A degree in any subject demonstrates a high level of skill that has been gained through the process of studying, being organised and meeting deadlines – regardless of the subject chosen. For this reason, there are several occupational areas with excellent graduate career opportunities open to all graduates. It is common for students to consider the different career paths they’d like to take whilst studying – for example, a maths graduate realising their passion for teaching, or a music graduate deciding they’d love to gain experience in social care.
In this blog, we consider the graduate opportunities that are available in health and social care. Provided you are passionate about making a difference in other people’s lives, there are many different graduate career opportunities in this sector. Consider the various roles below: (included are non-graduate positions which it may be beneficial to gain experience in before graduating)
- Health administration
- Support worker
- Community care worker
- Youth work
- Social work
- Graduate Nurse
- Further education tutoring
Non-graduate level position
- Health care assistant
- Social work assistant
- Therapy assistant
- Medical technician
Why should I consider graduate opportunities in the health and social care sector?
The health and social care sector has expanded rapidly in recent years, due to new government initiatives and increased public awareness of support services. At a time when there is a high level of competition for graduate positions, entering into a sector with a high demand for skilled and dedicated graduates would be a wise move!
The NHS and the public sector has of course faced cuts and huge challenges in recent years, meaning that health and social care settings have had to find ways to make savings. This affects the demands on workers and recruitment. However, there is a real sense of pride in working as part of the health service in the UK. Don’t just take our word for it, check out our recent interview with an NHS mental health nurse.
As a result of the challenges faced by the public sector, the private and not-for-profit sectors have become more prominent in the health and social care sector. There are an increasing number of employers and opportunities in these sectors which you could consider.
What experience or training besides having a degree may be required?
Undertaking a new career in health and social care is suitable for a graduate who is proactive, passionate and motivated to overcome a variety of challenges. There will definitely be several challenges along the way though! We’d recommend that you research the variety of different career choices. Find out about the experience required, the level of opportunity in your location and what further study or training could help you to progress in this field. Check out the useful links section below.
For some roles, you may need to pass a ‘fitness to practice’ or ‘suitability test’ as part of the recruitment process. These tests are devised to demonstrate you have the knowledge, skills, character and health to work safely and effectively.
Can I pursue a health and social care career if I have a health issue or disability?
There are certainly options available to you – we recommend that you check out the Health and Care Professionals Council (The HCPC) information and advice for people with disabilities thinking about becoming health and care professionals. It offers step-by-step advice from the training to the employment stage.
What about graduate opportunities as a qualified social worker?
To become a social worker in the UK you need to complete an honours degree in social work to enable you to register with your national professional organisation. There is a work-based learning route offered by the Open University which you need to enter via your employing agency.
If you’re considering social work after studying a different degree you can still qualify provided you take a Postgraduate Diploma or Masters qualification. The OU also offers courses at this level.
Can I continue to study once in a graduate position?
Absolutely! Lots of graduates starting work in health and social care choose to take on further study. Further study enables you to gain a more in-depth understanding of a particular area, or to gain a role specialism. Postgraduate qualifications are common entry requirements for more advanced positions in health and social care.
Aspirational graduates in health and social care positions may have plans to progress into roles such as:
- Senior clinicians
We also advise that you think ahead about your future options for study and career progression. Once you are decided on a particular area of health and social care you are interested in, start to think about the course on offer and what funding options may be available to you. Take your time on these decisions. You want to be sure it’s the right path for you and that it is affordable. Pursuing post-graduate education is different from the undergraduate study paths.
Useful links when considering graduate career opportunities:
- National Careers Service.- Information and advice about a range of job roles.
- UCAS – Use The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service site for other institutions that offer courses, especially if considering social work programmes.
- Keep up to date with the latest developments in health policy and the NHS via the NHS Future Health and Care Update.
- Prospects – Further information for healthcare and social care opportunities