Job Hunting

Becoming an Exam Invigilator: A Step-by-Step Guide

October 9, 2023

Table of Contents

Ever thought about playing a pivotal role in one of the most stressful yet rewarding moments of a student's life? Imagine being the calm in the storm of examination rooms, where you set the stage for future doctors, lawyers, and leaders to showcase their knowledge. Welcome to the world of an Exam Invigilator.

In this guide, we'll walk you through every step—from understanding the role to launching your career. So let's dive in!

1. Understand the Role of an Exam Invigilator

What Does an Exam Invigilator Do?

An Exam Invigilator is responsible for ensuring a secure and organised examination environment. They monitor exam-takers, handle logistical tasks, and enforce exam rules to ensure fairness and integrity during the test.

Exam invigilators play a crucial role in the educational system by ensuring that examinations are carried out smoothly and according to standardised procedures. Their duties can range from preparing the exam room with necessary materials like exam papers, pencils, and clocks to verifying student identification and handling any misconduct during the exam.

The specific responsibilities can vary depending on the educational institution, level of education, and sometimes even the type of examination. However, here are some common duties that you can generally expect:

  • Preparation of Exam Room: Setting up tables and chairs, and ensuring all required materials are available.
  • Verification of Student Identity: Checking student IDs or exam permits.
  • Distribution and Collection of Exam Papers: Handing out and collecting exam papers at the beginning and end of the examination.
  • Monitoring: Circulating the room during the exam to prevent cheating and address any questions or issues that students may have.
  • Timekeeping: Announcing the start and end of the exam, as well as any time warnings.
  • Handling Misconduct: Taking appropriate action if cheating or any other form of misconduct is observed.
  • Post-Exam Duties: Collecting all exam papers and materials, ensuring they are securely stored or delivered for marking.

An invigilator's role is not just limited to the time when the exam is taking place; there is often preparatory work involved, as well as tasks to complete after the exam session is over. Overall, an Exam Invigilator helps create an environment where students can demonstrate their knowledge in a fair and efficient manner.

2. Consider Whether it’s the Right Role For You

Why Consider Working as an Exam Invigilator?

Working as an Exam Invigilator offers flexibility, part-time opportunities, and the chance to contribute to the educational system. It's a role that requires minimal qualifications and provides a work-life balance.


  1. Flexibility: Exam invigilators often enjoy a more flexible schedule compared to other full-time jobs. Exams are typically seasonal, allowing you to plan around other commitments.
  2. Work-Life Balance: The part-time nature of the job is excellent for those who have other responsibilities, such as studies, another job, or family commitments.
  3. Minimal Qualifications Needed: In most cases, you don't need specialised training or education to be an exam invigilator, making it an accessible role for many.
  4. Contribution to Education: The role allows you to contribute to the educational system and the future of students in a very direct way.
  5. Networking: This role allows you to interact with educational professionals, which can be beneficial if you're considering a full-time career in education.


  1. Seasonal Work: Because exam periods are often limited to certain times of the year, it may not offer year-round job security.
  2. Repetitive Tasks: The job can be monotonous, as the duties rarely change from one exam to another.
  3. Limited Earnings: As it's a part-time role and often seasonal, it may not be a substantial source of income.
  4. Standing for Long Periods: The role usually requires being on your feet for extended periods, which may not be ideal for everyone.
  5. High-Stress Environments: Exams are stressful for students, and that stress can sometimes translate to the invigilator. Being able to manage stressful situations is a key skill for this role.

Additional Considerations:

  • Job Security: Because exams are a consistent part of the educational system, there will always be a need for invigilators providing some level of job security.
  • Skills Development: Although the role might seem straightforward, it does offer the chance to develop important skills like attention to detail, time management, and problem-solving.

Overall, becoming an Exam Invigilator can be a rewarding experience, particularly for those looking for part-time work that offers flexibility and a balanced lifestyle. It's especially well-suited for retirees, students, or anyone looking to supplement their income.

What Do Exam Invigilators Get Paid?

In the UK, the typical yearly salary for an exam invigilator is around £21,795, which translates to approximately £11.18 per hour. Those new to the field can expect a starting salary close to £20,771 annually, while seasoned professionals may earn up to £25,374 per year.

Salary Ranges

The pay scale for exam invigilators can vary significantly depending on several factors:

  • Location: Rates are generally higher in larger cities or areas with a higher cost of living.
  • Experience: Seasoned invigilators may command a higher hourly rate compared to those who are new to the role.
  • Institution: Universities and colleges often offer higher pay rates than secondary schools.

