Types of work in London & the UK available to travellers
There are many work opportunities for travellers in London (and further afield in the UK). Some stick to their current profession while others try something different. Read on and discover what you can do.
Accounting, Banking and Financial
London is the heartland of the UK’s financial services centre and travellers with accounting, banking and financial backgrounds are in demand to fill positions.
The majority of employers are based in two areas – the older ‘City’ and the ultra modern glass towers and skyscrapers of the Docklands. However, there are also a number of other locations in and around London, including the main counties. In addition, some of the UK’s other major cities have vibrant financial districts including the historic Scottish towns of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Overseas qualifications are recognised and in many cases people with these overseas qualifications are highly sought after.
TIP: Dress conservatively. Males will need to wear a suit and tie (with a bowler hat and briefcase optional!). Some offices have a no-pants policy for females so either a skirt and shirt or a corporate suit will be necessary.
Agriculture and farming work
Farming – There is a demand for skilled tractor drivers, machinery operators for operating the larger farm equipment and also semi skilled workers for operating the smaller, less complicated equipment, for example, carting corn, baling straw, assisting with irrigation, supervising fruit pickers and grading potatoes and onions. Non-seasonal work includes working with livestock, for example, dairy farming, sheep, beef, pigs and chickens etc. General farm work includes feeding of animals, grooming horses, shepherding and general assistance in the running of a farm.
Knowing when to pitch your talents is a good place to start so following is a rough guide as to what is available and when:
Year round: fruit and vegetable picking, grading potatoes and onions, tree planting, milking, fencing, general farm work.
Spring: lambing assistants in Scotland and Wales from January to April, calving, tractor drivers to plough the fields. Shearers are required May to July.
Summer: harvest time, baiting hooks for salmon fishers, stalkers for deer and pheasant shoots.
Autumn: planting next seasons crops.
Winter: turkey plucking for Christmas. Beef farming expect work between February and May.
TIP: As the work is outdoors you will encounter various elements, some of them harsh. Wear a hat and sunscreen in sunny weather and during winter it is advisable to wear a beanie, thermal underwear, as jumpers and coats can be cumbersome. A pair of fingerless gloves might also be useful. A raincoat or waterproof jacket will be necessary in wet weather, though work usually stops when it rains.
Seasonal fruit and vegetable picking – If you have never done this kind of work before, the first few days will be a big learning experience. Jobs can differ greatly from picking root vegetables to climbing in fruit trees.
Before you agree to take on the work, you should find out from the grower the number of hours you are required to work including the starting time and any house rules. Check whether you will be required to bring your own tools, like secateurs, and also what, if any, accommodation is available for you.
WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms)
If you would like to experience life working on an organic farm you could WWOOF your way around the UK. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and it began in 1972 in England. Originally it was known as Working Weekends On Organic Farms. As it has grown and WWOOFers seek to stay longer than a weekend, the name has changed.
Farms range from self-sufficient holdings through to full commercial operations. Duties are wide and varied. It is not necessary to be experienced or qualified. The work required of you will include anything you are capable of which the host needs doing. You may find yourself making mud bricks, sowing crops, milking cows or goats, feeding chickens, chopping wood, planting, composting or making cheese and yoghurt.
Since you work as part of the family there are no set hours, but an average of 3 to 6 hours daily would be a fair exchange. The minimum stay on a WWOOF farm is two nights, the maximum stay is by mutual agreement between you and your host. You usually live as part of the family or separate accommodation may be provided. To find out more about WWOOF visit www.wwoof.org.uk
If you’ve heard the saying ‘there’s a pub on every corner’–well, it’s true. Even if you haven’t pulled a beer before the guv’nor (the owner or manager of the pub) may take you on (maybe only on a trial basis) to see how you cope with serving crowds, using the tills and how well you interact with customers, especially the locals. Sometimes they also take on couples.
If you already work in a bar you will know that bar work involves serving drinks (mostly pulling pint after half pint after pint), collecting glasses, wiping tables, making sure the bar is clean, cellar work, possibly preparing counter meals and cleaning ashtrays.
