Careers in nursing

Find out about the routes into nursing.

There is a range of ways people can train to be a registered nurse or embark on a career in nursing.

Degree level nursing apprenticeship

New or existing NHS or social care staff can train through the new degree-level apprenticeship route, as well as having the option of the traditional university route.

The nursing degree apprenticeship will allow people to train to become a graduate registered nurse through the apprenticeship route. People will be released by their employer to study part-time in a higher education institution and to train in a range of practice placement settings. They will learn at Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) approved education providers and achieve the same standards as other student nurses.

A nursing degree apprentice will work and study towards a level 6 nursing degree.

Nursing associates

To make sure that registered nurses have enough time to do the work that only they can do, and are supported in the workplace by other appropriately qualified staff, we are introducing the nursing associate role.

A nursing associate will be trained and able to perform more complex and significant tasks than a healthcare assistant but will not have the same full scope of practice as the graduate registered nurse.

Nursing associates can carry out some of the tasks currently performed by graduate registered nurses, but they will not be a substitute for graduate registered nurses. The introduction of nursing associates should free up registered nurses’ time so they can concentrate on more complex tasks.

The nursing associate is a valuable new role which will add to the mix of skills on the wards and in primary and social care and help to meet patients’ needs. The role will be subject to statutory professional regulation.

A nursing associate will work and study towards a level 5 qualification.

Read more information on the nursing associate role on Health Education England’s website. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has been asked to regulate nursing associates.

The way that healthcare education is funded is changing.


  1. Nursing degree apprenticeships: factsheet

    • Policy paper
  2. New nursing degree apprenticeship

    • News story
  3. More doctors and nurses to become leaders of the future

    • News story
Published 30 November 2016
Last updated 8 December 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added the nursing degree apprenticeship factsheet
  2. First published.