Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Paid positions at FIBO in 2019

The deadline for all applications is 5 p.m. on Thursday 28th February 2019. Application forms can be emailed to fibo@btconnect.com.
Please note that the Obs office is unstaffed from 25th January until 26th February, so we will be unable to acknowledge receipt of applications.
Telephone interviews will be held during week commencing 4th March and we will aim to inform all candidates of the outcome during the following week.

The following paid positions are available for the 2019 season:


A keen, experienced birder and ringer is required to join the team responsible for census, ringing, seabird monitoring and working with visitors.
Download the job description and an application form.

Housekeeping ASSISTANT

The small domestic team is responsible for preparing rooms, cleaning the Observatory and providing meals for guests and staff. As part of this team the primary role of the housekeeping assistant is to change and clean guest rooms, run the laundry and wash up after meals.

This post is being advertised separately for the periods 11th April - 31st July and 9th August - 31st October 2019. Please specify in your response which time period you are applying for.

Download the job description and an application form.


The small domestic team is responsible for preparing rooms, cleaning the Observatory and providing meals for guests and staff. As part of this team the primary role of the kitchen assistant is to help the kitchen team with cooking, washing up and maintaining kitchen cleanliness, but with some additional room cleaning and laundry duties. This post is being advertised for the period 11th April - 31st October 2019, but could be available as two shorter contracts from 11th April - 31st July or 9th August - 31st October 2019 for suitable candidates. Please specify in your response which time period you are applying for.

Download the job description and an application form.

Voluntary positions at FIBO

All volunteering roles have food and accommodation (usually in a shared, single-sex room) provided at the Obs. Transport arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the volunteer. Wardening Team volunteers pay £10 a night to cover costs (but see the note below about the SABF and JHMF schemes). There are no accommodation charges for Domestic and Bar volunteers.

Volunteer roles will be allocated in early March, with applicants being informed of the outcome of their application by 15th March.

The following voluntary positions are available at FIBO in 2019:


Due to a limited number of spaces available for volunteers in 2019, we will only be accepting volunteers who apply via the JHMF or SABF schemes. Unfortunately, this means only applicants under the age of 25 will be considered. A minimum stay of two weeks is expected (there is no maximum length of stay) and we can take a maximum of two Wardening team volunteers at any given time.

Wardening team volunteers help with the running of the Obs, whilst also gaining valuable experience of life in a bird observatory (and hopefully experience of some good birds!).

It is important that the application form is filled in completely, including providing references (or the contact details of referees).

Dates available:

9th August - 12th September 2019 (please state in your application a minimum of two weeks during this period you would like to volunteer for)

The varied role of the Wardening team is well reflected when volunteering at this time of year. A typical day sees the team carrying out census in the morning then an afternoon of practical tasks, which can involve running the traps, digging scrapes, trap repairs, weeding, repairing fences, painting around the Obs or any other number of other jobs. There is also a variety of office work to be completed, whilst helping around the Obs and interacting with guests is an everyday part of life at FIBO for all staff and volunteers. Although most of the seabird work has been completed by this time, Storm Petrel ringing often peaks in August, so there may be some late nights.

There may be potential for volunteers to carry out some censuses or ringing by themselves, so applicants should detail their experience in both of these fields (please be honest, if you would not be confident in carrying out a census by yourself, please say so - this will not count against your application, but helps us to plan the workload for the team).

Volunteering at FIBO is not a holiday and you will not spend all day birding; it is hard, but rewarding, work and an experience that will hopefully stay with you for a long time and prove valuable should you pursue a career in conservation or ornithology.

See the website pages relating to the Simon Aspinall Bursary Fund and John Harrison Memorial Fund if you are under 25 and wish to volunteer as part of the Wardening team

Download a volunteer application form.


22nd April - 31st July and 10th August to 26th October (minimum stay two weeks, no maximum limit)

A crucial part of the Domestic team, with duties including cleaning in the downstairs areas of the Obs and clearing and setting up of tables before and after meals, although you may have to turn your hand to a wide variety of other tasks as well!

Note that the role will vary significantly between term time (22nd April - 7th July and 21st August - 12th October) and school holidays. During term time, duties include clearing and setting tables after meals and then a wide-variety of tasks depending upon the workload of the Obs. These include giving lifts to guests so a full UK driving licence is essential during these dates. During School holidays, the workload largely involves cleaning, so a driving licence is not required (see the job descriptions for full details). Candidates with a driving licence can apply for stays that encompass both the term time and school holiday roles.

It is a busy role, but there is also plenty of time to enjoy the island and is an enjoyable way to really become part of the Obs team whilst experiencing Fair Isle life.

Download the job description (term time) and a volunteer application form.

Download the job description (school holidays) and a volunteer application form.


1st May - 31st July and 9th August - 30th September

This involves helping to run the Obs gift shop and small, friendly bar. Most of the work is in the evening (with approximate hours of 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week), but at times there may be other tasks during the day (cleaning, unloading stock etc) and occasionally help may be required at the FIBO shop stand at the hall when cruise ships are visiting.

The bar vol may be able to help out with Wardening Team as well during the day if there are suitable opportunities, whilst it is a great role for anyone who has other interests to do with Fair Isle or island life (knitting etc) that they would like to pursue during the day.

Download a volunteer application form.

If you are interested in any of the paid or voluntary positions at FIBO listed above, please download and complete an application form and return to fibo@btconnect.com no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday 28th February 2019.