Considering a new job? Here’s how to retrain in 10 crucial areas

From a teacher to a chef, here’s how you can change career.

It’s never too late to retrain and choose a new job that you find fulfilling. The pandemic has been tough for everyone and many people have lost their jobs, while others may be thinking of retraining in a new career after a year of reflection.

“When someone retrains later on in life they are often the most committed amongst trainees because it was a big decision to take the step to retrain, plus you’ll be bringing lots of valuable life experience with you,” Selina Barker, career change coach and author of Burnt Out tells the Big Issue.

“It’s important that before taking the big decision of retraining you try it out for size in some small way first. Sometimes people can be so keen to be out of the big unknown of what they are going to do with their life or career that they jump too quickly into a three year course before knowing for sure it is what they want to do.

“And there is nothing worse than dedicating money, energy and time to retraining in something, only to find half way through that in reality you don’t actually enjoy it in the way you imagined you would. And so it is essential to hear from people who work in the field you’re interested in – reading interviews, watching videos, going to open days (on or offline) – so that you know whatactivities make up most of their working day, what the challenges are and how others deal with those challenges.

“It’s also important to try the vocation out first in some small way, either by doing a foundation or taster course, shadowing someone as they do that job or doing some work experience.

“Once you’ve really got a taste of this new career path and you know it’s right for you, then don’t let the voice of doubt and fear hold you back. Making a big change like retraining is of course always going to come with challenges, but if it means you end up doing work you enjoy, then it will have been worth overcoming those challenges.”


Here are 10 such retraining opportunities.

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How to retrain as a teacher

The first step to retrain as a teacher is to decide what age you want to teach – from early years to further education, according to Get Into Teaching. The next step is to assess your qualifications – a degree or equivalent is needed to progress to teacher training and you’ll also need grade 4 (C) and above GCSEs in England, maths, and science if you want to teach primary. If you don’t have these qualifications, there may be other ways to show you meet the standard. If you don’t have a degree, you can do undergraduate teacher training.

How to get funding

People who want to train to teach can apply for a tuition loan of up to £9,250 and a maintenance loan of up to £12,383. If you already have a student loan, your repayments will not increase. There are also tax-free bursaries or scholarships available to train in certain subjects such as Chemistry, Maths or Biology. Final year undergraduate students may also be eligible for a £9,000 training bursary. Former military personnel may be eligible for a tax-free £40,000 Troops to Teachers bursary. More about eligibility for bursaries and funding your training.

How to take on this new career for free

Britain needs new teachers more than ever, according to charity Teach First. These learn-on-the-job schemes fast track people to the classroom where they can earn a salary and pay no fees. With Teach First, new teachers train for two years, with an optional third year to get a Masters degree. After five weeks training, teachers begin working in the classroom.

People who want to undertake a career change can do so through the Schools Direct programme. Applicants usually need three years worth of transferable employment history. The course takes a year and those taking part earn a salary but do not always work towards a qualification.

How to apply for a teaching course

Courses usually start in September or January, with applications opening around a year before and staying open until they are full, according to Get Into Teaching. One-to-one support is available via a teacher training adviser. Postgraduate teacher training coursesare listed online. Try these top teacher training tips to make your application sparkle.

Search teaching jobs

How to retrain as a paramedic

You can become a paramedic by studying an approved degree in paramedic science then applying to the ambulance service. Undergraduate courses take three to four years full-time and include the NHS Learning Support Fund’s minimum of £5,000 a year to find studies. Some ambulance trusts offer the option of studying while working, according to NHS health careers.

Skills needed to change career to a paramedic

One mandatory requirement to become a paramedic is a full, manual driving licence. Other must-have skills include being able to remain calm in stressful situations, great communication skills and being able to make quick decisions.

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How to retrain as a nurse

A nursing degree is the UK’s most employable type of degree, with 94% of students getting a job within six months of the end of their course, according to NHS health careers. Some people are eligible for at least £5,000 financial support for each year of their degree.

Choose a nursing course

Like teaching, the first step in a career change to become a nurse is deciding which area you want to specialise in. There are four to choose from; adults, children, learning disabilities or mental health. Some courses allow students to specialise in more than one field. You can search the NHS jobs course finder. Since the pandemic, some universities are offering online nursing courses, which can be found by searching ‘blended’ on the course finder.

Other routes to becoming a nurse

A degree is not the only way to become a nurse. Other routes include registered nurse degree apprenticeships (RNDAs), which are advertised on the NHS jobs website. Another option is to become a nursing associate, which is an adjacent role to care support workers in health and social care. These trainee roles do not make you a registered nurse but can be topped up with further training.

