quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

Career Progression


Career Information

Career Pathways 

Resources to support career progression


Career Information

The Support Worker role is a varied and colourful one that covers many areas of interest, from speech and language therapy to maternity. This roadmap provides information from various sources on each of these roles so you can discover more and plan accordingly.

Support Workers typically work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Allied Health Professions - There are 14 different allied health professional (AHP) roles that have their own particular focus, encompassing the physical, emotional and psychological elements of wellbeing. You can also find information about Allied Health Professions Support Workers roles here: Our Roles - Aspiring Allies Profession Specific Information and Featured Roles - Health Careers.
  • Acute - A hospital-based role supporting patients and managing daily activities. Support Workers can work within a range of settings within an acute trusts e.g., gynaecology, A&E, surgery, theatre.
  • Children’s Services - Working with nurses to support outpatient clinics and school clinics.
  • Community - Working with GPs and nursing teams to deliver and manage care in a patient’s home or community-based healthcare setting.
  • Learning Disability - Helping people with learning disabilities or autism to learn new skills and reach a level of independence.
  • Mental Health - Helping with the care, treatment and recovery of patients. You can find a video on the Mental Health Support Worker position here: NHS Film 08092022 - YouTube
  • Midwifery - Maternity support workers can work in the community, in post-natal wards, in maternity theatres, delivery suites or in midwifery led units, supporting new parents and their babies. You can find out more here: Maternity support worker | Health Careers
  • Primary Care - Assessing new patients and supporting the wider GP surgery medical and nursing team. You can find more information by clicking here. 

NHS Health Careers has created an overview of over 30 roles, with information on each, to discover what areas a Support Worker can support the NHS. You can find out more about the opportunities available by clicking here. 

For more visual information about support worker roles in different settings, please find a selection of video’s linked below (sign-up to the HCSW Programme FutureNHS page is required):

  • A Day in the Life - This video shows what a Day in the Life of a support worker looks like across teams in London.
  • Acute - This video highlights Marian’s experience as an Acute Care Support Worker.
  • Care Certificate - This video highlights how different support workers have completed the care certificate and the benefit it has brought to their practice.
  • Community - This video highlights Sharon’s contributions to a community care setting.
  • Maternity - This video highlights how Marinela has experienced Maternity services as a support worker.
  • Mental Health - This video highlights Daniel’s experience as a support worker in mental health practice.
  • New to Care - This video highlights Dino’s New to Care journey.

Career Pathways

A career in the NHS means you can expect an annual personal development review and a plan to support your career progression. This gives you the opportunity to identify any training and development needs with your manager, education team or educator. It is a commitment to support people to grow and develop professionally, to reach their full potential. 

Examples of career progression for support workers can include progression into registered roles, for example, in nursing, midwifery, allied health professions, healthcare science and medicine. Routes into these roles can include higher education, degree apprenticeships programmes and the Nursing Associate pathway. We have included some further examples below:

Progression into registered roles

For example, in nursing, midwifery, allied health professions, healthcare science and medicine. Routes into these roles can include higher education, degree apprenticeships programmes and the Nursing Associate pathway.

Progression into allied health professional roles

There are specific progression pathways and training available to support workers looking to train in an Allied Health Profession, and Health Education England has developed resources to support this: Developing the role of AHP Support Workers | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk) This includes information on the AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework: AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk)

There are further dedicated resources available to help support workers with the implementation of HEE’s AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework: AHP support workforce resources | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk)

Additionally, there is a library of great case studies on AHP Support Workers, highlighting great examples of innovative practice, hybrid roles, overcoming personal experiences and career development. You can find these case studies here: AHP Support Worker Case Studies | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk) and Inspirational Stories - Aspiring Allies

HEE has published specific AHP support workforce resources to assist workers, employers and ICS’s.

The South-West NHS Learning Hub has a whole suite of resources for both support workers and line managers to assist career development and progression. You can find a link to the AHP Support Workers Career Portfolio to structure career conversations and taking the next step in your career here

For more information about Level 3 & 5 Apprenticeships, please see below:

A quick snapshot of AHP apprenticeships

Oliver – Physiotherapy Apprentice

  • “My background before starting before starting my apprenticeship was in retail, doing various roles … But very quickly I got up to speed with the support of my colleagues”.
  • A great benefit of the apprenticeship route is that you can put what you are learning at university into your day-to-day role”.
  • “I already feel like a useful part of my team”. 

Beth – Occupational Therapy Apprentice

  • Beth has experienced a wide-range of clinical areas, from orthopaedics and urgent care, to mental health and community.
  • This extensive training will really support me to become a well-rounded OT with a variety of skills once I qualify”

Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust

  • Katie, a Children’s Speech and Language Therapy Assistant has found the various qualifications and apprenticeship pathways useful for her own career progression.
  • Nicole, a Rehab Assistant on the Senior Healthcare Support Worker Apprenticeship, is looking to progress onto the degree apprenticeship.

Progression into maternity roles

Health Education England have developed the ‘Maternity Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework’ which has been designed to provide opportunities for aspiring and existing maternity support workers to develop their careers - Maternity Support Workers | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk)

Alongside the Maternity Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework, which provides various step off points, and routes into specialist roles, we have seen an increase in the number of organisations offering the Midwifery Apprenticeship as a route from Maternity Support Worker to Midwife. You can find out more about this pathway in both Jess’ and Abbie and Charlotte’s journeys through the apprenticeship pathways.

Progression into specialist roles

Support worker roles can take you anywhere in the NHS. Progression may include into specialist roles, into non-clinical roles, or into leadership positions. The following examples show the different pathways taken by colleagues across the NHS:

Progression into Senior Support Worker roles

Progression pathways into senior support roles such as Senior HCAs or other support roles in other areas of the NHS, for example, radiography assistants, theatre support workers, and research:

Progression on staff bank

If you are currently working on the staff bank and interested in a substantive post, then talk to your trust education teams about available progression routes for you.

