CHOOSING A CAREER / AUG. 23, 2014
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How to Become a Health Trainer

If you have a passion for healthy living and love sharing that lifestyle with others, you may want to consider a career as a health trainer.

What do health trainers do?

Health trainers work within their local communities to motivate people to lead healthier lifestyles and to teach them how to do it – in other words, sharing both the “why” and the “how”. Topics they address may include:

  • Healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Safe sex
  • Prenatal care
  • Breastfeeding
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol intake

In the process of motivating and teaching people about these topics, health trainers may:

  • Conduct seminars
  • Travel to various communities and get to know the people who live there
  • Create written materials to supplement what you teach
  • Record starting points and progress toward goals and use that information to keep people motivated
  • Make referrals to medical professionals or to other community services as appropriate

Where and when do health trainers work?

  • Most health trainers work around 37.5 hours per week, although part-time work is often available.
  • Many are employed by primary care providers.
  • They may work nights and weekends, depending on the needs of the community.
  • They’ll have an office but will also drive to the communities they care for.

What do health trainers earn?

Health trainers work for the NHS and are part of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. Most start on AfC Band 3. Health trainer coordinators, who manage a team of trainers, start on AfC Band 5.

 

 

Low end

High end

Health trainers

£16,271

£19,268

Health trainer coordinators

£21,388

£27,901

 

What skills do health trainers need?

  • A desire to help people
  • Strong people skills, including the ability to motivate
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Planning and organizational skills
  • The ability to work both alone and as part of a team
  • Knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices

What education and training are required?

Entry requirements vary by employer, but most are looking for people with the following skills and experience:

  • Ability to communicate fluently in English (a second language makes you more competitive)
  • Familiarity with the health issues facing that particular community
  • Experience (either paid or voluntary) working with local community groups
  • Experience as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, or dietician

Most employers provide on-the-job training, which may include:

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

Some employers may want you to obtain a Level 3 Certificate for Health Trainers. That training includes:

  • Building community relationships
  • Communication skills
  • Motivational skills

What are the job prospects?

National Careers Service forecasts that there will be an additional 35,000 health trainers working in the UK by 2020. Advancement opportunities include supervisory and administrative roles, which may require a public health degree or a postgraduate certification.

If you’re enthusiastic about your healthy lifestyle and want to share that knowledge and passion with the people in your community who need it the most, a career as a health trainer could be just what you’re looking for.

photo credit: flickr via Elvert Barnes, 2008

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