Healthcare assistant

How to become a Healthcare Assistant

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You could do a college course, which may help you when looking for work. Courses include:

  • level 2 Diploma In Preparing for Further Study in Health, Social Care and Social Work
  • level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care
  • level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care
  • T Level in Health

Most health and social care courses include work placements which is a good way to get experience. 

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level

A day in the life of a Healthcare Assistant

Podcast – Healthcare Assistant

What we would like to discuss with you is what its like to work as a Healthcare Assistant. We have a few questions: how did you at the age of 17 or 18 decide that this was the thing that you wanted to do? And were there any challenges that you had to overcome?

Why did you decide to be a healthcare assistant?

My career as a healthcare assistant only started once I moved to the UK. Before moving to the UK, I worked in a clinical setup for a good 15 years but my husband moved to the UK and he worked for the NHS. He worked long hours and we had two young kids, so I decided to do a small course as a health care assistant in a surgery close to where I lived. This surgery was flexible with hours and the GP, Doctor Mahmud, was very nice to me so I decided I will stay here working in a healthcare assistant role. This was because I could spend more time with my children, look after my young family and have time for myself. I enjoyed working and I loved coming to work which is why I’m still here 18 years down the line. 

How do people become healthcare assistants?

So a healthcare assistant is a non-registered job title. You can do a phlebotomy training and get your certificate. With this certificate, you can join a GP surgery or hospital as a phlebotomist. As you get exposed to different small roles, you do a care certificate and you’ll be trained to be healthcare assistant. There are various levels, level 1-3, and at level 3 you can do various things like I do. From here you can progress to do nursing. It’s quite a nice place to start with. Especially if you’ve finished A Levels and you’re going to university, you can work part time and see what you like. 

What kind of things do you do?

I do a lot of things. I do blood tests, record blood pressures, fit ambulatory blood pressure monitors, spirometry, ECGs, lifestyle advice in chronic disease like diabetes, asthma and INR clinics with clinicians. INR clinics are for the patients who are on warfarin which is a blood thinner. We run these clinics for outreach patients as well, which is helping the other surgeries in the borough. 

One of the things I do often is ECGs. ECG stands for electrocardiogram. At first these ECGs were done in the hospital but now they’re done in our surgery. So this is a portable monitor and these are the little gadgets we stick to the patient’s body with the electrodes. Then what we do is we see the how the heart is beating, rate, rhythm or any other abnormalities. It is very convenient for patients to get ECGs done in the surgeries rather than go to the hospital. 

Are there any apprenticeships available to become a healthcare assistant?

The general practices (clinical commissioning group) offers an apprenticeship to become an associate nurse. This role is between the healthcare assistant and the practice nurse. It is a two year course and you should be working in a surgery but you also have to do clinical placements. 

How do you apply for a part time job as a healthcare assistant alongside education? Do you need any experience? 

To join as a health care assistant, you need a certificate of care. There’s a care certificate organised by the CCGs. Sometimes the receptionists or the care navigators are given this as a part of their career progression. They can do it if they are interested in becoming a healthcare assistant. So once you have a care certificate, you can join as a healthcare assistant doing small things at level one and slowly build up your portfolio.

Whats the nicest thing about being a healthcare assistant?

One of the nice things about working in a general practice is that you work in the same place. Especially when you work in one place for most of your career, the patients become a part of your life. I get to watch them grow up almost. Along with this is the staff as well because they become like a family. We work five days a week and we are all in the surgery five days a week. There are times when its tough and it’s busy but we are all working together and supporting each other. From the care navigators to the doctors.