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Should I Become a Teacher or a Nurse?

6th June 22

Both Teachers and Nurses play major roles in our society. As a Teacher, you would be helping to shape the minds of our children. Whereas, as a Nurse, you would be providing care for patients and support for family members.

In either role, you are affecting the lives of everyone you meet, every day, as well as both of these roles being very rewarding careers, there also happens to be a high demand for both.

Within education, the government has struggled to meet their recruitment targets for the seventh consecutive year. Within healthcare, Public Health England predicts that by 2027 the NHS will need 190,000 additional posts. The field is ever-changing and there are around 350 different job types available.

Again, as with both roles, there is the option to specialise.

Teaching covers either the primary or secondary education syllabus, and with the latter, there is the opportunity to specialise. Subjects lacking Teachers at the moment are maths, modern foreign languages (MFL) and physics. Whether you choose to specialise in early years, secondary school, be a subject specialist or a college Teacher, you will have a moderate amount of job security. As well as the opportunity to earn more as your experience grows.

Nursing roles cover the full spectrum of the health care system, with nurses specialising in different areas of medicine. This includes intensive care and accident and emergency to community nursing and mental health. They work closely with doctors, healthcare assistants (HCA’s) and other medical professionals to provide effective care to a patient.

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Job Roles


As a Teacher, you are helping pupils reach their potential, whilst supporting them with any issues they may have. By taking this step into teaching, your day would be made up of educating pupils, tracking their progress, and shaping how they view their education. You would also be required to plan, prepare, and deliver lessons based on national curriculum guidelines. As a Teacher, your sole focus will be on the classroom as a whole.

Teaching jobs also require you to work closely with the school’s leadership team to help affect changes within the school. This may be implementing new policies or procedures, or new methods and styles of teaching. This could be to ensure the smooth running of your classroom, working closely with Teaching Assistants. Or it could be the ensure the smoother running of the school as a whole, working with governors or management.

In any case, if you decide to get into teaching, you would be required to work closely with not only students but other staff members or school leadership figures. You would also need to form relationships with parents and carers and build a strong bond of trust, as they are leaving their children in your care for the majority of the day. As a Teacher, you would also need to work with support workers, such as social workers, to implement appropriate safeguarding measures.

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Within nursing, there is a diverse range of areas in which to work. Your daily duties would depend largely on in the kind of nurse you are and where you work.

As an adult nurse, your day is mainly made up of supporting recovery by using care plans, carrying out care procedures and evaluating the needs of the patient rather than the illness or conditions. This could be anything from monitoring someone’s blood pressure to their heart rate or bodily functions. As well as helping patients to wash, dress and move about. It includes keeping a close eye on patients and being able to assess how unwell a patient is and being able to respond to changes quickly.

Paediatric nursing involves working with children who have minor illnesses through to children who have serious, or life-limiting conditions. Working with children can be as much about looking after the family as it is looking after the patient.

Mental health nurses work with patients, their carers, and their support network, in a diverse range of settings and also in teams with various functions. Some mental health nurses work in ‘in-patient’ settings, such as hospitals or psychiatric units, aiding the recovery of those who require a period of constant care.

Special Education Needs (SEN) nurses work in a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, working with some of the most at-risk individuals, promoting health and well-being. Whilst, enabling people who are usually socially excluded to live as fully an independent life as possible. They work with a range of people with diverse needs, from children to older people.

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What skills are required to become a Teacher or a Nurse?

Both career paths require a very similar set of skills and knowledge. You also need to possess very similar character traits.

Besides encouraging either young minds to adapt to a new way of thinking or promoting independence within your nursing patients, you will also need various additional skills and capabilities:

  • Patience
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Instruction skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Dedication to life-long learning
  • Can remain calm in stressful situations
  • Able to create a comfortable environment quickly
  • Having a caring nature and be in tune with the needs and feelings of others
  • Confidence
  • Well organised and on time


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Both of these professionals require a high level of study. There are also certain criteria that you will have to meet for both career paths.

You would be able to access both pathways with a degree, most commonly completed at University. A teaching degree and a nursing degree have the same common entry requirements.

To be accepted onto either program, you would need to have GCSE maths and English at grade 4 (grade C) or above. As well as a minimum of 3 A Levels or equivalent.

If you do not hold these qualifications, there is an alternative available. A widely recognised equivalent to GCSE maths and English would be Level 2 Functional Skills. These courses provide you with the practical elements of both subjects while providing you with a nationally recognised GCSE equivalent. As universities can set their own entry requirements, you would be wise to check with your chosen University that they accept Functional Skills.

Equivalent qualifications to A Levels include a BTEC, HND or HNC, a relevant NVQ or an Access to Higher Education Diploma. Scottish and Irish applicants will need to hold their nationally recognised equivalent.

An Access to Higher Education Diploma is a popular route for anyone aged 18 or over, who do not hold relevant A Levels. This is only one course to gain your entry requirements as opposed to two to three A Levels. Dependent on your final grade on your Access to HE Diploma, this could provide you with between 48 and 144 UCAS Points. This is equivalent to 3 A Levels.

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Study Online

An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) is a perfect option to meet entry requirements. What’s more, it can be studied entirely online. Allowing you to qualify without having to sacrifice your already established schedule.

With the opportunity to work from the comfort of your own home, you can work around your current commitments. Whether that be childcare, work or otherwise. Giving you the flexibility to participate in your studies whenever suits you.

An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Education) would be the alternative to A Levels within the teaching pathway. You’ll learn about the developing child, psychology of learning, development of education and the acquisition of language. As well as safeguarding and managing behaviour in the classroom.

learndirect is the UK’s leading distance learning provider. Our Access to HE Diplomas are written by subject experts and you are provided with a professional tutor, offering around the clock, specialist support.  What’s more, you now have the option to spread the cost of your learning.

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