FAQs

Allied health professions

Ambulance service team

Course finder FAQs

Dental Team

Doctors

General enquiries about careers in the NHS

Health informatics

Health visiting course finder FAQs

Healthcare science

Management

Midwifery

Nursing

Pharmacy

Psychological therapies

Teachers and careers advisers - FAQs

Wider healthcare team

Allied health professions

What are the allied health professions?

Allied health professionals provide treatment and help rehabilitate adults and children who are ill, have disabilities or special needs, to live life as fully as possible. They often manage their own caseloads.

How do I train to be an allied health professional?

The training for each of these professions involves going to university to do an approved programme. For some careers, only full-time courses are available, but for others there may be part-time routes too.

For more information about the profession and the training, explore the career that interests you:

For these professions, use our coursefinder to locate courses that lead to statutory registration (a legal requirement to practice in the UK).

Is there financial help to support me while I’m training for a career in one of the allied health professions?

At present, the NHS provides financial support to eligible students on approved courses for a number of the allied health professions.

Are there opportunities to work as an assistant in the allied health professions (AHP) and then train as a fully qualified AHP?

Yes, there are opportunities to work in a variety of clinical support roles, such as a dietetic assistantphysiotherapy assistantpodiatry assistantoccupational therapy assistanttechnical instructorradiography assistantorthotic technicianprosthetic technician and speech and language therapy assistant.

Depending on your role, your employer may then support you to train as a fully qualified AHP. Have a look at NHS Jobs for current vacancies.

What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

You can read more about the work of these two professions by visiting our pages about dietitians and nutritionists.

Can dietetic assistants be seconded onto a degree programme in dietetics?

No, there aren't opportunities to do this. You would need to do an approved undergraduate or masters programme. Use our coursefinder for details of these courses or visit our page about dietetic assistants for more information about what they do. 

Can I use my interest in sport in the NHS?

There are opportunities to work with patients who have received injuries through sport (e.g. as a  doctor specialising in this field), or using sport as part of a programme of rehabilitation after an injury, illness or operation (e.g.physiotherapistphysiotherapy assistantcardiac physiologist) and in promoting better health (e.g. health trainer).

Ambulance service team

Who works in the ambulance service team?

Have a look at our ambulance team careers page to find out.

To work in the ambulance service, what type of driving licence do I need?

You may need a C1 category on your licence, but it depends on the ambulance service trust that you are applying to and the types of vehicles that it uses. The requirements will be contained in the person specification for each vacancy. Visit the NHS Jobs website to search for vacancies.

How do I train to be a paramedic?

There are two ways to train as a paramedic - an approved full-time university course or train while working as a student paramedic with an ambulance trust. Visit our paramedic page for details. You can also search for approved university courses using our coursefinder.

What do I need to do to be an ambulance driver?

If you want to be an ambulance driver, you'll usually be a qualified ambulance care assistant/patient transport service driveremergency care assistant,ambulance technician or paramedic

What role has replaced ambulance technician?

Although ambulance service trusts currently employ ambulance technicians, it is no longer possible to enter this role as a new entrant. Those technicians currently working will be provided with opportunities to work as emergency care assistants or progress onto paramedic training, where they meet the requirements to do so.

Who handles the 999 calls?

Dialling 999 gets you through to the emergency services - including the police, ambulance service or fire and rescue service. In terms of the ambulance service, calls will usually be handled by an emergency medical dispatcher/call handler.

I want a role maintaining ambulance vehicles. Which one is this?

The NHS employs motor vehicle mechanics and technicians to check and maintain the ambulance vehicle itself. However, ensuring it is suitably stocked with the appropriate medical equipment and supplies is just as important and can be the responsibility of an ambulance care assistant/patient transport service driver.

Is there financial help to support while I’m training for a job in the ambulance service team?

Training for many of the roles in the ambulance service is done while you are working so you would continue to receive your salary. If you plan to take an approved full-time university course in paramedic science, you will not usually receive financial support from the NHS (but you should check with the university). Those training through the student paramedic route will usually be salaried while studying on a part-time basis.

Where can I train as an emergency care assistant or a role in the patient transport services?

You will usually be trained while you are working in the ambulance service - you would not normally do a course before applying for a job, but you should always check the person specification for the vacancy you're applying for. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website.

I want to be a paramedic, but don’t have a driving licence. Will they help me to get it?

The exact driving licence requirements will vary between ambulance service trusts and some may support you to gain the appropriate categories of licence to drive larger vehicles. It's therefore essential that you check when applying for paramedic vacancies on the NHS Jobs website.

Can I drive an ambulance without working with patients?

