You are here

Trade union official

Trade union officials represent the interests of their union’s members.
Relevant to

What does a trade union official do?

Trade union officials or officers work for a trade union, representing the interests of union members. They discuss any issues with employers, such as health and safety, pay and redundancy.

At regional level, trade union officials might:

  • advise on legal or health and safety issues
  • recruit, train and support local officials and shop stewards
  • deal with local disputes and case work
  • work as a learning representative, promoting learning and education programmes to local members

At national head office level, this role might:

  • develop national policy
  • carry out research
  • develop learning and education programmes for members
  • work in media relations
  • negotiate with employers’ organisations, political parties and government

As a part-time union official (often known as a shop steward or representative), you’ll be elected by local trade union members to pass on the views of the staff to the management of your company. You will have a legal right to conduct union business during working hours.​


What do I need to do to become a trade union official?

There aren’t any specific entry requirements for this role, but a lot of trade union officials have a degree or a professional qualification.

It will help you to get started in this career if you have experience as an unpaid local representative, also known as a shop steward. This will give you in-depth knowledge of the workings of the union at ground level. It’s quite common to then apply for and move up to a full-time paid official role at a union's branch or regional office.

There is a lot of competition for full-time roles, so relevant paid or voluntary experience could give you a head start when you apply for work.


Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Patience
  • People management
  • Problem solving

Where to find out more


Where could I be working?

You could work for unions at local, regional or national level. National posts are often based in London.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0


Related jobs


Job families