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How to become a registrar

registrar careers

What does a registrar do?

In very simple terms, registrars are the people who make births, deaths, marriages and civil ceremonies official. If you are organised, a people person and like carrying out legal procedures, this might be a job description worth reading!

As a registrar, your day to day job might vary, but you will generally spend a lot of your time talking to people. This might be interviewing parents after a baby has been born, issuing the newest member of the family with a birth certificate, or dealing with grieving relatives after a death. One of the first people involved in the paperwork surrounding a death, you will be expected to inform the coroner if there are any suspicious or unnatural circumstances. Obviously, you will need to do all of this with a great deal of tact and understanding.

Far more than just issuing certificates, as a registrar, you might also be called upon to perform marriage, civil partnership, citizenship and naming ceremonies, so being a good public speaker comes in handy!


Is this the job for me?

As previously mentioned, you need to like people to do this job, as you will be dealing with them on a daily basis. If you hate speaking in public and lack a degree of tactfulness, this probably isn’t for you. In your job, you will need to be able to communicate with people effectively in a number of different circumstances. Using your initiative and judgement when it comes to assessing the situation are important in equal measures. You will also need to be good at presenting information well, so nice handwriting is a bonus.


What are the working hours like?

Usually, this will be a pretty standard nine till five job, working a 37-hour week. However, it is worth noting that depending on your employer, you might be asked to work weekends (especially during wedding season) and outside normal office hours.  


What’s the salary like?

This varies depending on your employer and your experience. As an assistant or deputy registrar at the beginning of your career, you can expect to earn around £17,000 a year. Once you are fully qualified, this will often rise to between £25,000 and £35,000 a year. If you are offering your services as a celebrant, conducting civil ceremonies, marriages and civil partnerships, you will usually earn a set fee for the ceremony.


Where will I be based?

Again, this depends, but you can usually expect to be based at a local register office, or sometimes at home in really remote areas. As part of your job, you might be expected to travel to ceremonies at a number of different venues.


How do I get there?

Unfortunately, there is no one course you can enrol on to get a job as a registrar. Instead, you will need experience in management, knowledge of relevant legislation and legal processes and excellent customer service skills. In order to get all this, it might be worth considering doing some work experience in a registrar’s department or with your local council.  

If you feel like your CV already ticks all these boxes, you might be able to gain a position as a deputy registrar and with the right experience and on the job training, progress this way. It’s worth noting, each local authority will expect slightly different things, so you will need to check the entry requirements carefully.


Need more information?

So we’ve given you the basic information and you’ve decided this is the career for you. If you need some more information before applying to your first job, this can be found on both of the websites below –

General Register Office (GRO)

General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) 

Courses to help you become a registrar