It is highly unlikely you will just drive an ambulance. If you work in the emergency side of ambulance work, you'll usually be a trained emergency care assistant or paramedic and be involved in directly assessing and providing patient treatment.

In the patient transport service, you'll be expected to help patients get into and out of the vehicle and have a knowledge of first aid and safe transportation.

Course finder FAQs

What if I can't find courses for the career I’m interested in?

Course finder only lists those clinical courses that lead to statutory professional registration. If your career isn't listed in the drop down box, please use the "Search" option at the top right hand corner of the screen. If you need further help, please contact NHS Careers by using the  Contact us form or calling 0345 60 60 655.

Where can I find information on post-qualifying courses and CPD (Continuing Professional Development)?

For details of post-qualifying courses, contact your professional body or call the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line (08000 150 850) 

What is an accelerated course?

An accelerated course leading to registration is available for some clinical careers. These are shortened courses and aimed at graduates. If you are a graduate, you will need to contact each university that you are considering to check if your degree subject is acceptable for entry.

I work at a university, how can I get some of our details updated?

Please email  advice@nhscareers.nhs.uk  detailing the required changes.

Dental Team

Who works in the dental team?

The dental team includes dentistsdental nursesdental therapistsdental hygienistsdental technicians and clinical dental technicians.

How do I train to be a dentist?

There are several stages to the training, but you'll need to start by going to university to do an approved degree in dentistry. Have a look at our information about training as a dentist. You can also use the coursefinder to search for the dental schools/universities approved to run degree courses in dentistry.

How do I train to be a dental hygienist or dental therapist?

You'll need to go to university to do an approved degree course in dental hygiene or dental therapy. You can use the coursefinder to search for the universities approved to run degree courses in dental hygiene and dental therapy.

How do I train to be a dental nurse?

Visit our page about dental nursing for information and our coursefinder for information on courses available.

Can dental nurse training be done without working in a dental environment?

You'll need to put what you learn into practice and so even if you do a full-time course, there will usually be dental nurse placements or time spent in the dental school's practice. Visit our dental nursing pages for details of the training.

Is there financial help to support while I’m training for a career in the dental care team?

Students on approved dental degrees can currently receive some financial helpfrom the NHS. Students on approved degrees in dental hygiene or dental therapywill usually receive financial support too.

Doctors

What different types of doctor are there?

There are many different "specialties", ranging from psychiatry, surgery, anaesthetics and pathology, through to radiology, general practice, obstetrics and gynaecology. Visit our webpages and the Medical Careers website for further information.

How do I train to be a doctor?

The training is in three stages, medical school/university, foundation training and then specialty training.

What qualifications do I need to become a doctor?

A range of qualifications may be acceptable for entry into medical school. Have a look at our entry requirements page. However, each medical school sets its own requirements, so you must check before making any applications.

You can also use our coursefinder to search for the medical schools/universities approved to run degree courses in medicine.

How long is the training to become a doctor?

It partly depends on the qualifications you have before going to medical school, and the type of doctor you want to be. For example as a guide, it'll take around 10 years to train as a GP (including medical school) and 14 years to train as a surgeon.

You can read more on the specialty pages of the Medical Careers website.

When do I receive a salary as a doctor?

Have a look at our information about pay for doctors.

Is an Access course enough for medical school?

Some medical schools may accept specific Access to medicine courses, but you should always check with the medical school before embarking on an Access course.

You can get a list of medical schools approved to run degrees in medicine by using our coursefinder.

Is there financial help to support while I’m training to be a doctor?

You may be eligible to receive some financial support during your degree in medicine. After medical school, you will usually be salaried during the foundation and specialty training stages.

General enquiries about careers in the NHS

Where can I find job vacancies in the NHS in England and Wales?

All NHS organisations in England and Wales advertise their vacancies on the  NHS Jobs website Vacancies in  Scotland and  Northern Ireland are advertised on other websites.

I already work in the NHS and need help with developing my career. Where should I go to get this?

You should speak to your line manager and your training department. You can also contact the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line on 08000 150 850.

Will I still be able to train/work for the NHS if I have a criminal record?

It depends on the nature of the offence, and the sort of work you want to do in the NHS - for example, for roles with direct patient contact you will usually legally be required to declare all criminal offences. Any requirements like these will be stated in the job advertisement or when you apply to do a relevant university course. 

Do I have to go to university to get a job in the NHS?

No. Around 50% of the NHS workforce has a university or other professional qualification, but there are lots of opportunities for staff without these qualifications, especially in the  wider healthcare team

What sort of careers could I consider in mental health?

There are many careers that you could consider in the NHS. These include occupational therapist, mental health nurse, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist, music therapist, social worker, dramatherapist, psychotherapist, art therapist, healthcare assistant, prison nurse, clinical psychologist, psychological wellbeing practitioner and high intensity therapist.