Additional Benefits

Some institutions offer additional benefits to their exam invigilators, such as:

  • Travel expenses
  • Training programs
  • Flexible hours, particularly during the exam season

It's worth noting that exam invigilating is often a seasonal or part-time role, which means you might not have access to full employment benefits like health insurance unless you have another role within the institution.

Negotiating Your Pay

Don't hesitate to negotiate your hourly rate, especially if you have relevant experience or qualifications. Always do your research on the average pay in your area and in your specific institution before entering negotiations.

Understanding your value and the current market rate will put you in a strong position when discussing your salary.

3. Research What Skills You Need

What skills do you need to be an exam invigilator?

A successful Exam Invigilator should have a keen eye for detail, strong communication skills, and the ability to handle stressful situations calmly. The role demands a high level of integrity and responsibility.

Essential Skills:

  1. Attention to Detail: Monitoring an exam room requires acute awareness and meticulous observation to ensure all rules are followed.
  2. Communication Skills: You'll need to provide clear instructions to students, liaise with faculty, and sometimes resolve minor disputes or misunderstandings.
  3. Time Management: With exams running on strict schedules, effective time management is crucial for announcing time calls and handling unexpected interruptions.
  4. Stress Management: Exam rooms can be high-pressure environments, not just for students but also for invigilators. Being able to keep your composure is key.
  5. Professionalism: Maintaining a high standard of professional conduct is essential, given that you're entrusted with the fair administration of exams.
  6. Integrity: Given that you will be responsible for ensuring a fair exam environment, a high level of honesty and ethical conduct is required.
  7. Basic IT Skills: Sometimes exams are computer-based, and invigilators may need to troubleshoot minor technical issues.

Desirable Skills:

  1. Conflict Resolution: While rare, conflicts can arise during an exam, be it between students or due to misunderstandings regarding exam rules. Knowing how to resolve them diplomatically is beneficial.
  2. Multitasking: You may be responsible for overseeing multiple tasks simultaneously, like timekeeping, monitoring for cheating, and attending to student queries.
  3. Customer Service Skills: While not a traditional customer service role, having the skills to manage people respectfully and efficiently can be a plus.
  4. Crisis Management: Being prepared and knowing how to react in case of an emergency (like a fire alarm going off) is important for the safety of everyone involved.
  5. Cultural Sensitivity: Schools and test centres are often multicultural settings. Being sensitive to cultural differences is a useful trait.

Having the right mix of these essential and desirable skills will not only make you an effective Exam Invigilator but also contribute to a smooth and fair examination process for all involved.

4. Research What Qualifications You Need

What Qualifications Does an Exam Invigilator Need?

In the UK, becoming an Exam Invigilator generally doesn't require specific formal qualifications. However, having GCSEs can be beneficial, and certain institutions may require you to complete training sessions or obtain certifications.

Educational Background:

  • GCSEs: Most exam-invigilating positions in the UK don't require extensive qualifications, but having GCSEs may be considered favourable by some institutions.
  • Higher Education: In specific settings, particularly universities or specialised test centres, a higher level of education, such as A-levels or a degree, may be advantageous but is usually not mandatory.


  • Invigilator Training Certification: Some educational boards and institutions offer specific training programmes for invigilators. Completing such a programme could give you a competitive edge.
  • DBS Check: A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is generally required to ensure you're suitable for roles that involve contact with young people or vulnerable adults.
  • First Aid Certification: While not a standard requirement, obtaining a First Aid certification from an organisation like St John Ambulance can be an added advantage.


  • On-the-Job Training: Most educational institutions offer on-the-job training to acquaint new invigilators with the specifics of their role and the institution's guidelines.
  • Online Training Courses: There are also online training courses specifically tailored to prepare you for the role of an Exam Invigilator.

Other Requirements:

  • Computer Skills: With many exams now being conducted online, basic computer skills are increasingly important. Some positions may require familiarity with specific software used for online invigilation.
  • Legal Eligibility: You'll need to be legally eligible to work in the UK, which is a standard requirement for most job roles.

Having some educational background and additional qualifications can make you a more appealing candidate, especially for institutions that require a more specialised approach to exam invigilation.

5. Consider Networking Opportunities

How Can Exam Invigilators Expand Their Professional Network?

For Exam Invigilators in the UK, networking can play a pivotal role in career advancement and professional development. From joining dedicated organisations to participating in online forums, networking avenues are plentiful.

Professional Organisations:

  • The Exams Office: This organisation supports exam office staff, including invigilators. Membership offers opportunities for networking, training, and access to resources.
  • NASUWT: The Teachers' Union: Though focused primarily on teachers, NASUWT also includes members involved in different educational support roles, including invigilators.