Live-in bar work is popular. The hours can be long and often hard but it is a great way to meet people. You will receive a small wage, free or subsidised accommodation which might be your own room or you may share it with another employee and meals (usually only while you’re on duty). A live-in bar job takes care of finding a job and somewhere to live in the one go.
TIPS: Beers are not served with much of a head so practise pouring them this way. Also, ice isn’t put into drinks automatically, so ask the punter if they would like ice. Use a clean glass for each drink unless the customer hands their old glass back to you which you may refill–check with the supervisor about this.
Dress is usually your own jeans/long pants and a T-shirt/shirt but some pubs will supply you with a T-shirt with the pub’s name on it.
Call/customer service centres
The call/customer service industry continues to grow. Many organisations are using call/customer service centres to aid their organisations growth. It is dominated by those in the 24-34 year old age group.
In most instances there is no minimum amount of experience required however, great communication skills and having sales, customer care or call centre experience will stand you in good stead. Having knowledge of particular industries which often use call centres/customer service (insurance, banking, travel, tourism, telecommunications, etc.) will also make your more marketable.
You do not necessarily need to be qualified, experienced or female to undertake care work. As long as you are caring, patient, honest, reliable, have a first aid certificate and an up-to-date police check you should be able to secure work. You may also be asked to apply for a DBS Check (Disclosure and Barring Services) which checks your details against the Children’s and Vulnerable Adult register.
Care work ranges from being a companion who might sit and chat and play cards to a housekeeper or nurse looking after a sick and/or frail elderly person as well as those with disabilities who require assistance in order to remain at home and live an active life.
Assignments (shifts) vary in length from a few days to weeks, months or longer. You are usually working seven days a week with maybe a couple of hours off each day. You may be on rotating shifts to provide continuity to clients and a break for other carer/s. In theory you may work 6-8 hours per day with a two hour break when you can leave the house and someone else stands in. You may be on call the rest of the time, but not actually working however, each job has its own care plan.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd (UKHCA) www.ukhca.co.uk is a very interesting read for those interested in care work. This association is the professional association of home care providers from the independent, voluntary, not-for-profit and statutory sectors.
Make your dream of being on stage or behind the scenes in the West End a reality. Many head to the UK to further their careers. On your arrival in the UK pick up a copy of The Stage www.thestage.co.uk. It is a weekly trade newspaper for the entertainment industry available from newsagents or on-line. It lists current opportunities for actors, dancers, ice-skaters, singers, directors, set builders, stage managers, wardrobe people, etc. It also lists auditions, talent contests, agents and schools where you can gain training.
Sales/shop assistants are required for fashion companies. Jobs require you to help customers in high street, department and designer stores in exclusive streets like Bond, Carnaby and Sloane Streets. Stores particularly take on staff during the run-up to the Christmas, New Year and mid-year sales. Contact the human resource departments of the major high street stores and you could find yourself working in notable stores such as Harrods www.harrodscareers.com, Debenhams www.debenhams-careers.com, Marks and Spencer and Bhs www.bhs.co.uk,
If you want to break in to the fashion industry there are position as pattern and sample cutters, sample machinists, quality controllers and pressers in design rooms throughout London with some big named designers.
Travel Writing & Photography
Travel Writing – The current overview is that newspapers and magazines are still viable outlets for the travel writer but they are slimmer than they used to be, so the competition for a diminishing number of article slots is more intense than ever before.
On the other hand, as the Internet evolves, the world around the Internet evolves as well. This means that readers, the travel industry providers, sponsors and advertisers are evolving too leading to more online opportunities for travel writers.
Traditionally travel writers would form associations with the travel editors of magazines and newspapers and write a specific article targeted at a specific market and on a specific topic. Even though these markets still exist many travel writers are making money by writing their own ebooks and selling them online via their own websites and blogs.
Photography – As with travel writing there are many magazines, websites, etc. that require photographs. Most starting out in the field put together a portfolio of shots in printed and electronic form on a websites then, will approach stock agencies, newspapers and magazines and website owners to sell their photographs.
