river keeper ghillie stalker underkeeper beat keeper
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for gamekeeper

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would take care of the land used for shooting and fishing. You’d organise recreational shooting, deer stalking and angling for clients.

You would make sure there is enough game such as deer, and birds like pheasant, partridge and grouse for clients to shoot. You would also make sure that rivers are well-stocked with fish for angling.

The tasks would vary according to the season, but you would:

  • Plan and organise shoots and fishing parties
  • Hire and supervise staff such as beaters to flush out birds during shoots
  • Keep records of what is shot or caught and arrange the sale of game
  • Train gun dogs and work with them
  • Breed game birds for release into the wild
  • Control predators such as foxes, crows and rats by shooting and trapping
  • Protect game from poachers by patrolling the beat area at night
  • Repair equipment, buildings and game pens and cleaning guns
  • Clear woodland and burning heather
  • Work with the police to deal with crime such as badger digging and hare coursing

You may also be responsible for developing plans for managing the game and habitat on a country estate. Depending on the size of the estate, you may also need to complete related paperwork and administration tasks.

If you work as a keeper to protect and manage rivers and streams as habitats for trout and salmon you would be known as a river keeper or ghillie.

You’ll need to be happy working on your own for long periods of time, and in remote areas, outdoors in all weather.

Working with firearms can be dangerous; you will require a good knowledge of health and safety and a mature attitude.

Working conditions


As a gamekeeper you would usually work flexible hours which would depend on the season and the jobs that needed doing. You may work long, often irregular hours, usually with early starts, late finishes and weekend work.


You would work in the countryside, often in isolated areas, and spend most of your time outdoors in all weather conditions.


You may have to cover large areas of ground each day, so a driving licence would usually be needed.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Positive attitude
  • Taking responsibility
  • Taking initiative
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Cooperating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would need:

  • Qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 and/or a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7)
  • Or a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in gamekeeping/countryside-centred subjects
  • Or a work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Game and Wildlife Management (SCQF level 5)

To enter a National Certificate (NC) or National Qualifications (NQ) course in Gamekeeping requires three to four subjects at National 4.

To enter a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) requires a relevant NC or two Highers at C.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science subjects
  • Environmental Science
  • Geography
  • Practical technologies subjects, such as woodwork
  • Business studies

You will also need

Once in the job you must achieve a certificate in gun handling. 

A driving licence would usually be needed, as you may have to cover large areas of ground each day.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show an interest and understanding of the natural environment such as Skills for Work Rural Skills (SCQF level 4) or the John Muir Award.

Once in a job you can gain relevant qualifications such as the Scottish Vocational Qualification in  Game keeping (SVQ level 2).