To enjoy a successful career as a health visitor you need to have a strong sense of community. Health visitors must be strong, positive people who are able to share valuable health messages with a cross-section of society, without being patronising. It is a largely female-dominated profession, although the NHS are actively recruiting both sexes, with benefits including a solid career path, a stable future, flexibility regarding childcare and career breaks and the possibility of earning a good salary.
NHS and Private Opportunities
The vast majority of health visitors in the UK are employed by the NHS, under local health care trusts, although some private health care providers employ health visitors for particular services, such as smoking cessation or midwifery. The NHS employs health visitors primarily for home visits, although it also uses health visitors for special clinics, again including smoking cessation (an important focus for the NHS at the moment), weight loss (including healthy eating), diabetes maintenance and stress management.
The Role of the Health Visitor
The core purpose of a health visitor is to promote good health in the community, as such, much of their work is done in the homes of the public. They tend to visit at set times following a request from the person’s GP, following the birth of a baby, the requirement to check on the health of a child or adult or to assess the progress of the person after attending one of the special clinics.
With health visitors going into people’s homes, they need to be strong and confident and appreciate that they will often be needed in deprived areas or with at risk groups. Consequently, it can be a very demanding, often stressful role.
The vast majority of health visitors are trained nurses or midwives who then take extra training to become a fully qualified health visitor. This is usually completed in addition to working full time, although you can choose to work part time and study part time, or gain additional practical experience.
The starting salary for a qualified health visitor is around £25,000, not including London weighting (which is around a further 20%) or allowances for bank work, overtime or shift work. After gaining three years experience, this basic salary rises to around £33,000, with a further three to five years experience yielding around £40,000 basic salary.
Most health visitors tend to work ‘normal’ office hours of 9am-5pm because they are able to arrange appointments, clinics and home visits within these hours. However, you must be prepared to work unsociable hours if needed, or to be on call at least once a month.
The Right Character
It is clear from the job description of a health visitor that you need to be hard working, focused on health and wellbeing and good with people. You need to be a good listener and be able to pick up on signs, rather than being bossy and dominating as you will be in potentially damaging domestic situations. It is not a glamorous role, but rather a fulfilling, rewarding and ultimately satisfying career for a health professional.
Originally I trained and qualified as a Primary School Teacher and taught for quite a few years. Latterly I worked as a L.S.P with Primary children then teenagers who had Emotional and Behavioural difficulties, first in a school then in a college.After 6 years of doing this sort of work,our team were all made redundant. I then passed to train as a Health Trainer only to latterly discover to my dismay that most posts are part time and poorly paid.I've now been thinking a lot about transferring my skills and becoming a Health Visitor regarding Mental Health, as the two roles seem quite similar but as I understand it, I would have to have trained as a nurse, first. Is there any way to fast track this, especially as I am now working within the NHS on a voluntary basis and have 2 qualifications as a Health Champion and am waiting for my Health Trainer certificate, to come through. Please can you give me some good advice as Ihave proven that I have really good people skills, which was part of my Health Trainer Training, where we were taught Motivational Interviewing.I now work as a Health Trainer on a voluntary basis which I love but also as a volunteer at a Mental Health Hospital too.Please can you help me as I care deeply for people and feel I could make a real difference as a Health Visitor, especially within the field of Mental Health. Thank you
Diju - 17-May-13 @ 7:26 PM
hi..am thinking of starting my life now age 23..after having two kids of my own i would love to be a midwife.. can any one tell me were i need to start?
dawn - 22-Mar-13 @ 6:14 PM
I am a qualified Nursery Nurse working at the same establishment for 19yrs within a baby unit.I'm not sure where to start or what qualifications are needed to become a health visitor but would like more info please
perkid - 20-Feb-13 @ 11:03 PM
hi i have been a nursery nurse for 8 years but would like to become a health visitor or or work under a health visitor if possible. i am level 3 qualified nursery nurse and i have a young child at school so money is a problem with fees, what are my options for changing careers? thanks
nesa - 14-Jan-13 @ 8:08 PM
I am a qualified dietitian with 10 years work experience but have had a career break for the last 7 years to look after my children.I am now thinking of re-training to become a Health Visitor -- is there a fast track way in which I can do this, or do I need to first qualify as a nurse?
Mimsy - 10-Jan-13 @ 3:42 PM
Hi as per Lisa and Jenns' question..............................i am a HPC Registered Paramedic and would also like to train to become a Health Visitor.I am trying to find out what path i need to take to achieve this.
