How to work for the NHS and how much you'll get paid

  • 5 min read
How to work for the NHS and how much you'll get paid

Since lockdown began, Brits have been showing their support for our NHS by clapping and banging their pots and pans every Thursday evening, giving NHS workers priority shopping hours and brands have offered generous discounts and perks as a small token of appreciation for risking their lives to save others. But that’s not all - as a nation the appetite to work in the healthcare sector is at an all time high.

In the first week of lockdown google searches for “how to work for the NHS” rose by 150% compared to this time last year. Brits are keen to do their bit and get involved, but what does it really take to work for the NHS? Here are the qualifications needed to become an NHS key worker and what you could expect to earn.

Doctor (hospital)


Seven GCSEs including sciences, with 5 subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A). At least grade 6 to 5 (B) in both English and Maths.

A level’s

Three A levels - Grade A in Chemistry and either Biology, Physics or Maths, as well as another subject.


You need to complete:

  • A 5 year degree
  • A 2 year foundation course of general training
  • 2-3 years of core medical training or Acute Care Common Stem program
  • 4-7 years of specialist training, depending on your chosen area of medicine

How much do doctors get paid?

When taking a foundation course: £28,243 to £32,691

When starting specialist training in 2020: £38,693 to £49,036

When working as a speciality doctor: £40,037 to £74,661

Working as a consultant: £79,860 to £107,668 per year

Doctors earn overtime when they work over 40 hours, a 37% enhancement for nights and other enhancements for being on call.



GCSE’s including English, Maths, Science and usually Biology or Human Biology.

A level’s

Three A levels, most commonly BBB but requirements vary from CCC to ABB depending on the university.


Three year degree (two years if you already have a degree in a relevant subject).

Other routes

Nursing degree apprenticeship - approx 4 years (A flexible route into nursing that doesn’t require full-time university study)

How much do nurses get paid?

All qualified nurses start at band 5 on £24,907. Once you’ve reached band 9, a consultant nurse can earn up to £104,927.

Intensive care nurses

ICU nurses follow the same route as regular nurses, most who take this path will do a placement in an intensive or high dependency unit.

How much do ICU nurses get paid?

A starting salary of £24,907 on band 5.



Generally five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, Maths and a science

A level’s

Two or three A levels depending on the university, including a science.


A level 3 diploma or access to higher education in Health, Science or nursing.


A three-year midwifery degree

Other routes

Midwife degree apprentice. You’ll need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent.

How much do midwife’s get paid?

Midwives can expect a starting salary of £24,907 with yearly increases and further increases when scaling the bands.



Usually at least five GCSE’s, grade C or above, including English, Maths and Science.

A level’s

You’ll usually need 2 or 3 A levels for a degree.


Three-year university paramedic qualification.

Other routes

Paramedic degree apprenticeship (four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and qualifications like A levels).

By starting as an ambulance care assistant, you can undertake more training and gain experience meaning you could apply for a paramedic training scheme.

Apply as a student paramedic to a training scheme for an ambulance service, you would do your university paramedic qualification on the job.

How much do paramedics get paid?

Starting salary of £24,907.



Seven GCSEs, including sciences, with 5 subjects at grades 9 to 7 (A* or A). English and Maths at least grade 6 to 5 (B).

A level’s

Three A levels - grade A in Chemistry and either Biology, Physics or Maths, as well as another academic subject.


Five year degree

Two year foundation course of general training

Three year specialist course in General Practice

How much do GP’s get paid?

The starting salary for a GP is £58,808.



At least five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English language, Maths and at least one science.

A Level’s

Normally three A-levels A to B grade in chemistry and often biology, maths or physics.


A four year Master of Pharmacy degree.

How much do Pharmacist’s get paid?

Salaries start at £31,365.


Data: Google trends data time frame - 24th- 30th March 2019 compared to 22nd-28th March 2020

All salary data correct as of 13/05/2020