How to Become a Nurse in the UK?

Become a Nurse in the UK: Educational Qualifications, Registration and, Test of Competence

A nursing degree is one of the most employable degrees in the UK. Thus, there has been a sharp rise in the number of applications to nursing schools in the UK. If you are an international student and thinking about becoming a nurse in the UK, then this guide might help you become one. Keep reading to learn more about the whole process.

Key Highlights- Practice Nursing in UK

Here are the highlights of all the criteria to become a nurse in the UK.  

Accrediting and regulating body Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
Entry-level degree BN (Hons) Nursing, BSc (Hons) Nursing
Specializations MSc
Registration exam NMC Test of Competence
Test of Competence fees 1,433 USD*
Entry-level salary of nurses in the UK 22,158 to 29,544 USD*/year
Salary of experienced nurses in the UK 93,434 USD*/year

Why study Nursing in the UK?

Nurses were in high demand in the UK (and around the world), as evidenced by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has persuaded many students to choose a noble profession like nursing to help humanity. Let us know what makes nursing so special to study in the UK.

  • As per the statistics published by the Nursing Times, UK nursing universities rank top in the world 
  • Students have a wide range of alternatives when it comes to selecting a nursing college in the UK. There are more than 100 nursing colleges in the country
  • There are a wide variety of UK nursing courses and specializations to choose from
  • In order to boost students to take up nursing, the government of the UK is giving out 6,155 USD/year to all the UK nursing students as financial support
  • The chances of getting employment are high as there is a national shortage of 39,652 nurses in the UK (The Guardian News)
  • NHS, the National Health Service of the UK is one of the largest healthcare employers in the world (The Guardian News)
  • The UK nursing degrees are recognized worldwide and hence are highly employable in the other countries

Educational qualifications to become a Nurse in the UK

Earlier a diploma or a certificate course was enough to become a nurse in the UK. As of 2013, the minimum qualification to become a nurse is a degree (3 to 4 years). All nursing degrees are accredited and regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of the UK. Therefore, students should choose a nursing college that is recognized by NMC.

The entry-level degree is BN (Hons) Nursing or BSc (Hons) Nursing. There are branch specialties for nursing BN or BSc degrees like

  • Adult nursing
  • Child nursing 
  • Mental health nursing 
  • Learning disabilities nursing   

Students can choose whichever specialization they are interested in. These degrees typically run for three to four years (mostly three). 50% of coursework is academics and the other 50% is in practice. The first year is called the common foundation program (CFP), where students learn the basic skills and knowledge required for nursing. The remainder of the course focuses on specialty training in the chosen branch of nursing. The typical admission requirements  for nursing in the UK are listed down below:

  • High school diploma (A-levels or equivalent) with an aggregate of 65% and above with chemistry, maths, biology, physics, or psychology as core subjects
  • Grade C and above in GCSEs (SSC or equivalent) in English, science, and maths
  • Work or volunteer experience (healthcare-related)
  • Personal interview
  • Personal statement 
  • English language tests score like IELTS (7.0) or TOEFL (90)
  • Students visa
  • Occupational health clearance
  • Academic transcripts (UK equivalency)
  • Passport photographs
  • A copy of the bank statement showing adequate funds for at least one academic year of tuition
  • Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks

 

Since there is no standardized test for the selection of candidates for nursing colleges, the admission is entirely based on the academic credentials, performance in interviews, and personal essays. Students can take the help of Gyanberry admission services to make their applications more compelling. We also have tie-ups with UK universities that offer nursing degrees. Here is a list of our partner universities:

University Name Complete University guide Ranking QS Ranking 
Queen’s University Belfast 6 30
Coventry University 21 67
Anglia Ruskin University 53 58
University of Hertfordshire 45 76
Middlesex University 57 71
University of Bradford 26 83

 

Upon completion of their degree, prospective nurses can go for further studies like a master’s and a Ph.D. to advance their careers in research, academics, management, etc. But to be able to practice and work as a nurse in the UK, graduates have to register themselves with the NMC. Let us learn more about this process in the upcoming sections. 

NMC registration for Nurses in the UK

Since NMC is the regulatory body for nursing in the UK, it handles all the registration processes for UK nurses as well as international nurses. The first step of registration is checking the eligibility. NMC has a checklist of eligibility that applicants should go through before starting their registration process. They can download it from the NMC website.

To be qualified for registration, international applicants with a nursing degree from another country must have the following:

  • A current, unrestricted nursing license/registration in the country where they are qualified or are presently practicing 
  • English language requirement
  • A valid passport (should not be expired or near expiry)
  • Health clearance
  • Character evidence (criminal background check)
  • Professional indemnity arrangement

Once everything checks out, applicants have to create an NMC account. Fill out all the eligibility requirements and upload the supporting documents and pay the evaluation fee (171 USD*).  

NMC Test of Competence for international candidates

Once NMC confirms the eligibility (usually 14 days), international nurses (without Europen qualification) then have to appear for the Test of Competence. This test assesses the skills and knowledge of the applicants to ensure that they are fit for Europen nursing standards. For students with Europen qualifications, the Test of Competence is not needed. The competence test is divided into two parts:

  • A multiple-choice computer-based test called the CBT
  • A practical test known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

The fee for CBT is 102 USD* and for OSCE is 973 USD*. The students who fail and need to reappear in the test have to pay extra charges (kindly refer to the table below). International students do not have to travel to the UK to take the Test of Competence. The test is conducted at different centers across the countries by a third-party organization called Pearson VUE. Students have to select the test subject based on their specialty i.e.

  • Adult nursing
  • Child nursing 
  • Mental health nursing 
  • Learning disabilities nursing   

Once the student clears the Test of Competence, then they can go ahead and complete the rest of the registration process by paying the registration fee (187 USD*). Upon verification of all the information and test scores, NMC will notify students of their application status. 

The following table summarizes the overall cost of registration:

Type of Fees Cost in USD*
Qualification evaluation fee 171
Computer-based test (CBT) cost 102
Objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) cost 973
OSCE full resit cost (for reattempt) 973
OSCE partial resit cost (for reattempt) 487
Registration fee 187

 

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

An entry-level nurse in the UK can earn anywhere between 22,158 to 29,544 USD*/year, while an experienced nurse can earn beyond 93,434 USD*/year.

The UK is facing a national shortage of nurses. The NHS quarterly data for 2022 showed that there is a shortage of 39,652 nurses in the UK. Considering this shortage, nursing degrees are in high demand in the country.

The NMC handles accrediting nursing degrees and registering nurses in the UK.