What careers are there working with children?

Many careers involve working directly with or specialising to work exclusively with children. They include newborn hearing screener, children's nurse, paediatrician, clinical psychologist, speech and language therapist, audiologist, physiotherapist, healthcare assistant, hospital play specialist, nursery nurse, nursery assistant, child psychotherapist, health visitor, school nurse and social worker.

What careers are there to work with patients who have cancer?

A number of careers involve providing direct care or treatment of patients with cancer. These include radiologist, cancer nurse, nurse specialising in palliative care, oncologistscientist in haematology, healthcare assistant, therapeutic radiographer, biomedical scientist and palliative care doctor. In addition to the NHS, opportunities exist with organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Am I too old to join the NHS?

There is no upper age limit to join the NHS. Indeed, maturity/life experience can be an asset for many roles. If the career you are considering requires university training, then you should discuss any concerns that you might have about your suitability with the universities directly. You might consider attending some university open days or contacting the university's admissions office before making a formal application. 

You can use our coursefinder to get a list of universities approved to run courses for a number of clinical careers. 

Does the NHS provide financial support to students going through university courses?

The NHS currently provides financial support to eligible students on approved pre-registration courses in nursing, midwifery, most of the allied health professions, dental hygiene, dental nursing, medicine and dentistry. The type of support varies, depending on the career and the course. For more information, visit the  NHS Student Bursaries website.

The Students Awards Services offers a similar scheme in Wales.

How much can I earn in the NHS?

It depends on the type and level of job you are working in. Doctors, dentists and senior managers have their own pay systems, whereas all other NHS staff are paid under the Agenda for Change pay system.

Take a look at the NHS Jobs website to see what current vacancies are available in the NHS.

I’m trying to get work experience in the NHS, but don’t know where to start. Can you help?

If you are still at school or college, your local NHS organisations may offer the opportunity to gain work experience. Our Step into the NHS website also has a smart guide for young people looking for work experience. You will need to register to the website to access this.

Each NHS organisation will have its own policy, so you will have to contact your local NHS organisation(s) or visit their website(s) to find out. For NHS organisations in Wales, visit www.wales.nhs.uk. Voluntary work is another way of gaining an insight into working in the NHS.

Can I do voluntary work?

Most NHS organisations provide voluntary opportunities and you'll need to contact your local NHS organisation(s) to find out more. For NHS organisations in Wales, visit www.wales.nhs.uk.

There are also many volunteering organisations out there, including Volunteering England, Do It! and Community Service Volunteers. You can search for others in your phone book or on the Internet.

What does being a registered healthcare professional mean?

Many healthcare professionals are regulated on a statutory basis. This means that to work as one of these professionals, you are legally required to be registered with the relevant regulatory body. 

Many other professions have voluntary registration which means that it isn't a legal requirement to be registered, but it is usually in the interests of the individual to do so. 

Where can I find the details for my local NHS organisation?

If you visit  NHS Choices, you can search for the NHS organisations in your area. There are also details on the  employer list of the NHS Jobs website

I’ve been having problems applying online for job vacancies in the NHS.

NHS Jobs is used by all NHS organisations in England and Wales. If you are having problems with online applications through the site, please visit the  candidate help information

Health informatics

What is health informatics?

Health informatics is an umbrella term referring to staff in the NHS who collate, manage, interpret and present patient information. They also manage the computer, telephony and other communications systems.

How can I start a career in health informatics? What qualifications do I need?

Some posts require few academic qualifications while others may need postgraduate qualifications or professional membership.

Visit our health informatics pages for more information and see our qualifications page too.

Where can I train for a career in health informatics?

In some careers, you will be trained on the job. For others you may need to have particular qualifications/experience/training already. Have a look at our training page.

Where can I do a course in clinical coding?

Visit the NHS Connecting for Health website for  information about the National Clinical Coding Qualification (UK).

How can a background in IT help me to get a job in the NHS?

Many skills gained outside the NHS can be transferred across e.g. website development. Visit our pages about careers in health informatics, and in particular, the sections on Information and Communication Technology.

There are also roles in information management that may interest you. It is essential to read the person specification for any job vacancy you are considering. Visit the NHS Jobs website to search for vacancies.

Are there opportunities for computer programmers in the NHS?

Yes, there will be some opportunities in programming. Visit the NHS Jobs website to search for vacancies.

If you have particular programming languages/skills, you might want to search on these using the search on skills field of the advanced search page of the site.

Health visiting course finder FAQs

Why can’t I find the course I'm looking for in my region?

