We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Trade union official Trade union officer

Trade union officials represent, train and advise union members, perform research and develop policy.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £50,000 to £80,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements but many trade union officials have a degree or a professional qualification.

You could move into this role from a variety of backgrounds, including:

  • shop steward – experience as a paid or unpaid local representative will give you in-depth knowledge of the workings of a union
  • trainer – with a background in adult education or training and development you might work as a Union Learning Representative
  • graduate – you could join a national head office straight from university with a qualification in a specialist area like employment law, trade union legislation or research

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication, negotiation and listening skills
  • confidence in public speaking
  • the ability to motivate and manage people

3. What you'll do

You’ll represent the interests of union members and discuss issues like health and safety, pay and redundancy with employers.

At a regional level you may:

  • advise on legal or health and safety issues
  • recruit, train and support local officials and shop stewards
  • deal with local disputes and case work
  • work as a learning representative

At the national head office you may:

  • develop national policy
  • carry out research
  • develop learning programmes for members
  • work in media relations
  • negotiate with employers’ organisations, political parties and government

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £35,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £50,000

Highly Experienced: £80,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week if in a full time role.

You’ll be mainly office-based, but may also spend some of your time attending meetings and visiting members and union representative.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a regional secretary of your union or move into a post at national head office. You could also move into politics as a councillor or MP.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 13 April 2017