General FAQs about careers in the health sector

This page has some general frequently asked questions about careers in the health sector.

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

All organisations delivering NHS services 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 health sector and need help with developing my career. Where can 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 health sector?

No. For example, 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, psychiatrist, speech and language therapistmusic therapist, social worker, dramatherapist, psychotherapist, art therapist, healthcare assistant, prison nurse, clinical psychologist, forensic 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, health 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 medicine doctor. In addition to the NHS, opportunities exist with organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Am I too old to join the health sector?

There is no upper age limit to join the health sector. 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.

Find out more about the financial support available from the NHS in England

The Students Awards Services offers a similar scheme in Wales.Agenda for change - pay rates

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.

Find out more about the Agenda for Change pay system

Find out more about pay for doctors

Find out more about pay for dentists

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. 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.

Visit the NHS Jobs website for details of organisations providing NHS healthcare in England and Wales

Voluntary work is another way of gaining experience and an insight into working in the health sector.

Find out more about gaining experience in the health sector.

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.

Visit the NHS Jobs website for details of organisations providing NHS healthcare in England and Wales

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.

Find out more about gaining experience in the health sector.

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.

Where can I find more information about the different careers in the health sector?

You can find more information about careers in the health sector by visiting our explore roles section.

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