mosses to get to where I am, but it does help if you really put your own time & effort into developing your skillset. Doing a course on the NVC doesn’t make you qualified to carry out NVC surveys, you need to put the work in yourself to get you to that stage. Experience is key! Networking is also very important & I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t reached out or made myself reachable.