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How to get into a rewarding healthcare career – without a degree

Must you be a graduate to gain the rewards of a healthcare career?
No – there are many routes into healthcare, and a huge range of opportunities on offer, says the National Careers Service.

Your career in healthcare: the options

You don’t need a degree to enjoy the rewards of working in healthcare. “Only about 50 per cent of jobs in the National Health Service require a degree or similar professional qualification,” says Sue Hughes, an adviser with the National Careers Service (NCS).

“You don’t need to be a doctor or nurse to gain the satisfaction of helping people and improving the quality of their lives,” she says. “A whole army of healthcare staff, often unseen by patients, are equal partners in the healthcare team. Many of these roles do not require a degree.”

They include engineers, electricians and window cleaners who maintain medical facilities, ambulance service dispatchers who handle emergency call-outs and patient transport drivers.

Clinical support staff include healthcare assistants who may work with nurses in GP practices, provide personal care for long-stay hospital patients, act as patient chaperones, or fill many other roles. Administration jobs include patient record clerks, patient advice and liaison services assistants and specialists in health informatics.

A way into healthcare

The route into many of these support roles could be an NHS Apprenticeship – a recent check of the NHS jobs website revealed over 90 apprentice opportunities, though the figure changes constantly.

You must be passionate about healthcare and relish working with people.

You can also swap into healthcare roles from other sectors, provided you have the right transferable skills. But however you get into healthcare, you’ll need the right attitude.

“Everyone entering the health service must enjoy working as part of a team. Healthcare is all about teamwork and common goals,” says Hughes. “You must be passionate about healthcare and relish working with people.”

If you are unsure about making the move, find out about work experience. Each NHS organisation offers its own scheme.

“It’s an opportunity to experience this unique working culture from the inside,” says Hughes.

“There are hundreds of roles in the health service, including entry-level roles, part time and flexible jobs and volunteer roles. The variety can be confusing, so call the NCS and we can help you identify those that might suit you,” says Hughes.

“Talk to us about healthcare careers – you will be surprised what’s on offer –

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