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How to start a new career as a doctor

There are many routes to becoming a doctor, according to the British Medical Association (BMA), but it’s worth considering undergraduate training can take up to six years before a career change. Graduate entry programmes into medicine can be found at some universities. However, it is also possible to study medicine as a mature student or with few qualifications. A good place to start is an access course at your local college, according to the BMA. People without a science background can opt to undertake pre-clinical medical foundation courses.

Medical training route

After undergraduate medical training, graduates must complete two years’ integrated training to be able to practice as a doctor in the UK. Post-graduate training gives doctors 60 different specialities to choose from.

Search jobs in medicine

How to change career and become a plumber

You can retrain as a plumber via an apprenticeship, by completing a fast-track course or by working as a plumber’s mate. Traditional plumbing apprenticeships take four years to complete and are sponsored so don’t cost anything. However, fast-track plumbing courses are a good option for people who want to career change as they only take eight to 10 weeks.

Why is becoming a plumber a good career change choice?

There is a high demand for plumbers in the UK, according to the Skills Training Group. This is because many skilled workers are of retirement age and because of lack of funding for apprenticeships. Visit the Skills Training Group for more information on finding a new career path.

Search plumbing jobs

How to start a new career as a counsellor

There are no compulsory training courses or qualifications for therapists. However the British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) sets its own standard for training. BACP recommends a three-stage route of three to four years,

Career Change step one: Introduction to counselling

Deciding whether counselling is the right career change for you can be explored with an initial step of an introductory course, according to BACP. If you search for courses, they are usually run at further education colleges or adult education centres and last up to 12 weeks.

Search distance-learning counselling courses via the Open University.

Certificate in counselling skills

The next step is a one-year part-time course that develops your counselling skills, expands knowledge of theories, ethics and self-awareness.

Find out more about becoming a counsellor.

Core practitioner training

According to BACP, your course should be at least one-year full-time or two years part-time classroom-based tuition. The training should also include supervised placements of a minimum of 100 hours to practise skills with clients under supervision. Accredited courses can be searched via the BACP directory, Hot Courses or UCAS.

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How to retrain as an electrician

There are a few different routes to train as an electrician. These include a college course, an apprenticeship or applying directly, according to the National Careers Service. The level of course you can start with will depend on your GCSEs. For example you will need two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) or equivalent to apply for a level two course. For an advanced apprenticeship you will need five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent.

Direct application

If you have relevant experience or qualifications from a related industry such as building services or electrical engineering then you may be able to apply directly to a construction site. People will need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent to train on a building site.

For more information on training routes visit Electrical Careers or Go Construct.

Search electrician jobs

How to build a career in construction

The options for entering the construction industry are similar to retraining as an electrician with three options; a college course, apprenticeship or applying directly. However the entry requirements are different. To apply for a level one certificate in construction skills, you do not need any GCSEs, while if you have two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, you can apply for a level two certificate in construction operations. To get onto an intermediate apprenticeship, you will need GCSEs including English and maths. You can apply directly for jobs without any grades or experience, but on-site experience does help.

How to get a Constructions Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card

You need a CSCS card to train on a building site. Applicants will need to scan either their qualification certificate or that they are registered with a construction site. You will need to have taken a health and safety test from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and have proof of this. It costs £36 to apply. According to the scheme’s official site, the quickest way to apply is online.

For more information, visit Go Construct or House Building Careers.

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How to become a HGV driver

There’s a shortage of HGV drivers at the moment due to Covid and Brexit so it’s worth looking into which employers are offering incentives to join them. To become a lorry, coach or bus driver you will need a full driving licence and be over 18. The next step is to get a Driver Certificate Of Professional Competence (CPC).

How to get a CPC

First, you need to apply for a provisional lorry or bus licence. The next step is passing four tests. You’ll then need to take 35 hours of training every five years to stay qualified.

For more information visit

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How to retrain as a chef

The hospitality staff shortage also caused by the pandemic and Brexit means there are plenty of opportunities to enter the sector. There are several routes to becoming a chef including university, college, an apprenticeship or training on the job.

How to work your way up

There’s never been a better time to climb the ladder in the hospitality sector. If you’re working in hospitality, you might want to ask your employer for opportunities to upskill or retrain. Training on the job can include starting as a kitchen assistant or trainee ‘commis’ chef. The National Careers Service recommends volunteering in a community kitchen if you want to gain experience or try out the job.

For more information visit the Hospitality Guild or

Search hospitality jobs

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