Health Lab

Focus on Health

The health sector supports millions of patients across the UK every year. There are lots of roles in the health sector - doctors and nurses are just one part of the story. A career in health gives you the chance to make a real difference to people's lives, whether you're on the front-line treating patients, conducting vital research or supporting the professional functions in an administrative or office-based role.

What could I do in health?

The healthcare sector is very diverse because there are specialisms for each area of the body, as well as many assisting or general roles for patients, but also opportunities that do not focus directly on patients, such as pharmaceutical, genetics, or research. Many patient-related roles are found in a hospital environment, but practices such as dentistry, optometry, physiotherapy and are all related to the health sector too.

In Essex, the health sector is huge and there are many opportunities because there are a lot of skills shortages. That means that many employers, including larger organisations like the NHS are always looking for new talent and staff.

Health: the numbers

Health Vacancy Data

Myth busting

  • 'You can't do healthcare without a degree' - Whilst qualifications are important for some roles, there are also many healthcare positions available for those with no previous experience, often with a good starting salary.
  • 'Healthcare doesn't really pay well' - The pay and benefits in this sector can be a lot higher than you expect. In addition to the NHS, there are lot of private health companies who also offer good pensions and even life insurance, on top of a rewarding salary.
  • 'I don't feel comfortable working with patients' - As you'll see, the variety in health means that it is a very accessible sector, regardless of what your interests might be. Working with patients isn't for everyone, but there thousands of different disciplines you can get into which might require IT skills, communication, leadership or budgeting.

Top skills employers look for

  • Mental Health Support
  • Patient Care
  • Computer Skills
  • Organisational Skills
  • Midwifery
  • Writing and Research
  • Teaching or Mentoring
  • Calculation

Top job roles advertised in Essex

  • Theatre Practitioner
  • Auxiliary Nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Clinical Coder
  • Health Associate Professional
  • Emergency Care Assistant
  • Radiographer

Example job roles

Example entry job roles:

Employers will look for good GCSE results as a minimum entry point, but the wide range of entry level positions and apprenticeships means that you don't need high level degrees to begin your career in health. You can find out more about each profile through the title link.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher: £15k - £25k+ Emergency medical dispatchers handle calls from the public and GPs requesting an ambulance. It may help if you have experience in customer service, a call-centre or the like; it is not essential, but excellent communication skills are. You will need to handle 999 calls, think quickly under pressure and have accurate typing and IT skills to help you use the computerised command and control systems.

Ambulance Care Assistant: £15k - £19k+ Ambulance care assistants take patients to and from hospital for appointments. You'll need to have a full, manual driving licence that covers the right vehicles for your local ambulance service. You will likely help patients out of their homes and into the ambulance; help patients settle back home after appointments and use a radio to keep in close communication with the ambulance control room.

Maternity Support Worker: £15k - £20k+ Maternity support workers help midwives provide care to women and their babies, before, during and after childbirth. You will need to learn a lot in this job and you can enter this profession through an apprenticeship route. Some of the tasks you might do include: sharing information with midwives about the condition of mothers and babies; helping to deliver care plans; providing women with support to help them and directly supporting the midwives.

Further job roles:

A lot of higher-skilled roles in the health sector mean more responsibility to the health of some of the people you work with but there are also non-health specific roles in the sector such as financing, HR or marketing.

Paramedic: £27k - £34k+ A paramedic deals with emergencies, giving people life-saving medical help. You'll need to have a foundation degree, diploma of higher education (DipHE), or degree in paramedic science or paramedic practice to become a paramedic. Working as a volunteer community first responder with an organisation like St John Ambulance or an NHS ambulance trust may help you to get onto a training course.

Nurse: £21k - £27k+ Nurses plan and provide medical and nursing care to patients in hospital, at home or in other environments. They take care of patients who are suffering from a range of conditions and also promote general good health by educating people how to best take care of themselves. Training to be a nurse could be a great move, Essex needs thousands of nurses to join the sector over the next few years so there will be plenty of opportunities.

Performance Officer: £22k - £29k+ Like any sector, health needs people in administrative positions too. Performance officers are involved in monitoring the whole range of business activities of health organisations. You will normally need to have good working knowledge of MS Office, strong time-management skills and be willing to learn. Essential qualities include the ability to foster positive working relationships, be a strong team player and communicate effectively with other teams throughout the organisation and with external agencies..

Emily, Provide Care

My experience: working in health

"My role is in the Intelligence Centre for the Essex Sexual Health service which is the first point of contact for customers accessing the service. After looking after my mum, it made me want to help others and be in a role where I could engage with people and try to make a difference. Ii joined Provide as an apprentice in 2015, within the Marketing and Communications department at the Head Office.

Processes are changing all the time and as such, we are able to suggest improvements; it is always good to know the your employer values your input. Furthermore, it is rewarding to help the public with their enquiries, either by arranging appointments or providing individual support." - Emily, Provide Care

What's next?

Emily's advice for getting into health: "I would always say to take every opportunity you are given and learn as mych as possible. It will really hep give you an understanding of the type of role you might want to pursue in your career and will develop your experience and confidence". Take a look at or for more information about the sector and job opportunities.

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