• Horticulture

    NPTC Tree Surgery

  • SCQF Level

    Comparable to SCQF Level 6

  • Attendance/Duration

    Full-time, one year

Start Here

The NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) is the internationally recognised qualification in tree surgery. It includes the NPTC certificate of competence in chainsaw and relative use, giving you a licence to operate in the industry. There’s almost a 100% employment rate for students who successfully complete this course, with former students now working as far afield as Scandinavia, Canada and Australia.

For entry to this course you’ll need:

  • A real interest in working with trees
  • Four National 5s or equivalent OR a relevant NC course at SCQF Level 5 (such as Garden and Landscaping) or equivalent
  • To be 18 years or over, capable of working at height and able to demonstrate an awareness of a health and safety culture
  • An interview with us

If you don’t have any formal qualifications, but have life experience, then we’ll also consider you for a place, so please call us for a chat.

What's Involved

This course is highly specialised, very physical and - due to the potentially hazardous nature of the work - extremely disciplined, so you’ll need to be able to follow instructions easily.

Two days a week, you’ll leave the College in the Land Rover at 9am and spend most of the day in a forest environment, either at the Dean Estate in Kilmarnock or Craigengillan Estate outside Dalmellington. (We provide all the Personal and Protective Equipment to bursary funded students).

The third day is classroom based, improving your employability skills through completing a First Aid course, or developing core skills.

Here’s some more on what you’ll be doing:

  • You’ll start each day in the forest by carrying out a full risk assessment - including where the nearest hospital is and the closest place a helicopter can land. Then you’ll get to work!
  • You’ll gain skills in three main areas: cross-cutting, felling and pruning.
  • You’ll learn how to use and maintain your key piece of equipment – the chainsaw.
  • You’ll discover how to cross-cut trees at ground level, such as fallen branches, tops or uprooted stems.
  • You’ll learn different felling techniques, depending on the tree size, weight, condition or species, and also weather conditions.
  • You’ll practice felling coniferous and broadleaved trees, upright trees and those which are weighted towards or against a felling direction.
  • You’ll gain skills in pruning trees using pole mounted, long reach pruning equipment, such as extendable pruning saws, powered pole pruners or loppers.

You’ll also learn about:

  • Using a manually fed wood chipper
  • Constructing or repairing fences with an access device
  • Brashing (removing lower dead branches)
  • Clearing lying timber
  • Rural work activities, such as agriculture, horticulture conservation or forestry
  • Go Anywhere

    In this course you will have built transferable Essential Skills in meaningful contexts to help you become more effective in life, learning, and work. This could be communication, numeracy, ICT, working with others, and problem solving.

    When you successfully complete this course, you’ll have the choice of:

    • Seeking to start your career as an arboriculturist or tree surgeon
    • Moving onto an HNC/HND course in Forestry or Arboriculture and Urban Forestry at Inverness College (University of the Highlands and Islands)
    • Undertake additional NPTC units in aerial work through Skills (Scotland) Testing Service Ltd

    Closed for Application



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