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What qualifications do I need?

With no qualifications at all you can join the emergency services or armed forces but you will be required to pass a range of tough physical and personality tests. For some professions you will need to have very specific skills which may take a long time to complete such as medicine.

For some professions you may need a degree or other qualifications but can be completed as part of your first degree or conversion courses afterwards.

For further information read our routes into the public sector article.

Will I need to do any professional qualifications?

Some of the public sector professions require you to be a registered such as nursing. For others you can join a professional body and complete training courses but this will most likely be part of your career progression rather than a professional requirement.

Where can I find work experience?

A number of the organisations found in the public sector or affiliated companies may offer formal internships. Otherwise, ask any contacts you may have to see if their work place can offer you something. Alternatively ask your career centre advisers as they may have links with companies which offer short or long-term work experience. Take a look at our jobs board for any internships or work placements as well.

What sort of salary can I expect?

As a graduate you can expect to earn a minimum of £20,000, however they do vary quite a bit from subsector to subsector. To find out more, read our salaries article or read more on the particular profession you wish to join.

What do employers look for?

For the emergency services, some health care professions and the armed forces you will be expected to be resourceful and cope extremely well in high pressure environments. The armed forces, the police and the fire services will also need you to be in good physical health due to the demand these jobs put on you.

Other professions will require you to have good leadership skills, very good communications skills and work well with others.

More details can be found in our skills required article.

What are my career prospects?

Career progression is usually very good if you can demonstrate that you have passion and ambition. Progression may be more structured than the private sector and mean taking on more management responsibilities which you may not want to do. Salaries in more senior positions in some professions are competitive with the private sector.

It is also possible to move between the public and private sector as your career progresses depending on what you want out of it.

When should I apply?

The organisations which have graduate recruitment schemes, application are usually accepted between Oct-March for a start date of Sept-Oct. In teaching, the recruitment drive also coincides with the academic year.
However, most organisations will recruit on an ongoing basis.

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