What qualifications do I need to be a Nurse?

Becoming a nurse can be a very rewarding job, but it is also hard work and at times can be stressful as you are dealing with patients and their families through difficult times. It isn’t always blood and bandages either. There are many different types of nursing, as well a hospital nurses, there are nurses working with the elderly, in schools, in the community and even in prisons!
You can either choose to take a diploma course or a degree in nursing and these are known a pre-registration courses. The entry requirements vary depending on the course – so it is always best to double check, but the information given below is a good example of the general requirements.

There are four areas you can specialise in as you study; adult, children's, mental health or learning disability nursing.

Pros
• A job for life – you can stop and start your career and move around the country quite easily
• There are lots of different areas of specialisation plus other options such as working overseas or becoming an army nurse
• You can decide to become a nurse later in life if you want
• You won’t need a degree and you can apply to start a nursing course after finishing school

Cons
• You may have to work long and unsociable hours, for example nights or public holidays
• You may have to deal with very stressful situations
• The pay is not that great to start with

GCSEs required
For most diploma courses you will need around 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) of Grade C and above including English Literature or Language, Mathematics and a science subject.

A-levels required
To take a nursing degree courses you will normally need at least 2 A-Level s or equivalent.

Diploma or Degree
Today all nurse training is done by universities. They offer nursing diplomas or degrees which take three years to complete. The diplomas however are being phased out and most universities are moving to degree only in September 2011 – all universities must move to degree only by September 2013

Professional Body
To work as a nurse in the United Kingdom you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council www.nmc-uk.org. The title "Registered Nurse" is only given to you when you have that registration.

How long will it take to get qualified?
The diploma and degree courses normally takes three years and are made up of theory and practical work.

The number of nurses in the UK is just over 300,000.

Typical salary £25,000 to £30,000

Click here to read the typical 'Day in the Life of a Staff Nurse in a hospital

Other useful websites
NHS Nursing Careers www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/nursing
Nursing job site www.nurses.co.uk
The Nursing and Midwifery Council www.nmc-uk.org
The Royal College of Nursing www.rcn.org.uk
The Nursing Times www.nursingtimes.net
The Nursing Standard www.nursingstandard.rcnpublishing.co.uk
Staff Nurse www.staffnurse.com