If you wish to work in the UK, you need to determine whether the profession you wish to access is regulated and what you will need to do in order to pursue your profession.

The UK professional system is relatively permissive, with a relatively small number of regulated professions, mostly clustered within the teaching, medical and legal sectors. Regulated professions, which include professions such as architecture, teachers in publicly regulated schools, doctors, midwives and nurses, are professions in which those wishing to practise are required by law to fulfil specific conditions and present specified qualifications in order to legally practice the profession in the UK. A list of those approved to practice is held by the relevant competent authority.

In the UK, most professions are unregulated, particularly in trades and crafts. For the unregulated professions, there are no laws restricting individuals wishing to practise these professions and no specific qualifications or training are required. Individual employers will determine what qualifications they deem to be necessary for the adequate performance of an individual's job duties. There is no requirement that the individual register with any authority or organisation.

The UK has a number of protected professional titles with designatory letters. Unless the profession is otherwise listed as a regulated profession, these titles are voluntary, and individuals are under no obligation to obtain a protected title in order to practise their chosen profession. These titles may enhance a professional's status within their chosen profession, as the titles ordinarily convey to customers that a higher level of training and, therefore, of quality has been attained by the holder of the title.

While individuals are perfectly entitled to practice unregulated professions without obtaining a protected title, only those who have obtained the title from the relevant professional body may legally use it.

If the profession you wish to practise is regulated, you may be required by the regulatory body to obtain professional recognition of your qualification(s) before you are allowed to start work. Among other responsibilities, a regulatory body is responsible for setting or applying the standards for a regulated profession, controlling who can access the profession and assessing professional qualifications.

Most of the regulated professions in the UK are within the teaching, medical and legal sectors. You can check our lists of regulated professions and protected titles for further information.

Your route to accessing a regulated profession may depend on where you qualified or where you hold citizenship. The regulatory body for your profession will advised you on the most appropriate route to registration for you.

If there is no legal restriction on accessing a profession and no legislation obliging a professional to hold specific national qualifications to access the profession, then the profession is deemed to be unregulated. Many of the professions in the UK are unregulated, particularly trade and craft professions. Our page on the unregulated professions has further information on this.

Regardless of whether your profession is regulated or unregulated in the UK, you can also find out more about the social legislation and rules of ethics for working in the UK. You may also wish to refer to our page of useful links for any further information you may need or you can contact us.