If you cannot find the course you are looking for in your region, try searching under neighbouring regions or look at the full list of universities. You can then contact the relevant local education and training board for more information.

Why does the course finder not include the university’s contact details?

All courses have been commissioned by the NHS locally so you'll need to speak to them. The contact details are for the co-ordinators who are organising the education programme in their region. The co-ordinators have all the information you'll need when applying for courses such as how to apply and the financial help available.

Healthcare science

What do scientists do in the NHS?

Healthcare scientists help prevent, diagnose and treat illness using their knowledge of science and their technical skills. They use their expertise to help save lives and improve patient care in a supporting role or in direct contact with patients. They work in three main areas - life sciencesphysiological sciencesand physical sciences & biomedical engineering.

Aren’t all scientists based in laboratories, and spend their time looking down microscopes?

Not at all. There are scientists who use a variety of highly specialised equipment to analyse body tissue, blood and other bodily fluids. However, many healthcare scientists such as those in the physiological sciences will have a lot of direct patient contact and work in clinics or on wards.

How do I train to work as a scientist in the NHS?

The training you'll need depends on the particular role you are working in. Training for support staff in healthcare science e.g. cervical cytology screenerphlebotomist,newborn hearing screener or clinical support worker is usually on-the-job. So you'll be training while you're working, maybe towards a  QCF qualification, such as a foundation degree.

Under Modernising Scientific Careers an increasing number of universities are providing healthcare science degrees for undergraduates. There is also the Scientist Training Programme for graduates who train by working and studying towards professional postgraduate qualifications. Training routes are increasingly changing under Modernising Scientific Careers.

What is Modernising Scientific Careers?

We've provided an overview on our About Modernising Scientific Careers page. There's also more information on the Chief Scientific Officer's page on the Department of Health's website.

What can I do with my degree in sports science/fitness?

A degree in sports science/fitness will not qualify you for any particular role in the NHS, but there may be other roles where it could be advantageous, includingphysiotherapistphysiotherapy assistantcardiac physiologist and in health promotion.

You'll need to check the training requirements in the person specification when applying for vacancies in these roles as this will tell you what skills, qualifications and experience are required/preferred.

How do I become a medical illustrator?

Visit our page about working as a medical illustrator.

What sort of roles are there in a mortuary?

Two roles that you could consider are working as an anatomical pathology technician or as a doctor - specifically a  pathologist specialising in histopathology.

Will the NHS fund my undergraduate science degree?

No, the NHS does not fund students on full-time undergraduate science degrees. You should check directly with the university to see if any funding is provided from other sources.

What is the Healthcare Scientist Training Programme?

We have provided some information about the Scientist Training Programme on this site.

How much will I get paid during the Healthcare Scientist Training Programme?

In 2012, the starting salary was £25,528 (excluding location allowance where applicable). For successful candidates already working for the NHS, the local employer is responsible for considering any issue of pay protection or payment at a higher salary for the duration of the training.

Do I have to have a degree to work in healthcare science?

No you do not need a degree to work in the healthcare science team. Examples of support roles that you might want to consider include pharmacy techniciancervical cytology screenerphlebotomistnewborn hearing screenerclinical support workerand pharmacy assistant.

I have a degree, masters and PhD, what can I do? Can I register as a scientist?

It depends on what your qualifications are in and the role you wish to work in. Some healthcare science careers (specifically biomedical scientists and clinical scientists) require statutory registration with the Health and Care Professions Council

For some others, there are voluntary registers, such as those maintained by theRegistration Council for Clinical Physiologists and the Voluntary Registration Council

In order to register with any of these organisations, you will need to meet their requirements, which may well include relevant experience as well as recognised qualifications.

What would I do as a laboratory support worker?

The work that you do will depend on the role. As a starting point, have a look at our information on the work of a clinical support worker

Other healthcare science support roles that you might want to consider include cervical cytology screenerphlebotomist, and newborn hearing screener.

Management

What do managers do in the NHS?

NHS managers work in a wide variety of disciplines including clinical care, human resources, finance, information, project, supplies, procurement and communications. Visit our section on careers in management for further details.

How do I become a manager in the NHS? What qualifications do I need?

There are various routes into management. You could work your way up from more junior roles; apply for a place on the Graduate Management Training Scheme or gain relevant experience in another sector before applying for a position in the NHS.

What is the Graduate Management Training Scheme?

The Graduate Management Training Scheme usually recruits a number of graduates onto a fast track training programme and prepares them for senior management roles.

The scheme focuses on four management specialist areas - general management, human resources, finance and health informatics.

Do I have to do the Graduate Management Training Scheme to become a manager in the NHS?