Online Forums:

  • TES Community: The Times Educational Supplement (TES) has a vibrant online forum where educational professionals, including invigilators, can share experiences, ask questions, and connect with peers.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Specific LinkedIn groups focus on exam administration and invigilation. These can be a valuable way to connect with industry professionals.

Social Media:

  • Twitter Chats: Educational Twitter chats often feature topics relevant to exam invigilation. Following hashtags like #ExamInvigilator or #EdChatUK can keep you in the loop.

Local Educational Events:

  • Workshops and Seminars: Keep an eye out for relevant workshops, seminars, and webinars in your area or online. These events provide a chance to meet industry professionals and learn new skills.
  • Institutional Networking: Many educational institutions offer networking events for staff, including exam invigilators. These events can provide insight into the educational landscape and upcoming opportunities.

Industry Conferences:

  • Educational Conferences: Though more common for teachers and educators, some conferences have sessions or workshops for support roles, including invigilators.

Networking is not just about finding your next job; it's also about staying updated on industry trends, best practices, and the experiences of your peers. Make the most of these opportunities to enhance your career as an Exam Invigilator.

6. Consider Whether You Want to Advance Your Career

Is there potential for career advancement?

Exam invigilators have several avenues for career growth and lateral progression. Your experience in this role could serve as a stepping stone to more specialised or managerial positions within educational administration.

Starting as an exam invigilator offers invaluable experience in the educational sector. This role allows you to familiarise yourself with examination procedures, educational policies, and student interactions. As you gain experience, you might consider progressing into roles like Examination Officer or Coordinator, which involve overseeing multiple invigilators and ensuring exam procedures are conducted efficiently and fairly.

Alternatively, the skills and knowledge you acquire can be transferable to various other roles within education, including administrative positions like school registrar or academic advisor. Some people even leverage this experience to transition into teaching roles, although additional qualifications would likely be needed.

For those interested in policy or large-scale education logistics, roles in educational consulting or educational policy analysis may offer an interesting career shift. These positions often require a deeper understanding of educational systems but offer a broader impact and usually come with a higher salary.

Moreover, your background in examination procedures could make you an attractive candidate for training roles, where you could be responsible for educating new exam invigilators or school staff on best practices for conducting exams.

Networking with colleagues and joining professional organisations can also open doors for career advancement, as can additional certifications and advanced degrees in education or administration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is exam invigilator a full-time job?

Being an exam invigilator is generally not a full-time job. Most exam invigilators work on a seasonal or part-time basis, aligning with the academic calendar for primary, secondary, or higher education institutions.

The nature of the work is highly dependent on the exam schedules, which are often concentrated at specific times during the academic year. While the demand for exam invigilators can be high during peak testing periods, the work is generally not consistent enough to constitute full-time employment.

However, some educational institutions may offer a more consistent schedule if they conduct exams throughout the year or have a need for regular invigilation for various kinds of assessments. Even in such cases, the hours are usually not enough to qualify as full-time employment, and many invigilators work other part-time jobs or have other commitments.

Some people find the part-time or seasonal aspect of the role beneficial, as it allows for a flexible schedule. It's also an ideal position for those who are looking for supplementary income or who want to gain experience in the education sector without committing to a full-time role.

Do you need a DBS to be an exam invigilator?

You generally need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to work as an exam invigilator. Given that the role involves working closely with minors or vulnerable adults, a DBS check is often required to ensure that you have no disqualifying criminal convictions. Educational institutions want to create a safe environment for their students, so they rely on DBS checks to screen potential employees.

The specific type of DBS check required may vary depending on the level of responsibility and the age group of the students you'll be working with. The institution you'll be working for will typically provide guidance on how to obtain this check or may even handle the process for you as part of your employment application.

In some cases, if you are already working in another role within the educational institution, your existing DBS check may suffice, but it's always best to consult with your employer or the hiring organisation to confirm the requirements.

Useful Resources

If you're considering becoming an Exam Invigilator or are looking to further develop your career, check out these additional resources for more information:

Each of these resources provides specific insights and tips to help you in your journey to becoming or excelling as an Exam Invigilator.

Wrapping It Up

Becoming an Exam Invigilator is a rewarding career choice that offers both flexibility and stability. While there are certain requirements and skills that you'll need, the path is relatively straightforward. From understanding what the role entails to considering why it might be a good fit for you, you'll find that it offers a unique blend of responsibilities and perks. Networking can open many doors for you in this field, and although it's not always a full-time role, the earning potential can be surprisingly good, particularly for those with experience.

If you're excited about the idea of becoming an Exam Invigilator, there's no better time than now to start preparing. Update your CV, practice your interview skills, and start networking with professionals in the field. And if you're ready to start applying, check out the available job listings.

Advertise Your Exam Invigilator Job Here

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Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.