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Medical

Learning disability nurse

Learning disability nurses help people with a learning disability to live as independently as possible.

Annual Salary

£24,907 to £37,890

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

6%
Future employment

There will be 6% more Learning disability nurse jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties, you might give practical help and encourage patients to:

  • look after their personal hygiene
  • dress
  • use public transport
  • go on shopping trips
  • develop leisure interests or community activities
  • make and attend appointments
  • find a job

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform.

You could work in the community, at an adult care home, at a client's home or in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
University

You can do a degree in learning disability nursing approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Some degree courses let you study another area of nursing alongside learning disability nursing.

You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in:a health-related subject; psychology; life sciences; social work

Full-time courses usually take 3 years.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science or nursing
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a degree apprenticeship in nursing if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital.

The apprenticeship takes around 4 years and is a mix of academic study and on-the-job training.

You must be supported by your employer to take this route.

Entry requirements

To do this apprenticeship, you'll need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You'll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in social care or healthcare work before you apply for nurse training.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

It's possible to do a degree in learning disabilities nursing and social work. You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. Course providers can advise you on this.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a learning disability nurse from the Nursing & Midwifery Council and Health Careers.

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With further study and experience you could become an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or nurse consultant. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and develop and deliver training.

You could lead a team of nurses in a residential setting or manage a learning disability unit. You could also move into other management roles, like community matron or director of nursing.

You could also go on to train as a health visitor.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • active listening skills
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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