0 Looking for a new career

Going Stale at work?

Try getting out more!

Sweltering in a stuffy office, it's easy to dream of working in the great outdoors. If this is you, you are not alone. More of us are trying to get work in the open air.

"There is constantly a high level of applications for jobs as postmen and post women," says Ruth Barker who works for Royal Mail. "And we know that many apply because it means working outdoors." At the forestry commission a spokesman says "Recent vacancies have been filled quickly and visitors to the vacancies section of our website have more than doubled over the past year.

So what is the attraction?

"It may be humans are programmed to be outdoors rather than inside - provided the weather is good," says Dr Joan Harvey, a chartered psychologist at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, who has studied occupational health. "When you are working outside the chemicals that your body produces in response to stress are more easily used up through physical activity than they are if you are stuck behind a desk."

Dr Harvey adds "Many outdoor careers such as horticulture may involve working in a creative way, with no one breathing down your neck all day. What's more, when you are tending plants you can see the results of your work growing before your eyes. So it is likely this kind of job is more rewarding than many of those in offices, which just involve shifting paper around."

But it is not all sunshine working outdoors.

Marian Barker of London recruitment agency, Anders Plus, which specialises in landscaping careers, says "Outdoors jobs look great in summer but if you want a career in horticulture, you will also have to work in the rain and snow when everyone else is tucked up in a nice cosy office. "Salaries for unqualified jobs in basic maintenance gardening, for instance, can be poor - typically £12,500 to £14,000 in London and less elsewhere. The only way to get good money is with qualifications."

You will also need qualifications to get into landscape gardening and garden design, where pay is higher but competition can be fierce. But in some areas qualified staff are in such short supply for management jobs that pay is rising to equal that of senior managers in other sectors.

Robert Cottrell, marketing and sales manager at Palmstead Nurseries in Kent, says "There is a huge shortage of qualified people for management jobs in nurseries, so pay can be £20,000 to £30,000, depending on company and location. Managers in landscaping companies could be paid more than this in some areas."

Before you plunge into a course get some practical experience of working outside. There are plenty of temporary seasonal vacancies available, says Mrs Barker, though pay rates are not good. You can choose from hundreds of horticultural courses but the Royal Horticultural Society General Certificate is highly regarded.

To find out more about Anders Plus, please contact Adrian / Marion Barker on: 020 7793 7825 Email: info@anderplus.com

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