Since becoming aware of the The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) whilst studying at The University of Worcester, I had ambitions of becoming a Chartered Arboriculturist and began working towards fulfilling the prerequisite criteria for the initial submission process. I wanted to become a professional member for my personal career development and to demonstrate my technical ability to colleagues and clients.
Prior to issuing my intention to submit, I attended a ‘Preparing for Professional Membership Entry (PME)’ event in Telford, Shropshire. This day was invaluable to hear first-hand experience from recently awarded Professional Members, as well as presentations and conversation with ICF staff and panellists. Attending this event gave me a great deal of confidence that professional membership was perhaps more achievable than I had first thought. I was relatively late in starting the PME process (due to moving house, getting married and having a third child), an approach which I would not recommend to others should you value your evenings and weekends!
What’s involved in a PME?
A significant part of the submission process is completing professional work records. This shows that an adequate range of experience has been obtained by all applicants. My work records were made easier by having a time management system at Wharton, which had tracked working hours and could be exported to a suitable format. An excel spreadsheet was setup with appropriate formulas, which corresponded to the hours required by the ICF. This allowed me to keep track of logged hours throughout the PME process.
Whilst preparing my work records, I had originally recorded hours on a project-by-project basis, although I later realised that a task-by-task basis was more appropriate to align with the ICF’s online members area. This was an oversight on my part, which was not realised until transferring the data from the excel spreadsheet to the online members area. The result of this was a frantic day of re-entering data relatively close to the submission deadline.
I am fortunate to have great support for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at Wharton, which I could easily transfer over to fulfil the hours required for the PME process. Having an existing record of training and events attended saved a lot of time during this section of the application.
The Critical Analysis was the most challenging element of the PME application. This would document a professional challenge faced at work, explain how I set about solving the identified problem and detail the lessons learnt. I chose an interesting subject and wrote openly and honestly about my experience from both a management and technical perspective. My critical analysis was proof-read by my PME verifier as well as family members and friends in the arboricultural industry. The range of audiences gave invaluable feedback, which I would recommend to others. I summarised with both positive and negative aspects which gave the ICF plenty to discuss with me at my professional interview.
I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend a professional interview, the final part of the PME process. This took place during early November 2018 in Edinburgh. The main preparation for this was trying to get my suit dry cleaned in time for the flight!
I began re-reading my critical analysis as I knew that many of the questions would be in relation to this. I spoke to colleagues and friends in the industry to try and get an insight into the day and a suitable approach.
Time to celebrate!
In December 2018, I received an envelope containing a certificate of Professional Membership. I was absolutely thrilled that all the hard work had payed off and I was now a Chartered Arboriculturist. I feel privileged to represent the ICF and believe that Chartership is important in raising the standard and awareness of arboricultural practise throughout the UK and beyond.
I would certainly recommend the PME process to those considering applying. It forms part of my career journey and recognises my professionalism. This was the final piece of what happened to be a very busy year both personally and professionally.