8 routes you could take into an NHS role

Do you want to work in the NHS in Scotland, but you’re not sure where to start?

You might be leaving school and know exactly which role you’d like. Maybe you’ve just finished college or university and you’re not sure what to do next. Perhaps you’ve built up lots of transferable skills in a different career and you’re now looking for a change.

There are lots of different paths you can take!

This blog post will help you start planning. Let’s explore 8 possible routes you could take to working in the NHS.


Download Routes into working in the NHS [PDF]

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Modern Apprenticeships

You could start or continue your career journey in the NHS by doing a Modern Apprenticeship.

Modern Apprenticeships provide valuable work experience while you gain a recognised qualification. They’re available for a range of clinical and non-clinical roles.

If you’re between 16 and 24 years old, or up to 29 years old if you’re disabled or care experienced, this could be the route for you!

Find out more about our Modern Apprenticeships.

Graduate Career Advantage Scotland (GCAS)

GCAS supports recent eligible graduates living in Scotland to find rewarding employment.

Get valuable work experience though an internship and careers support

Find out more about GCAS.

Pre-employment programmes

Pre-employment programmes aim to encourage people into NHS jobs, particularly if those people are from under-represented groups.

During your pre-employment programme, you’ll gain work experience and lots of new skills.

Learn more about our pre-employment programmes.

Further or higher education

You’ll need a college or university education to begin working in some NHS roles.

There are lots of different college courses or university programmes available in Scotland that will help you achieve the right qualification.

You can search for further and higher education courses on My World of Work.

Graduate-level programmes

If you’ve already got a degree-level education, you might want to apply for one of our graduate-level programmes in health and social care.

If you’re interested in becoming a future leader in the NHS, you could apply for the NHS Management Training Scheme. You can apply if you’re qualified to SCQF level 10 and have the right to work in the UK.

If you’re a disabled person with a degree-level qualification in any subject, you can apply for the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living’s NHS Professional Careers Programme. You’ll get up to 2 years of salaried graduate-level employment, coaching and support into further employment.

Learn more about our graduate-level programmes.

Returning to practice

If you’ve previously been employed by the NHS as a registered professional and want to come back, you’ll need to complete a return to practice programme.

During the programme, you’ll update your skills and knowledge so that you’re ready to return to NHS work.

Find out more about how you can come back to the NHS by contacting the NHSScotland Board in your area.

Changing career

If you’re changing career and considering an NHS role, we know you already have lots of useful transferable skills.

Everyone has transferable skills from:

  • previous employment
  • volunteering
  • work experience
  • hobbies and leisure activities

You’ll be able to use the skills you've learned in your new NHS role.

Discover all your transferable skills and learn how to highlight them in your application and interview by reading our transferable skills blog.

Find your new role by searching our vacancies.


As a volunteer, you’ll take part in relevant training, gain new skills and experience working in NHSScotland.

You’ll also be able to help people being cared for in lots of different ways.

Find out all the different ways you can volunteer with NHSScotland on the Ready Scotland website.

Work placements

With an NHS work placement, you’ll be able to:

  • meet with staff and ask them questions about their role and their route into the NHS
  • shadow staff as they work, learning valuable skills along the way
  • find out what their average day is like working in the health service

You’ll be able to use this experience to help you apply for roles with NHSScotland! Get in touch with your local Health Board to learn more about NHSScotland work placements.


Whatever your skills, knowledge or experience, there’s a route into the NHS in Scotland for you.

Find out more by exploring our careers.