As a housing officer you would administer housing estates and property on behalf of local authorities or housing associations. This involves investigating applications and assessing priorities for housing, providing advice to tenants (who might sometimes be dealing with stressful personal situations) and supporting them in accessing benefits and welfare advice. You would arrange repairs, arrange rent collection and deal with any arrears. You may also need to handle and resolve issues such as anti-social behaviour, squatters and broken tenancy agreements and liaise with police and social services.
There are no set entry requirements although a lot of people have at least a level 3 qualification, (equivalent to A Level). Some employers may prefer you to have a higher level qualification such as a foundation degree or a degree in a relevant subject such as housing, town planning, social policy or urban studies. A Postgraduate Diploma in Housing Administration could also be useful. However, many employers will be more interested in your experience and personal qualities than your qualifications.
Some employers look for membership/part membership of CIH (Chartered Institute for Housing), but you are more likely to have this if you are already in the field. CIH Certificates in Housing at levels 2, 3 and 4 will improve your chances of securing a job in the housing sector.
You could also enter in an administrative role and work your way up to housing officer. Entry requirements vary, but you will usually need at least four or five GCSEs (A-C), Standard grades or equivalent, or possibly higher qualifications such as A levels or Highers. You may also be able to get into the job through an Apprenticeship scheme.
You will be at an advantage if you have practical experience in housing, and this could be essential for some jobs. You could gain experience by arranging a work placement in a local authority housing department or a housing association, or by volunteering with a housing association or charity.
You will usually work a 37 hour week, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to work evenings, for example to attend tenants' meetings. Part-time work may be available.
Housing officers can earn between £20,000 and £27,000 a year. Senior officers can earn between £28,000 and £32,000. Managers can earn up to £50,000.
You will find most vacancies with local authorities, housing associations and charitable organisations such as Shelter. You could also find jobs with other providers of accommodation, like universities and property companies. You could work with particular groups, such as homeless or elderly people, students or people with disabilities. In local authority housing departments you may have opportunities for progression, but promotion structures within other organisations vary. As Housing Associations like to retain staff there are opportunities for further study whilst at work which can lead to promotion.
Graduate profile: Nicke Johnson from South London YMCA
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
BA in Social Policy
MA in Social Research and Social Policy
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
My current role is Quality and Involvement Manager and my job is to:
• devise and implement the organisation’s Quality and Involvement Strategy
• recruit, train and develop customer reps/volunteers, customer auditors, customer Committee and Board members
• ensure that Quality and Customer Involvement is fully embedded at every project
• manage the process of quality audits at every project, supporting, training and coaching managers to undertake the audits and implement continuous improvements and supporting Directors with delivery of action plans as required
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
My role requires me to be a strategic thinker as I have to outline organisational priorities in two business areas over a two year period.
Additionally, with regards to Quality and Involvement roles, I must have skills in:
• evaluation and analysis, in relation to conducting internal quality audits
• diplomacy, to enable me to feedback positive and negative outcomes
• building good relationships
• organisation and communication
• report writing
• training, as I lead on training for staff and customers (residents)
• design (newsletters and publications)
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
My degrees have given me an understanding of the social issues related to Homelessness and the different political ideology surrounding ways to reduce levels of it. I am also able to use my research experience and skills gained through my MA, with practical applications being: researching best practice in related fields and carrying out full consultations with our customer base and staff.
5. Are there any additional activities or work experience that helped you?
Before attending university I volunteered for The Children’s Society as a peer mentor. Through this 3 year voluntary placement I took part in research into youth homelessness and social inclusion, and involved promoting the findings through two conferences: one for the voluntary sector and civil servants here in England, another in Brussels. The results of which were fed into the Homelessness Act 2000.
Additionally I volunteered at Ravenhead Foyer in St. Helens – a housing project for young people aged 16-25. This was a placement that was required as part of my Level 1 Youth Work studies. Here I got to meet young homeless people and understand more about their situation.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
In terms of Housing and Homelessness, the people that will be using our services are made up from people of all demographics – from young parents to elderly rough sleepers, and all manners in between. It is therefore important to ensure that the workforce is as diverse as possible. This means that there will be some shared learning and understanding of the many different and diverse experiences of the customers. Anyone who is LGB and thinking about working in Housing and Homelessness Services should definitely give it a try. It is very humbling and yet rewarding. My role focuses on improving the quality of the services that are provided so although I am not working right at the coal-face, I do see the benefits of working towards improving those services that people may not always have a choice in accessing.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
My current job was advertised on a range of charity job websites. I was lucky as well as several of my friends knew that I was looking for employment so were sending my roles that they came across that might interest me; with my current role being one of those. The application process was quite easy and standard for someone working in my sector – application form with support statement, followed by interview. I don’t usually declare my sexual orientation on the equalities monitoring form that comes with the application forms, as I usually like to wait to see what the organisation is like and whether or no they would be accepting. However, when I had a look at SLYMCA’s website, they had photos of the CMT, who looked like a very diverse group of people, which gave me hope that it wouldn’t be run by very white, middle class men – I wasn’t disappointed!
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
The keys to being successful in my field are to be forward thinking and strategic in terms of knowing what you want to achieve in the long term; being innovative and flexible in finding ways to get there; collaboration, and wanting to engage other people who can support you to get there; and open to learning from mistakes with a desire to put things right.
9. What are your future career options?
My future careers options could either lie in wider business improvement, that would focus on improving more within an organisation than just the quality of services, or within wider stakeholder engagement in many different fields.