Your Ultimate Guide to a career in Healthcare

Healthcare is all about helping people, be that with medicine, therapy, physical treatment or social care. The healthcare sector relies on apprenticeships for career progression, giving you the chance to learn on the job in a career that works for you.

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Healthcare apprenticeships hero:  a junior healthcare worker

The basics

Employing around 1.3 million people in the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is one of the biggest employers in the world.

Working for an NHS trust can be hugely rewarding, offering immense job satisfaction as you care for and help those most in need. However, starting a career with the NHS doesn’t just mean becoming a doctor, nurse, or carer and having to get a medical or scientific degree. The magnitude of the NHS means there are hundreds of potential paths on offer and undertaking an apprenticeship can be an ideal way to take your first steps in your career.

With around 300 hundred career paths available to apprentices in the NHS, an apprenticeship offers a way to earn while you learn and gain key skills that can reap rewards both inside and outside the healthcare industry.

With a huge mix of careers on offer, apprenticeships in healthcare can vary significantly. Some involve classroom learning while others offer on-the-job training. Many even offer a mixture of both. There is something for everyone when it comes to an apprenticeship in the NHS, so let’s take a closer look at how to get started and what you need to know… 

Types of apprenticeships in the healthcare industry

As mentioned, the NHS offers a huge variety of apprenticeships. Some of the most common areas and departments to undertake an apprenticeship include: 

  • Business administration and human resources
  • Business Management
  • Pharmacy
  • Maternity and paediatric support
  • Occupational therapy
  • Communications and marketing
  • Dental nursing
  • IT
  • Health and social care
  • Project management
  • Customer services
  • Library, information, and archive services
  • Healthcare assistance
  • Hospitality
  • Mechanical & Electrical engineering
  • Finance

Check with your local NHS trust or visit the NHS Jobs website to see the types of apprenticeship are available in your area and to get an idea of the enormous range of apprenticeships available through the NHS.

Or, simply take a look at some of our healthcare apprenticeship opportunities below!

Role Focus: an In-depth looks at different jobs in Healthcare…

Healthcare Assistant Apprenticeships

Healthcare assistants are the one of the superheroes of the hospital. They ensure that patients are comfortable and stress free, helping to keep the hospital moving smoothly and effectively.

A healthcare assistant apprenticeship can be a fantastic stepping stone to other healthcare roles – while a qualified healthcare assistant can expect to make £18,000- £24,000 a year on average. A fantastic foot in the door to healthcare (and the NHS) these apprenticeships are available at level 2, requiring only 2 (or more) GCSE qualifications above grade D to be accepted.

Radiography Apprenticeships

Radiography is a fascinating career path that combines sciences and diagnostics, analysis, and the ability to help people. In recent years, radiography apprenticeships have become available in the NHS through degree apprenticeship schemes. This is where a job allows you to earn and learn on the job, gaining practical skills, as well as study part time at university to obtain a degree.

Because those taking on these jobs will be required to complete a degree, admission requirements are usually similar to that of a university submission, so expect the requirement of A-levels, or a level 4 qualification. See, for example this course run by the University of Exeter.

Landing an apprenticeship with the NHS

Levels & entry requirements

Available to anyone who is 16 or over, the NHS offers four levels of apprenticeships: Intermediate, Advanced, High level, and Degree level. 

Intermediate level apprentices follow work-based learning towards level 2 – this level is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C). An intermediate level apprenticeship provides the key skills needed for whatever career path you are interested in and allows entry to an advanced level apprenticeship.

Advanced level apprentices follow work-based learning towards level 3 – this is equivalent to 2 A-levels. To be able to start an advanced level apprenticeship, you will likely need to have completed an intermediate level apprenticeship or have five GCSEs at grade 4 (C or above).

Higher level apprentices follow work-based learning towards levels 4,5,6 and 7 – higher level is equivalent to a foundation degree and above. To start this level of apprenticeship, you will ideally have 2 A-levels (or equivalent) or have completed an advanced level apprenticeship.

Degree level apprentices follow work-based learning towards levels 6 and 7 – equivalent to a full bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Applying for an apprenticeship can be competitive, but don’t be disheartened. With major changes to healthcare in recent years as well as there being greater benefits for employers taking on apprentices, it is a great time to apply for a position with the NHS.

The NHS has been gradually increasing the number of apprenticeships it offers, so it is well worth keeping an eye on our job finder, as well as local NHS trust websites for new positions.

Depending on what level of apprenticeship you have the qualifications for, an employer will still want to make sure you are able to handle the work involved in the role. This means entry requirements can vary between roles. As always, make sure you check the requirements of any role before applying. 

Not quite ready for an apprenticeship? Don’t worry, the NHS also offers a number of traineeships that can help you gain vital experience and skills that will help you get an apprenticeship or job further down the line.

A typical traineeship can last between six weeks and six months. It consists of a work placement, training, and support with Maths and English if you need it.

Traineeships are available to those who are: 

  • Unemployed (or work less than 16 hours a week)
  • Aged 16-18 and don’t have a level 3 qualification. Or are aged 19-23 and don’t have a level 2 qualification
  • Have little work experience

Latest apprentice jobs in healthcare:

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Search all jobs.

Working in private healthcare.

While the NHS is officially the UK’s largest employer, that doesn’t mean that apprenticeship opportunities don’t also exist in the private health sector. Private healthcare companies offer an alternative route into the industry with a number of apprentice career paths, including carers, healthcare assistants and occupational therapists. The best place to find out about these opportunities is right here on our job finder.

What happens next?

If you land an apprenticeship with the NHS then congratulations! After completing an apprenticeship, you may wish to take a step-up and move onto a higher level apprenticeship.

Many NHS apprentices are offered full time employment once they have completed their course while others opt to pursue further education. The skills and experience picked up during an NHS apprenticeship can set you up for a wide range of careers inside or outside of the organisation. Some hospital apprenticeships even offer UCAS points which can be vital in helping you be successful in your university application.