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Learning disability nurse

Learning disability nurses take care of the social, psychological and physical health needs of people with a learning disability.

Annual Salary

£28,000 to £43,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

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

Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Learning disability nurse jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • support people with learning disabilities to overcome challenges and get equal access to healthcare
  • help people to improve and maintain their physical or mental health
  • assess what kind of care is needed and create a care plan
  • involve the person in all aspects of their care and give advice that is easy to understand
  • manage medicines, give injections and keep confidential records
  • supervise support workers and give advice on how to support people with learning disabilities

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 or an apprenticeship.


You can do a degree in learning disability nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. You might be able to study another area of nursing alongside learning disability nursing on some degree courses.

You might be able to join the second year of a nursing degree if you already have a degree in:

  • a health-related subject
  • psychology
  • life sciences
  • social work

Full-time courses usually take 3 years.

You might also be able to get a postgraduate qualification if you already have a relevant degree.

Integrated practice degree

You could qualify as a learning disabilities nurse and a social worker through an integrated practice degree. You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies for both roles. You can get advice on this from the course provider.

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
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You might be able to apply for a Registered Nurse Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship, if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital.

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

You'll need the support of your employer to do a degree apprenticeship.

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 useful to get some practical experience before you apply for nurse training.

You could:

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

You'll be expected to understand how the NHS values apply in your work when applying for a course or apprenticeship.

Further information

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

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With experience you could:lead a team of nurses or manage a learning disability unit; become a community matron, director of nursing or train to become a health visitor; become an advanced nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist or nurse consultant if you have a postgraduate qualification; move into teaching or research

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to teach and motivate people
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • active listening skills
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • business management skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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