Not at all. There are a number of routes into management. You could work your way up from more junior roles or gain relevant experience in another sector before applying for a position in the NHS.

Are there any skills I could transfer into a management role?

Yes, many areas of management in the NHS are not unique to the Health Service or even healthcare, such as financehuman resourcespurchasing or hotel and catering management.

You may therefore have gained skills in another role (within or outside of the NHS) and be able to use these in a management role.

Do you have to have worked in the NHS before applying for management posts?

No. However, there are some more senior roles that may require experience of managing resources in a healthcare environment.

Do vacancies always go to internal applicants?

No. It depends on the candidate that best meets the criteria in the person specification and can demonstrate this through the application and selection process.

Can I work my way up into management roles in the NHS?

Yes. By gaining appropriate experience and training, it is possible to meet the required criteria for more senior level positions.

How can I get into project management in the NHS?

Take a look at our page on project management.

Midwifery

How do I train to become a midwife?

You'll need to take an approved course in midwifery. Have a look at our routes into midwifery page.

What qualifications do I need to train as a midwife?

Each university sets its own entry requirements to get onto a full-time degree in midwifery, but as a general guide you'll need at least 5 A-C grade GCSEs (including English and a science subject) and at least 2 (preferably 3) A' levels - biology may be required by some.

Alternative qualifications such as an approved access to midwifery course, BTEC National Diploma or International Baccalaureate may be acceptable, but you must check with each university directly before making an application.

Use our coursefinder to get a list of universities approved to run degrees in midwifery.

Do I need to be a nurse before I can train as a midwife?

No, you do not need to be a nurse first - although this is one of the routes into the profession. Have a look at our routes into midwifery page.

Would it be better to train first as a nurse because of the competition for places on midwifery degrees?

If you train first as a nurse, with a plan of later doing further study to register as a midwife, you need to be aware that it is up to each NHS employing organisation to decide whether or not it will support staff to do this training. The decision is based partly on perceived future workforce needs.

You also need to bear in mind that nursing and midwifery are two separate and very different professions, and if you decide to train first as a nurse, your UCAS personal statement will need to demonstrate your interest in nursing and not midwifery.

This route into midwifery does not attract NHS financial support in the same way as direct entry nursing or midwifery courses.

Can I do an apprenticeship in midwifery?

No, you cannot do an apprenticeship to become a midwife. Some NHS organisations run apprenticeships in health care/care and these may provide you with sufficient experience and qualifications to be able to apply for a pre-registration degree in midwifery.

To find current apprenticeship opportunities in the NHS, visit the NHS Jobs and National Apprenticeships websites. We also have information on the type ofapprenticeships in the NHS.

I want to work with babies, so would I make a good midwife?

Having a love of babies is clearly important, but as a midwife, your main role will be monitoring the unborn baby and expectant mother while providing advice and support.

If you wanted to have more contact with babies, you might want to consider roles such as a newborn hearing screenermaternity support workerhealthcare assistant or a neonatal nurse

What is the highest I can earn as a midwife?

Under the Agenda for Change system, a consultant midwife can earn up to the top of band 8c For more information about pay for midwives, click here

Is there a shortage of midwives? If so, why are there so few training places at university?

Places on approved degree programmes in midwifery at universities are purchased by the NHS. The number of places is decided by the NHS and based on perceived future workforce needs.

Use our coursefinder to get a list of universities approved to run degrees in midwifery.

Is there financial help to support while I’m training to be a midwife?

Yes. If you are an eligible student on an approved degree programme in midwifery, you may receive financial help from the NHS. Visit the NHS Student Bursaries website for more information.

Can I train on-the-job to be a midwife?

To train as a midwife, you will need to do an approved degree in midwifery at university. Most courses are full-time, but some NHS employers will support staff working at a senior support level/assistant practitioner level to do the degree on a part-time basis.

Nursing

What do nurses do in the NHS?

Nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospital wards, operating theatres, clinics, doctors' surgeries and patients' homes. They work as part of a team and provide direct patient care. 

When you first train as a nurse, you'll study in one of the four branches of nursing -  mental health learning disability children's or  adult nursing. For more information, visit our nursing careers website

What are the different branches of nursing?

When you first train as a nurse, you'll need to study for one of the four branches of nursing -  mental health learning disability children's or  adult nursing. 

What qualifications do I need to become a nurse?

Each university sets its own entry requirements to get onto a full-time degree in nursing, but as a general guide you'll need at least 5 A-C grade GCSEs (including English and a science subject) and at least 2 (preferably 3) A' levels. Some universities may also require A level biology.

Alternative qualifications may include approved access to nursing courses, BTEC National Diplomas or International Baccalaureates, but you must check with each university directly before making an application. 

