What do I need to do to become a First Aid Trainer?
Since the HSE deregulated First Aid Training in 2013 it has become very easy to set up as a Trainer. The obvious advantage is that it is a lot easier for you to start Training; the obvious disadvantage is that since anyone can start, the barriers to entry are low and there are a lot of Trainers competing for the same clients.
As a minimum you need the following:
A Level 3 or higher Teaching qualification
A Level 3 or higher Assessing qualification
A First Aid qualification – as a minimum a 3-day First Aid at work qualification
By having a teaching and an assessing qualification you can teach the courses and also asses the learners’ competencies. If you don’t have an assessing qualification you would need to buy in an assessor for each course that you delivered.
A First Aid qualification ensures that you have competency in the subject that you are teaching.
Is that really it?
Well, yes, however you will be restricted in what you teach and you may not make a very good trainer – which means repeat courses and recommendations may not follow. Whilst it is not always the case, generally speaking, to be a good trainer some form of First Aid experience with real patients / casualties is highly recommended. I totally accept that even the highest qualified medical staff can make terrible trainers, if you have dealt with casualties; with severe bleeds, medical problems and Cardiac Arrests you will be able to talk about the subjects from an experience point of view, not just something read from a First Aid manual.
Not only that, a First Aid at work qualification does not even give you the theoretical knowledge for teaching paediatric and outdoor courses – you should look to be gaining these additional qualifications. If you are looking to be a Freelancer then the more qualifications that you are qualified to deliver the more desirable you will become to prospective employers.
The way to get started is to quit Talking and begin Doing.
Why do you want to become a First Aid Trainer?
I want to earn a side income alongside my day job
I taught First Aid as part of an Organisation and now I want to strike out on my own
I’ve been made redundant and it sounded like something I’d like to do
I’m a First Aider at Work and being a First Aid Trainer seems a cushy enough job.
You have decided, for whatever reason, that you would like to teach First Aid – either part-time or full time, either as a Freelancer or by running your own Business.
Perhaps you come from a medical background such as the Ambulance Service or Nursing. You may be a volunteer in the Private Sector such as the British Red Cross or St John Ambulance and are interested in making some money from your hobby (this is how I started).
You could have been made redundant or just feel like you are in a dead-end career, going nowhere. A lot of First Aid Trainers are ex-military personnel, possibly by choice, but their background experience is excellent for becoming a Trainer and the Military is very generous with assisting people get back on to Civvy Street.
It doesn’t really matter what your reasons are. You are reading this guide because you want to know what is involved in becoming a First Aid Trainer.
Do I need to have any First Aid experience?
No, you don’t according to the specification. All you need (as a minimum) is a teaching & assessing qualification and a First Aid at Work Certificate and you are good to go. It has to be said, though, that if you don’t have any practical background knowledge you will struggle to deliver a good course, one where the feedback is good, the students are engaged and you are able to answer questions and pepper the course with anecdotes.
Some training Centres will only take on First Aid Trainers with relevant field experience for this reason. It’s not all bad news, there are plenty of opportunities to get that experience, from volunteering with the St John Ambulance to becoming a Community Responder for your local Ambulance Service.
I started off as a volunteer First Aider with the Red Cross covering fêtes, concerts, horse trials etc. Plenty of minor injuries, cuts and the odd broken bone. After then I was a Community Responder. There you deal with the more serious side, attending 999 emergencies and I dealt with many fits, strokes, traumas and, yes, Cardiac Arrests. That experience has helped me deliver my courses – from describing conditions with first-hand experience to having a store of stories about the lighter side. Walk the walk as well as talk the talk as the saying goes.
Read on to see what you will need in terms of training and equipment, what your chances of success are and my useful tips in setting up and promoting yourself in order to find clients.
