Become a Guide Dog Trainer or Guide Dog Mobility Specialist

We’re here to provide the best support for people with sight loss, so we’re passionate about developing the skills and knowledge of our staff. If you’re interested in a career working with our amazing dogs and the people whose lives they change, then you’re in the right place to find out more about our two key technical roles – Guide Dog Trainer (GDT) and Guide Dog Mobility Specialist (GDMS). Both roles involve a full learning programme to ensure you’ll have all the skills you need. We teach those skills through our Guide Dogs Academy.

Guide Dogs Academy

The Academy is how we recruit, train and retain our technical staff (the people training the dogs, our clients, and then the partnership together). It’s not a physical building – instead our learners are based in local teams all around the country with their own Academy tutor who teaches one small group at a time, with lots of hands-on experiences from day one. 

Find a job that makes a difference

Currently, the Academy produces our future Guide Dog Trainers (GDTs) and Guide Dog Mobility Specialists (GDMSs).

Guide Dog Trainers

Guide Dog Trainers take our dogs when they first come into training, using positive reinforcement training to give them the skills, experiences, and confidence for their future as life-changers.

Guide Dog Mobility Specialist

Guide Dog Mobility Specialists match our dogs with their future guide dog owners, working with the dogs and the owners to teach all the important skills to create and maintain successful partnerships. They also provide support to existing partnerships by teaching new routes and helping them adjust as their needs develop and change.

Ready to find out which one is right for you?

As you’ve found out above, GDTs and GDMSs work closely together, but their roles have very different focuses. Watch our Technical Learning Specialists (the ‘tutors’ within the Academy) discussing their experiences of doing, and teaching, the different roles.

Guide Dogs Mobility Specialist or Guide Dog Trainer – which one is right for me?

The Academy learning journey

In Academy you’ll follow a structured learning plan that builds on your current skills and experience, and you’ll learn new skills through a combination of hands-on practical learning, digital content, workshops, observations and peer, group and self-directed learning.

This means you’ll understand the theory and then be able to put it into practice through hands on practical work, first with the support of your TLS, and then more independently – and you’ll be based with a local Guide Dogs team, so you’ll benefit from seeing the work all around you. 

We take your professional development seriously and you’ll be working with world-leaders in the dog behaviour and experts in working with people with vision impairment. 

Your learning plan will help you:

  • Understand and experience the context of your new role and how it fits with creating new guide dog partnerships. 
  • Get to grips with the fundamentals of how a guide dog can support someone with sight loss. 
  • As you progress, you’ll bring your skills and learning to life as you train and develop guide dogs and create real, life changing partnerships.
  • Depending on your role, you’ll match and deliver guide dog mobility training for people with sight loss, as well as provide ongoing support and assessment.
  • When you've reached the right standard, you’ll move across to your home team, where you’ll continue your development and gather experience in the field. Staying with the same team through your learning and into your qualified career means you’re building relationships and settling in from day one.

It takes around two and a half years to qualify as an Academy Guide Dog Trainer, and around three years as an Academy Guide Dog Mobility Specialist. The exact time varies as we tailor each person’s journey, and you graduate from the Academy when we know you’re ready. It’s an investment from you and from Guide Dogs, and once you’re a GDT or a GDMS you’re part of a global community of professionals.

It's a big change and there’s so much to learn – I wanted that direct contact with people and dogs, and to make a real difference to people’s lives. I’ve been amazed by the level of expertise, the support and how much I’m learning. But it’s awesome – no two days are the same and the dogs are so much fun to work with. You can see them learning along with you!
Former nurse, Holly, who is training to become a Guide Dog Mobility Specialist

What skills and experience are you looking for?  

We don't look for one type of person in Academy. We value the experiences people bring to the role from a wide variety of backgrounds including, but definitely not limited to, teaching, the emergency services, nursing, social care, counselling or straight from an educational setting. What unites our learners is the desire to really change lives.

So, here’s what we’re looking for:

  • People with a determined and positive mindset who have a passion for supporting and empowering others – and of course, you also need to love dogs! You’ll be active, professional, and committed to providing the best service to our service users.
  • Experience with dogs and in animal care and welfare is useful, but you will learn the dog handling skills required for the job during the Academy course. Evidence and examples of experience in areas such as coaching/teaching/mentoring, working with adults and/or children as well as experience working with people with disabilities are equally important.
  • We take a holistic view and value additional experiences that highlight a broad range of skills and the right motivations and attitudes to be successful.
  • A driving licence is essential for both roles.

Spending time gaining experience in these areas can only benefit your application. Volunteering with us is also a great way to gain more experience with Guide Dogs before Academy positions become available.

How to apply

We recruit Academy learners into both roles throughout the year across the UK. How many people we take on, the locations and start dates vary from year to year. To apply you need to complete an online application once the roles are advertised. 

All Guide Dogs vacancies, including our learner roles, are advertised on our jobs board when they are available. You can also set up job alerts for roles or locations, so you can make sure you hear about any new opportunities as soon as they are available.

Do you want to join our Academy? Discover our latest vacancies

Academy role salaries

As an Academy Guide Dog Trainer (AGDT) your annual starting salary will be from £22,660 to £26,000, depending on your experience. Throughout your training you will receive competency-based gradual salary increments. Once you graduate from the Academy (usually within two and a half years of starting training) your salary will increase to £27,025.

As an Academy Guide Dog Mobility Specialist (AGDMS) your annual starting salary will be from £24,519 to £28,000 depending on your experience. Again, you’ll receive competency-based gradual salary increments throughout your training, and once you graduate from the Academy (usually within three years of starting training) your salary will increase to £34,122.

Contact us about the Academy

Questions? We love talking about Academy, so if you have any questions at all, you can get in touch with us at We are always happy to answer any further questions, talk you through the role in more detail, or arrange for you to chat with one of our Academy learners or Technical Learning Specialists (our Academy Trainers) to get the inside track on what it’s really like! Our Academy is a great team, so if you’d like to join us, please reach out.