Health Trainer

The Job and What's Involved

As a health trainer, you would advise people about healthier lifestyle choices in order to improve their general health and wellbeing.

Your work within the community could focus on issues such as:

  • Improving the amount of exercise people take.
  • The importance of practising safe sex.
  • Helping people stop smoking.
  • The positive effects of lowering alcohol intake.
  • The benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Improving access to healthy lifestyles in communities with the greatest needs.

You would encourage people to understand and adapt their behaviour by providing information and practical support on a one-to-one basis, as well as in groups. Your work to improve the health of the community could also include:

  • Connecting people to relevant local services.
  • Helping people understand how their behaviour effects their health.
  • Supporting and motivating individuals to change harmful habits.
  • Explaining the benefits of healthier food and lifestyle choices
    encouraging greater community integration and sense of togetherness.
  • Recording activity levels and results, and using these to motivate clients.

You would typically work between 16 and 30 hours a week, as part-time positions are more common than full-time. Your hours may occasionally include evenings or weekends, in order to run group workshops and meetings.

Health trainers can earn between £15,600 and £18,600 a year. Supervisors can earn between £21,000 and £27,500.

Many health trainer jobs are offered on a part-time basis, so earnings would be a portion of full-time rates (known as 'pro rata' payment). This means that actual annual income may be less than above.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

As a Health Trainer you will be based in community settings, such as GP practices, community leisure centres and occasionally outdoors.

You will find most job opportunities with local NHS primary care trusts (PCTs), and some with local authorities. For job vacancies you should contact your local PCT (see NHS Choices website for a list), check the jobcentre, local and national press, and NHS Jobs website.

Education and Training

To become a health trainer, you will need:

Knowledge of the health issues facing the community.

Good communication skills in English (and for some jobs, a second community language).

Experience (paid or voluntary) of working with local community groups.

For advice on voluntary opportunities, you can contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS Trust.

Some employers will prefer you to have GCSE grade C in English, and you may also be asked for an NVQ Level 3 or equivalent qualification.

You could have an advantage when looking for work if you have qualifications or work experience in an area such as:

- Personal training
- Fitness instructing
- Nutritional therapy or dietetics

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are working as a health trainer, you will receive on-the-job training from your employer. This can vary depending on the focus of your duties, but will usually include:

- Health and safety
- Communication skills
- Record-keeping
- Time management

You may also be encouraged to study for a City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate for Health Trainers, which covers:

  • Building and maintaining good working relationships with communities.
  • Health promotion and effective communication skills.
  • Enabling individuals to change their behaviour to improve their health and wellbeing.

You could also work towards NVQ levels 2, 3 and 4 in Community Development Work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A health trainer needs:

  • A good understanding of the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices.
  • The ability to motivate others and inspire trust.
  • An awareness of the health needs of the local community.
  • Enthusiasm for your subject.
  • The ability to keep up to date with developments in health advice.
  • Excellent communication and listening skills.
  • The ability to form good working relationships with outside organisations.
  • Good organisational and planning skills.
  • Good time management.
  • The ability to work alone and as part of a team.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience you could progress to team supervisor, or senior health improvement specialist. For these roles, you may need a public health related degree or postgraduate qualification.

You could also move into related careers in health promotion or community development.

For more information on a range of careers within public health, check the PHORCaST website (part of a UK-wide initiative funded by the Department of Health).

Get Further Information

Skills for Health, Goldsmiths House,
Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

NHS Careers,
PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

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