You have to be a fully-qualified, registered nurse or midwife and then complete a one-year full-time training course to become a health visitor

As a health visitor, you'll support children up to the age of 5 years and their families, with the aim of giving them the best start in life. This includes identifying health or developmental needs as early as possible, promoting health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.

You'll work with parents to help and support them and provide any necessary guidance and advice. You'll also play an important safeguarding role as health visitors are often the first to recognise when a child is at risk from harm. In these instances you'll work with other health and social care professionals to put the right interventions and support in place.

You can meet with families in their homes, clinics or in a community setting, and will liaise with other professionals such as nurses, GPs, midwives, social workers and childcare providers. You may also support at-risk or deprived groups such as addicts, the homeless or travellers.

To become a health visitor, you'll first need to be a fully qualified and registered nurse and then undertake additional training in community public health nursing.


As a health visitor, you'll:

  • advise and inform new parents on issues such as feeding (including breast feeding, infant feeding, weaning and healthy eating), sleeping, home safety, physical and emotional development, immunisation and other aspects of childcare
  • give support from late pregnancy and birth up to the child's fifth birthday - providing a gateway to other services as required
  • carry out health reviews, including the two-year health review, to assess growth, development, speech, language and communication and identify any needs and required support
  • identify risk factors and signs of concern for the child and work with organisations to protect and safeguard children, as well as making sure families receive support during safeguarding arrangements
  • manage parent and baby clinics at surgeries, community and Sure Start children's centres, and run specialist sessions on areas such as baby massage, exercise and child development
  • provide support in a range of areas including maternal and infant mental health, domestic violence and healthy weight and nutrition
  • support government initiatives to tackle child poverty and social exclusion and use specialist healthcare interventions to meet the needs of families
  • maintain and update client records.

The role varies depending on the location and you may be given a specialist area to work in.


  • If working in the NHS, you'll be on clearly defined pay bands as part of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scale. Health visitors typically start on Band 6, which has salaries ranging from £35,392 to £42,618.
  • If you become a team manager or health visitor specialist you can earn up to £50,056 on Band 7 of the scale.
  • Salaries outside of the NHS, e.g. within local authorities, private healthcare providers or charities, can vary as there are no set pay scales.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll usually work a standard 37.5 hours per week. Some evening work at clinics, drop-in centres and support groups may be required. If you're involved in project work and development activities, you'll need to work the hours dictated by the project.

Opportunities exist for career breaks, part-time work and job-sharing, as well as bank work.

What to expect

  • Travel during the day within the local area to carry out home visits to parents and children is common. You'll also need to attend clinics and support groups in regional surgeries and centres.
  • There is no uniform but you'll typically be expected to wear smart, appropriate clothes and they'll need to be comfortable for when you're examining children.
  • Working with families and young children, including those with difficulties or who are at risk, means that you may find the job stressful and challenging on occasions. Risk to personal safety may be an issue, depending on the role and situation.
  • Posts are available throughout the UK and the amount of vacancies is expected to continue to rise.
  • It's unlikely that you'll need to be away from home overnight and overseas work or travel is uncommon.


To become a health visitor, you must first be a qualified and registered nurse (in any field) or midwife. You then need to undertake an approved training programme in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting (SCPHN - HV).

For information on training in nursing or midwifery see the adult nurse and midwife job profiles.

SCPHN - HV training is carried out at degree or Masters level. This usually takes one year full time or the equivalent part time (typically three years) to complete. You will need to be sponsored or seconded by a health provider organisation who will provide your clinical placement and supervisor. You will have to apply for this and training opportunities are usually advertised by NHS Jobs.

Half of your time on the course is spent on theory work in university with the other half being in practice with your health provider organisation where you'll be supervised by a range of specialised practitioners.

If you aren't a registered nurse or midwife but have completed a health-related degree, it may be possible to complete the pre-registration nursing training in two years, instead of three, if you can provide sufficient evidence. This will then be followed by the one-year SCPHN - HV course.

Before joining an NHS trust, you'll be required to undergo a series of pre-employment checks including occupational health and Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Competition for traineeships is high, so you may need to apply in more than one year to gain a place on a course.


You'll need to show:

  • an approachable personality, and the ability to get on well with and gain the trust of people of all ages and backgrounds
  • excellent communication, questioning and listening skills, as well as the ability to interpret body language and other non-verbal communication
  • sensitivity, empathy, patience and tact
  • the ability to work independently and autonomously as well as in multidisciplinary teams
  • good time management, organisational skills and the ability to prioritise a varied workload
  • influencing skills and the ability to motivate people to make lifestyle changes
  • the emotional maturity to deal with potentially distressing issues and challenging situations
  • an interest in health and social issues and in developing programmes that will improve public health
  • a willingness to take responsibility and make appropriate professional judgements with confidence.

Work experience

As you need to be a registered nurse or midwife to become a health visitor you will already have significant experience and knowledge from your training and previous role and this will be the most important element when applying for health visitor training.

However, any other experience that demonstrates a commitment to working in the community, with children or within healthcare is useful and can help to support your application.

You could consider becoming a student member of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV). This gives you access to member-only resources, allows you to join working groups in specialist areas and attend networking events, all of which can strengthen your CV.

For free mentoring resources and experiences designed to support aspiring healthcare professionals - including virtual work experience that is accepted by medical schools, see Medic Mentor.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Health visitors are mainly employed by the NHS within a range of settings but you can also find employment with local authorities.

You may be attached to a general practice and undertake home visits throughout the practice area, as well as see patients within the surgery. You could also be based in community and outreach clinics or Sure Start centres.

In some areas, it's possible to work as a member of a staff 'bank' and provide cover for vacancies. It may also be possible to find work through specialist nursing agencies.

Once you have experience, you can work for universities or other academic institutions as a lecturer or tutor. You can also work with new health visitors in a tutoring role.

There are limited opportunities to work within the charitable/voluntary sector.

Look for job vacancies at:

There are a number of specialist recruitment agencies handling both temporary and long-term vacancies.

Professional development

To work in the UK as a nurse or midwife, and then also as a health visitor, you must be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). To maintain your registration, you'll have to complete revalidation every three years.

This involves completing at least 450 hours of registered practice and 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) relevant to your role, which must include 20 hours of participatory learning. You will need to keep accurate records of the CPD activity you complete. Find out more at Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) - Revalidation.

Various activities are recognised as professional development including conference or seminar attendance, distance learning study and personal research. Opportunities are offered by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), including a range of accredited CPD training programmes, e-learning modules and networking events.

You'll typically be offered training through your local trust to support your professional development. There are various courses, both in-house and external, that you may wish to attend, in areas such as:

  • child protection
  • positive parenting
  • nutrition
  • immunisation
  • postnatal depression
  • domestic violence.

Depending on individual trusts, there are other opportunities to develop areas of professional interest through post-registration degrees or research projects. You can also get involved in initiatives aimed at improving or enhancing specific areas of healthcare services.

Career prospects

As a health visitor it's common to remain in a frontline role throughout your career but there are other routes you can progress onto using the skills you'll have acquired.

You may want to become a specialist health visitor, within areas such as perinatal and infant mental health or with children who have complex needs. This may include specialist service planning and working with other agencies.

There are management roles where you can lead teams and provide clinical supervision, or strategic and governance roles where you can help to shape service transformations. You can find out more about programmes for leadership development from NHS Leadership Academy.

You could also progress into different roles, such as community matron or other roles within nursing and midwifery, depending on your background.

It's also possible to teach within the community or in universities. Research positions may also be available.

With relevant experience, there are also opportunities to work abroad in health services and voluntary organisations.

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