The bad news
The thing about starting up a business is that let’s say you invest £1,000 on doing it, you absolutely could lose that £1,000 (and it’s likely that you will). But if it works the upside could be 10x 100x 1,000x. The downside is known but the upside is infinite
Richard Reed – co-founder of Innocent Drinks
First Aid Trainers will tell you that the First Aid Market is saturated. This is true. If you want to earn a living teaching First Aid or running a First Aid Training Business, employing other trainers then, unless you have wangled an initial deal with a big enough local Business to provide their training you will struggle. Freelance rates have not really changed for about 5 years (written 2021).
In 2015 the Health and Safety Executive stopped approving Training Companies and opened the floodgates to today’s free-for-all. The barriers to entry are very low, so it is not difficult for anyone to set themselves up as a Trainer or as a Training Organisation. If someone already has a full-time job then this is something that they can do in their spare time and could do for pin money or even for free if they felt altruistic enough.
A self-employed Trainer has no premises, no overheads, could quite possibly operate with no insurance and can knock out unaccredited Certificates on a home Printer.
A lot of Businesses see First Aid Training as an unnecessary box-ticking expense and therefore just go for the cheapest option available. Business Owners don’t understand the difference between Regulated, Accredited and non-Accredited courses and, without a tangible product at the end, have no way of knowing if their staff have been given correct, incorrect or out-of-date information and training – or whether the Trainer has skimped on the resources required. As long as they return, clutching a certificate that says ‘First Aid at Work’, that is Job Done for another three years.
Of course, this could be you. You might have a comfortable job and just want to test the water. Perhaps a friend has asked whether you could deliver a First Aid course for her local Business, Scout Group or Charity. You are happy to do it for a modest ‘donation’ then it starts to snowball from there.
Sooner or later, though you will have to legitimise yourself. Prospective clients will ask about insurance and competencies and word of mouth will spread – for good or for bad. If you get known for skimping on training and pushing out poor quality certificates it will get hard to expand your Business.
The good news
First Aid Training will always be required. Legislation ensures that any qualification lasts no longer than 3 years – sometimes only a year – and then it needs to be renewed. Schools have to include some First Aid in the curriculum.
If you deliver a good course, for an appropriate length of time with equipment that looks like you have taken care of it and the students walk away with a decent Certificate and a feeling that they are competent then your reputation will spread in a positive way.
If you saw that on a Website or a Social Media page, wouldn’t that fill you with confidence that you would be getting some good training?
There are lots of other reasons why you might get the chance to teach First Aid:-
A small Company has grown and now finds it wants or needs a First Aider for the first time
As with any profession, there are good and bad Trainers and Training Companies. If a Company had a bad experience last time round they may be looking to change Training Provider upon renewal
Even if the Training Company was good last time, it makes sense for the client to shop around to see if a cheaper option is available – and you may be able to deliver a great course for them at a better price. Most private Training Companies, for instance, are able to offer a course considerably below the cost of the National Training Providers
You know people. You are often better placed to land a course if your friends know that you teach First Aid. It often really is “who you know”
At any point in time, 1 in 12 First Aiders need to renew within the next 3 months. When you walk into that office, you could hit that sweet spot when the Office Manager has been asked to research First Aid Training Providers.
And finally, if you do get some Training booked and you do a good job, they will be back no more than three years down the line – possibly earlier, especially in low-pay, high turnover professions. At that point the workload ratchets up as you have repeats on top of any new Business that you are winning.
Example 1: I walked into a local Arts Centre and introduced myself. It turns out they had a Company organised to deliver some First Aid Training, but the Arts Centre had had to postpone and, when they came back to setting up the course they could not get hold of the Training Organisation. Right place, right time for me.
Example 2: Soon after I had set up my Company, a National Organisation emailed for a quote for a course. One that you will have heard of and would have thought that was sorted for training. Well, they weren’t. I got that gig and now my Organisation delivers many courses across the UK for them as we have had word of mouth recommendations across their many sites.
So, are you cut out to be a self-employed Trainer? Take our questionnaire to find out. Be honest with yourself.