Hair, beauty and spa personnel
Work is available for fully qualified hairdressers, beauticians and nail technicians in salons and spas throughout London. Overseas qualifications are recognised iso esure you bring your trade certificates with you. Bringing your own tools and equipment would come in useful however, you can easily purchase these on your arrival.
If feeling innovative and have your own equipment you could offer your services to fellow travellers. Haircuts, for instance, can be expensive and many travellers will not want to spend their money so offering these services at a cheaper rate may prove beneficial.
Hospitality and catering
The hospitality and catering industries in the UK are very big business all year round, though there is a dramatic increase in the number of positions available during the summer, beginning as early as March and ending in September/October. If you currently work in hospitality you will know the array of positions available.
London, as do many major towns (Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff to name a few) all have many eateries, pubs and cafes where offering many employment opportunities. Some include live-in positions which takes care of finding a job and somewhere to live in the one go.
Accommodation – Depending on the size of the establishment there are positions available as chambermaids, cleaners, handy persons, room-service attendants, bar attendants, receptionists, back-office staff, front-office staff, chefs, kitchen hands, waiters and waitresses, etc. So you may find yourself working in a fine establishment only found on the Monopoly Board however, there are many smaller establishments offering employment opportunities.
Some establishments require you have experience while others will take you on without it. Some accommodation jobs will offer live-in accommodation which takes care of finding a job and somewhere to live in the one go.
Chefs and catering – Chefs of all levels and specialities are particularly in demand for a wide range of establishments. Cooks and kitchen hands are also required. Chefs should bring their own uniforms and a set of knives. If you don’t want to carry the knives with you, budget to buy some when you get to London.
Tourist attractions – There are literally hundreds of tourist attractions in London. These can provide work such as entrance ticket sellers, preparing and selling fast food, selling merchandise, cleaners, etc.
Holiday centres and camps – When summertime comes around holiday centres and camps go into full swing. These centres are very family-oriented and are located in a variety of holiday areas throughout Britain including at the seaside or in the countryside around lakes. The camps offer accommodation, half- and full-board or self-catering options and a range of activities like horse riding, water sports, golf, tennis, etc., to keep their guests occupied. They remind me of the place in the movie Dirty Dancing.
These holiday camps require a large number of staff as cooks, catering assistants, cleaners, maintenance staff, store assistants for tuck shops, administrative staff, nurses, child-carers, drivers, group leaders, sports instructors (cricket, tennis, hockey, fencing, kayaking, etc.), entertainers, bar attendants, security officers, amusement park attendants, waiters/waitresses, etc.
You will need to make yourself available for the whole of summer. If you can you will receive a wage and accommodation.
PGL www.pgl.co.uk is a provider of activity courses and holidays for schools, youth groups, family holidays and summer camps for unaccompanied children.
Waiting – Waiting tables is a universal profession and with the number of eateries in London you should be able to pick up work. The work available ranges from working in fast food outlets, pubs, restaurants, cafes to private parties.
Bring full black and whites with you and the waiter’s friend, a bottle opener. Some places, like pubs, provide a uniform (usually a T-shirt).
Information technology (IT)
IT professionals can find contract work in London. Positions range from technical, network and help desk support to analysts/programmers and project managers working on everything from main-frame, open system platforms to personal computers.
Work is available on a contract basis for varying lengths of time, which will fit in perfectly for those who want to travel between assignments.
Lawyers and legal secretaries
Lawyers – In order to practice as a solicitor in England and you are qualified outside of the UK you must sit the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). The QLTS is a fast-track route for qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales for international lawyers. The programme is administered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body of the Law Society of England and Wales. The QLTS assessments comprise a written examination and practical assessment which can take a couple of months to achieve. For more details visit:
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Information Services www.sra.org.uk
Legal secretary – Legal secretaries and support staff with a minimum of 12 months experience are in great demand in London. There are a variety of temporary and contractual positions available (varying in length from three to 12 months) and ranging from reception, word processing pools which can be open 24 hours a day, database operators, secretarial and PA positions. You will find that the role of a legal secretary can be quite demanding in London as you will often have to carry out paralegal work.
