This section provides information on the routes into and in health informatics. It also gives examples of how different individuals entered and developed their careers in health informatics.
How can I develop a career in health informatics?
There is no one route into health informatics. Individuals can enter the area from different starting points and at different levels. You can enter straight from school, after college or university or from other jobs in industry, in other areas of health and care, or from elsewhere. The broad entry levels are:
An overview of these routes is shown in the diagram below using the broad arrows. The smaller arrows show some example career paths - there are no definitive paths, though - you can read the case studies to find out more about what other people have done, and use this to inspire your own career, or alternatively find your own path!
Further information on each of these routes and examples of individuals who have taken different routes are set out further down this page, go straight to list of case studies.
Are there any basic knowledge and skill requirements in health informatics?
Due to the nature of health informatics, the basic knowledge and skill requirements that individuals need are literacy and numeracy. This is why in the job roles in levels 1 – 3 of the framework you will see a consistent reference to a ‘good basic standard of education’. This can broadly be taken as a minimum of GCSE English and mathematics (or Ordinary level Certificates in Scotland).
All jobs in the area require communication and interpersonal skills as health informatics is a support function and individuals need to be able to communicate with others and / or support them to do something (such as in IT help desks). It is also important that you can work as part of a team.
Are there structured health informatics development programmes?
As a relatively new profession, there are only limited structured career pathways within health informatics itself. These occur at apprenticeship and graduate trainee levels – further information is given below.
Individuals also create their own career in health informatics either by making use of structured career pathways in related areas, such as ICT and business and administration, or by undertaking further career development themselves, such as graduating with a social science degree and then undertaking a Masters in Health Informatics part-time.
Individuals have also created their own career pathways in a more ad hoc fashion by applying for and being recruited to different posts, developing within those jobs through formal and informal learning, and then applying for and being recruited to a different post at a higher level in the same discipline or at the same or a higher level in another discipline.
I am a school leaver, how can I get a job in health informatics?
If you have a good standard of general education you could apply for an advertised post at any of levels 1 – 3 in the framework. This would include posts such as: clinical coding support worker, service desk operator, IT support administrator, receptionist, project administrator or training administrator. Such posts will give you a good grounding in an area of health informatics from which, if you develop your knowledge and skills, it should be possible to progress. Importantly it will give you experience of the work environment in health informatics and you will be able to decide whether it is the sort of area that interests you. Alternatively you could apply for an apprenticeship in a health informatics service or discipline – see below.
Read a case study about someone who entered health informatics as a clerical officer and progressed to Capability, Education, Training and Development Lead
What apprenticeship routes are available to me?
There are a number of different forms of apprenticeships that might be based in health informatics services. These include apprenticeships in:
Apprenticeships are designed to help you gain qualifications and workplace experience simultaneously so that you develop your knowledge, experience and skills at the same time. They have the benefit of not only giving you a qualification in a vocational area but also of providing you with valuable experience of work which stand you in good stead for recruitment in to jobs. Find out more by reading the case study of an apprentice.
The exact nature of apprenticeships may differ between the four UK countries but each are characterised by a range of work experience and achievement of a qualification as shown below.
Business & Administration
Customer Service Apprenticeship level 2 and 3
IT Users level 2 Apprenticeship, Level 3 Advanced App. Also have Microsoft
Partner Apprenticeship scheme
Intermediate - level 2, and Advanced - level 3
Customer Service Foundation Modern Apprenticeship level 2
Customer Service Modern Apprenticeship level 3
Customer Service Apprenticeship NI - levels 2 and 3
Modern Apprenticeship in Customer Service level 3
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland for apprenticeships in health informatics, there is the City and Guilds Certificate in Health Informatics at Level 2 in the Qualification and Credit Framework. There is also a smaller Award in the same area. These qualifications can be accessed and achieved outside of an apprenticeship programme. For more information on these qualifications, see http://www.cityandguilds.com/courses-and-qualifications/it/it-user/7450-health-informatics/level-2
Different organisations will choose to run different forms of apprenticeship. The forms they run will relate to the needs and interests of the business, funding opportunities and local education and training support. You will not necessarily have much choice locally as to the apprenticeships available to you so if your main interest lies in a career in health informatics, it will be necessary to find out how the particular programme will support you in this.
For more information on apprenticeships and related qualifications in:
I am thinking of taking a degree, which ones are applicable to health informatics?
There are a number of degrees that are suitable for a career in health informatics including:
I have got a degree, what can I do now?
If you have an informatics-related degree (see above) you could apply for an advertised post in a health informatics service. For roles at level 5 or higher, it would be beneficial to gain some work experience in a health informatics area. Such posts will give you good experience in health informatics from which you can build in the future. Once you have such experience and have proved your worth you can expect to progress to jobs in higher levels of the framework relatively quickly. Click here to read a case study about these people who entered with a degree:
Alternatively you could apply for one of the few places on an NHS graduate training scheme, which includes health informatics management that are available in England and Wales. These programmes offer a structured development programme for graduates comprising substantial real life work experience as well as a specialist education and wider management development programme. On these schemes you are likely to be placed in roles from level 5 upwards in the framework. Read a case study about someone who entered health informatics through the graduate training scheme.
For more information on the NHS graduate training scheme in England, see http://www.nhsgraduates.co.uk/Default.aspx
For more information on the NHS graduate training scheme in Wales, see http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36232
I have been working outside of health informatics, how can I join the health informatics workforce?
As described in the section on degrees above, due to the nature of health informatics individuals will find that a career in this field might well be of interest to them and that they have relevant knowledge and skills related to it. For example, at a workshop with individuals working in the whole area, the following earlier posts and levels were mentioned:
What training and development is available in health informatics?
There are a wide range of training and development activities available across the UK in a variety of forms that will help you develop the knowledge and skills for different areas of health informatics. The learning activities and qualifications finder on this website provides more information on the types of learning and qualifications available and will help you find ones that might meet your needs.
In short if you are have an interest in information and its use in health and care, then health informatics might offer a career for you!
Full list of case studies