Wanted

Bat Survey Assistants for the 2022 Summer Season

We are no longer recruiting for beginner surveyors at this time. However, please feel free to get in touch via email if you already have bat survey experience.

What do we want?

Each year, around the UK, Arbtech undertake hundreds of Bat Emergence and Re-entry Surveys (“BERS”). Many of these surveys are undertaken with the help of subcontract and/or part-time bat survey assistants.

We are looking for BERS Surveyors and Assistants to undertake part-time subcontractor work during the summer bat survey season (May – September1) to support our project managers and full-time ecologists.

What does it entail?

We work to the Bat Conservation Trust’s Good Practice Guidelines for professional Ecologists2. This means the work typically involves spending around 2.5 hours in the late evening or early morning outside the surveyed property, operating handheld bat detectors and accurately recording any activity using the methods we will prescribe (normally handwritten on survey sheets, but sometimes digitally).

How do I get work from Arbtech?

We have a frictionless, easy to use online allocation system to ensure available work is easily visible, and you can sign up to help us with as much or as little as you like.

We have some subcontractors who only take on a handful of surveys a season, and others who do a survey 5-6 nights a week (students, mostly!) and use this as their main source of income during the summer.

Most surveyors fall somewhere in-between these extremes, taking on 2-3 surveys a week to maintain a good balance with any other work commitments, and their home life.

Again, to be perfectly clear, we don’t allocate you work. You allocate it for yourself.

Location

We work literally everywhere in the UK, including the Crown Dependencies; however, the bulk of our work is in England and Wales.

Pay

BERS Surveyors and Assistants vary in skill and experience, and we reflect this with a variable rate of pay, with a basic rate for assistants (at the lower end of the experience spectrum) and an increased rate per survey for skilled surveyors.

We also have a higher band for those surveyors than want to lead a survey/site/project and undertake some associated admin; we call them BERS project managers, or PMs.

Rates

  • BERS Assistant: £65
  • BERS Surveyor: £90
  • BERS PM: £130

Assuming 2.5 hours on site and 1.5 hours travelling to and from site, an assistant would average £16.25/hr and a PM would average £32.50/hr.

Nota bene
Most consultancies either pay a fixed hourly rate or a fixed rate of pay, and we are no different. These rates do not change for dusk or dawn surveys, they don’t change if we ask you to go into London, and they don’t change because you are some sort of local bat guru; so don’t ask. We’re a big business with thousands of surveys each year to administer so we don’t flex the rules for people as it literally grinds our processes to a halt. Accept or decline the work on the basis of what has been offered.

Weekend working

We get many requests each year to work weekends, particularly in schools. To help compensate you for the interruption to your weekend, we offer an increase of £10 on each of the rates for weekend working, which again, you can accept or decline at your own discretion.

Mileage

Mileage is paid in addition to the above rates for the most efficient route for your journey to and from site. Our 2022 rate for mileage is 30p per mile. This is increased by 10p per mile for any extra people you bring with your site to encourage ride sharing and decrease our carbon footprint.3

Travelling time

This is dealt with in the example above.

To be clear, we do not pay travel time. This allows us to quote a fixed price to our clients. You know in advance where the subject site is and can elect to accept or decline work at your discretion based upon how far away it is.

Advancement

Aside from the massive volume of work we get, the end of season socials and things like rapid payment and the frictionless way we offer/allocate work mean many of our BERS assistants, surveyors and PMs stick with us year in and year out. (Quite a few are now full time Arbtechers and for ecology careers, BERS work is the easiest way to jump the 100-or-so long queue of applicants for our graduate roles if you want us to notice you – and has the added benefit that we both get to “try before we buy”, so to speak.)

In addition to this, for those who intend to remain as subcontractors, we offer a series of escalating benefits for people that stick with us year to year, including:

  • Increased rates of pay
  • A year-to-year retention bonus to spend on training courses

Training

We are committed to offering you free training to help you develop your skills.

  • All BERS Assistants that need upskilling or refresher training can come on our ‘BERS Academy’ training surveys, before the survey season starts
  • Our full-time ecologists can offer you shadowing opportunities for Preliminary Roost Assessments and Preliminary Ecological Appraisals
  • At the end of each year, BERS Assistants and Surveyors that match their last years surveys in this current year will receive 10% of their earnings that year as a retention bonus, to be spent on any ecology training course of your choice!

So, if you’re a BERS Assistant and did 50 surveys with us in 2021, if you do another 50 (or more) this year in 2022, we will pay for external training courses of your choice up to the value of (65x50x10%=) £325.00 (inc VAT)!!

How to apply

Email a covering letter and your CV to [email protected] Every person to do this will get a response.

Include the following information as a minimum, ideally using the same numbering system:

  • Your full postal address and the county you live in
  • Any other counties you would be willing to work in (our allocation system is done by county)
  • A CV that contains your experience of various ecology survey types; particularly BERS (if any)
  • Your kit/equipment (if any) – you will need a full spectrum detector for all Arbtech surveys
  • Your mobile phone number and e-mail address (add @arbetch.co.uk to your safe senders list)
  • Confirmation that you have your own means of transport to and from Arbtech sites

Applications that do not contain all information requested in 1-6 (above) will be rejected without a response.