Dress TIP: As you are working in an office environment, professional dress is essential.
Medical and health care staff
To practise in your medical field in the UK you will need to obtain registration from the appropriate governing body. This process can be time-consuming and costly. Sometimes, you may also be required to undertake extra training before your qualifications will be recognised. Contact the relevant body before you leave home (a few months prior at least) to find out what is required of you. You will find the appropriate governing bodies listed following. Once you have your registration you can look for work.
Dental professionals – General Dental Council www.gdc-uk.org
Doctors – General Medical Council www.gmc-uk.org
Arts Therapists, Biomedical Scientists, Chiropodists/Podiatrists, Clinical Scientists, Dieticians, Hearing Aid Dispensers, Occupational Therapists, Operating Department Practitioners, Orthoptists, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Practitioner psychologist, Prosthetists & Orthotists, Radiographers, Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists – Health Professionals Council www.hpc-uk.org
Nurses – Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) www.nmc.org.uk
Pharmacists – Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain www.rpharms.com
Nannies, mother’s helps and Au Pairs
Having a nanny, mother’s help or Au Pair is part of the British way of life and many families find it quite prestigious to have an Australasian nanny who is considered part of the family. You don’t necessarily need qualifications either, although a caring attitude, a driver’s licence (a manual one is preferred) and childcare-related references would enhance the number of positions available to you. A police check from your home country is a must.
A nanny is responsible for looking after the child/children. As parents are often working professionals, positions can be ‘sole charge’ which means you have total responsibility for the child/children in their parents absence. Duties include entertaining them, getting them up in the morning, dropping them off and picking them up from school, taking them to ballet, music, swimming lessons or whatever, tidying up after them, feeding them and bathing them.
A mother’s help does just that: helps the mother with her duties which can include looking after the children, running errands, shopping, washing, light housework, cooking and generally helping out.
An Au Pair is usually someone young who has come to improve their language skills while living with a family. In return for food and board and a wage duties will include mostly looking after children and generally helping out where required.
Most nanny, mother’s help and Au Pair positions are live-in which takes care of finding a job and a place to live in the one go.
Positions are available all year round, but families particularly look for nannies during two periods of the year: before and after the summer school holidays (June to September) as many travellers go travelling during this time and/or after Christmas as they go home.
Anyone with secretarial or admin skills will find it easy to obtain work, especially during summer as this is the time when most British employees take their annual holidays.
The skills required for such work include audio, shorthand of around 80 wpm, a typing speed of at least 60 wpm, the ability to use many word processing packages, a knowledge of spreadsheets, the ability to use a switchboard, a confident phone manner, admin skills and tea and coffee-making skills.
Dress TIP: dress codes are conservative; the navy suit and string of pearls is alive and well. Many offices have a no-pants (trousers) policy for females. Males must wear a suit and tie. It’s advisable to dress up on the first day, see what the others are wearing and then dress accordingly.
During summer, especially in Wales, horse riding holidays are popular. Travellers with a lot of horse experience may consider picking up a brochure from a travel agent and approach the establishments mentioned for work. Also purchase a copy of Horse and Hound www.horseandhound.co.uk which has a job section on its website.
As spring arrives, so does the horseracing flat season. Horse show assistants and grooms are often required to help get the horses ready for the track and shows. These jobs are often advertised in the travellers’ weeklies, also look at Horse and Hound.
If you are an experienced horse rider you could obtain work in one of the many riding establishments throughout the UK. The British Horse Society publishes ‘Where to Ride’, which lists British Horse Society www.bhs.org.uk approved riding establishments. Note that this publication is intended to inform people which riding schools have British Horse Society approval and not as a directory of where to find work. Nevertheless, there shouldn’t be any harm in approaching the riding establishments listed. It can be purchased directly from the society or via their website. There is also a ‘Jobs and Career’ section on the website providing information and advice for those wanting to work with horses.
There are no ski centres in London however, if you are happy to head to Scotland for a season then there are work opportunities for the traveller.
