Careers in Care

With the many challenges and opportunities faced by today’s social care sector, we explore ways in which ex-Service personnel can nurture a new and rewarding career after the Military.

By Alison Dando

It’s widely known that people in the UK are generally living longer, thanks to advances in technology, healthcare and improved lifestyles. In mid-2017 the UK population had reached an estimated 66 million – its largest yet – and is now forecast to break 70 million within the next 20 years.

One of the downsides of this longevity is the pressure that a growing and ageing population continues to place on already stretched health and social care provision. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of this abating. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Centre for Ageing and Demography, there are currently as many people over 65 in the UK as there are young people under the age of 16 and that one in four of the population will be aged 65 or over by 2037.

So, what does this ageing population mean for the care industry in the UK and its already stretched financial and human resources?

There’s no denying social care funding remains a major challenge, with local government budget cuts over recent years continuing to be felt out on the ground. The Government’s recent autumn budget statement did include an extra £650m for the social care pot and while welcomed, there are some concerns that a promised government paper setting out a long-term strategy for funding social care has yet to be published.

Looking forward, it’s clear that there’s an urgent need for new and additional funding opportunities in social care and for its public and private care infrastructures to be able to meet a growing demand for residential and nursing home places as well as care support in the home.

Funding, however, is just one side of the UK’s adult social care challenge, the other is its workforce. The skills for care state of the adult social care sector in England report (2018) indicates that there are currently around 110,000 social care job vacancies, with an estimated 40% increase in total jobs required if we are to meet the projected care needs of the population by 2035.

Could a new career in the care sector be for you?

With over 21,000 organisations and 41,000 establishments (including privately run or independent care and nursing homes as well as home care agencies) in England alone, the demand for skilled workers across the adult social care sector is undeniable. This could represent real opportunities for former Military service personnel with the right attitude and compassion plus relevant training, experience or transferrable skills to build a rewarding new career within the care industry.

As well as existing Military training for the obvious medical and nursing roles, the commitment, team ethic and leadership skills that the Forces are renowned for could also prove an asset in the care industry. Skills such as problem solving, adaptability, resilience, and the ability to work well under pressure are all welcomed attributes for an at times, challenging but ultimately rewarding career in the social care sector.

Many ex-Military personnel also have experience of mentoring and coaching gained during their Service career and their attitudes and life experiences can be invaluable in engaging and motivating, both in a residential setting and in the client’s home.

There are opportunities for ex-Forces personnel in adult residential care, day care, domiciliary and supported living and adult community care. While many of the current vacancies in the adult care industry are for registered nurses, residential care workers and domiciliary care support, there are also opportunities for allied care professionals, including social work, occupational therapy and management as well as in non-medical roles such as transport, maintenance, catering and administration, to name just a few.

And, while there is the vocational attraction to working in the care industry, there is also plenty of scope for further training and career progression.

The financial rewards for working within the care industry are varied, and depend on the role, qualifications and experience. An entry level care worker can expect to earn a figure around the National Living Wage, with the average hourly rate in the independent care sector starting at around £7.89 an hour. Moving up the ranks, a senior care worker can earn on average between £17 – 20,000 per year. A registered nurse working in a private care home could earn around £30,000 per year, while the average local authority care sector pay for a social worker is in the region of £34,000. Care home managers can command around £37,000. (Salary figures sourced from:

Think differently – care franchise opportunities

Another possible route into the care sector is to set up and run your own home care business or care home via an existing franchise. As an income generator, the care sector is estimated to contribute £38.5 billion per annum to the economy and so, for ex-Service personnel with the skills, determination and acumen to run their own business, a home care service franchise could be an interesting option.

You don’t necessarily have to have a medical or nursing background to take over the helm. Running a care franchise is very much a people business and would bring all the leadership, logistics, organisational, team-working and management skills honed during a Military career to the fore.

It will require a financial investment and you will need to register with the Care Quality Commission, employ carers with recognised care or nursing qualifications and submit to the necessary periodic inspections but for a second career after the Military it could be the challenge you are looking for.

For more information on franchises and business start-ups go to franchise information website:

Other opportunities in the care sector

While adult social care can be seen to dominate the sector, there are other client groups you can choose to work with. For example, you could opt to provide care and support for children, young people, families, or people with mental ill-health, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or alcohol or drug dependency.

As well as any specifically relevant training you have, other skills acquired in the Military would stand you in good stead for a career in care. Specialist training may be required for certain roles and if you are looking to work with children or young people you will need a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

For more information on the wide range of social care roles with children and young people in the UK go to:

Interested in a new career in the care industry?

Check out the Step into Health initiative: or for career information on the independent care sector go to:

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