One of Kids of the Wild’s aims is to create a jobs and career advice resource for teens, young people and jobseekers who want to work outdoors, in nature or in the wild.
Here’s the first post, based on my own experience of a season’s work at Lord and Lady Hertford’s Ragley Hall Estate in Warwickshire in 2002.
All the Jobs of the Wild posts are from real people doing the jobs now, or in the past. Read on to learn how to be a park manager.
Park Manager overview
- Managing staff
- Responsibility for public opening times
- Mainly outdoors
- Close contact with people
- Some paperwork, admin and accounts
- Working closely with nature
- Being outdoors in any weather
- Opportunities for implementing own ideas
Estate management jobs vary widely from property to property – everything from emptying litter bins to clearing woodland, organising events (and adopting swans!)
At this privately-owned stately home with a 400 acre park the Park Manager was responsible for a team of 12 dedicated to maintaining the grounds including lawn mowing and co-ordination with the estate farm re sheep-grazing, manning the entrance kiosks, running a gift shop and log cabin tearoom, ensuring the safety of an adventure playground and maze, liaising with local clubs using the grounds (cricket, fishing etc), maintaining a woodland walk, lake and nature trail and liaising and assisting other departments eg events, gardens, season ticket holders etc.
All estate management jobs are paid, whether privately owned-owned historic houses or estates run by charities such as the National Trust.
- £20,000 +
- Possible on-site living accommodation
Depending on the role and your experience you should expect to start around £15/20,000-£25,000 with potential for promotion dependant on the property.
Employer-dependant – all stately homes and estate properties have their own role-specific qualification requirements.
Many do not require education beyond A-level (I only had GCSEs) whilst others will require a degree.
A driving licence will be required on any large estate.
- Love of the outdoors
- Basic knowledge and understanding of land management
- Interest in history, interest and love of the particular property
- Time management
- Flexibility – hours vary throughout the year
- Ability to get on with all sorts of people – you never know when Lord and Lady might be home or who they might have visiting!
- Shadowing a current member of staff
- Job specific e.g. tractor driving etc
- First Aid
It will depend on the role itself and your previous experience but as a first time job you will probably shadow the current manager and other staff to learn as you go, with relevant personal development courses as required.
Top Tips for interview
Research the property as best you can, understanding it’s set-up and commercial needs if possible i.e. is it lived in, is it run solely for profit or as income for a family. Is it an aristocratic or royal property? What else is on the estate – a farm, shops, rental properties etc.
Enthusiasm is the best thing you can bring to this job, so show this at interview.
Top tip for doing the job
The job is variable and often unpredictable so be flexible, ready for anything and un-flappable in a crisis; have a Plan B in mind for any eventuality.
A sense of belonging will make it easy to invest time and effort – I loved the place and the people so much it felt like looking after my own, so really get to know the estate, its people, its economy and how it fits into the local community.
- Huge variety of work
- Possible accommodation in the form of an estate house
- Long, unpredictable hours during main season opening
- Weekend work if the property runs events etc
Property dependant and almost certainly variable throughout the season -most stately homes have an open and closed season (the latter often when the family or owners are in residence).
E.g. I worked 5 days a week during the closed-season, mostly outdoors repairing and restoring and indoors doing admin and planning for the next season, stocking the shop etc. In the main season it was a 6-day week often working into the evening, outside for the 5 days of opening and both indoors and out on the 6th day ensuring the park was ready for opening the following week.
Generally none as you are required on the estate at all times
Anything else to consider?
You are part of a large team which works closely together towards an end goal so you need to get on with people.
If the property is used as a residence, consideration needs to be given to the actual family’s privacy and their needs at all times.
Why I love the job
This was my favourite ever job due to its constant variety, working mainly outdoors with people and in nature, with opportunities for implementing my own ideas within the framework of the business model e.g. instigating use of woodland for a Forest School initiative with Worcestershire County Council, organising events and experiencing a real sense of achievement for my efforts. (I would have stayed long-term but the call of the wild dragged me off to Mexico where friends were setting up a hotel!)
And I could take my dog to work too!
Releasing some of the 28 rescue swans adopted for the park’s lake (me in green jumper)
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