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You are here: Home Services & Applications Informatics Capability Development (ICD) Development of informatics specialists Career development and workforce planning Professionalising Health Informatics (PHI) Personal progression Learning web Professional development Career pathways Routes into health informatics
Services & Applications

Routes into health informatics

There are many ways that current health informatics practitioners have entered the profession - these routes include:

  • Training.jpghealth informatics or ICT qualification
  • apprenticeship
  • graduate management scheme
  • work experience.

One example of movement into health informatics: Susan left school and went to work for her local NHS Trust as an Administrative Assistant. In this role she was working with a bookings system, receiving calls from members of the public and processing records in a hospital environment. This work gave Susan a good awareness of hospital processes and computer systems.

She worked here for several years before moving into work on a Help Desk to provide advice to members of staff on the use of Trust wide systems and communications.

This experience around IT helped her progress in IT support, with a particular emphasis on the use of data and information. Her most recent progression has been into the role of Information Analyst.

The Health Informatics Career Framework (HICF) demonstrates the breadth of roles in health informatics - to look at entry level roles, search for job roles at level 1, at level 2 and level 3.


Apprenticeships provide routes into a variety of careers, including many in the NHS, and offer the opportunity to earn, learn and achieve nationally recognised qualifications at the same time. Apprenticeships always include a technical qualification at either level 2 or level 3.

Apprenticeships in England and Wales are generally available to 16 – 25 year-olds in England and to all ages in Wales. In 2006 alone more than 4,000 people were awarded apprenticeship certificates in Health and Social Care, Pharmacy Support, Dental Nursing and Support Services. These apprentices now have an excellent foundation for their chosen careers in the health sector. 

See also Informatics skills for 14 to 19 year olds

Entry requirements - NHS Careers

NHS Careers identifies some suggested entry points for health informatics.  

With good GCSEs and/or work experience

You may not need formal qualifications to begin working in health informatics, although GCSEs or equivalent qualifications and/or some work experience can be an advantage. At entry level, you can apply for a range of assistant jobs, working in libraries, wards and outpatient departments, or on computer helpdesks, supporting healthcare and health informatics professionals. For more information see the NHS Careers website

With A-Levels

With A levels, equivalent qualifications and/or some work experience, you can start your career as a management trainee. There are also opportunities for existing staff to enter junior management positions. A levels may also be helpful for some specialist roles, for example A levels in anatomy and/or physiology are helpful for specialist library posts such as clinical librarian. For more information see the NHS Careers website

As a graduate

A strong academic background and sound management experience opens up opportunities to management positions in health informatics. An IT trainer role may require a first degree and a teaching or training-related qualification. Staff working in information management often hold a degree or masters degree in health informatics. A degree in library and information studies or information science will allow you to join the professional tier of the library service. For a very senior role, such as knowledge services manager, you may also need a postgraduate qualification in information and library work. For more information see the NHS Careers website.

See also Qualifications and Technical development 

As a qualified clinician or other NHS employee

Many current health informaticians began their careers as clinicians and then moved into informatics. Clinical informatics is increasingly important in ensuring that the NHS provides a high-quality service and consistent, evidence-based care. Clinical informatics often concerns the capture, communication and use of patient data and clinical knowledge by doctors and other clinical professionals and the development and implementation of electronic tools to support the whole cycle of clinical information.

One example is that of Stephen: Stephen was trained as a qualified nurse prior to moving into the role of a Training Manager in Health and Social Care in the North of England. At that time his work as a Training Manager covered IT training, soft skills, occupational standards and qualifications. He also attained a CIPD in Training Practice (Level 3).

His current role is as an IT Training Manager for a large Trust based in the Midlands. This is a challenging role and one in which Stephen feels he has a constant need to develop his own skills and support others to develop theirs.

Returning to health informatics

NHS Careers advises those returning to work that there are no nationally agreed programmes for health informatics staff planning to return to the NHS after a break, although planned induction programmes for new staff would bring entrants up to date on the NHS and HI standards specific to healthcare delivery.  

See also Continuing Professional Development (CPD)