Education & Careers

The arboriculture and forestry sectors offer a wide array of career opportunities requiring a diverse range of skillsets. Climate, soils, species, biodiversity, wildlife management and more must all be taken into account before a tree goes in the ground. Arboriculture and forestry professionals are trained in areas including Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Ecology, Physics, Geography, Mathematics and many more subject areas. The increased employment of new and emerging technologies has only increased opportunities for entry – those with backgrounds in Computer Science, CAD Design, Drone Engineering, Systems Mapping and Electronics can also find employment in the sector.

It’s a great time to be getting into the sector with government planting targets and talk of green recovery. The forestry sector offers a diverse range of roles, from forest pathologist, forest ranger or forest manager to arboriculturist, urban forester or biodiversity officer. Here you’ll find a range of resources to take your first step in choosing a forestry or arboricultural career, including Institute-accredited courses and links to case studies.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are designed with the help of the employers in the industry, so they offer a structured programme that takes you through the skills you need to do a job well. There are targets and checks to make sure that your employer is supporting you and you are making progress. You will be in employment for most of your time as most training takes place on the job, 20% of your time will be off-the-job training on day release or over a number of days in a block.

There are currently two lower-level apprenticeships available in England:

Forest Operative Apprenticeship (Level 2)
  • Forestry Operative Standard Level 2 – this is the competency part of the qualification and essential for you to achieve the full apprenticeship. This part shows that you are competent in performing the skill, trade or occupation your apprenticeship requires, enabling you to work and earn a decent wage. It also demonstrates that you have the relevant and required knowledge and behaviours.
  • Choice of two pathways – ‘Establishment & Maintenance’ or ‘Harvesting’
  • Additional employer requirements – additional certificates including Emergency First Aid and a Certificate of Competence in the operation of equipment appropriate to your chosen pathway.
  • Functional Skills – Providing you with a good level of literacy and numeracy. Candidates must achieve Level 1 English, and Level 1 maths and attempt Level 2 English and Level 2 maths.
Arborist Apprenticeship (Level 2)
  • Arborist Standard Level 2 – this is the competency part of the qualification and essential for you to achieve the full apprenticeship. This part shows that you are competent in performing the skills that your apprenticeship requires, enabling you to work and earn a decent wage. It also demonstrates that you have the relevant and required knowledge and behaviours.
  • Additional employer requirements – additional certificates including Emergency First Aid and a number of Certificate of Competence in the operation of equipment appropriate to your area of work
  • Functional Skills – Providing you with a good level of literacy and numeracy. Candidates must achieve Level 1 English and Level 1 maths and attempt Level 2 English and Level 2 maths.

Higher (Degree) level apprenticeships

There are a number of higher-level apprenticeships in development in England and the Institute of Chartered Foresters are part of the Trailblazer group that is developing them. These can be used not only for new entrants into the sector, but crucially for upskilling those already working within it. The higher-level apprenticeships in development are: 

  • Level 4 – Arboriculturist
  • Level 6 (degree) – Professional Arboriculturist
  • Level 6 (degree) – Professional Forester

To become a Chartered Forester or Chartered Arboriculturist, you’ll need a degree-level qualification in addition to relevant work experience. Institute-accredited forestry and arboricultural courses are assigned a given number of points and you are awarded an additional point for each year of verifiable work experience. Once you have a combined total of ten points you can apply for chartered status.

If you possess a qualification that is no longer taught or isn’t currently accredited, please contact the Institute. The Institute maintains an archive database of historic qualifications, which can be used to determine qualifying points awarded.

Institute-accredited degree courses (current)

  • BSc (Hons) Forestry (8 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Forestry with placement year (8 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Conservation with Forestry (6 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Conservation with Forestry with placement year (6 points)
  • BSc Forestry and Environmental Management (7 points)

  • MFor Forestry (8 points)
  • MSc Agroforestry and Food Security (5 points)
  • MSc Environmental Forestry (6 points)
  • MSc Forestry distance learning (5/6 points)
  • MSc Tropical Forestry distance learning (6 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Countryside Management (5 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Countryside and Environment Management (5 points)

  • MSc Forestry Management (6 points)
  • MSc Conservation and Forest Protection (6 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (8 points)
  • FdSc Arboriculture (5 points)

  • MSc Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (6 points)
  • BSc (Hons) in Forest Management (8 points)
  • BSc (Hons) in Forest Management with placement (8 points)
  • BSc (Hons) in Woodland Ecology and Conservation (7 points)
  • BSc (Hons) in Woodland Ecology and Conservation with placement (6 points)
  • FdSc Forestry (5 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Forest Management – Forestry (7/8 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Forest Management – Arboriculture and Urban Forestry (7 points)
  • BSc (Ord) Sustainable Forest Management with Forest Conservation (7 points)
  • BSc (Ord) Sustainable Forest Management with Arboriculture and Urban Forestry (7 points)
  • HND Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (5 points)
  • HND Forestry (5 points)
  • MSc Environmental and Forest Management (6 points)
  • PG Dip Environmental and Forest Management (5 points)

Historically-accredited courses

  • FdSc Arboriculture (5 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Arboriculture and Tree Management (5 points)
  • FdSc Arboriculture (5 points)
  • FdSc Arboriculture (5 points)
  • FdSc Forestry & Woodland Management (5 points)
  • BSc (Hons) Woodland Conservation Management (6 points)
  • FdSc Woodland Conservation Management (5 points)

Further information

We work with lots of groups and organisations across the sector to produce resources on careers and education.

  • Visit our Jobs Board for current opportunities in the sector.
  • Careers in Forestry, is a cross-sector initiative hosted by RFS and includes videos from some of our members on forestry.
  • Lantra is an awarding body and develops a lot of lower-level and technical land-based training courses, Lantra Scotland has a wealth of resources including a forestry induction pack.
  • Skills Development, Scotland have developed My World of Work which is well worth exploring even if you are not based there.
  • For volunteer roles and training courses in the environmental sector, visit Green Jobs.

Women in Forestry

To celebrate International Women’s Day we collaborated with Tree Sparks to produce a short documentary on women in forestry. The documentary features a number of female foresters UK-wide and hopes to encourage more women to consider our industry as a career.

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