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Healthcare scientists are involved in 80% of all clinical decisions in the NHS

We help current and future healthcare scientists to make informed choices through up-to-date information on the profession, it's specialisms, educational routes, and career progression pathways. Parents, teachers and career advisors also find this information of great use to play their important part in helping students make right career choices. 

What is Healthcare Science, and it's specialisms?

Entry routes and career progression

Apprenticeships in Healthcare Science

Challenges & Benefits of becoming a Healthcare Scientist

What is Healthcare Science, it's specialisms?

It is a professional identity in the UK just like other healthcare professions including doctors, nurses, and Allied Health Professions (AHPs). Healthcare Science represents more than 50 healthcare related scientific, engineering and technical specialist divisions.  There are more than 55,000 Healthcare Scientists in the UK, which is around 5% of the NHS workforce. However, this 5% workforce makes an impact on 85% of all the diagnosis.

The table below shows the 50+ specialisms of Healthcare Science divided under four themes, named as Life Sciences, Physiological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Bioinformatics. 


Life Sciences

Analytical Toxicology 

Anatomical pathology 

Blood transfusion science/ transplantation 

Clinical biochemistry 

Clinical cytogenetics 

Clinical embryology & andrology 

Clinical immunology 

Cytopathology including cervical cytology 

Electron microscopy 

External quality assurance 


Haemostasis and thrombosis 

Histocompatibility &  immunogenetics 


Molecular genetics 

Microbiology including bacteriology, mycology and epidemiology 

Paediatric metabolic biochemistry 


Tissue banking 


Physiological Sciences


Autonomic neurovascular function 

Cardiac physiology 

Clinical perfusion 

Critical care technology 

Gastrointestinal physiology 

Hearing therapy 



Respiratory physiology 

Sleep physiology 

Urodynamics and urological measurements 

Vascular technology 

Vision science

Physical Sciences

Biomechanical engineering 

Clinical measurement 

Equipment management and clinical engineering 

Medical electronics & instrumentation 

Medical engineering design 

Rehabilitation engineering 

Diagnostic radiology 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 

Nuclear medicine 


Radiation protection & monitoring 

Radiotherapy physics 

Renal dialysis technology 

Non-ionising radiation 

Medical illustration and clinical photography 

Maxillofacial prosthetics and reconstruction 



Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics  

Computer science and modeling  

Health Informatics

NHS Careers website has rich resources on Healthcare Science careers with detailed case studies and examples, here is the web link

Watch the short video below to understand Healthcare Science and it's specialisms a bit better. 

What are different entry routes and career progression to become a Healthcare Scientist?

There are a number of entry routes to Healthcare Science profession ranging from GCSE equivalent Level 2 Apprenticeship programme to doctoral level HSST programme as listed below with external links for further information.

Practitioner Training Programme (PTP)

It is a three-year BSc Honours undergraduate training scheme that includes work-based and academic learning. Click here to find details on the National School of Healthcare Science's website (NSHCS). It is a self-funded scheme which means student pays the university fees. 


Scientist Training Programme (STP)

It is a three-year programme of work-based learning, supported by a University accredited master's degree. Click here to find further details on the National School of Healthcare Science's website. Trainees on this programme get a decent salary as well as their university fees is fully paid off. 

Higher Specialist Scientist Training (HSST) Programme

It is a bespoke five-year workplace-based training programme supported by a Doctoral level academic award. Click here to find all details on the National School of Healthcare Science's website. 

There are also equivalence routes for Healthcare Science practitioners and scientists, developed by the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS). For more information click here to go the relevant web page of AHCS. 

The picture below makes it easy to understand the available routes at various education level. 


What is an Apprenticeship?

  • Work-based training programmes open to people of all age groups (minimum age 16)

  • Completed in one to four years (a few in five years)

  • Learn job-specific skills working ‘hands-on’ alongside experienced staff

  • Earn a decent wage as an employee

  • Attend college, university or a training centre to gain essential theoretical knowledge, usually by day-release or block-release

  • Gain nationally recognised qualifications as part of apprenticeship


Why do an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship will help you:

  • gain nationally recognised qualifications

  • work, learn and earn all at the same time

  • meet your personal development needs

  • progress your career and academic plans

  • learn in a flexible way that fits around your needs

  • develop a wide range of skills required in the health sector now and in the future

Healthcare Apprenticeship Standards

There are four approved Healthcare Science Apprenticeship Standards at the moment. These four Standards cover a wide range of Healthcare Science specialisms.   

  • HCS Assistant – Level 2 (Intermediate Apprenticeship)

  • HCS Associate – Level 4 (Higher Apprenticeship)

  • HCS Practitioner – Level 6 (Degree Apprenticeship)

  • Clinical Scientist - Level 7 (Master's Level Apprenticeship)


The chart below shows routine tasks of apprentices at Assistant, Associate, and Practitioner level of Healthcare Science. Moreover, typical duration of apprenticeship at each level and approximate NHS AfC salary bands. The arrows show successful career progression at the end of each level, subject to availability of apprenticeship job vacancy and other requirements set by each employer. All available Healthcare Science Apprenticeship jobs can be found here.

What qualifications/criteria are needed to apply and how/when to apply for a Healthcare Science Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a job with education and training element. Each job has it's unique criteria set by the employer. Therefore, there is not set qualifications and criteria for Healthcare Science (HCS) apprenticeship jobs. However, it is important to know that there is no age limit to become an apprentice. Therefore, any one can make a career change at any time, and depending on their prior education and experience they can apply for any one of the available HCS apprenticeship standards. 


The level 6 (degree level) and the level 7 (master's level) HCS apprenticeships are delivered by Higher Education Institutes (HEIs)/universities, therefore most of these programmes start in September. This means that job adverts for these levels go live in June/July/August. 

The level 2 and 4 HCS apprenticeships are delivered by FE colleges and private training providers. Therefore, there is a greater flexibility for employers to recruit almost anytime of the year. However, majority of such programmes start in September and January, and job adverts go live approximately two months prior to the programme start. 


The web links below are best sources of HCS apprenticeship jobs. Moreover, every NHS Trust advertise jobs on their official website. 


Who fits the bill?

We look for apprentices who…

  • are keenly interested in the welfare of others and have a caring  attitude to other people

  • are good listeners, honest, friendly and have a professional attitude to work

  • are excited about learning to improve and innovate for patient care and safety

  • are team players, accept personal responsibility and strive to deliver excellent results

  • treat everyone with respect and dignity

  • are problem solvers and are thrilled to use technical skills for healthcare


  • Some exposure to body fluids is possible however the post holder will be trained in the highest standards of hygiene management.

  • The role will involve meeting and working with people from all backgrounds.

  • Sometimes there will be a need to assist with patients or relatives that are distressed.

  • Wear the trust uniform when on duty

  • Work in busy clinical environment

  • Flexible to work at all sites of an organisation (usually an NHS Trust