NHS apprenticeships

Earn, learn and make a difference with an NHS apprenticeship. Our apprenticeships offer routes into many of the more than 350 NHS careers through a mix of on-the-job training and classroom learning. 

The NHS also plans to triple the number of apprenticeships available, meaning more opportunites for you to start your NHS career. 

What you need to know about NHS apprenticeships

  • many NHS employers will pay you more than the minimum wage
  • if you are aged 16 to 18 or 19+ and in your first year of an apprenticeship, the minimum you should receive is £5.28 an hour (the National Minimum Wage for apprentices)
  • apprenticeships take between one and five years to complete 
  • anyone over the age of 16 can do one
  • over a week, you're likely to spend the equivalent of four days on work placement and one day at a training centre or college
  • you'll develop your skills, including English and maths
  • you'll gain a competence qualification (based on what you can do in the workplace) and a knowledge qualification, or a qualification combining both

Apprenticeship levels

NHS apprenticeships are available at several levels:

  • level 2 - equivalent to GCSEs 
  • level 3 - equivalent to A-levels 
  • levels 4 and 5 - equivalent to a foundation degree and above
  • levels 6 and 7 - equivalent to a full bachelor’s or Master’s degree

Entry requirements

Entry requirements will depend on the employer and the type and level of apprenticeship.

For example, you may need four or five GCSEs at grades 9-4/A-C or equivalent to do a level 3 apprenticeship. To start a level 5 or 6 apprenticeship you're likely to need A-levels, equivalent level 3 qualifications or relevant and sufficient experience.

Emily Gold

Business administration apprentice.
I have grown in confidence, learned a lot of new skills and feel really happy in my apprenticeship.

Types of apprenticeships

With more than 350 different NHS careers, there are hundreds of different jobs which can be done through an apprenticeship. Here are just a few:

  • Senior therapy support worker (level 3)
  • Associate ambulance practitioner (level 4)
  • Business administrator (level 3)
  • Dental nursing (level 3)
  • Informatics (levels 2 to 7)
  • HR consultant (level 5)
  • Healthcare science assistant, associate and practitioner (levels 2, 4 and 6 respectively)
  • Maternity support worker (levels 2 and 3)
  • Nursing associate apprenticeship (level 5)
  • Registered nursing degree apprenticeship (level 6)
  • Operating department practice degree apprenticeship (level 6)
  • Pharmacy services assistant (level 2)
  • Podiatry degree apprenticeship (level 6)

See NHS apprenticeships - something for everyone for examples of the types of available apprenticeships in the NHS. And look out for the 'A' icon when exploring the various roles on this website to see which ones can be entered through an apprenticeship. 

Applying for an NHS apprenticeship

There has never been a better time to start an NHS apprenticeship but often there's a lot of competition for a place. This means your application and interview are crucial. Some things to think about:

  • show that you are committed
  • make sure you are aware of your responsibilities
  • demonstrate that you are able to cope with work and study
  • take a look at the range of healthcare apprenticeship career routes on the Skills for Health website

You can find NHS apprenticeship vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. A taste of some of the current vacancies below.

So what happens after finishing an apprenticeship?

  • you may be offered a permanent job. Most successful apprentices stay in employment, often with the same employer. It's always a good idea to check whether you'll be offered a job at the end of your programme
  • you could continue your studies through an apprenticeship at higher level or you may have the qualifications you need to go to university.
  • Search for an apprenticeship in your area.

    Find a vacancy

  • Traineeships help unlock your great potential. They give you training to prepare you for the world of work, maths and English skills and the work experience needed to get an apprenticeship or other job.

    What are they?

    • traineeships are education and training programmes combined with work experience
    • traineeships aim to give you the skills and experience to help you find an apprenticeship or job
    • they are tailored to meet your needs
    • there are three core elements: a work placement, training in how to prepare for work, and support with your English and maths if you need it
    • traineeships can last from six weeks to six months

    Are you suitable?

    You may be able to take a traineeship if you are:

    • unemployed (or work less than 16 hours a week)
    • have little work experience
    • are aged 16-18 and don’t have a level-3 qualification, or if you are aged 19-23 and don’t have a level-2 qualification

    Further information

    Traineeship opportunities are advertised regularly on the Gov.uk website.

  • Cadet schemes are a great way to learn and gain experience at the same time.

    In a few areas of the country, cadet schemes provide an entry route into careers in health. Programmes and entry requirements vary widely but cadet schemes are usually offered in partnership with a local further education college.

    Where available, cadet schemes involve supervised experience in a variety of settings and lead to level-2 or -3 qualifications.

    Cadet schemes can help you decide on a career route to follow and can lead to work in a number of different areas, including nursing or support-level roles with or without patient contact.

    It is important to note that most cadet schemes have been replaced by apprenticeship schemes, but contact the organisations providing NHS healthcare in your area to see if they offer cadet schemes.

    Read how Luke Watson is getting on in his cadet scheme here.


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