What transferable skills are essential in the health and care sector?

Written by Thea Mitchell-Wren and Lauren Brown - 6th January 2022


Transferable skills are a set of abilities and skills that can be adapted to a range of different roles in many industries. They are gained and developed from previous life experiences and positions you may have held and, whether your previous experience has included holiday ‘repping’, working in finance, hospitality, retail or as a librarian, you will have gained a great set of transferable skills that might help you to move job roles, change careers or enter a new sector entirely! 


As careers advisors, we often need to help people to explore their transferable skills to help them to find their next steps whether they’re trying to figure out the right path for them. In this article, we’ll look at some of the essential skills which are common to careers in health, social and children’s care, and look in closer detail at some career-changers and their transferable skills.



Common transferable skills in caring roles

Verbal communication 

Communication is key – relaying a message clearly and with efficiency is crucial in this line of work. Effective verbal communication will help create supportive relationships, solve problems, avoid conflict, and gain appropriate information. 

Active listening skills  

This comes hand in hand with being able to successfully articulate ideas and information. It leads to being able to understand other peoples’ positions and to ensure you respond with empathy. Showing active listening offers the other person validity and respect. 


Other words for this can be flexibility and versatility. Being able to easily adapt will allow you to make changes quickly, learn new skills at a faster pace and adjust behaviours to tailor for changing circumstances. This indicates a growth in mindsets and self-awareness. Adaptability can often stem from realising that making mistakes is normal and should be used to learn and grow from. 


Working in a high-pressure sector that can include long, unpredictable working hours, varied challenges from situation-to-situation and multi-tasking will require resilience. Controlling emotions, taking a breath to think things through and the ability to bounce back is all included in this skill. 

Transferable skills aren’t always gained in the sector or role that they’re needed in.  There are many skills that could help someone move from a role as waiting staff to a career in care or to begin training as a nurse; 


Waiting staff to nurse

Communication Skills

Working in both roles will require using communication skills pretty much the whole day. Caring jobs are social jobs which will give you experience accommodating to individual needs and handling complaints. Both settings will include communicating with people who have unique sets of needs and personalities. In addition to this, communication is a key element within teamwork and being an efficient worker.

Working Under Pressure

Working rotating schedules consisting of days, nights and holidays will be required in these roles. There are also many situations where you will be working in an understaffed environment which may test how much you can handle. Varying pressures will be placed on employees working in these sectors and learning how to deal with this is a skill that comes with it.


Waiting staff and nurses will both have to work in a fast-paced environment and use multitasking skills. This may involve remembering lots of requests, dealing with multiple people at the same time and ensuring everyone is equally attended to. This skill will help you prioritise tasks and ensure a top-quality experience.


Shop assistant to care worker  

People Skills 

As a care worker, you will spend lots of time working with patients, staff members, families, and many other individuals. This may be in a caring, advisory, or management role. You will have gained these people skills from working as a sales assistant which involves constant communication with customers and staff. You will also be able to use your teamwork skills developed from this role within care work.  

Organisational and Management Skills  

Working as a sales assistant will have allowed you to develop your organisational skills and give you an understanding of management skills. For example, prioritising workload, balancing jobs that need doing, and organising and preparing the shop for opening. This is a great skill to have when working as a care worker. As a care worker, you will have a large caseload of patients to care for and administrative work to go alongside this. This means that you will need to ensure you organise and prioritise your workload and plan your time well. 

Working in a Busy Team 

A supportive team in retail will have helped to create a positive atmosphere in the store. You will have had to work well in a team to ensure the smooth running of the store. A care worker will work in a large and busy team with other care workers and staff from other health departments to support patients and ensure the health care setting runs smoothly.  

Cabin crew to early years 

Safety and First-Aid 

It is a vital part of cabin crews' job to attend regular safety and first aid training. This is a practical skill that will also be taught within early years. It may be used in both professions to protect and save somebody's life.  

Problem Solving  

In both roles, you will face unforeseen situations daily. They will also involve handling unpredictable surprising behaviour. It takes problem-solving to manoeuvre your way through complex difficult situations which you will experience within an early year setting. 

Empathy, Compassion and Emotional Intelligence 

Training in both roles will involve improving your ability to be sensitive to a range of needs and feelings. This can aid with creating a sense of security and building strong relationships. In an early year setting this is important to help build a relationship with the children. 


As you can see there is a wide range of skills from several roles that can be transferred within health, social care, and the early years sector. If you are thinking about moving into this area of work here are some quotes from professionals about the most rewarding parts of their job:


‘What is the most rewarding part of your job?’

“For me it’s helping children and watching them grow. I have worked with children for over 14 years and it’s lovely to look after them as babies and then meet them again when they are in the older rooms. It is also amazing having special bonds with both the children and the parents.”- Racheal, Early Years Worker.

“The bond you make with the kids is so special and the sense of fulfilment you get seeing them develop throughout their early years.” - Becky, Early Years Worker.

“Working with communities to support all communities and families to promote health and well-being and assisting children to reach their full potential. I look back on my career and I feel so proud that I helped change the outcome for many children and families in a completely positive way.” - Jean, Health Visitor.

“Helping a patient throughout their anaesthetic experience keeping them safe, feeling calm and cared for.” - Kim, Anaesthetic Nurse.

If you are interested in finding out more information about skills, strengths and general career pathways check out the links below:

Skillzminer - A tool that translates your previous jobs, experiences and interests into an automated job matching and a full suite of self-directed career transition support.  


Heading over to the CACHE Alumni article page and reading the careers articles will give you some insight into progression and development.


Check out - Career Changes in Health and Social Care. Do we have wasted potential?


These CACHE e-learning courses can be used to refresh knowledge around key subject areas.





Thea is a Registered Career Development Professional (RCDP) working on behalf of CareerWave in partnership with CACHE to provide professional, independent and impartial careers advice while striving to inspire brighter futures. Further information about Thea can be accessed at www.linkedin.com/in/thea-mitchell-wren-704b81197. You can find out more about the services that CareerWave offer on their website, careerwave.co.uk or by following them on Twitter at @careerwaveuk