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Whether you are a school/college leaver, graduate, looking for a career change or just want to gain entry into employment in the NHS there are a number of different opportunities and ways to join an NHS Finance team.   As well a specific training schemes such as some of the ones mentioned below which provide a structured training programme, people can also join any NHS finance department directly.  There is no single career path for NHS finance staff, a career in NHS Finance can cater for all.  Have a read about some of the roles, entry routes and opportunities available below.

Different Job Opportunities

The NHS is not one big organisation but rather a number of separate organisations which try to work together to deliver care to the population. We also know that health is influenced by lots of factors outside of the control of the NHS and so we also try to work alongside local councils, social services and the voluntary sector to make good decisions for local people. That means a role in NHS finance can take you from your local hospital, into commissioning via a Integrated Care Board (ICB) or into a regional or national role as part of NHS England  or as part of one of the organisations that support specific parts of the NHS like Health Education England or the NHS Pensions Agency.


An Apprenticeship is a real paid job combined with training.  An NHS Apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity to earn, gain work experience and achieve nationally recognised qualifications all at the same time.

Individual NHS employers such as provider trusts often offer apprenticeships in finance-based roles which provide an excellent opportunity to gain work experience and achieve nationally recognised qualifications at the same time. On many occasions, you may be offered permanent employment at the end of your apprenticeship period; some who have entered by this route have gone onto senior positions within NHS finance!

An Apprenticeship gives you both experience and qualifications a great foundation for your NHS finance career.  Typically Apprentices will spend 80% of their time on the job and 20% off the job learning, gaining qualifications.  You have to be 16 years old but there is no upper age limit.

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Placement Schemes

Many NHS organisations across the country offer one year finance placements for undergraduates studying finance related degrees. A year in NHS finance gives you an opportunity to put what you are learning at university into practice, in a real life situation where your work contributes to patient care. You will get on-going support from your line manager and colleagues, with opportunities for training and development throughout the year. Experience gained throughout the placement can contribute towards future CIPFA, CIMA, ACCA or ICAEW practical experience requirements. After the placement you will be in a strong position to apply for a place on the NHS Graduate Scheme, or to apply directly for finance related jobs in the NHS.

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NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme

The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme (Finance) is run by the NHS Leadership Academy and is an award winning, nationally recognised scheme. It is available to graduates or in-service
candidates and provides a programme of fully funded qualification and development whilst in a paid role. This enables trainees to support their education with experience over the length of the programme. In addition to the national scheme many organisations run their own local variants, so it is worth checking the website of your local hospital to see what is available in your area.

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Professional Qualifications

A variety of finance qualifications are available to those interested in accounting careers we have listed some of the most popular ones below and you can click on the links to find out more.

  • AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) AAT is a professional body for accounting technicians and  broad range of qualifications suit all backgrounds and levels of experience.
  • ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) ACCA offers a truly global qualification with members in over 180 countries worldwide.
  • ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) One of the oldest accountancy bodies in the world with 189500 members and students in 147 countries.  You can only becomes ICAEW Charted Accountant by completing the ACA qualification.
  • CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) The world’s largest professional body of management accountants.  Their qualification combines accounting, finance and management with business skills.
  • CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) a UK-based international accountancy membership and standard-setting body. They are the only such body globally dedicated to public financial management and are the qualification that is studied by the National Finance  Management Training Scheme in the NHS.

HFMA Qualifications

The HFMA qualifications offer a unique programme to develop your understanding of how to address financial and operational challenges across the NHS, and implement strategic change in your organisation. This masters level programme in healthcare business and finance also offers a route to an MBA.

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Useful Resources on Different Career Paths