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A guide to Healthcare jobs in the UK

Published: Friday 21st October 2016

There are hundreds of different health care jobs. The sector’s biggest job provider alone, the NHS, has more than 350 different healthcare jobs on offer, ranging from dental nurses to doctors and receptionists. Within healthcare, candidates can choose to work directly with patients or support those members of staff that do. They can work in clinics or hospitals, or opt to work within the community or at patients’ homes. There are many healthcare jobs that involve a lot of direct contact with patients, such as nursing, midwifery and dentistry. But there are also jobs that have less direct contact with patients, such as jobs in management and health informatics. Both types of healthcare jobs make an important contribution to the healthcare sector as a whole.

The Healthcare Sector

Healthcare is required by each and every one of us, whether we are just seeing our dentist for a check-up or require extensive surgery. The NHS employs more than 1.6 million people in different types of healthcare jobs, putting it in the top five largest workforces in the world. A quarter of the total number of healthcare jobs is offered in independent healthcare. The healthcare sector offers more jobs as demand rises. The total annual attendances at Accident & Emergency departments was 22.364m in 2014/15, 25% higher than a decade earlier. The NHS now deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

4 doctors in blue doctors gowns

Types of Healthcare Jobs

Hospital doctor jobs involve diagnosing and treating medical conditions, disorders, and diseases. Hospital doctors require specialist medical skills and knowledge to undertake patient consultations and physical examinations, perform surgical procedures and provide pre- and post-operative care. But they also monitor and administer medication and assess further treatment.

Care assistants are very much in demand, especially now that we are all living longer. Care assistant jobs require candidates to work with vulnerable patients, to help them live their lives to the full. The daily routine of a care assistant varies, from helping patients getting dressed and washing them to ensuring that they take their medication. Care assistant jobs involve monitoring a patient’s health and making nurses or doctors aware of any issues that might arise. Care assistants work together with other healthcare professionals to develop a personal care plan for each patient. They can work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities or older people.

Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician jobs

A pharmacist makes sure that a patient gets the right medicines and that their medication is of a good quality. Most pharmacist jobs are based in a hospital pharmacy or a primary care pharmacy. Pharmacists provide patients with information on how to take and manage their medication and they can advise other medical staff on the appropriate use of medicines. Pharmacists respond to patients’ symptoms and advise on which medicines to use. They make sure that the production and preparation of medicines has been carried out correctly and lawfully.

Pharmacy technician jobs are offered as part of the pharmacy team, working under the supervision of a pharmacist. The duties of a pharmacy technician include the supply of medicines and products to patients. Pharmacy technician jobs can be in hospital pharmacies and community pharmacies, but also at GP practices. Hospital pharmacy technicians work around the procurement, manufacturing, dispensing and safe administration of medicines. When certain medicines aren’t available from commercial sources, pharmacy technicians will use their training to make medicinal products, such as cream and mixtures, from raw ingredients.

Young female pharmacist working on computer in drugstore

Other Healthcare Jobs

A dental nurse supports a dentist in all aspects of patient care. They get the appropriate instruments ready ahead of an appointment, mix materials and make notes during an appointment. They also sterilise all instruments after the appointment. In some cases, dental nurses have to assist with reception work. They can make appointments and take payments and might have to file the paperwork. Dental nurse jobs are usually in general dental practices, hospitals and community dental services. To work as a dental nurse, a candidate must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).

Nurses form the largest group of staff in the NHS and are a crucial part of the healthcare profession. Nursing jobs are offered in many branches, such as adult nurses, children’s nurses, practice nurses, school nurses and mental health nurses. Adult nurses work with adult patients of all ages and with diverse health conditions. They aim to improve the quality of patients’ lives. Children’s nurses focus on helping young patients and their families, in order to deal with the level of stress children and their parents suffer during hospital treatment. Mental health nurses deal with patients who suffer from a range of personality and psychological disorders. In all branches of nursing, nurses work together with GPs, psychiatrists and those in other healthcare jobs.

Paramedics are usually the first healthcare professionals to arrive at the scene of an accident or medical emergency. Paramedic jobs require candidates to work together with an emergency care assistant or ambulance technician. When a paramedic reaches the scene of an emergency, they will assess the patient’s condition and provide necessary treatment. They can administer oxygen and drugs and use equipment like defibrillators and intravenous drips.


Because of the amount of different healthcare jobs available, it is possible to work in healthcare whatever your previous professional experience or formal qualifications. All candidates wanting a career as a doctor in the UK will initially take an undergraduate course leading to a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. This involves a period of study at medical school with clinical placements in hospital and community settings.In most cases, candidates do not require any formal academic qualification to apply for a care assistant job. But employers might expect some experience either as a trainee or as a volunteer. All candidates will require a medical check and a DBS clearance check.

Pharmacy is a scientific field and you’d normally need a University degree to enter the profession. A masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm) is the usual route. After the professional training, another year of work experience in a clinical setting follows. Pharmacists also take one final exam to allow them to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), after which they can practise. Many pharmacy technicians enter the profession through an apprenticeship or a traineeship. To start as a trainee pharmacy technician, a candidate needs to have four GCSEs (A-C) including Science, Maths and English.

Dental Nurse and Paramedic qualifications

There are two ways to gain the necessary qualifications to become a dental nurse. One way is to take on a position as a trainee dental nurse and study part-time for the NEBDN National Diploma in Dental Nursing. The NEBDN National Certificate is for dental nurses who have passed their exams and completed two years of full-time surgery. Candidates can also qualify by doing a GDC approved full-time course.

To get a nursing job in the NHS, a candidate should have a degree in nursing and register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Every paramedic working in the United Kingdom needs to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). A number of universities run programmes in paramedic science, which are approved by the HCPC. Some ambulance service trusts are also able to provide HCPC-approved training for the Institute of Healthcare Development (IHCD) paramedic award.

No minimum qualifications apply to work as a receptionist in the NHS or other healthcare institutions. Once you get into employment, training can help you to progress to a supervisory or management role.


Just like there are many different types of healthcare jobs available within the sector, the salaries are also on many different levels. A staff nurse will start on roughly £22,000 per year, while a GPs starting salary can be almost £55,000+ per year. A health care assistant job might not earn much more than £14,000 in the first year, whereas a hospital doctor will start out with an annual salary of around £37,000.

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