How to become a critical care nurse: Kate's story

Meet Kate, 21, and find out about her life as a critical care nurse working in the NHS. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I absolutely love being a nurse and seeing my patients smile.

  • Kate is a critical care nurse in a hospital
  • It's her job to do regular observations of her patients, to check if they are getting better or more ill
  • Kate started working as a nurse the Monday after she finished her university degree.

What to expect if you want to be a nurse

  • Nuse average salary: NHS band 5-6. Read more about NHS bands. Salaries will differ in private healthcare.
  • Nurse typical working hours: 37 to 42 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to become a nurse?

  • Typical entry requirements:
    • University: Most people qualify by studying a degree in Nursing. You first need to decide which area of nursing you'd like to work in: adult nursing, children's nursing, learning disability nursing, or mental health nursing. Some "dual field" degrees allow you to study in two of the fields. Full-time courses usually take three years. You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in: a health-related subject; Psychology; Life Sciences, or Social Work
    • Apprenticeship: You may be able to do a "registered nurse degree apprenticeship (RNDA)", combining academic study and on-the-job training. You will need to secure a position as an RNDA and your employer will release you to study at university part time. Most RNDAs take four years, but it could be less if you have relevant previous learning and experience. Keep an eye on the NHS jobs website and the Government find an apprenticeship page for RNDA opportunities
    • Armed forces: You can train for a career as a nurse in the Armed Forces. Check out the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy websites for more information
    • Nursing associate: Nursing associates work alongside health care support workers and registered nurses in both health and social care. You could start out as a nursing associate and work towards training as a registered nurse.

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in social care or healthcare work before you apply for nurse training.

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed. (Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, NHS Health Careers).

Find out more

For more information about careers in nursing, you can check out:

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: National Careers service (England), nidirect (Northern Ireland), My World of Work (Scotland) and Careers Wales (Wales).

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