Apprenticeship pathways

HCSW progression can take many routes, with the specific pathways decided by the individual. This could involve remaining at Band 2 or Band 3 level, undertaking additional training to progress to Band 4, or undertaking specific apprenticeship pathways to become a registered Nurse.

The types of apprenticeships on offer will vary between trusts and regions. In general, there are two types of apprenticeships on offer: Level 3 and Level 5.

Level 3 apprenticeships will generally require a formal level of qualification, normally GCSE Maths & English, in order to gain entry. This may vary depending on provision of apprenticeship and personal circumstance, so discuss this with your trust education lead should you have any concerns. These can often be undertaken as a platform to a Level 5 apprenticeship.

Level 5 apprenticeships would generally vary further with their entry requirements, being the equivalent to a foundation degree or a Higher National Diploma. These would allow candidates to continue to a Degree Apprenticeship. As with the advice given for Level 3 apprenticeships, please talk to your trust educators to discover what specific apprenticeships are available and what eligibility requirements there are.

Apprenticeships are not eligible for student finance, as they are conducted alongside your regular jobs. So, you will need to prepare to balance both study and your professional responsibilities. Some apprenticeships require different percentages of study (i.e., 20% in-class education and 80% supervised work), so check what requirements are before you start.

HEE is currently developing specific resources to support apprenticeship pathways nationwide and regionally. This Roadmap will be updated with those details once they are available.


Qualifications have been outlined in the relevant role specific frameworks section above. If you have specific questions, contact your trust education team who can advise you further on the requirements within your place of work.

Resources to support career progression

Whether you are looking to progress into another role, or remain as a support worker the below tools may be useful to support your journey:

Useful tools

  • Identifying transferable skills - This webpage on the Health Careers website will help you to identify your transferable skills and you can also find out how you can top up your qualifications or work experience. A wide range of skills and experience are valuable to healthcare and organisations like the NHS.
  • Review and Career Conversations - The NHS Leadership Academy has produced information, including a downloadable template, to support HCSWs to have career conversations with their line manager.          
  • Career Planning - This tool can help you plan your career journey and next steps as a support worker.
  • How to complete an NHS application form  - Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have developed an e-learning course to support people applying for NHS roles. It explains the different sections of the application process and what is needed in each section.



  • Career Paths for Nursing Support Workers - This RCN resource includes information on the different career pathways available to HCSWs looking to progress their career.
  • How to climb the NHS career ladder from HCSW to registered nurse - This blog includes information on the different options for HCSWs to pursue within their career.
  • First Steps - This resource will support you either individually – or as part of your workplace induction programme – to learn in your own time, and get you started in your healthcare career. First Steps maps to a range of National Occupational Standards that will support you and expand on your portfolio of learning.      


  • Podcasts and Webinars - RCM - Every month the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will be delivering a new podcast episode and webinar, each focusing on the work the College is doing with and on behalf of its members, covering both its trade union activity and its role as a professional association. Some of the episodes will also feature midwives, maternity support workers and student midwives, as well as some special guests.
  • How to become a midwife (rcm.org.uk) – The RCM have pulled together information explaining what a midwife does, how midwives work, career prospects and FAQs about becoming a midwife.
  • Medway NHS Foundation Trust recently had their first home grown qualified midwives take up posts upon completion of their midwifery degree apprenticeships. Abbie and Charlotte were previously maternity support workers who completed the pathway with the trusts academic partner, Greenwich University. A case study about Abbie and Charlotte’s journey will be uploaded to FutureNHS in due course. This link will also be updated once published.

Social Care

  • Resources and Services for England - The Social Care Institute for Excellence has pulled together a repository of information relevant to social care including on the Mental Capacity Act, Eligibility for the Care Act and Independent Mental Health Advocacy.
  • You may need to improve your functional skills to become a registrant. You can find more information on how to do this in the Skills for life section of this roadmap


  • AHP Support Worker Career Portfolio and Learning Hub Resources – The AHP Career Portfolio tool supports implementation of the AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework as well as supporting healthy, constructive career conversations.  It is intended to aid AHP Support Workers throughout their career, acting as a formal record of achievement.  It also helps clarify boundaries of roles and allows space for recording formal and informal learning throughout their career.  It is anticipated that the Career Portfolio will be used alongside annual appraisals and supervision to guide career journeys.  A Learning Hub resources page has also been developed to signpost AHP Support Workers and those who support them in practice, to areas and topics of interest for staff development and growth aligned to the Framework Domains and Career Pathways including apprenticeships. These resources have been developed by the Devon AHP Faculty in collaboration with NHSE and AHP Support Workforce project leads in the South West AHP Faculties.
  • Catalogue (learninghub.nhs.uk) – This section has been developed by the North East and Yorkshire region. You can find a webinar series which explores ‘Breadth and Development Opportunities of AHP Support Workers’, ‘Making the Most of Career Conversations’ and some additional guidance about the framework. A link to the framework has been included in the ‘Career Progression’ section of this document.
  • Additionally, you can find a series of tools on the Learning Hub by searching ‘AHP’ - Search (learninghub.nhs.uk)
  • AHP - Website Content - Making learning workforce - AHP support workers.pdf - All Documents (sharepoint.com) – This guide has been created by HEE to provide employers and support workers with information, advice and guidance on how to create supportive learning cultures and processes in the workplace.
  • Line mangers can access a suite of resources developed in the South-West NHS Learning Hub to help support worker's development: This includes supporting career conversations, "grow your own" resources, and making learning work for AHP support workers.
  • There is information to support worker progression across a range of AHP roles here: Roles as a healthcare support worker | Health Careers