Entry requirements, skills and interests (strategic management)

You'll usually need to have experience of a range of areas in order to enter a role in strategic management

Entry requirements

There are a variety of entry routes into a career in general management. The following are general entry requirements. As a manager with a strategic responsibility, you’ll usually need experience and/or knowledge of a range of areas in management. This might include communications, risk management, general administration, planning, public and patient involvement, clinical governance and purchasing.

For specific entry requirements check the person specification for individual job vacancies.

With moderate to high grade GCSEs and/or work experience

You can join the NHS administrative level and work your way up to management, supported by in-house and external training schemes. For most junior positions, you will need four or five GCSEs at Grades A-C or equivalent. Employers may also consider applicants with fewer formal qualifications if they can demonstrate they have the right skills, for example, previous clerical experience. There are sometimes opportunities to enter through an apprenticeship in a relevant area of administration.

With A levels/equivalent

If you have two or three A-levels or equivalent vocational qualifications you may be able to start at a higher administrative grade, leading to a supervisory role and then into management. Internal and external training schemes, for example in communications skills or budget management, will assist your progress and enable you to apply your academic skills to work situations. Previous work experience can be an advantage. There are sometimes higher apprenticeships available. 

As a graduate

If you have a degree or equivalent vocational qualifications you can apply for junior management posts or apply for entry on the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme in which you can specialise in general, human resource, informatics, finance management, health analysis or policy and strategy management. The scheme prepares trainees for very senior managerial roles within the NHS. As well as the fast-track graduate scheme, depending on your degree and your employment experience, you may be able to apply directly for junior management vacancies. Alternatively, you can join an NHS trust or other health-related organisation in an administrative role, gain experience of staff supervision and move on into management with appropriate training and support.

If you already have management experience

We welcome applications from people who have already built up management experience in the private sector or in other public or voluntary organisations. You can often join at a level corresponding to your skills and expertise. Some managers are recruited directly for specific positions – for example, you may need experience of providing health or social care services or working in the public service sector.

Find out more about the training you’ll receive for a career in strategic management

  • For a career in strategic management, you’ll need a variety of skills and qualities, typically including:

    • an ability to think strategically
    • good communication skills
    • leadership skills
    • organisational skills
    • a willingness to work with others and respect their views
    • confidence with numbers
    • negotiating skills
    • the ability to challenge the way things are and find better alternatives
    • honesty and fairness in dealing with other people
    • a commitment to the ideals of quality and fairness in delivering healthcare.

    If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.

    The NHS values form a key part of the NHS Constitution.

    Find out more about the NHS Constitution

  • The skills and qualifications needed vary according to the type of post.  Here are some examples of requirements for specific roles

    Change manager

    In this example, you’d need to be a results-driven individual, with experience of working with clinical teams, as well as strong project management, IT and presentation skills. You’d also need:

    • analytical skills
    • an ability to develop solutions and clearly assess the benefits of alternative options
    • experience in capacity and demand analysis
    • leadership
    • change management skills and
    • an ability to sell your ideas to others.

    Commissioning manager (social inclusion)

    For this type of post, you’d need background knowledge of social inclusion as well as an open-minded attitude. Evidence of experience in commissioning services and partnership service development would be required.

    Director of strategic development

    You would usually need significant experience at a senior level within a large complex organisation with managerial, strategic planning and operational experience as well as experience of project development and implementation.

    General manager

    In this example, (working in mental health), you would need to be a manager with senior operational management experience and a track record of managing projects, people and change. You’d need an ability to consider new ways of working, to handle multiple tasks and to manage in an environment at the edge of forensic psychiatry.

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