If you’re interested in a career in the health and social care sector, you’ll have to have the kind of personality to be able to care for all sorts of people with many different needs. You’ll need to have tact, patience, energy and empathy.

Whether you choose to work in the public or private sector, a career in health and social care could involve working with children, adults, the elderly or families or with people with learning difficulties, physical disabilities or mental ill health. You could be based in a residential care home, a hospital, in someone’s own home, or out in the community.

The health and social care sector has a huge variety of roles on offer, ranging from entry level jobs through to graduate level positions.  However, many jobs in the sector do not require a degree – you can simply start work, earn a wage straight away and progress your career through training on the job.

There are both vocational and academic routes into employment in the health and social care sector. You could study for a Diploma in Health and Social Care, A-levels or you could apply for an apprenticeship.

With these qualifications, you could go on to study full time for a degree at university but this isn’t mandatory for every role in health and social care. Both vocational and academic routes could equip you for doing an apprenticeship and from an intermediate apprenticeship; you could progress to an advanced apprenticeship. Alternatively, you could study for a Higher Level Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care.

An important aspect of the work you do in health and social care is the requirement for professional development. It is important to top up your existing skills and to gain new skills that will allow you to either progress your career or to move horizontally into a different but related career.

The care industry employs around 1.7 million people and employment prospects are good, with over 700,000 people employed specifically as care workers in the UK. This is set to rise by nearly 200,000, between now and 2022, as the ageing population grows.

Info box: Moving On magazine provides information on careers and qualifications for young people aged 14 – 19.

Link box: Visit www.notgoingtouni.co.uk for live apprenticeship opportunities.