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They are there to help you consider whether or not you are cut out for the work. Use them to make you think about whether you should take the next step.
Do I have enough capital / other income to live off for the next six months?
Unless you are starting off with a Contract that pays up front you will need Capital to buy Training equipment, Marketing material and insurance, then time to build up your client base. Not making any net profit for the first six months (if not longer) is a definite possibility. I didn’t turn a profit until year 2 – and that was followed by a chunky loss in year 3, after which – despite COVID – I have turned a decent profit.
Do I have the resources to teach?
You will need as a minimum:
Resuscitation Annies (3 adults minimum – the same again for child and baby if you wish to teach Paediatric courses)
Training defibrillators – 1 per Annie
Training bandages, dressings, props etc.
A Projector, screen and laptop
Public Liability insurance, car insurance upgraded for Business use
Marketing material, Business cards
All of this will need to be bought before you earn a single penny. See our chapter on equipment costs for a fuller breakdown.
Do I have the right Qualifications?
As a minimum, you need a Teaching qualification, an Assessing qualification and a Competency qualification in the subject. For example, to teach First Aid at Work you have to have a Teaching and Assessing qualification such as the Level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET – a combined Teaching and Assessing qualification) and a 3-day First Aid at Work qualification.
That is the bare minimum. If you are planning to offer more than just First Aid at Work courses, you will need additional qualifications – 12 hour Paediatric to teach Paediatric, (Advanced) Outdoor to teach Outdoor and so on. Factor in the cost of these qualifications (although often you only need to obtain the Certificate once to gain a Lifetime ability to teach the subject).
Do I have the experience?
The above qualifications are the bare minimum that you need. Generally speaking, the better trainers are those that also have medical experience – e.g. Military medic, ex frontline Ambulance, ex Voluntary Aid Society. It’s not essential but experience will give you and your students confidence that you know your subject (it’s also good to have a few stories up your sleeve to add into the courses to liven them up).
Can I Market myself to others?
Unless you strike it lucky with natural listings on Google Search or have a very deep pot to pay for those adverts that you see on Google, you are going to have to put yourself out there – people are not coming to you by chance. Are you able to walk into a shop or office and start selling your services to some random person behind the desk/counter? Are you self-confident enough to attend a Networking Meeting and start talking to strangers? Are you creative enough to design marketing material (fliers, Business cards etc.) or are you going to have to pay someone to do any of that?
Am I prepared to put in the hours?
If you are self-employed, then you have to do absolutely everything – as well as delivering a course, you have to be the Marketing Guru, the IT Nerd, the Office Admin, Cleaner and Accountant. And, of course, whilst you are delivering a course you cannot be doing any of those, so those tasks can only start once you have got in from delivering a course.
Am I happy in my own company?
When you no longer have the security of an Office and colleagues to chat around the water cooler with. When things get tough and you cannot bounce ideas off your colleagues. When it’s 6 a.m, raining and you are loading up to drive 50 miles for your fifth course that week (and it’s only Wednesday), will you throw in the towel?
You do not need all those skills at once. It took me a long time to build up the confidence to walk into a Networking meeting and start to chat to strangers, however you will need to be self-motivated and willing to learn those skills over time.
Screw it, let’s do it
There comes a point where you can’t put it off any longer. You have to just say “Let’s give this a go and see what happens”.
What have you got to lose? No, what have you really got to lose?
Money? Possibly, but then again you may gain far more than your potential losses.
Time? A bit if you need to get qualified. You can’t really classify it as wasted time as the skills are transferable.
Reputation? If you fail, you fail. No-one can mock you for trying. What have they achieved?
If it works, you will no longer be tied to the 9-5 grind. You will be able to pick and choose when you work and for whom. Want to take July off to explore Cambodia or Cumbria or Cleethorpes – why not? Want to work 7 days a week to bring forward your retirement – your choice.
The next sections cover:-
Getting kitted up
Getting your name out there
The Business of First Aid Training
Read on to make the first step in your new career.