There are five main ski centres in the Scottish Highlands: the Lecht, Nevis Range, Cairngorm, Glenshee and Glencoe. Some of the ski areas are quite remote and rely on travellers for staff.
The ski season generally runs from November/December to the middle of May but it does depend on the white stuff. Ski resorts need hospitality staff for their restaurants and cafes and ski/board instructors are in demand on the ski fields, along with lift operators and maintenance people.
Accommodation isn’t provided so before you take on a position you must organise a place to stay. Some of the resorts have a work bus.
Overseas qualified teachers are highly regarded in schools as emergency teachers.
Positions can be for a day, week or term. A good agency will help you acclimatise, educationally as well as socially. If you want to work in London, be prepared to travel as work can be found all over Greater London. It is a good idea to find somewhere to live first, and then approach agencies that can place you in positions in the area you are living to save you travelling. Agencies often have teaching resources available but it may be an idea to bring lesson ideas with you, more so for primary school teachers than secondary.
The school year runs from September to July in the UK and has three terms. Autumn term begins the first week in September (after the six-week summer holiday ends) and finishes the third week in December. Spring term begins the first week in January and runs through until Easter while the summer term begins two weeks after Easter and runs until the third week in July. There are also one-week breaks in the middle of each term known as ‘half term’. You should take note of these term dates because there is no work available during the holidays, so it would be a very good time to undertake holidays of your own.
The best times for finding long-term bookings in the same school are early September, when the school year begins and March through May. The busiest times for day-to-day supply work in the schools are October, November and January through to March. The end of April to mid-July can sometimes be busy too, though secondary school work tends to tail off once exams are under way at the end of May.
It is possible to find yourself in classes where English is the second language, so brush up on your skills in that area and ask your agency for information on the national curriculum.
Dress for teachers is smart/casual–no jeans on the first day. Dress up the first day and then dress accordingly. Your agency should be able to advise you on what to wear, as they are in constant contact with schools and would know if you shouldn’t wear clothing such as leggings. Although these are fashionable, they may not be appropriate in Hindu or Muslim schools. You will need to be sensitive to ethnic diversity.
Many people who wish to learn English often go to the UK to do so. In fact around 700,000 people are going to the UK to learn English each year. You will therefore find a large number of private English Language institutions in the UK offering classes that require English language teachers.
The majority of English language schools require their teachers hold a qualification. Many travellers opt to obtain the internationally recognised Cambridge CELTA certificate (formerly known as Cambridge/RSA).
Technical, trades, general labouring and industrial positions
If you already work in technical, trades, general labouring and industrial professions you will know the variety and level of positions available including:
Technical (built industry): engineers, draughtsmen, architects, inspectors, tracers, town planners, etc.
Trades: electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, boilermakers, etc.
General labouring: labourers, process workers, dock hands, etc.
Industrial: store people, forklift operators, drivers, stock takers, fitters, riggers, etc.
Positions are available on a contractual or permanent basis and good news, qualifications are recognised and you don’t have to join any governing body to undertake this type of work.
International travel consultants with SABRE and/or GALILEO are in demand in the UK for positions in business travel centres and leading worldwide corporate companies. The bulk of job vacancies are in London, but opportunities to work in and experience other parts of the UK are frequently available.
The length of assignments can vary from a week to six months, or longer to cover sick, holiday and maternity leave or busy periods.
Vets and veterinary nurses
Before you can practise as a vet or work as a veterinary nurse in the UK you are required to register and be admitted to membership with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons www.rcvs.org.uk.
Registration can take some time, so contact them a few months before you leave home then you will know whether your qualifications are recognised and what other documentation is required to gain your registration. You will be required to attend a registration ceremony in person at Belgravia House in London.
Once you have your registration, positions can be found in private practices through specialist employment agencies.
Archaeological digs – If you have ever dreamt of uncovering a prehistoric animal bone, a trinket thousands of years old or a medieval city, then here is your chance. You do not need to be an archaeological student to participate on a dig, you can pay to go on one as a volunteer.