What Next

Once you have applied, one of us will reach out with a response and we can put you in touch with an Arbtecher.

Depending upon the time of year and your skill level, you might be invited to join us at a pre-season training and orientation event.

Once that is done, you will be added to our company database of BERS subcontractors, sent our subcontractor agreement, and if you agree to that, provided with a link to videos showing you how to access the online system through which we allocate BERS work.

Finally, see the most common questions we get below!

We look forward to you joining us!

1 Occasionally, April and October where useful data can be collected. This is assessed on a case-by-case
basis.

2 Unless we have a very good reason to deviate from them, which is rare. For probity, we always use the
prevailing edition.

3 COVID-safe practice is encouraged so only ride share if you feel comfortable to do so.

Common Questions

Yes. A lot of the questions below will say you are not expected to do X or Y, but you are in control of your own life and if you want to write reports or arrange your own surveys back-to-back, it’s your own decision. Talk to us about it.

We find that good BERS subcontractors come in all shapes and sizes. However, some qualities are universal: enthusiastic and friendly, happy to tolerate bad weather and late nights/early starts, and above all are organised and conscientious.

If you regularly cancel things at late notice, are poorly organised and can't trust yourself to turn up to the right site at the right time (early!) with the right kit – don’t waste our time and yours. It's a small industry and a tough one to break into... the last thing you need is a reputation among 50+ Arbtechers and 100+ subcontractors for being sloppy, unreliable and disorganised.

Finally, experience with and knowledge of bats is a definite plus (and will affect your pay rate) but is not essential for a new BERS assistant. If you have any ecology (particularly bat) licences or experience definitely mention it, but do not feel discouraged in applying if you don’t. That’s what (free) pre-season training is for.

An assistant is usually someone in their first season working to identify bats and needs a fair bit of handholding from more experienced surveyors. They should however be able to spot bats, identify their species with the aid of an auto-ID detector (like the Echometer Touch 2), and record those results accurately. We provide free training to get all our new BERS assistants up to the required standard.

A surveyor is expected to be able to do the above with minimal input and zero babysitting, and we should be able to have concrete confidence in the results they record. We expect surveyors to own their own bat detector(s) and be competent in their use. A BERS PM should be able to show you on a plan your survey position and arcs of reference and leave you to your own devices.

A BERS PM should be able to lead a bat survey independently, including recruiting (from their own network and/or using our database of BERS subcontractors) and coordinating subcontractors to get to the site, positioning them on site, and gathering their survey results, as well as talking to the clients and arranging site access. Some of our BERS PMs also handle writing up the results of the survey into our report template (for an increased rate of pay, which depends on the size and complexity of the site/report).

Echometer Touch 2 bat detector (or equivalent standard) *

  • Clipboard for writing upon (ideally a weatherproof clipboard like the Weatherwriter series)
  • Raincoat and/or umbrella
  • Thermos!
* We can lend these to new BERS Assistants – or buy them for you and you can work them off, but please let your PM know in advance if you need this kit so they can arrange it. Having your own detector is expected for Surveyors and PMs.

We normally do a weekly pay run.

However, to process your invoices as fast as possible we provide our own invoice template (we have a template for VAT and non-VAT registered subcontractors). If you choose not to use this, at the very busiest times this will probably delay your payment by at least one week.

Your invoices will be randomly checked to make sure mileage claims are accurate. Finally (it’s super sad that we need to point this out, but for probity): deliberately false claims for things like VAT will be reported to the police and HMRC.

DO bear in mind that our staff are not robots. At the peak of the survey season, we often undertake >50 surveys a day. Each one generates myriad supplier invoices and people in our central admin team (“THQ”) don’t just magically grow an extra head and set of arms during the summer, so they can operate two keyboards and screens at once.

Even at capacity, we manage a weekly pay run, but when people in THQ are off for socials, CPD, paternity/maternity, compassionate leave or, heck, even a holiday, it slows us down a bit. DON’T send a shitty email because your invoice has been paid like clockwork on a Friday – it won’t speed up getting you paid, but it is the fastest way to get yourself kicked off our system.

Up to you! We can't control where our jobs will be, and you are free to sign up to any job that takes your fancy – whether its next door to you or three hours away! Most surveyors travel between 15 minutes and an hour and a half to get to site, but some are willing to go much further.
We get work all over the country, however most of our work is in London, the southwest and southeast, the east and west midlands and the north west.

No.

Firstly, Arbtechers, our full-time staff are banned from doing this. It’s dangerous and should be considered bad practice by any responsible employer.

Secondly, while you are free to accept as little or much work as you like, including dusk/dawn surveys (e.g. Friday dusk and Saturday dawn), we will never expect you to do this.

Not usually.

Most of the time we don’t provide overnight accommodation because, most of the time, we don’t like people to do back-to-back dusk and dawn surveys. You will normally be asked to do one or the other and expected to drive home and get some a proper night’s sleep after your survey!

However, for some large and important sites where we have to draw on lots of subcontractors from multiple counties (and therefore ask them to drive a long way) we have been known to organise accommodation.

Sometimes, sometimes not!
No.

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