Apprenticeships offer a paid route into nursing, with flexible learning on-the-job for those looking to take the next step in their healthcare career

Nursing emerged as the most sought-after career opportunity in the UK according to What do graduates do? 2023/24. The report highlights that nursing has attracted the highest number of new employees, offering an unparalleled employability rate of 92% within 15 months of graduation.

If you're interested in pursuing a nursing course while earning a wage, read our guidance on who can apply for nursing apprenticeships, which institutions offer the scheme, and how to apply.

What do nursing apprenticeships involve?

You will perform patient care and administrative tasks for four days a week, with the other day based in the classroom learning the theory. You will work closely with experienced team members who will guide you through your responsibilities and provide you with the training and resources to ensure that you can perform your duties.

'Apprenticeships allow for a quicker integration of theory and practice. For example, one day you might have a seminar around paracetamol and then the following day be involved in the care of a patient/service user who requires paracetamol. This is in comparison to a traditional nursing pathway where it might be a few weeks from undertaking a seminar before then going onto a placement,' explains Caroline Bromwich and Jacqui Caskey, programme leads for the nursing apprenticeship at UWE.

What nursing apprenticeships are available?

  • An assistant practitioner higher apprenticeship (Level 5) can be a great starting point, as you'll gain a foundation degree and be able to progress to the registered nurse degree apprenticeship if you wish.
  • The nursing associate higher apprenticeship (Level 5) aims to bridge the gap between healthcare and care assistants and registered nurses. This apprenticeship can be done as a standalone programme or as a stepping stone to a registered nurse role. It's a great way to gain valuable experience and knowledge in the field of nursing and could help you to progress in your career.
  • The registered nurse degree apprenticeship (Level 6), you'll be able to earn a full honours degree and registered nurse status upon completion. You can specialise in adult, child, or mental health nursing depending on your area of interest.

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:

Who are they aimed at?

Generally, anyone who is at least 16 years old and has completed a Level 3 qualification can apply.

Further options include the assistant practitioner and nursing associate apprenticeships, which are suitable for Band 2/3 healthcare assistants and support workers who are looking to develop their careers, while 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 entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which is currently set at £6.40 per hour (from April 2024) for those under 19, and those aged over 19 who are in their first year of their apprenticeship.

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 will be paid for your usual working hours, as well as any training that is part of your scheme.

Apprentices are entitled to at least 20 days of paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. The salary you receive will depend on your employer, but generally, apprentices are paid more than the NMW.

How do I apply?

You must be currently employed in a suitable role on a minimum permanent contract of 30 hours per week, with employer support and a promise of work-based supervision from a qualified supervisor.

As a starting point, you should research available apprenticeships in your local area and check the eligibility criteria. Once you have shortlisted your options, you can directly apply to the relevant healthcare provider or trust.

Apart from listing your current  employment in a healthcare setting, your application needs 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 crucial to showcase 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 instance.

'During both the written application and interviews, successful candidates should be displaying attitudes and behaviours in line with The Nursing and Midwifery Council code. For those who have experience in healthcare, we would anticipate understanding why you feel you wish to progress your career - not just that you have been in healthcare for several years and therefore it's your turn/time. It is also important to identify flexibility and resilience as qualities as well as good organisational skills,' add Caroline and Jacqui.

It's recommended that you develop skills that would be transferable into nursing, such as effective communication skills, the ability to manage or lead, and how to juggle multiple priorities.

Discover what skills employers are looking for.

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

Visit how to apply for an apprenticeship for further guidance on what to include in your application.

Find out more

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