Countryside Skills with Ranger Training NQ Level 5

What is special about this course?

Take a step into a new career with this exciting course. A unique opportunity to learn skills that will develop your employment prospects while knowing you're contributing to the conservation of Scotland's countryside.

West Highland College UHI is joining with Nevis Landscape Partnership to offer this rewarding and fast-paced course through the Nevis Volunteer Ranger Scheme so you can gain nationally recognised qualifications whilst working alongside well-known conservation bodies and landowners, such as the Woodland Trust Scotland, the John Muir Trust and Jahama Highland Estates.

You'll learn a wide range of practical skills, as well as specialising in Ranger Training, land use and visitor management issues. A regular one day a week work placement will put you in touch with potential employers and help you understand  practical conservation, habitat monitoring and visitor related tasks.

You'll also gain Industry Awards in specialist skills such as Dry-Stone Walling, Chainsaw Use, Quad Bikes, Navigation, Tree Survey and Outdoor First Aid, as well as your SQA Awards, John Muir Explorers award, and College Certificate.

Entry requirements

Students must be at least 16 years of age by the start date of the course. Some work placement sites and Industry Awards have a minimum age limit of 18 to undertake the award and if this applies, alternatives will be offered to our younger students. 

  • Students must have an interest in, and enthusiasm for, taking on the whole package, from practical and often physically demanding outdoor work in all weathers, to classroom-based study.
  • Students should be able to demonstrate eagerness and ability to study and will ideally have some relevant qualifications and/or practical experience, such as NC Rural Skills SCQF level 4, Standard Grade /National 5 Geography and Biology.
  • Students should have qualifications in, or be able to demonstrate equivalent competence in, the essential skills of Communications, Information Technology & Numeracy at SCQF 4/National 4/Standard Grade.

Early applicants will be offered an interview but once places have been filled there may be the opportunity of joining a waiting list or an offer of interview for NC Rural Skills. Mature students are very welcome. Entry to this course is at the discretion of the College.

Nevis Landscape Partnership logo

  • Practical countryside skills (eg. fencing, foot paths, outdoor structures, working with timber, using tools and machinery)
  • Habitat studies: surveys and monitoring
  • Habitat management in Scotland
  • Countryside recreation and access
  • Countryside interpretation
  • Volunteering in environmental conservation
  • John Muir Explorer Award
  • Industry training awards as above
  • Embedded development of core and essential skills

A work placement with a landowner/conservation organisation is required as part of this course.

In addition to a broad range of highly practical skills, this course will give you a more detailed understanding of the role of Countryside Rangers and approaches to land use and habitat management.

You'll learn how to plan and implement management tasks, evaluate results and gain insight into visitor services provision and interpretive planning.

You'll also gain insight into current countryside recreation provision in Scotland, the rights and responsibilities of access to the countryside and an understanding of how to investigate positive and negative impacts of countryside use, and conflicts of interest.


How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

How long will my course last?

18 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Fort William

Start date

This course starts in early February and runs until June.


Most students have their course fees paid as this is a full time course. Please read our Fees & Funding information pages for more information regarding residency, previous study and bursary rates. Please contact if you have any further questions.

Some of our courses require students to have essential equipment/clothing.

If you are under 18, you are entitled to have essential equipment paid for whether you are entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) or not. However you must complete an application even if you know that you’re not entitled to EMA.

If you are 18 and over and are eligible for a bursary, these costs will be met through your bursary. If you are not eligible for a bursary, you will need to fund these items yourself.


Students may qualify for bursary funding if conditions are met. Please contact us for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

The course aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to employment in a range of Countryside roles, from estate workers and land managers to biological recording, visitor information services and environmental education.

Similar courses that we offer include our NC Rural Skills or NQ Countryside Skills and Deer Management for Conservation.

Further study options include HNC Conservation and Wildlife Management, Forestry, HND or Degree in Countryside Management or Environmental Science, and degrees related to Adventure Tourism and sustainable development. 

Is there more information available online?

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Countryside Skills with Ranger Training

This course is fully subscribed for January 2021. Apply now for January 2022

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at West Highland College UHI. West Highland College operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity status, race, religion and/or belief, sex, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.