How to become a paid contact tracer for the government

NHS / Public Health England

The UK government is now recruiting for 18,000 people to become contact tracers, but how do you apply?

With the UK having now entered into the ninth week of lockdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government has highlighted contact tracing as one of the significant ways in which it is seeking to monitor and manage the spread of the virus across the country.

Although the ‘test, track and trace’ scheme is still evolving, the government and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that they are aiming to recruit a total of 18,000 contact tracers to work alongside the launch of the NHS app.

The NHS COVID-19 app was first rolled out for a pilot scheme across the Isle of Wight on 7th May.

Speaking this past Sunday, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, insisted that despite previously sited concerns and critiques from shadow ministers centres, the track and trace scheme would be ready to launch nationwide by the end of the month and also declared that “just over 17,000” contact tracers have already been hired.

So, what is contact tracing? How does it work? Can anyone apply for the role? Is it paid?

Understandably, people will have a lot of questions on this topic, but if you’re thinking of applying to become a contact tracer, then here is everything you need to know.


What is contact tracing & how does it work?

According to Nick Phin, Deputy Director at Public Health England’s National Infections Service, contact tracing is “a fundamental part of outbreak control that’s used by public health professionals around the world”.

In a nutshell, contact tracing is the process of identifying infected persons and then warning those who may have come into contact with said identified person to thus take necessary precautionary action.

As stated in the Express, the aim of contact tracing is to:

  • Interrupt the ongoing transmission and reduce the spread of an infection.
  • Alert contacts to the possibility of infection and offer preventive counselling or prophylactic care.
  • Offer diagnosis, counselling and treatment to already infected individuals.
  • Prevent reinfection of the originally infected patient, if the infection is treatable.
  • Learn about the epidemiology of a disease in a particular population.


Can I apply to become a contact tracer?

Yes, you can apply to become a contact tracer online.

As stated earlier, the UK government is looking to hire a total of 18,000 contact tracers and it is thought that around 17,000 of those positions have already been filled.

It has been proposed that of this number, 15,000 people would be recruited as call handlers and the remaining 3,000 would be trained public health staff and clinical professionals, most likely with previous experience of contact tracing and knowledge of their communities.

Advertisements for such roles have been posted on online recruitment platforms such as Indeed, CV Library and LinkedIn over the last few days and are located in various areas across the UK, including Greater Manchester.

Applicants will be required to work from home and need to be “patient, caring and have the ability to handle difficult situations” and will “have the responsibility of contacting the general public who will need advice and the best course of action for themselves, family or friends”.

Specific roles aimed at health professionals include Clinical Contact Caseworker roles, which require applicants to be on a Clinician Band 6 level or above.

Find out more information of the website here.


Will I receive any training for the role?

Yes, all contact tracers are set to receive full training.

This training is likely to differ depending on the role recruited for and previous experience level of the applicant.

As reported in the Sun, recruited call handlers will be provided with scripts by Public Health England (PHE) to handle more straightforward cases and then a team of clinicians will be on hand to correctly deal with the more complex cases and conversations.


Are the roles paid?

Yes, contact tracers will be paid for their time.

The compensation for the job is is slightly higher than the national minimum wage at £9.42 per hour.

This figure is increased for such roles on the “virtual frontline”, with the aforementioned Clinical Contact Caseworker roles paying £16.97 – £27.15 per hour.

For further information regarding contact tracing and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is advised that you always refer to official and NHS sources.

Learn more about contact tracing here and read the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy here.


According to the latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care, a total of 34,636 people have sadly died after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).


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