What qualifications are required?
Forestry Education and Training in Ireland
Three organisations currently provide forestry education and skills training courses in Ireland. These courses are full time, and are aimed at preparing students for a career in the forestry sector. Courses are offered at the National Framework of Qualifications Level 5 and higher.
- Teagasc awards the Level 5 Certificate in Forestry and Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry.
- Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) awards the Level 7 Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Level 8 Bachelor of Science in Land Management in Forestry.
- University College Dublin (UCD) awards the Level 8 Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Forestry.
Students may enter forestry education directly at any level or may progress between levels, once the previously level is successfully completed. This facilitates students to learn at their own pace.
Progression Routes in Forest Education in Ireland
The Teagasc Level 5 Certificate in Forestry is a one year full-time programme providing a sound understanding of the fundamental knowledge and the essential skills required for those involved in forestry operations. On completion of a course the participants will be competent in a range of relevant areas including carrying out safe work practices, communicating effectively and developing career skills. The course combines practical skills in forestry and classroom theory. Students who successfully complete this one year programme are awarded the QQI Level 5 Certificate in Forestry and can progress to the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry.
The Teagasc Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry is a one year add-on to the Level 5 providing a viable option for those who want to obtain a recognised qualification and specialised skills awards. Students with a Level 6 forestry qualification can progress to higher education at degree level and offers training for people who intend to take up employment in the forestry industry as forest supervisors or self-employed contractors. Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry and may progress to the Level 7 Bachelor of Science in Forestry.
The WIT Level 7 Bachelor of Science in Forestry is a three year full-time course designed by WIT to meet the need in the Irish forest industry for professional foresters. The course uses an integrated schedule of lectures, field and lab practicals, individual and group projects, work experience and applied short-term training courses. The course is professionally accredited by the Society of Irish Foresters. Graduates will typically develop a career in forest management and in other areas of the forest industry and may progress to the Level 8 Bachelor of Science in Land Management in Forestry or the Level 8 Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Forestry.
The WIT Level 8 Bachelor of Science in Land Management in Forestry is a one year add-on course providing students with a Level 7 Bachelor of Science in Forestry qualification the opportunity to obtain an Honours degree in forestry. The course aims to increase the students’ forestry knowledge while also improving the students’ business acumen. Graduates may pursue a professional career in forestry or continue into post-graduate education and research.
The UCD Level 8 Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Forestry is a full-time four year forestry honours degree programme. This science-based programme is considered to provide students with a broad forestry education rather than on preparing students for specific jobs within the forestry sector. The programme is delivered through lectures, field work sessions and tutorials, and independent study. Students undertake a placement semester and assessments in the final year are largely project-based. Graduates take up careers in the forestry industry and start their own businesses. Graduates may also be eligible to take up post graduate opportunities in forestry related research programmes. The honours degree and masters programmes are accredited by the Society of Irish Foresters and the UK Institute of Chartered Foresters.
What qualifications are required?
Forest Contractors are required to have specialised skills training for some operations such as chainsaw operations and chemical use. Some skills can be developed with on the job experiential training. All forestry workers need to be aware of their obligations regarding safety and environmental regulations on site. A Level 5 Forestry qualification covers all the necessary skills and knowledge to work as a skilled operative.
Many of the people working in forestry at site level are self-employed contractors. This requires both practical skills and detailed forestry knowledge. Being self-employed also involves leadership skills and business acumen. A Level 6 or 7 Forestry qualification will prepare you for this role.
Foresters are employed in specific roles in surveying and mapping forests, quantification of forest resources and harvested timber, and assessing forest productivity and health. These roles require technical competence in applying specialist standard procedures and using equipment and technology, such as GPS, GIS and MIS. A Level 6 or 7 forestry qualification will prepare you for this role, but the role will require you to commit to in-service training in new practices and procedures.
Foresters are professionals in self-employment or working for a forestry company or organisation. Foresters will perform a broad range of technical, professional and managerial roles involved in the sustainable management of forests. The successful completion of Level 7 or Level 8 forestry programme and a comprehensive forest management plan are the minimum entry qualifications to forester role. Foresters working in the Irish forest sector typically are also engaged in a continuous professional development programme operated by their professional representative body, the Society of Irish Foresters.
What are the typical routes into this sector?
The full time forestry courses offered at Level 5, 6, 7 & 8 all have practical work experience included as mandatory modules. This enables students to develop their skills and make contacts within the industry before graduating. Students often secure employment with their placement host companies and mentors on completion of their college course.
Prospective employers regularly contact forestry programme coordinators about job opportunities and information about positions is communicated to registered students and graduates.
Networking at college careers events, industry open days and demonstrations is a great way of contacting potential employers in the industry. Becoming a member of the Society of Irish Foresters or other professional groups will ensure that you get on-going communication regarding career opportunities.
Coillte offer a two year graduate development programme for recently qualified forestry graduates and advertise through their website.