Use our coursefinder to get a list of universities approved to run degree and Dip HE programmes in nursing. Be aware that all nurse training will be via the degree route only from 2013.

Can I train as a nurse without going to university? Can I train on-the-job?

If you want to train as a nurse, then you will have to go university. 

Most courses are full-time, but if you are working in the NHS as a senior healthcare assistant or assistant practitioner, your employer may support you to do the university course on a part-time basis. 

What is a nursing secondment and how does it work?

A secondment is an opportunity for you to train as a nurse by going to university on a part-time basis, while working for an NHS organisation as a senior healthcare assistant/assistant practitioner

In other words, your employer may support you to train through this route. You will usually continue to be paid by your employer, but will not be eligible for financial support through an NHS student bursary (which you may receive if you do the university course on a full-time basis).

I have some relevant care experience and/or a relevant degree and want to apply for a professional nursing course. Can I get any accreditation for my previous experience and studies?

You may be able to get some accreditation for previous relevant experience and/or study, and if you can do this, you can complete the nursing programme in a shorter time (up to a year less than a standard 3-year programme). Use ourcoursefinder to identify universities offering accelerated programmes in nursing. 

Do all universities offer Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)/ Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) for nursing programmes?

No. You will need to check with each university individually to see what arrangements are in place. You can use our coursefinder to get a list of universities approved to run nursing programmes. 

Can I be a health visitor without being a nurse or midwife first?

No. You will need to train first as a nurse or a midwife. See our page on health visiting for more information.

Am I too old to start training?

There is no upper age limit to start nurse training but you should discuss any concerns that you might have about your suitability for training with the universities offering courses. Use our coursefinder to get a list. 

You might consider attending some university open days or contacting the university's admissions office before making a formal application.

Is there financial help to support while I’m training to be a nurse?

Yes. If you are an eligible student on an approved programme in nursing, you may receive financial help from the NHS. Visit the NHS Student Bursaries website for more information. 

Is there a specific branch of nursing I need in order to get in health visiting, practice nursing or midwifery?

If you are a qualified nurse and want to train as a health visitorpractice nurse ormidwife, you will need to do further study at university. 

You should check with the universities offering these programmes to find out which branch of nursing (if any) is stipulated. You might want to start by contacting theHealth Learning and Skills Advice Line on 08000 150 850. 

Pharmacy

Can I progress from being a pharmacy assistant to a pharmacist?

By gaining appropriate qualifications and experience as a pharmacy assistant you can apply for positions as a pharmacy technician. However, you cannot progress from pharmacy technician to pharmacist, as you need to do the 4-year full-time MPharm degree. 

Use our coursefinder to identify the universities approved to run the MPharm.

Psychological therapies

What careers are there in the psychological therapies?

Careers in the psychological therapies include counsellors, high intensity therapists, primary care graduate mental health workers, psychological wellbeing practitioners, psychologists (working in clinical, counselling, forensic and health areas of psychology) and psychotherapists.

How and where can I train to be a psychotherapist?

Most staff in the NHS that provide psychotherapy are clinically qualified healthcare professionals, such as psychiatristsclinical psychologistssocial workers or arts therapists who have undergone appropriate training. Visit our pages about psychotherapy for more information.

Is there NHS funding for postgraduate psychology training?

The NHS employs clinical, counselling, forensic and health psychologists. For more information about financial support during postgraduate training, click here.

What is Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and what sort of careers are there in this field?

IAPT is an initiative to provide greater public access to the talking therapies. 

Specifically, there are opportunities to train as psychological wellbeing practitioners and high intensity therapists. However, if you like the idea of using the talking therapies, you might also want to look at opportunities for working as a counsellor, psychotherapist psychiatristclinical psychologistmental health nursearts therapist or social worker.

How do I train to work as a counsellor in the NHS?

If you like the idea of working as a counsellor, visit our webpage

The NHS also employs staff in a broad range of roles using the talking therapies, including psychological wellbeing practitionershigh intensity therapists, psychotherapistspsychiatristsclinical psychologists and others. 

Where can I get training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) training is provided by a number of organisations.

However, if you want to undertake this training while working in the NHS, you should consider applying for roles such as psychological wellbeing practitioner or a high intensity therapist, if you are already a qualified healthcare professional.

Teachers and careers advisers - FAQs

Does NHS Careers provide careers literature for schools and careers organisations?

