Countryside Skills with Ranger Training SCQF 5 (Fort William) NQ

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.

This rewarding and fast-paced course is delivered in partnership with Nevis Landscape Partnership and a number of well-known conservation bodies and landowners. This means 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.

During your course, we introduce you to using a range of digital technologies, which will help you get the most from your course and at the same time develop your digital skills.  Find out more about key computing skills and essential student skills. 

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.

Applications for this course will be considered on a first come first served basis. 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.

We’ll be inviting you by email to attend course information sessions between now and the start of your course. We’d urge you to come along if at all possible.

  • 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.

More than just your subject

Imagine coming out of college with your subject qualification PLUS a portfolio of skills endorsed by employers. That’s exactly what you will get with us. Our skills+ portfolio is part of your full-time course. You will develop skills in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, metaskills, work-readiness, net-zero, wellbeing, and the skills you need for your future aspirations. Our skills+ portfolio becomes your portfolio to take away with you. Whilst studying your subject you will build your skills+ portfolio and gain confidence and resilience along the way.


Internet connection and a suitable device with headphones, microphone and camera (minimum spec) is required. Please email us if you have any concerns about connectivity or equipment.

How will I study my course?

  • Full Time

You normally need to commit to 18 hours per week (4 days) of blended learning time consisting of timetabled learning and personal study.

For the practical elements of your course, some of your timetabled learning will take place in and around the Fort William College Centre.


How long will my course last?

18 Weeks

Where can I study my course?

    • Fort William
    • Fort William

Start date

This course starts in January.


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


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.

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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Apply for Countryside Skills with Ranger Training SCQF 5 (Fort William) NQ

I want to start in 2024/25

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at UHI North, West and Hebrides. UHI North, West and Hebrides 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.