British Armed Forces personnel have been closely involved in the development of country estates and farms for centuries. More recently, mechanisation and the increasing diversity of estates has opened up opportunities to individuals without prior rural experience.
The traditional route into land management is as a privately employed Land Agent (also known as a Factor in Scotland). These jobs tend to go by word of mouth so networking and work experience is the only way to get to these roles.
The more common route today is initially by taking a one or 3-year degree course at one of the few universities to offer "Rural Estate Management" and then go onto a 2-year graduate training programme usually with a large national or international estate management firm.
Both the degree courses (undergraduate (BSc) or post-graduate (MSc) are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who then require new employees to undertake two years on-the-job training during which graduates are employed as junior members of staff supporting more experienced colleagues and also attend periodic training sessions to help prepare for a formal exam. Once successful, they are awarded the post-nominal MRICS (Member of RICS) and can expect promotion and a significant pay rise. More senior surveyors go on to obtain Fellowship (FRICS).
It is possible to get an Associate position without a degree but this lengthens the period of work experience before qualifying for MRICS to at least 5 years.
Jobs are advertised as either Rural Estate Managers or Rural Surveyors depending on the balance of responsibilities in the role.
Daily activity is split between an office, usually in a market town, and visits to estates. Commercial firms are often contracted to provide a dedicated part-time estate manager (MRICS qualified) who may therefore spend 2-3 dedicated days each week working from the estate office; the remainder of the week is spent on other projects. Rural surveyors cover a wide array of property types, reflecting the diversity of the rural economy: farming, heritage buildings, commercial lettings, residential letting, building refurbishment projects, land valuation and sales ...
Starting salaries for a graduate/assistant rural practice surveyor are in the £26,000-28,000 band. Following qualification (after a minimum of 2-years), a chartered surveyor can earn in the region of £35,000 to £50,000. After several years, at director level, salaries can reach £60,000 and above.
Video credit: Scottish Young Farmers
Businesses looking for dynamic "can-do" leaders, please get in touch. We have regular calls from senior military officers who are looking for leadership roles where they can "make a difference".
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