Careers in the NHS

Think that the NHS has only got clinical careers to offer? Think again.

There are more than 350 clinical and non-clinical roles in the NHS. Whatever your experience, the NHS has a career that could be suitable for you. Whether you are interested in maintenance, administration, management, finance, communications, catering, or a role in one of the clinical services, getting involved in Step into Health is a step towards a career in the NHS.

Different skills gained from serving in the Armed Forces or being part of the community can be linked across to different roles within the NHS. To read more about what is available, visit the Health Careers webpage or NHS Scotland Careers and see how your experience in the Armed Forces compares to what’s available in the NHS.

It’s not just the experience you have, but the skills that matter too. The NHS values the transferable skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communication that are a part of military life.

Unsure about what role would be best for you? Use the Find Your Career tool and answer questions about your skills and experience to see where your future career could take you. You can also use the Pathways Tool to explore apprenticeship routes into a variety of NHS roles.

Find out more about making the step to an NHS role and sign up to our candidate system to get in touch directly with NHS organisations.

Read our case study examples of those who have made the successful transition to an NHS career or find out more information on how to secure a work placement.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships offer routes into many NHS careers through a mix of on-the-job training and classroom learning. The wide variety of apprenticeships available within the NHS include both clinical and non-clinical, so if you are interested in re-training and finding a new career path, explore Health Careers’ apprenticeships overview.

Role profiles

Here are just a couple of profiles of roles available in the NHS.

Engineer

As an engineer, you could work in different departments using your engineering skills in different ways. Engineering roles include:

  • Biomedical engineer – maintaining and managing medical equipment in operating theatres, intensive care, neonatal units, accident & emergency or radiology.
  • Plant maintenance engineer – making sure that water supplies and drainage, electrical systems, boilers and alarms are working well within NHS buildings.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineer – making sure all hospital areas are safe to use and kept at the right temperature, to keep patients warm or vital supplies cool.
  • Prosthetic engineer – creating and maintaining artificial limbs (prosthetics).
  • Building services engineer – overseeing the installation and maintenance of systems within buildings, including lighting, lifts, communications and security.

General Manager

General management can cover a wide range of responsibilities and areas, ranging from overseeing hospital trusts’ budgets, managing a divisions of staff or managing new policies from planning to implementation.

General management roles include the following:

  • Communications and corporate affairs – interacting with the community, patients, staff and other stakeholders on behalf of your organisation.
  • Performance and quality management – working with staff to set and meet standards for the provision of services.
  • Project management – planning, delivering and implementing a new policy, site or service.
  • Purchasing and contract management – tendering and contracting for the supply of goods and services.
  • Strategic management – helping to set and deliver the direction of the organisation.

Estates Manager

Estates managers are responsible for managing and maintaining NHS properties to make sure they are safe for patients, staff and visitors. As an estates manager, you’re responsible for day-to-day estates operations including:

  • property transactions (buying and selling)
  • organising repairs and maintenance
  • project managing building and renovations.

In many hospitals and trusts, you’re also responsible for facilities management. This can include domestic and hotel services, catering and laundry. You will have some contact with clinical staff, but little or no contact with patients.

Nurse

As a registered nurse, there’s really no limit to how far you can go in the NHS. With lifelong professional development always available, you’ll always be able to progress your career. There are four areas of nursing you can specialise in:

  • Adult nursing – specialises in caring for people aged 18 and above. Some may have one health condition to manage, others may have multiple conditions. You’ll work with a wide range of specialists to deliver the best outcome.
  • Child nursing – aims to minimise the effects of illness on children from newborns to adolescents. You’ll work closely with parents or guardians and other healthcare specialists in this role.
  • Learning disabilities – you’ll work with adults and children who have a range of learning disabilities. A learning disabilities nurse works to improve or maintain their patient’s health, encourage independent living and help them lead a fulfilling life.
  • Mental health – you’ll support people with a range of mental health conditions. Some may need long-term care, others short-term support. As a mental health nurse, you’ll help them take more control over their condition.

Allied Health Professionals

The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS. As an AHP, you would provide system-wide care to assess, treat, diagnose and discharge patients across social care, housing, education, and independent and voluntary sectors. For more information on the AHP roles, have a look at this webinar series.

There are 14 AHP roles which include the following:

  • Paramedics – paramedics are the senior ambulance service healthcare professionals at an accident or a medical emergency. You will be responsible for assessing the patient’s condition and then giving essential treatment.
  • Dietitians – specialises in assessing, diagnosing and treating diet and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level using the most up–to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease.
  • Radiographers – as a diagnostic radiographer, you would be responsible for providing safe and accurate imaging examinations and reports to diagnose an injury or disease. As a therapeutic radiographer, you would play a vital role in the treatment of cancer and provide care and support for patients throughout their radiotherapy treatment.
  • Music therapists – aims to engage clients in live musical interaction to promote emotional wellbeing and improve their communication skills. In particular, music therapy is an effective intervention for those clients who cannot speak due to disability, illness or injury.
  • Physiotherapists – you will use physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-being.
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