Although NHS Careers does not produce careers literature specifically for schools and careers organisations, we do have a suite of literature, which is appropriate for all ages. We produce three levels of materials:

  • Introductory booklet (A career for you in the NHS), providing an overview of the many careers in the NHS.
  • Careers booklets - an introductory booklet to each of the 10 main career groups - the allied health professions, ambulance service team, dental team, healthcare science, health informatics, management, medicine, midwifery, nursing and the wider healthcare team.
  • A series of careers factsheets providing more detailed information about individual careers or groups of careers e.g. physiotherapy, microbiology and virology, estates services.

All of the above publications can be downloaded from the NHS Careers website. Schools, colleges, universities and other organisations in England can order stocks of our literature by calling us on 0345 60 60 655.

We also have a range of resources to help teachers and careers advisers engage with the people they provide careers advice to.

  • An online toolkit of activities and multimedia resources that support careers education and PSHEE at Key Stage 4.
  • A guide to work experience in the NHS, with practical examples of how work experience needs have been accommodated in a variety of healthcare settings.
  • A course finder which lists all clinical courses leading to professional registration.
  • A termly e-newsletter to keep you up to date on the latest changes and developments in the various health professions.
  • Bulk ordering facility for literature and promotional materials and a specific point of contact for teachers and careers advisers.

A couple of my students said that they’d heard about an apprenticeship in midwifery. Do these exist?

You cannot train to be a midwife by solely taking an apprenticeship as anyone wanting to practice as a midwife will need to complete a pre-registration midwifery degree programme approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

There are some apprenticeships in healthcare which could enable the apprentice to achieve appropriate qualifications for entry onto a midwifery degree programme, but any potential applicant should check with universities before embarking on the apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeship vacancies in the NHS can be found on the NHS Jobs website http://www.jobs.nhs.uk/ and the National Apprenticeships website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/.

Where can I find job vacancies in the NHS?

Job vacancies with NHS organisations in England and Wales can be found on the NHS Jobs website http://www.jobs.nhs.uk/

What is available on the NHS Careers website?

NHS Careers has four websites:

  • www.nhscareers.nhs.uk is our main website and provides details about the 300 plus careers in the NHS, including information on the roles, training, pay, entry requirements, case studies and further sources of information. There is also a course finder tool to identify universities that are approved to run clinical courses leading to statutory registration (e.g. nursing, medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dental hygiene etc). You can also download our literature from the site and there is a dedicated area for teachers and careers advisers with downloadable resources, information about our annual schools' competition and Update newsletter.
  • www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk is part of our programme for students in secondary and further education. The website features case studies, an A-Z of roles available in the NHS, videos and a personality quiz to help students map their careers. Students can register with the programme to receive personalised information about the careers which interest them, regular communications on a range of topics and careers, access to practical help and advice on finding work experience in the NHS and much more.
  • www.whatcanidowithmydegree.nhs.uk is our careers website for undergraduates and recent graduates to support them in their choices about future employment. It provides information on the career prospects on offer in the NHS based on degree disciplines, case studies of graduates now working in the NHS and signposting and practical tools to help students investigate the possibilities of working in the NHS as their next step. Students can also sign up for job alerts delivered straight to their mailbox from NHS Jobs.
  • www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/nursing promotes the wide range of nursing careers available, challenges misconceptions and encourages people to consider a career in nursing. It features an interactive personality quiz to help individuals explore their suitability to a nursing career, video interviews, cases studies and a suite of downloadable materials to help you promote careers in nursing within your school, college or university.

Can someone from the NHS come into my school/college and give a careers talk to my students? Can someone represent the NHS at my forthcoming careers event?

Unfortunately, NHS Careers is not resourced to attend events at individual schools or colleges.

The NHS is currently made up of over 400 separate organisations in England and each is an employer in its own right. These organisations include acute (hospital) trusts, ambulance service trusts, mental health trusts and primary care trusts. You could approach your local NHS trust(s) and ask them if they can provide a representative. When contacting your local trust, you should ask to speak to someone in the human resources department, voluntary services or learning and development departments. You may be referred to a specific person within the trust whose role may include this type of work. Details of NHS organisations in England can be found on the NHS Choices website. If you are in Wales, visit www.wales.nhs.uk.

You could also see if your local university run NHS-funded/healthcare courses, and approach them. They may not be able to provide an overview of the range of careers in the NHS, but you could supplement any input with literature from NHS Careers.

How can my students get work experience in the NHS?

Giving students and others the chance to experience work within healthcare can present challenges for some NHS organisations. Quality of care and patient confidentiality are paramount, so careful consideration has to be given to where work experience students can go, when they can come and what they can do.

