Health and Medicine

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If you are going to work in this career area you must have a strong interest in people – in caring for them and keeping them healthy. This area includes a wide range of jobs, over three hundred different types.

There are almost 185,000 people working in the Scottish health sector, which accounts for around 7% of the Scottish workforce.

The NHS employs more than 80% of the health sector workforce in Scotland: 18% are employed in the private health care sector and 2% in the voluntary sector.

What areas can I work in?

Health and medicine covers a huge range of occupations: Alternative medicine, ambulance services, dentistry, dietetics, medical technology, medicine and surgery, nursing and auxiliary work, occupational therapy, ophthalmics and orthoptics, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography and speech and arts therapy.

What kind of companies can I work for?

Most jobs in this sector are with either the public sector, mainly the National Health Service (NHS) or private healthcare companies and clinics. You can work within:

What’s the job market like?

Demand for health care services is likely to keep growing, as a result of an increasingly ageing population and advances in medical science. But, finding the money to pay for the increasing demand is a major challenge. The NHS is subject to cuts in public spending and frequent reforms to try to make it more cost effective.

There are shortages in highly qualified professional staff including: medical consultants, biomedical scientists, medical radiographers and specialist nurses, for example, theatre nurses, intensive care and operating department practitioners. There should also be an increasing demand for caring personal services staff, such as nursing auxiliaries and care assistants.

According to the NHS in Scotland 2016 report by Audit Scotland, the highest vacancy rates of all nursing specialities was in health visitor nursing at 9%. Second to that was paediatric, district and public health nursing at almost 5% each.

One of the future challenges facing NHS Scotland is the ageing workforce. The median age of someone working in the NHS in Scotland is 46. This has increased 3 years since 2008. 21% of staff are 55 or over.

In 2018/19, the number of student nurses and midwives entering Scottish Government funded degree programmes will increase by 10.8%. This means a recommended intake of 3,724 staff.

Facts and figures

Here are a few workforce facts about the health care sector:

Want to find out more?

Skills for Health is the Sector Skills Council for the health sector, their website provides lots of careers information for entry level careers.


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Career Area

Health and Medicine

Career Sectors

Alternative Medicine

Related courses by level

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Ambulance Services



Medical Technology

Medicine and Surgery

Nursing and Auxiliary Work

Occupational Therapy

Ophthalmics and Orthoptics





Speech Therapy