Hinton made 47 appearances for the Cobblers as part of a career that saw him play almost 500 senior games, will take charge of the club's Under-18 side.
"We have been very fortunate to recruit someone like Craig," said academy head Trevor Gould. "He has spent the last couple of years gaining a lot of coaching experience, as an assistant manager at first-team level at Bristol Rovers, coaching the Under-16s at both Wolves and West Brom and even when he was a player here he would attend the Centre of Excellence to coach the young players.
"He still lives locally and knows the local football scene and I think he will be an excellent addition. He has an infectious personality, he has an excellent technical knowledge and has a wealth of playing experience.
"He was the club captain when he was here as a player, showing the sort of leadership skills he had and he is an excellent role model for the young players to look up to."