Becoming a Nurse without A-levels | learndirect

Becoming a Nurse without A-levels

Posted on 15/08/2019
Becoming a Nurse without A-levels


Is it possible to become a nurse without A-levels?

Short answer, yes

If you missed out on traditional A-levels, it does not mean you should miss out on your dream of becoming a nurse. There are many routes into nursing, suitable to the qualifications and experience that you do have.

So, if you think nursing is right for you, but you are not too sure about entry requirements or the training process, take a look below for a few of the most asked questions about a nursing career without traditional qualifications:


Can I become a nurse without a degree?

While nursing is a practical, hands-on profession, it also requires special technical competences and clinical analysis skills that will potentially save people’s lives. You cannot become a nurse without any academic qualifications. Whichever degree you choose, you will spend half of it on supervised placements in local hospitals or other community health places.


What qualifications do I need for nursing?


Nursing has 4 specialisms: adult, children, mental health and learning disability. Depending on which specialty you choose, you will need to have the right qualifications accordingly (GSCE topics may differ). Each one requires a dedicated degree, while the entry requirements vary according to each university.


Simply put, you will need to decide the specialty, the university of your choice and check the entry requirements before enrolling.


However as a rule of thumb, the typical requirements are:



  • A minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above to include English, maths, and a science (biology / human biology)

  • 2 A-levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications

  • You will also need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.


Do I need A-levels to be a nurse?

No, A-levels are not mandatory, but to gain a university degree you will need some recognised level 3 qualification alternative.


There is no requirement for A-levels to pursue a career in nursing. If you have GCSEs at grade C or above and decide to go to university you can simply take the Access to HE Diploma route, which will allow you to go to university.



Can I get into university without A-levels?

A-levels are the traditional way to qualify for university, but it is certainly not the only way. Most UK universities accept the Access to Higher Education Diploma.


The Access to HE Diploma (Nursing) includes:


  • 3 modules on study skills 
  • 16 modules on notions of biology, anatomy, psychology, and social policy

Why should you study an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing with learndirect?

Many education providers offer the Access to HE Diploma in Nursing. While this course can be studied at certain local colleges, there are a few advantages to studying with learndirect:


  1. Everything is online. You can study from the comfort of your own home. That means you can fit a family life, work commitments or anything else that would need a flexible study schedule. 
  2. You do not need to wait until September, when most colleges are open for admissions.
  3. You won’t have to travel to the local college, or any other provider that offers the course.
  4. You have access to the full course material, so you can choose how early or late you finish your studies and go to university.
  5. If you study the Access to HE Diploma in Nursing with learndirect, you will also benefit from free English and Maths courses. As functional skills is another part of the required training for nurses, this means you will only need to get that degree and start the training to become a nurse.


How do I train to be a nurse?

Nursing training will usually require:

  • Basic literacy and numeracy skills
  • A nursing degree or a degree apprenticeship
  • A DBS check
  • Registration through the Nursing and Midwifery Council

The routes typically are:

  • Nursing degree apprenticeships
  • A-levels followed by a nursing degree
  • Access to HE Diploma followed by a nursing degree
  • Undergraduate degree in a science-based subject followed by a postgraduate degree in nursing

How long does it take to become a nurse in UK? 

If you are starting with just GCSE qualifications, you will need:


  • Access to HE Diploma: minimum 6 months - maximum 2 years
  • Full-time nursing degrees last 3 to 4 years
  • Part-time nursing degrees can be spread across 5 or 6 years

If you already hold a graduate degree in a science field, it can count towards relevant learning. This means you qualify for accelerated programmes and complete a nursing degree in two years. If and how much of your accreditation can go towards the nursing degree of your choice, will be down to the higher education institution you choose.


Can I afford to become a nurse?

Previously funded by NHS, the degrees are now fully funded by students. The extent of the cost varies according to the level of education anyone brings to the table, or their professional circumstances. For example, apprenticeships will be partially or fully funded by employers. Earn while you learn schemes through the healthcare sector can also be funded by employers.

If you start with GCSEs only, you will need an Access to HE Diploma in Nursing as well as an undergraduate degree.

Our Access to HE Diplomas are suited to a lot of people with different financial circumstances. You can start learning with a deposit starting from £19.99 and continue paying for your education through 10 monthly instalments. There is a 0% interest rate on our financing plans, plus you will get £100 incentive in cashback, regardeless of how you decide to pay.


What does a nurse earn?

As of 2018 a newly qualified registered nurse (RN) in the UK was earning on Band 5 of the NHS pay scale, with a starting salary of £23,000. But this salary is just the beginning. At the higher end of the same band, the wage goes up to £30,112 according to the years of experience.

There are faster ways to gain better pay. A school nurse will begin on Band 6 between £30,401 and £37,267, while matrons and nurse consultants enter employment at Band 8a starting at £44,606 and going up to £50,819.

Enrol here today:


Access to HE Diploma (Nursing)