Administrative assistant

Administrative staff are vital to the smooth running of the NHS in Scotland. They are positioned in hospitals, health centres and board headquarters.

Administration assistants work in teams to arrange meetings, create documents and maintain records. They may also be known as clerical officers.

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become an administrative assistant, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • Administration and IT
  • English
  • Maths


An apprenticeship is a good way to start your career in healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships

A Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (non-clinical) is appropriate for people interested in working in a non-clinical healthcare support role.

Other relevant Modern Apprenticeships include:

Find out more about apprenticeships at

Work placement

If you’re at school, work experience could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS. It would be helpful to have some experience in an office-based environment.

The role

You may be based in a clinical department or business function in any of the NHSScotland boards. You’ll work closely with business teams in a range of activities to guarantee operations are running smoothly.

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • word processing and dealing with correspondence
  • using office equipment
  • booking patients in for appointments
  • dealing with incoming and outgoing post
  • ordering stationery
  • handling phone calls, emails and social media enquiries
  • keeping patient records, filing and data entry

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • accuracy checking skills
  • communicating with people
  • listening
  • organisation
  • problem-solving skills
  • teamwork

Who you’ll work with

You’ll work with:

  • healthcare staff
  • human resources
  • health records staff
  • personal assistants
  • receptionists

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospital wards
  • occupational health departments
  • health centres
  • specialist departments or clinics
  • NHSScotland board headquarters

Useful information

To work as an administrative assistant in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Did you know?

There are just over 25,000 administrative services staff within NHSScotland. They make up around 6.5% of the NHSScotland workforce.

Learning and development

You will be encouraged to develop your career in NHSScotland and will be given training such as:

  • an introduction to the department and its procedures
  • health and safety
  • risk management

You may also have the chance to study for additional qualifications, including:

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website has a full range of qualifications on offer for staff working in business, administration, IT, finance and medical records.

Gaining these new qualifications will help your career prosper. You’ll be able to apply to more senior roles, and progress to jobs such as office manager or team leader.

A full guide to the NHSScotland Education Pathways for Business and Administration is available.