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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting, looking at some paperwork.

    Administrative tasks involve maintaining records and writing reports.

  • A man and a girl are seated at a table.  A boy is standing at the table.  They are all playing a bingo game.

    Playworkers work with children of all ages.

  • A man and three children of various ages are standing outdoors.  The man is explaining a game.  The eldest child, a girl, is holding a football.

    Encouraging children of different ages to play together.

  • A man and a boy are outdoors, playing with a large, colourful game.

    This playworker works at an after-school club.

  • A woman is sitting, reading a story to a young girl, who is sitting next to her.

    Stimulating an interest in reading.

  • A woman is bending over and closing a child-safety door at the bottom of some stairs.

    This playworker is based on a playbus, which travels around, stopping at a different location each day.

  • A woman is picking up toys and putting them into a red plastic bucket.

    Clearing up after a busy play session.

  • Two women are sitting, chatting.  There are toys behind them.

    Having a chat with one of the parents, who has brought her daughter to the playbus.

  • Playworker



Playworkers provide stimulating play opportunities to encourage children to learn, develop and express themselves. They set up safe and creative play areas.

Playworkers work in a variety of settings, including play centres, adventure playgrounds, mobile play buses, holiday playschemes and hospitals.

Video: - Michael: Playworker

Work Activities

Your role as a Playworker is to guide and support play, making sure that it is fun, creative and safe. You will usually work with children aged between 4 and 16 years of age, or you may specialise in a particular age group.

Play encourages children's concentration, creativity, imagination, ability to solve problems, general sense of discovery and many other skills and qualities.

Play activities include games, arts and crafts, drama, swimming, and outdoor trips. As a Playworker, you will help children to make friends, learn new skills, develop as individuals and work together in teams - important lifeskills.

You will provide stimulating play opportunities to encourage children to learn, develop and express themselves. You will also have to set up and look after materials and resources, and make sure children are safely and comfortably equipped to do an activity.

You must report any changes in a child's habits or behaviour, for example, if they are unusually quiet or seem to be off their food.

In hospitals, play is recognised as very important to the treatment of sick children. It helps children take their mind off their illness, deal with stress and anxiety, and feel more comfortable with Nurses and Doctors.

Babies and very young children in special care units and general wards also benefit from play. You will use resources such as mirrors, colourful mobiles, toys and music.

You might also have to do administrative tasks, such as keeping records, writing reports and looking after petty cash. You may also help to recruit and train new staff.

Some Playworkers progress to act as Senior Playworkers or Managers, dealing with paperwork and looking after staff and resources, usually on larger sites or for a play service in a local authority.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Playworker, you need:

  • stamina and a lot of energy
  • patience and tolerance
  • a sense of fun
  • creativity and imagination
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • an understanding of the importance of play to children's physical, social and emotional development

This work involves physical activity, so you must be reasonably fit.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £15,000
  • With experience: £16,000 - £17,500
  • Senior Playworkers earn £19,000

Part-time Playworkers can expect to earn in the range £7 - £11 per hour.

Hours of work

Working hours for Playworkers vary. Full-time Playworkers work 35-39 hours a week. In the NHS they also work weekends on a rota basis. Other employers require 'out-of-school hours' working. Part-time and temporary jobs are also available.

Where could I work?

Opportunities for Playworkers occur throughout the UK.

Local authorities employ around 1,700 Playworkers throughout the country to work in play centres, play buses, summer schemes, adventure playgrounds, community projects and after-school clubs.

In the NHS, playworkers are known as hospital play specialists. Children's hospitals have large play departments employing up to 40 hospital play specialists each. In general hospitals small teams of play staff work in different areas of the hospital.

There are also opportunities in the private sector, and as a voluntary Playworker.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on employers' websites, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job website.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You'll usually need to have a childcare qualification to get into this career at entry level, though there are no strict requirements. Some people start off on a voluntary or temporary basis - on a summer play scheme, for example.

You might be able to start as an Assistant Playworker, and work your way up.

For a higher level position, you'll usually need to have gained a more specific playwork qualification.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. You may be able to take a vocational qualification, such as an NVQ, as part of your apprenticeship.

Awards, certificates and diplomas in playwork are available, at levels 2 and level 3.


If you would like some training, the CACHE (Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education) offer a level 3 certificate in playwork. The units you could be studying include:

  • understanding playwork principles
  • understanding how to safeguard the well-being of children and young people
  • understanding health, safety and security in the play environment
  • understanding how to plan for and support children and young people’s self-directed play

Check the website for dates and availability.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Previous experience working with children who have different age ranges would be really useful for this career.


CACHE offers playwork-related qualifications at levels 4 and 5. A small number of degree and foundation degree qualifications in playwork are also available. You might be able to become the Senior Playworker, in charge of a team of Playworkers and Assistant Playworkers.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.


There is no strict requirement for playworkers to be qualified. In practice, however, you tend to hold a relevant childcare or playwork qualification.

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Some people start on a voluntary or temporary basis, and work towards vocational qualifications, such as:

  • BTEC level 3 - induction to playwork
  • BTEC level 3 - transition to playwork
  • BTEC level 2 - playwork
  • BTEC level 2 and level 3 - children's care, learning and development
  • City & Guilds level 2 and level 3 - playwork

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 2 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades D-G (3-1).

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 3 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4).

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Intermediate and Advanced Level Apprenticeships in playwork may be available in your area.


Colleges usually consider adult candidates who don't have the regular entry requirements. Check the admissions policy of the college that runs the course you're interested in.

The Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE) offers a suite of relevant childcare courses, which can be studied on a full-time, part-time, weekend, work-based or open learning basis. A list of training providers is available from the CACHE website.

Relevant BTEC and City & Guilds qualifications are available at some colleges by part-time study.

Further Information

Professional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts section.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400




Local government vacancies


Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries




Tel: 020 7632 2000


Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE)

Address: Apex House, 81 Camp Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 5GB

Tel: 0845 3472123



The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY)

Address: Royal Court, 81 Tweedy Road, Bromley, Kent BR1 1TG

Tel: 0845 8800044



National Children's Bureau (NCB)

Address: 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE

Tel: 020 7843 6000



Early Years

Irish enquiries

Address: 6c Wildflower Way, Apollo Road, Boucher Road, Belfast BT12 6TA

Tel: 028 9066 2825



Skills for Care & Development (SfC&D)

Skills for social work, social care and children's services

Address: 2nd floor, Westgate, 6 Grace Street, Leeds LS1 2RP

Tel: 0113 2411240



Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY

Tel: 0845 6030891



Aquestion Of Care

This site is a 'Skills for Care and Development' initiative


Children & Young People Now

Publisher: National Youth Agency (NYA)


Guardian Society


Association for Physical Education (afPE)

Tel: 01905 855584



Play Scotland

Scottish enquiries

Address: Midlothian Innovation Centre, Pentlandfield, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RE

Tel: 0131 4409070



Scottish Pre-school Play Association (SPPA)

Scottish enquiries

Address: 21-23 Granville Street, Glasgow G3 7EE

Tel: 0141 2214148



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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