For people in search of a rewarding career, the public sector may be the right route for you. The work you do can impact the everyday lives of people in your community or across the UK.

The public sector is responsible for providing all public services in the UK, from the emergency and healthcare services, education and social care, public protection and law enforcement, to housing and waste collection.

Careers in public services

  • Civil service: The civil service is involved in carrying out practical and administrative work for the government. This includes paying benefits and pensions, running employment services, issuing driving licences, running prisons, developing policies and managing projects. The civil service is politically impartial and independent of the government.
  • Defence, law enforcement and public protection: Careers in this sector include the armed forces, the police force, health and safety officers and prison workers. This sector also includes intelligence officers, such as those working in MI5 and MI6.
  • Politics: A career in politics could involve working for a political party, trade union, charity or public affair consultancy. If you are motivated, driven and politically aware, then entering politics could be the right path for you.
  • Education: Teaching in primary, secondary or further education institutions, or supporting the provision of education. To find out more about a career in education, visit our dedicated page on teaching.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare workers in the public sector are employed by the NHS, and carry out a wide range of roles from doctors and nurses to paramedics and hospital managers. To find out more about the range of careers available, visit out dedicated healthcare.
  • Social and community workers: Careers in social and community care include social workers, carers, youth workers and probation officers. To explore the variety of career options, visit our dedicated social care.

Graduate opportunities

There is no specific degree subject required to enter a career in the public sector. Certain jobs will require a vocational degree, such as medicine for those who want a career as a doctor. Other occupations may not require employees to have obtained a degree in a particular subject; however, it may help with making their application stand out from the crowd. For example, political parties may be more likely to recruit those with a degree in politics.

Whatever your academic background may be, there is a career in the public sector that will suit you. We have highlighted some popular graduate schemes that are suitable for people with a degree in any subject:

Civil Service

The Civil service FastTrack scheme offers talented graduates an accelerated route into leadership in the civil service. The programme is highly competitive, so you need to be committed to a career in the civil service, and be ready to spend a lot of time preparing a stand-out application.


The police run two different graduate schemes, both salaried two-year programmes suitable for graduates from any degree subject. The National Graduate Leadership Programme trains graduates to become leaders in neighbourhood policing. You will gain the experience working within communities struggling with high crime rates while receiving essential training to develop valuable leadership skills. The National Detective Programme trains graduates with the knowledge and skills required for modern investigative work.