A Career in Health Visitor Service

If you are considering becoming a health visitor, hopefully you have found a wealth of information on this website that has convinced you of the value of health visitors in working with families and communities.

To become a health visitor, you must first be a qualified nurse or midwife, after which you must complete a one-year (52-week) full-time or two-year (104-week) part-time program to become a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (Health Visitor).

The NHS Careers website contains information about careers in health visiting as well as information about the recruitment process for programs.

All educational programs for becoming a health visitor are also available on the NMC website.

Getting Ready to Be a Health Visitor

Here are some useful web links and reading suggestions to help you become acquainted with health-care policy. This makes more sense if you have also sought out a practicing health visitor to discuss or even observe the role in practice. We also recommend reading our page titled 'What is a Health Visitor?' This short video will give you an idea of the breadth and depth with which health visitors work with each family.

The NMC (2004) Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nurses apply to all approved training programs in the United Kingdom, but they will be replaced by new Standards of Proficiency by September 2024.

Since 2021, an apprenticeship scheme has been used to fund a few programs in England, with some differences in funding, assessment, and program duration (typically 18 months). The apprenticeship scheme may be expanded once the Apprenticeship Standard has been updated to reflect the new NMC standards.

Maintain compliance with guidelines and policies such as:




The Republic of Ireland

Personal and professional characteristics of health visitors - what employers seek (DH 2012)

Be prepared to show that you are:

  • Concerned about public health, prevention, and early intervention
  • Adaptable and powerful
  • Respect for various values and a holistic approach to care
  • Supportive and adaptable communication style
  • When communicating, this is insightful.
  • Capable of involving others and forming alliances
  • Capable of displaying professionalism

Requirements for Entry

Students who participate in health-visiting programs must:

  • Work as a registered nurse or midwife. Nursing registration can be obtained in any field of nursing (adult, child, learning disability, and mental health).
  • Perform an enhanced DBS check.
  • Have a first degree (Academic entry requirements vary by HEI, but the majority require a first degree).

Pathway to a career in health visiting:

The infographic depicts current and prospective career paths in health visiting.

The iHV has recommended that graduates pursue a fast-track health visitor (HV) training program that includes a shortened pre-registration registered nurse (RN) training followed by specialist community public health nursing (SCPHN) HV training.

This option is currently being investigated with higher education institutions (HEI), and with the right agreements in place, it may be possible to create a fast-track pathway for postgraduates to qualify as health visitors.

Possible interview questions include:

  • Why have you decided to pursue a career in health visiting?
  • What skills and/or qualities can you bring to the table?
  • What are the time commitments associated with such a course?
  • How do you anticipate adjusting to being a student and studying?
  • In what ways do you regard yourself as professionally committed?
  • Can you tell us what you think the role of the health visitor is?
  • What factors can you identify that may be influencing how community services are delivered?
  • When you arrive at a house to see a child, you notice that he or she has a slap mark injury on his or her face. What exactly are your responsibilities? Who and what are you responsible to?
  • What additional services do health visitors provide?
  • Can you speak about the role of the health visitor in protecting children?

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Health Visitor

Q: I'd like to become a health visitor. Is there a course I can take to train directly without first becoming a nurse or midwife?

A: The simple answer is 'No.' You must first be a registered nurse or midwife before applying for a Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Health Visiting course. You might find this website useful.

We at iHV are eager to promote a more streamlined path into the profession, but this is not yet available.

Q: I'd like to resume health visits after a long break. Is it necessary for me to take a Return to Health Visiting course?

A: The simple answer is 'No.' There is no need for this. There are no 'Return to Health Visiting' courses available.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires that you maintain your registration as a nurse or midwife through revalidation in order to practice as a health visitor. Currently, revalidation should consider the scope of practice of your intended role, such as health visiting; however, revalidation has no direct relationship to the standards of proficiency for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - health visiting (though this may change in the future). Nonetheless, the standards of proficiency can be a useful starting point for thinking about how your previous practice, practice-related feedback, and CPD support your work as a SCPHN-Health Visitor.

There is no additional requirement for the NMC for you to practice as an SCPHN health visitor if you have maintained your registration as a nurse or midwife and your SCPHN qualification but have not been working as a health visitor. An employer, on the other hand, may provide you with an extended program of induction and preceptorship to ensure that both they and you are confident in your ability to practice safely and effectively. Organizational requirements may differ and may be supplemented by formal or informal CPD learning activities. This is not, however, a formal NMC-approved 'Return to Practice' course.

If your registration as a nurse or midwife has expired, the NMC can help you get back on the register by taking an approved Return to Practice course. If you take a Return to Practice course, make sure to tell the course provider that your intended field of practice is health visiting. This is done to ensure that your practice experience is relevant to your scope of practice in health visiting. Everyone who takes a course should be encouraged to return to their intended field of practice. It is also possible to regain registration by passing the NMC test of competence.

When applying for readmission, you must decide which additional qualifications must be registered or recorded.

Q: Are there any specific requirements for renewing my SCPHN registration?

A: Every three years, all registrants must revalidate their registration. This is manageable online via NMC Online, where you can create your own account. You can view your registration status, your entry on the register, when your revalidation is due, pay fees, and manage your revalidation there. There is extensive revalidation guidance available. There is also information on renewing your SCPHN registration.

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