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Local government administrator

Local government administrators provide administrative support to elected council representatives, and to professional and technical staff. Duties might include serving on committees, preparing reports and managing staff. They might make sure that departments run efficiently or manage budgets; some negotiate contracts for agencies that provide services such as refuse collection.

Also known as:

  • Council administrator

Work activities

Local government is funded by public money and is responsible for providing a very wide range of services. There are departments that deal with services such as housing, education, environmental health, social services, planning and transport, as well as tourism, libraries, leisure and recreation. Local government administrators support the work of elected council representatives and professional staff, such as lawyers and social workers, in many different ways according to the area of local government they work in.

Policy, research and review officers: Some administrators help to develop policies and strategies, for example, on public transport, housing or the environment in a local area. They make sure that these policies can be put into practice as smoothly as possible. Developing policies could involve finding out about public opinion on a particular issue, for example, by designing a survey or questionnaire. Administrators might supervise staff as they carry out the research. They could analyse the results and present their findings to committees, through discussion documents, budget forecasts and written or verbal reports. The administrator has to liaise with colleagues in various departments, such as accountants, social workers or surveyors, in order to put policy into practice.

Committee administrators/democratic services officers: Each department has its own committee of councillors. These committees decide how to spend their budget and what priority they should give to certain plans. Some administrators make sure that committees run smoothly. They arrange times for meetings, decide where to hold them and perhaps book the venue. They draw up the agenda and organise any documents the committee will need in advance. At the meeting, they take minutes (a record of what was discussed and agreed, and a note of any action that needs to be taken). After the meeting, they make sure that clerical staff type up the minutes and send them to all the appropriate people. Democratic services officers advise committees on law, policies and procedures. They do research and prepare reports.

Departmental management and administration administrators: These staff may be responsible for the smooth running of a particular department. They will be responsible for managing support staff, organising their work, setting targets, providing supervision and identifying training needs. They might run appraisal systems, and perhaps have an involvement in the recruitment process. Administrators are often responsible for collecting and monitoring statistics, for example, to show how the department is meeting performance targets. They might be responsible for the department’s budget, buying supplies and services and dealing with payments. Administrators might be responsible for selecting private agencies to provide some of their services, for example, grounds maintenance. They might negotiate the contract, and monitor the agency’s performance, to make sure that the authority is receiving the best value for money.

Some administrators also provide advice to the public, answering enquiries, for example, face to face or over the telephone. There are many other job titles and roles for administrators in local government, for example, elections officer, best value officer, contracts officer and partnerships development officer.

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

Personal qualities and skills

As a local government administrator, you’ll need:

  • Excellent planning skills and organisational ability.
  • To be able to use your initiative.
  • To work to deadlines, pay close attention to detail and think quickly.
  • Good teamwork skills.
  • To be politically aware and up to date with current affairs.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • To be able to analyse and interpret information.
  • Good negotiating skills.
  • To be resilient.
  • To enjoy learning new skills and solving problems.
  • The ability to prioritise tasks.
  • To be persuasive.
  • To take responsibility for your decisions.
  • To be able to give clear and concise explanations to committees, to the press and to members of the public.
  • To use tact and diplomacy.
  • Good number skills.
  • IT skills, to manage databases and produce reports and statistics, for example.

You might need to keep confidential information. If you manage other staff, you will need good leadership skills and should be able to motivate people and delegate tasks.

Pay and opportunities

Salaries are linked to a national scale, but vary depending on the local authority and level of responsibility. The pay rates given are approximate. Local government administrators earn in the range of £17,500 - £37,500 a year. More experienced or senior staff may earn more.

Trainees on the National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government earn around £30,296 a year. Senior administration officers can earn significantly more. Local government administrators who work in London usually receive an extra allowance.

Hours of work: Most administrators work 35-39 hours, Monday to Friday. Full-time, part-time, temporary and flexible working arrangements might be available.

Where could I work?

Employers are local authorities such as county councils, district councils, city councils, borough councils, town councils and parish councils. Opportunities for local government administrators occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

What’s happening in this work area?

Local authorities are having to make substantial savings because of Government spending cuts. Some services might be shared between councils. This might mean a freeze on recruitment in most areas.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on the LG Jobs and individual local authority websites, in local newspapers, on the Government’s Find a Job service.

The National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government, a leadership development programme, is advertised for online application through its website.

Entry routes and training

Many direct entrants to administrator posts are graduates or have an HND/HNC. These qualifications can be in any subject. It might be possible to study full or part-time for a degree, foundation degree or HND in a subject such as public administration or public services management. The National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government is for graduates with a 2:2 degree or above in any subject who are eligible to work in the UK without a permit.

Entry might be to a trainee position. You would spend short periods of time in a range of departments, before becoming involved in a particular function, such as committee administration, finance or human resources work. The two-year National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) includes core placements in strategy, frontline service, customer-facing and support service areas. NGDP also offers a national programme of learning, together with skills training and mentoring designed to complement your wider personal and professional development. Administrators sometimes take day-release or distance learning courses, leading to professional qualifications, for example, with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).

For a more junior position, you could apply to an level 3 (advanced) apprenticeship in the role of public service operational delivery officer. You will train on the job and gain relevant qualifications.

Local government administrators can progress to specialist posts or to general management positions. It is possible to reach senior management/director level after further training and experience.


For entry to a degree course in any subject, the usual minimum requirement is:

  • Two to three A-levels.
  • GCSEs at grades 9-4 in two to three other subjects.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • Edexcel (BTEC) level 3 National qualifications
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.

However, course requirements vary so check prospectuses carefully.

To get onto an advanced apprenticeship scheme, you will need GCSEs in English and maths. If you don’t have these, you may be able to gain them alongside your programme.

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.

Some entrants have developed skills in administrative or clerical work. Relevant work-related qualifications in business and administration can be useful.

Access courses: If you don’t have the usual qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course could be the way in. These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

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