Consider an apprenticeship in the NHS

On this page you can find out more about the benefits of doing an apprenticeship, the options available and how to take those first steps to consider.

27 January 2023

Considering an apprenticeship can take you in many different directions in the NHS, across many of the clinical and non-clinical roles from entry level to a masters level degree. 

Why do an apprenticeship?


Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes that are designed so that you can train for specific job roles. Apprenticeships allow you to learn new skills and get a qualification without going back into full time education.

Because you are working you are also earning a salary. Plus, you’ll get paid annual leave and other staff benefits.

As they are linked to your job your employer covers the cost of training, so you don’t have to take out a student loan.

But you still get the benefits of being a student, you can get an NUS apprentice card which gives you discounts at many online and high street retailers.

You are guaranteed to spend a minimum average of 6 hours off the job training per week learning and developing while getting to know colleagues from across the NHS and from different backgrounds.

You will get a recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship which can boost your earnings and career prospects. You can take multiple apprenticeships throughout your career, providing they are at different levels or in different specialisms, allowing you to continue to develop your skills for many years to come.


What types of apprenticeships can I do?

In the 2020/21 financial year, the NHS had impressively recruited 37,500 apprentices.

Apprenticeships offer routes into more than 350 NHS careers in both clinical and non-clinical roles. You could be anything from a business administrator to a trainee nurse associate to a podiatry degree apprentice or even a sustainability business specialist,

Apprenticeships are available in many different levels, from level 2 which is equivalent to GCSE all the way to level 7 which is equivalent to a master’s degree.

Name Level Equivalent education level Examples of roles these equate to
Intermediate 2 5 GCSE passes at grade A* - C or 9 - 4 Healthcare support worker, healthcare science assistant, finance assistant, passenger transport driver
Advanced 3 2 A Level passes/Level 3 Diploma/International Baccalaureate Senior healthcare support worker, ambulance support worker, business administrator, pharmacy technician
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above Nursing associate, mammography associate, dental technician, business analyst
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor's or master's degree Nurse, podiatrist, dietician, manager, advanced practitioner, accountant


You can explore all of the apprenticeship standards available on the Skills for Health healthcare apprenticeships website.

  • Applying for an apprenticeship

    Browse apprenticeships by your postcode and area of interest.

    You will need to sign in/create an account on GOV.UK to complete your application.

    If you need help or would like to get some documents to help support your application, visit the National Careers Service.

    On-programme stage

    This is your time to learn and develop and will cover all the knowledge, skills, techniques and behaviours of the job you’re studying. You will also learn everything you need to know to pass your assessment and get your qualification.

    An integral part of this stage is called off the job training. This is your entitlement to have at least an average of six hours of learning weekly during working hours.

    It may or may not have a qualification at the heart of this stage, but an apprentice will follow a programme of study that has been designed by an employer group called trailblazers

    • If there is a qualification involved, you must learn, practice, and demonstrate what you have learnt to an assessor specialising in the subject.
    • If there is not a qualification involved, you must still learn, practice, and demonstrate to an industry expert what you have learnt.

    Ready for your assessment?

    When you have achieved everything in the learning stage, including thoroughly practised all required skills and proven ready to take the End-point Assessment (EPA).

    The decision that you are ready for the EPA will be agreed between, you, your employer, and the training provider. You won’t be put forward for the EPA until all the on-programme criteria has been achieved.

    Your training provider will organise the EPA for you and choose the most relevant provider for you, so this isn’t something you need to worry about.

    You must also achieve the appropriate level of Maths and English qualifications before the EPA can be booked.

    Your assessment

    Your EPA will be managed by an End-point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) who will ensure it is fair and reliable. Your assessment will take place at an approved venue by an assessor sent by the EPAO.

    As the provider is chosen by your training provider it should be near to you.

    The EPA is conducted under strict exam conditions by an apprenticeship assessor and will be graded. The training provider and the employer will not be present during the EPA.

    You will not be given the results on the day of the EPA. The results, and accompanying report, will be made available within 14 days of the EPA to the training provider.

    • If you pass with either a pass or above grade, the EPAO will then claim the apprenticeship certificate directly from the Institute for Apprenticeships. The certificate will be sent directly to the employer who will present them to you.
    • If you fail you can re-sit after 28 days. The report provided by the Apprenticeship Assessor will show you the areas that you need to work on to pass next time.

    What happens next?

    You could be offered a permanent job. Most successful apprentices stay working for the same employer. It's always a good idea to check whether you'll be offered a job at the end of your apprenticeship when you start.

    You could continue your studies through an apprenticeship at higher level or you may want to go to university.

    Have a look at how apprenticeships compare to other qualifications, on UCAS’ equivalence table.