Healthcare professionals with the right skills, qualifications and experience can take their career in a new direction by completing a degree-level nursing apprenticeship

Nursing is the UK's most employable degree subject and according to What do graduates do? 2023 94% of nursing graduates were in a job fifteen months after graduation. The nursing profession also gained the most workers from those surveyed.

These promising figures show that nursing is already a popular career choice for many, and a degree apprenticeship opens the profession up to even more people. Those who were previously discouraged for financial reasons now have an alternative route to qualification.

But what does a degree-level nursing apprenticeship involve, who is it intended for and how do you apply?

What nursing apprenticeships are available?

  • Assistant practitioner higher apprenticeship (Level 5) is where you will gain a foundation degree and from this you can opt to join the registered nurse degree apprenticeship and study for a full honours degree.
  • Nursing associate higher apprenticeship (Level 5) aims to bridge the gap between health and care assistants and registered nurses. You could do this as a stand-alone apprenticeship or as stepping stone to a registered nurse role.
  • Registered nurse degree apprenticeship (Level 6) will give a Bachelors degree and full registered nurse status on completion. You can specialise in adult, child or mental health nursing.

Which universities offer nursing apprenticeships?

Each university may offer one or all of the different types of apprenticeships and what they offer may also differ. You will need to do your research on what suits you but here are some examples of what’s on offer:

What do nursing apprenticeships involve?

You'll generally work four days a week performing a mix of patient care and admin tasks under the guidance of senior team members. The other day will be spent in the classroom learning the theory.

Who are they aimed at?

The assistant practitioner and nursing associate apprenticeships are suitable for those Band 2/3 healthcare assistant and support workers who are looking to develop their careers.

The registered nurse route is for those who have completed one of the first two options or an equivalent Level 5 qualification.

How much will I be paid?

All apprentices are paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which currently stands at £5.28 per hour (from April 2023) for apprentices under 19, and those aged over 19 who are in their first year.

If you're over 19 and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship you must be paid the minimum wage for your age.

As an apprentice you'll be paid for your normal working hours as well as for any training that is part of your scheme. You're entitled to at least 20 days paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays.

Salaries are determined by individual employers but in most cases, you'll be paid significantly more than the NMW.

How do I apply?

You need to be employed in a suitable role on a minimum permanent contract of 30 hours per week. You will need employer support and the promise of work-based supervision from a qualified supervisor.

In addition to evidence of your current permanent employment in a healthcare setting you’ll need to provide:

  • certificates of relevant qualifications or at least two A-levels, one being in a science or health-related subject
  • English and maths GCSEs or equivalent, to at least a C/4 standard
  • a clear Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

It's also important to demonstrate your suitability for the apprenticeship by listing your work experience on your application. A hospital placement would be ideal, but it could also be time spent in a care home for example.

You should also think about developing skills that would be transferable into nursing, such as effective communication skills, the ability to manage or lead and how to juggle multiple priorities.

Before entry onto an apprenticeship all applicants need to complete an Initial Skills Assessment, which maps their prior knowledge against the apprenticeship standard.

See how to apply for an apprenticeship for further guidance on what to include.

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