Nurse - Learning Disability

registered nurse (learning disabilities)

Career outlook for nurse - learning disability

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would support people with learning disabilities and their families to enjoy good health and get the best out of life.

You’d help your clients with everyday tasks whilst encouraging and helping them to live as independently as they can. You might also counsel and advise clients' families and carers.

You would often begin with an assessment of a person’s health and social care needs, which will probably be complex. Their needs may be linked to:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental health problems
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Hearing or vision issues

You would provide them with specialist healthcare and make sure the person has access to the right health services, treatment or therapy.

You would teach skills and give people practical help and encouragement with:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Dressing
  • Using public transport
  • Going on shopping trips
  • Pursuing leisure interests or community activities
  • Making and attending appointments
  • Finding a job

You’d work with people of all ages. You could work with clients in their workplace, in adult education, in school, residential or community centres, and in their home, for example helping them bring up a family.

You would need to be sensitive to the needs of your clients, have patience and stay calm and in control of sometimes difficult situations.

You might also mentor and supervise support workers, and provide specialist advice to the wider healthcare team including doctors, physiotherapists, speech therapists, social workers and teachers.

You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Learning disability nurse page on the NHSScotland Careers website. See the Learning and development section for information about career structure, progression and rates of pay.

Working conditions


You would typically work 37.5 hours a week, which could include evenings, weekends, night shifts and bank holidays as 24 hour care may be required. Many NHS Trusts and other healthcare providers offer flexible hours or part-time work.


You would mostly work indoors, but you may also sometimes accompany people on trips outside their homes.


You would have to travel to people's homes, workplaces and other important sites. Some jobs may require a driving license.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Researching
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Taking responsibility

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You need a degree in nursing (SCQF level 9/10). Edinburgh Napier University offers a BN in Nursing (Learning Disabilities) and Glasgow Caledonian University offers a BSc Nursing Studies (Learning Disability)

To enter a Nursing Degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 4/5 qualifications and a minimum of three or four Highers at C or equivalent qualifications such as a relevant HNC/HND or Scottish Vocational Qualification in Healthcare Support (SVQ level 2/3).

It is possible to enter a shortened graduate nursing programme with a relevant degree in another subject.

There are Access to Nursing courses which can also give entry if you have been out of education for three or more years. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Maths (required by many courses)
  • Science subjects (required by many courses)
  • Care

You will also need

Once qualified you will need to: 

  • register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • pass a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Disclosure check
  • complete a medical examination to ensure you are physically fit

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding of health and wellbeing such as:

  • Health and Social Care (SCQF level 6)
  • SQA Wellbeing Award (SCQF level 3-5)