Career outlook for trade union official

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would try to get employers to improve pay and working conditions for members of your union. Your work would be very important in ensuring that staff at all levels are treated fairly.

As a full-time trade union representative working at regional level, you would:

  • Advise on legal or health and safety issues
  • Hire and train local officials
  • Deal with local disputes and case work
  • Promote learning and education programmes to members

At national level, you would:

  • Work on policies
  • Do research
  • Set up learning and education programmes
  • Deal with the media
  • Negotiate with employers’ organisations, political parties and government

You might be a part-time union official, known as a shop steward or representative. You would be elected by trade union members in your company to pass on their views to managers. You would then spend some of your work time dealing with trade union business.

Working conditions


In a full-time job you would work between 35 and 40 hours a week, which could include early starts, evenings and weekends.


You would be mainly office-based.


You would spend some of your time attending meetings and visiting members and union representatives.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Self esteem
  • Ethical
  • Motivating others
  • Negotiating
  • Recalling

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal entry requirements for this role but many entrants have a degree (SCQF level 9/10) or a professional qualification.

Any degree subject or professional qualification would be acceptable, but subjects such as:

  • Accountancy
  • Business studies
  • Economics
  • Industrial relations
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Sociology

may be particularly useful.

Useful subjects

Subjects where you gain an understanding of people, politics and rights such as:

  • Modern studies
  • Politics
  • Sociology
  • Religious and moral education

You will also need

 You will require relevant experience with trade unions, perhaps as a shop steward.