There are a few things to be aware of:

  • NHS healthcare in England is currently provided by around 1000 individual organisations and each is an employer in its own right with responsibility for its own policies on employment, work experience, volunteering etc. There are significant differences in approach to providing work experience across the NHS.
  • There are different types of NHS organisations - including hospital (acute) trusts, mental health trusts, ambulance service trusts, community-based providers and social enterprises. The NHS in your area may well be represented by at least three or four different trusts and any or all of these could offer work experience opportunities.
  • Students who have registered with our Step into the NHS programme can access our smart guide to finding work experience and see what other students have done on their work experience placements in the NHS.
  • If you are responsible for organising work experience in schools or colleges, you may find our toolkit for work experience coordinators helpful.
  • If your students are seeking some sort of caring experience, then the NHS is just one possible place they could try. There are independent healthcare providers, including private hospitals, clinics, care homes, nurseries, a whole host of charities and volunteering organisations, such as http://www.volunteering.org.uk/, http://www.csv.org.uk/ and http://www.do-it.org.uk/.

For students interested in work experience within NHS Wales please visit: www.weds.wales.nhs.uk/work-experience

How can I help my students who are taking/planning to take a degree and want to work in the NHS afterwards?

In terms of information on particular careers, our main NHS Careers website has lots of information.

We also have a website http://www.whatcanidowithmydegree.nhs.uk/ designed specifically for undergraduates, recent graduates or anyone wanting to get an idea of the sort of NHS careers they could pursue with a degree. It provides information on career prospects based on degree subjects, signposting and practical tools to help students investigate the possibilities of working in the NHS as their next step.

What financial support is available to students?

The NHS currently provides financial support to students on approved pre-registration courses in nursing, midwifery, most of the allied health professions, dental hygiene, dental nursing, medicine, dentistry, some audiology courses (where these still exist) and dentistry courses. The type of support varies, depending on the career and the course.

For more information, visit the NHS Student Bursaries website where you'll also be able to find student specific FAQs.

Financial support in Wales is slightly different. For details, please visit this site: www.weds.wales.nhs.uk/finance

Wider healthcare team

Who works in the wider healthcare team?

There are lots of different roles in the wider healthcare team, including administrationclinical supportcorporate servicesdomestic servicesestates services and support services

What do I need and where can I train as a healthcare assistant (HCA)?

You don't usually need any formal qualifications or training to apply for healthcare assistant posts in the NHS. Some relevant care experience, such as volunteering, can be really helpful. 

NHS organisations in England and Wales advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. 

To find out what sort of qualifications, skills and experience are required, have a look at the person specification for each vacancy. This will give you the details you'll need to decide whether you have what is needed already, or need to do something else first. 

What cadet schemes are available in the NHS?

It really depends on where you live as to what is on offer. Cadet schemes may still exist in some parts of the country, but most have been replaced by apprenticeships

I want to practise as a complementary therapist. Can I do this in the NHS?

Many NHS patients are able to access certain complementary or alternative therapies on referral by their family doctor/GP. The complementary therapists providing this treatment are not usually employed directly by the NHS. However, some healthcare professionals may practice certain complementary therapies. 

For more information, see our webpage on complementary and alternative medicine

What do I need to be a health trainer?

You can find more information on our page about health trainers.

How can I train as a phlebotomist?

To train as a phlebotomist, you will usually need to be employed in an appropriate role in the NHS e.g. as a healthcare assistant or medical laboratory assistant/support worker and your employer will support you to do a part-time course in phlebotomy/venepuncture. 

What qualifications do I need for administrative posts in the NHS?

There are various roles in administration in the NHS, including medical secretary and receptionist, as well as, those in finance and human resources, for example. There are also opportunities in management

Some roles will require academic qualifications, such as GCSEs, or an equivalent vocational qualification. Others may require a degree or professional qualifications, such as in accountancy or human resources. 

The NHS usually supports staff to develop their career further, so you may start at a more junior level and work your way into more senior positions with greater responsibility. 

Many NHS organisations also offer apprenticeships in administration. To find current apprenticeship opportunities in the NHS, visit the NHS Jobs and National Apprenticeships websites. We also have information on the type of apprenticeships in the NHS.

How can I get started in health promotion or public health?

Public health is a very large field and the breadth of opportunities includes health promotion specialistshealth trainershealth visitorsdietitiansnutritionists and public health consultants.

Not everyone working in public health works in the NHS, and opportunities exist in local government and charities/the voluntary sector too. You might find it helpful to visit the PHORCaST website which gives a good overview of the opportunities that exist within and outside of the NHS.

How do I become a hospital play specialist?

Take a look at our page about hospital play specialists.

Where can I find assistant practitioner courses?

You need to be employed by the NHS in order to be able to access courses and training relevant to the role of an assistant practitioner

If you are applying for a vacancy as an assistant practitioner, you will need to make sure that you meet the criteria contained in the person specification for the post before applying.