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Working in healthcare

What do I need to be a carer?


Working as a carer is a rewarding career that is often seen as a vocational role. It suits someone who is caring and compassionate by nature and who gets enjoyment from helping others. There are several routes you can take to become a carer and you don’t always need a formal qualification to begin your career as a carer. Here we explore what it takes to begin a career in care.

Do I need qualifications to be a carer?

There are no official formal qualifications needed to work as a carer in health and social care. However, it is worth keeping in mind that if you want to enjoy career progression as a carer, then some certification would be useful. Some employers will expect you to have basic training such as first aid or health and safety training for example.

There are several first aid and health and safety courses available, some online and if you’re struggling to find a course, our team can help you decide which would be best for you and your goals.

If you would like to gain some kind of formal qualification in care, then there are several routes available:

Healthcare College courses

If you want a formal qualification in care, then this is a good route to take. To gain a care certificate, there are different options available: 

  • Level 1 Certificate in Health and Social care – requires minimum of 2 GCSEs
  • Level 2 Diploma in Care – requires 2 or more GCSEs
  • T-Level – (equivalent to 3 A-Levels) requires 4 or more GCSEs, including a pass in maths and English

Apprenticeships in Healthcare

If you prefer to learn with a hands-on rather than classroom-based approach, then a social care apprenticeship is ideal. There are different options available such as adult care worker, care assistant, care worker and support worker apprenticeships. These apprenticeships range from Intermediate (Level 2) up to Degree (Level 6-7) and each has different entry requirements. For example: 

  • Adult care worker Intermediate apprenticeship – requires some GCSEs, including maths and English
  • Adult care worker Advanced apprenticeship – requires 5 GCSEs at grade 4-9*, including maths and English

Can I train to be a carer on the job?


Just because someone has a certificate in care, it doesn’t mean they will be a good carer. Much more important is to show you have the right qualities to work in care. For example, can you offer emotional support, do you have good communication skills and a good sense of humour?

Fortunately, there are ways to become a carer without having to gain academic qualifications first:

Applying for volunteer work

Often, the best route into a vocational role such as becoming a carer is by offering your services for free. This will give you a really good insight into the daily tasks and role of a care worker and you will be able to work out if it’s the role for you. There are many organisations that support vulnerable people that you could contact to ask about volunteering opportunities, for example a care home, hospice, charity or hospital.

Applying for job openings

Not everyone can offer their services for free, so it is also worth applying directly to a care provider. This is a really good way to experience working in care while training on the job.

You could target the sector you think you might prefer, for example, working with children or the elderly, working in adult care or mental health care. While there’s no official requirement, some organisations might expect you to have maths and English GCSEs.

How do I know if I would make a good carer?


Being a good carer is about more than qualifications. It’s about being able to offer a level of personal care to everyone, no matter who they are or what their situation. Of course, qualities such as having empathy, compassion and a genuine desire to help are all important. But it will also depend on the type of care work you are interested in. 

For example, you will need different skills when working with children as opposed to the elderly. Mental health care and complex care, while hugely rewarding, can be quite distressing and overwhelming at times, so you will need a good sense of humour and the ability to work in a team. Live-in care could suit someone who thrives on routine while a job in supported living will require working with a number of clients, so could suit someone who is more outgoing and flexible.

Making the decision to become a carer will ultimately depend upon the type of person you are and the skills you have, rather than the qualifications you hold. There are many routes into a career in care and we can offer guidance and support to help you choose the right path for you.

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