Employing almost 250,000 people, the social housing sector is home to 3% of the UK’s total workforce. It offers a variety of immediate work opportunities and long-term career paths in areas as diverse as administration, maintenance, health and safety, finance, management and law.

Housing association jobs.

Most of its employees work in small units and average salaries start at around £15,000, with a lot of room to progress.

Working with tenants in social housing jobs.

Some of the most important social housing jobs are in tenant support. Candidates for these positions need to be good with people and sympathetic to the problems faced by those on low incomes. Entry levels posts can usually be found for homelessness assessment officers and housing support workers. Capable employees can progress to working on community housing projects and community development projects.

Working with buildings.

Entry level jobs can always be found for people with the right skill set to undertake maintenance in social housing properties. It is possible to move from these roles into senior level technical occupations or supervisory roles. There are plenty of opportunities to train on the job and there is no need to worry that those skills will go out of date, as older techniques are often needed in refurbishment. People on this career path may also move into senior health and safety roles.

Admin and management positions in social housing jobs.

There are many positions in the housing sector for people with administrative and secretarial skills, and these provide a good starting point for managerial careers. A good degree can make it possible to skip the lower rungs on the ladder and go straight into a job as a housing officer, after which the next step is becoming a housing manager. A good housing manager may be able to progress into area management or even a national role.

Legal and financial roles.

There is an ongoing demand for people with legal and financial skills in the housing sector. Part-qualified accountants can start out in bookkeeping or payroll and move into financial management positions, whilst legal skills can put their owners on the fast track to general and project management. Those with legal training in the area of housing and homelessness are particularly needed. There are also frequent part-time and temporary positions available in these fields.

Getting started.

Whatever role you choose, a good way to secure your first position is to do some voluntary work in related areas. Charities working to prevent or resolve homelessness, or tenants’ rights organisations, are often on the lookout for help and can provide a good grounding in the practical issues that concern the sector.

Moving up.

Because the housing sector is so diverse there are many different opportunities to specialise, but cross-disciplinary skills are particularly useful. People with ambition can climb more effectively by taking advantage of the many training courses available, including correspondence courses that are easy to fit around work. A senior manager will usually need some legal and financial expertise and can really benefit from having a bit of technical knowledge.