As a volunteer, you will likely spend your time either excavating in a trench with an experienced archaeologist or in the house/tent helping with cleaning, cataloguing and packing of delicate objects. The excavation season tends to run from Easter to September each year. For further information about archaeological excavations in the United Kingdom have a look at the ‘Fieldwork’ opportunities on the Council for British Archaeology’s website www.archaelogyuk.org
Conservation – The British Trust for Conservation (BTCV) www.btcv.org is the UK’s largest conservation organisation. They provide many volunteer opportunities for individuals to get involved in projects to improve the environment. Projects can run for a day to a few months and include tree planting to stop coastal erosion, fencing, dry stone walling, construction and maintenance of walking tracks, weed control, habitat restoration, heritage restoration and the monitoring of endangered flora and fauna. You could find yourself in some of the most beautiful and untouched parts of the UK.
In most cases you will need to pay to go on a program. The price covers your meals and accommodation (which varies in standard) and usually project-related travel costs (though you will usually need to pay for your own fare to get you to and from the project site).
National Trust properties www.nationaltrust.org – has many properties throughout the UK. Each property requires upkeep with the majority of work being done by volunteers. You could find yourself working at some of the most impressive places in the UK including many castles.
Other work that pays
Busking can be done pretty much anywhere, though the most popular places to ply your trade include shopping malls, high street shopping strips, outside or near tourist attractions and public transport stations. However, you should check with the local council whether or not you are required to have a permit.
Profitable times are during the lunchtime rush and before or after business hours when people are either on their way to work or going home. You could try busking outside popular attractions on a Sunday when many families go out for the day. The Christmas season is always the best time and people often make extra money around then.
As there are a lot of buskers, those who try something different like mime artists or didgeridoo players often draw more crowds than those singing with a guitar.
The traffic in and around London can be horrendous, so companies rely on motorbike and pushbike couriers/despatch riders to pick up and deliver packages as fast as possible.
Being a courier is a great way to get to know the roads of London, other major cities and the UK in general while earning a wage. You will see famous places and maybe famous faces whilst making deliveries to the House of Commons, 10 Downing Street or Buckingham Palace. You might be sent to deliver presents directly to movie stars in their hotel rooms.
No experience is necessary though a clean licence (if riding a motor cycle) is essential. A good sense of direction would also help. Most courier companies will hire bikes and gear to you though some prefer you have your own.
There are many casinos in London. They all require gaming staff for their various tables of roulette, black-jack, craps, Punto Bano, etc. You must be proficient in handling chips, pushing stacks, shuffling and loading the shoe, splitting and doubling, mixed bets, multiple bets, etc. Being well groomed is essential. A uniform is usually supplied by the casino. The law in the UK permits gaming only between 2pm and 4am (a 14-hour period). You can therefore expect to work afternoons or nights. Casinos also need bar tenders, waitresses, etc.
Don’t laugh, people have been seen in the major parks being dragged along by–err, out walking dogs. This comes about because, as you will notice, people living in the cities usually don’t have yards, sorry, gardens, and many of them are dog owners. If you like dogs and don’t mind walking in all types of weather then this is something you could try.
Domestic work is available in private homes. Work for singles and couples can be found as cleaners, housekeepers, cooks, gardeners, handy persons, chefs, chauffeurs, butlers, etc. for a family. It is preferred you have experience in your field. Many positions are advertised in The Lady magazine available for purchase from newsagencies or visit online at www.thelady-magazine.co.uk.
Many people exercise indoors, usually at gyms, health centres, swimming centres, tennis clubs or downhill skiing centres. This means work is available for qualified aerobic instructors, personal trainers, swimming instructors, pool supervisors, tennis coaches and ski instructors.
You don’t necessarily need experience to do security work, as most companies provide training. Positions can be found all over the country with a lot of shift work available. You could find yourself sitting behind a desk watching TV screens, undertaking crowd control at a rock concert or patrolling the aisles of a large toy store.
For more details on work opportunities including contact details of recruiters to contact for jobs purchase a copy of our ebook LiveWork&Play in London and the UK now.