Donna - 5-Jan-13 @ 3:12 AM
i am interested in switching from general nursing to become a health visitor, i worked in the hospital before transfering to the community to become a community staff nurse and now would like to get onto the course to train to become a health visitor, can you please help, i heard about an exam which must be sit for all persons who wish to do the health visitor course and then persons are picked from the successful batch, but how do you get yourself onto the exam?
karen - 11-Nov-12 @ 4:44 PM
I would like to become a Health Visitor but I do not have my GCSE English and Maths. I know you can do Access to Nursing but can you qualify to study it with City and Guilds Maths and English?
dimples - 12-Sep-12 @ 10:36 AM
Gill, your very comprehensive guidance to those wishing to become Health Visitors is commendable. Thank you for your time and may you be richly blessed.
Aisha - 12-Aug-12 @ 7:11 PM
Hi, I have worked previously in hotel management for 16 years then decided to go to uni to train to be a midwife. Unfortunately I only completed the first year due to personal reasons; however would be interested in training to be a health visitor. How Would i be able to do this without completing my degree? I have 9 GCSE'S and equivalent 3 A levels doing the access higher education for one year?
lilly - 11-Jul-12 @ 6:09 PM
Hi! I studied Nursery Nursing at college and obtained a BTEC National Diploma, i never followed this through and chose a career in catering instead which i have been doing for the last 12 years. I am currently thinking of changing careers and very interested in finding out how to become (if possible) a Health Visitor! I have 2 small children and no other qualifications other than the BTEC, where would i go from here?
CJ - 3-Jul-12 @ 9:07 PM
Same as Lisa - also HPC registered Paramedic and very interested in becoming a HV. Would welcome any advice.
Jenn - 2-Jul-12 @ 9:40 PM
Hi, I am a qualified HPC registered Paramedic and wondered if Paramedics were also allowed to become Health Visitors along with the Nurses and Midwives and complete the further 1 year full time course to become a Health Visitor.
Lisa - 29-Jun-12 @ 7:46 PM
I am currently a social worker working in child protection. I have developed a strong interest in health visiting and would now like to change careers. I have a degree in phycology and post graduate diploma in social work. As I am pacially sighted I am unable to undertake a Nursing course but feel I have many transferable skills which would suit a career in health visiting. Is there another route into this profession?
BB - 21-May-12 @ 12:15 AM
I am currently a primary school teacher and am looking into a career change in to becoming a health visitor. My health visitor was fantastic when I had my son and would love to take on this role.
How do I go about undertaking this career change please?
Kathy - 5-Mar-12 @ 2:37 PM
Hi I am currently a stroke nurse, I qualified with my nursing diploma (adult branch) in September 2008 and since then gained half of my degree credits in stroke care. I am really interested in becoming a health visitor and think this is a profession I would be well suited to. I am concerned about the fees I would need to pay in order to complete the 12 month training. Do you know if students have the student loan to pay for the tuition fees and would students be entitled to anything else like bursery? Is it something that NHS trusts are seconding there staff for?
Thank you in advance Sophie.
Sophie - 1-Feb-12 @ 7:46 AM
Hi There, I would love to train to become a health visitor. I have no experience in the industry but want a career change and this is right up my street. I currently work for an IT company and have done for nearly 10 years. Can youadvise if this is possible for me to achieve? Thanks.
snoop - 14-Jan-12 @ 8:44 PM
To become a Health Visitor uou will usually need around two years' experience as a qualified midwife or nurse (in any branch) before you can begin an approved one year health visitor training programme and work as health visitor.
To qualify as a registered nurse or midwife you need to complete a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved degree. To get onto an approved course you need to meet some general requirements set by the NMC. These include:
* providing evidence of your literacy and numeracy skills, good health and good character, and recent successful study experience
* meeting the minimum age requirement for nurse training – 17.5 years old in England
* agreeing to have a CRB check (a criminal conviction does not automatically exclude you from working within the NHS).
Course providers can set their own academic entry requirements, which can include:
* nursing and midwifery degrees – five GCSEs (A-C) in English and maths/science, plus two A levels (biology may be preferred).
If you do not meet the course entry requirements listed above, please check with universities because alternatives such as an Access to Higher Education course may also be accepted. You should apply for a nursing or midwifery course ( degree) through UCAS.
