How to become a nurse

Interested in becoming a nurse in the UK? Discover the benefits, qualifications, and different routes you can take to pursue a career as a nurse

Working as a nurse is a rewarding and diverse career, you'll have the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives.

In this article, we'll cover:

Key facts 

  • The average starting salary for a nurse in 2024 is £28,000 according to the National Careers Service
  • If you study a degree to become a nurse, you get a training grant of up to £5,000 per year from the NHS Learning Support Fund (LSF). You do not have to pay this back.
  • You may be expected to work some evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
  • There are three main routes to becoming a nurse: university degree, apprenticeship and through the armed forces.

What is a nurse?

A nurse is a healthcare professional who helps patients receive medical assistance. Nurses care for babies, children and adults who are:

  • Sick
  • Injured
  • Have learning disabilities
  • Have physical disabilities
  • Have mental health issues

What do nurses do?

As a nurse, you'll work in a team with other healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat patients in various settings. Nurses work with surgeons, physicians, specialists, assistants, technicians and many other healthcare providers.

Your daily duties as a nurse could include:

  • Taking a patient's vital signs, measurements and medical history
  • Drawing blood samples
  • Physically examining a patient
  • Completing patient assessments
  • Requesting and conducting diagnostic tests

Why become a nurse?

Routes to becoming a nurse in the UK

There are three main routes to becoming a nurse in the UK:

  • University
  • Degree apprenticeship
  • Armed forces

You can study a nursing degree at university to become a nurse. The degree must be approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The majority of people qualify as a nurse by studying a degree in nursing. Nursing degrees involve lots of practical experience with patients in hospital and community settings.

You can study the following undergraduate nursing degrees at the University of Central Lancashire:

A full-time nursing degree usually takes 3 years to complete.

Entry requirements for a nursing degree

Depending on the institution, you’ll usually need:

  • Two to three A Levels, or equivalent

Always check the entry requirements for the course and institution you’re applying to. 

Postgraduate study

If you've already completed an undergraduate degree, you could study a postgraduate degree in nursing to become a nurse. Your undergraduate degree does not have to be related to nursing for you to pursue a postgraduate nursing degree.  

A postgraduate degree in nursing typically takes 2 years to complete full-time.

You can study the following postgraduate nursing degrees at the University of Central Lancashire:

You can access the NHS Learning Support Fund when you study a postgraduate degree too, so there is financial support available for you at this level of study.

For our full range of nursing degrees, explore our nursing subject page.

Adult Nursing pathways and Return to Study course

We want to make a career in Nursing accessible to everyone. We offer two pathways so that you can study with us in a way that suits you.

You can choose between two delivery modes: campus based delivery or a practice based delivery. If you don’t have the standard entry requirements for direct entry onto the course, you may be eligible for our 6-week preparatory Return to Study programme.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a nurse

To summarise, becoming a nurse is an incredibly rewarding career and you'll have the opportunity to really help people.

If you have questions or want to find out more about becoming a nurse, chat to our team.