For more information on routes into nursing or midwifery, please check the relevant job profiles.
You will usually need a driving licence to work as a health visitor.
What further training and development can I do?
Training as a health visitor involves taking a (shortened) degree or postgraduate course in specialist public health nursing or health visiting. You could study on a one-year full-time, or two years' part-time basis. NHS Careers and the NMC have details of relevant course providers.
As a nurse or midwife in the NHS, your employer may support you financially through your health visitor training. You can get more information about funding from the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA).
During training you would study areas such as:
* community practice
* public health
* health promotion
* social policy.
You would also spend time on practical placements, working under the supervision of an experienced health visitor.
As a qualified health visitor you would be expected to keep your skills up to date, and continue to develop your level of expertise.
Return to practice – if you are a former registered nurse wishing to return to the profession, you could take a return-to-practice course. Courses are available throughout the UK; contact your local NHS Trust for details.
Hope this helps good luck
gill - 13-Jan-12 @ 11:03 PM
hi I am thinking of taking redundancy from a job in finance which I have done for 14 years. I would really like to retrain as a health visitor but have been told i need to be a nurse aleady. Could you advise or suggest any similar roles which do not require a nursing degree. Thanks
gracie - 27-Dec-11 @ 6:17 PM
hi i am currently a midwife who has been qualified for eight years and i am now interested in becoming a health visitor. could you please tell me the best way to go about this and if it is possible to do this as a full time course. thank you
paula - 26-Nov-11 @ 10:54 PM
I am really interested in becoming a health visitor. Ive never worked in this kind of sector before as all i have ever done is retail. I was a store manager for 12 years for a multi tile company and since having my gorgeous little boy am now working part time in Asda as a community colleague. Although i have never been in the caring sector of work i have always gone above and beyond the call of duty in regards to working with the public. Please can you let me know where to go from here?
woo woo - 21-Nov-11 @ 2:36 PM
I currently work in finance for a local authority
I am looking for a substantial career change with a view to becoming a health visitor.
I have 11 A - C GCSE grades along with a number of NVQ qualifications and more recently an AAT diploma
I would appreciate if you could send me some information on the courses I would need to complete, along with the entry requirements.
I mostly would like to know whether I can go straight into University or whether I would need to complete a college course and then progress to university. I have attended college for 3 years to complete my AAT course but understand that this is a totally different field.
Any guidance would be very much appreciated
Thankyou for your attention
EmmaL - 8-Nov-11 @ 10:29 AM
Do You Need to Go to Uni,
to Qualify to be a nurse or health visitor.
And if You dont go to uni does this mean you can not fully qualify.
chels - 19-Oct-11 @ 4:08 PM
[ have worked as a qualified psychiatric nurse on an adolescent ward for 12 years . how do i train as a health visitor
nelly - 6-Jul-11 @ 4:31 AM
I would like to know how I could become a health visitor.I have a B.ed (Hons) degree and have worked for 10 years as a primary school teacher.I have also worked for approx. 8 years as a childminder working with children and families with additional needs. I am 49 years old and am considering a career change.
dawn - 30-Jun-11 @ 2:25 PM
I have been a secondary school teacher for the last 16 years and have decided that I want to retrain as a Social worker or Nurse. I am 52. Could you let me know if I can 'fast - track' into the training. Regards Jacqui
jacqui - 1-Jun-11 @ 5:13 PM
Im 43 and over my student life I've accumulated 7 gcses or equiv and 2 a levels also an access course in 2000 and most recently a city and guilds ptlls foundation teaching certificate.Wwhat would be the best(shortest route?) to becoming a health visitor?
janespana - 19-May-11 @ 12:46 PM
I have BSc in Economic from abroad, and 1year healthcare experience, but now am working as an administrator with NHS in a respiratory unit,My dream is to be an Health Visitor, Can you please give me information on courses and training i can do to become a qualified health visitor and Is there any job I could apply for in the health service so I could study at the same time? And what would be the quickest route to qualify?
nikky - 11-May-11 @ 12:00 PM
Please provide me with information on becoming a carer, midwife & health visitor, thank you
Kirsty - 10-May-11 @ 10:03 AM
I have six years of experience working with children from birth to sixteen in both nursery and childminding settings. I have completed my Foundation Degree in Young Children's Learning and Development and am progressing onto a BA(Hons) degree in the same subject in September. I would like to know how I am able to become a Health Visitor and the routes and options I am able to take. Thanks.