More than 700,000 people working in the health sector

Work & training
More than 700,000 people working in the health sector

15 % of the working population work in the human health and social work activities sector[1]. This is what emerged from the figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, based on the Labour Force Survey of 2019. 
In addition to the 140,000 nurses, 100,000 auxiliary nurses and 35,000 doctors, the health sector also includes many social workers, administrative staff, cleaning and maintenance staff and other professional categories. In total, more than 700,000 persons work in this sector.

Statbel has examined the profile of people working in the health sector: the sector is predominantly female, the staff has an above-average education level and there are more older workers than average.

More older workers than average in the health sector

17 % of people aged 65-69 who are still active work in the health sector. The majority of them are doctors. In general, there is no major difference between those aged 25-49 and those over 50, although the older group is clearly predominant.


Age groups % active in the health sector
15-24 12%
25-49 15%
50 and over 15%
in which 65-69 17%

25 % of women work in the health sector

25 % of women on the labour market work in the health sector. This sector is therefore clearly female. 6 % of men work in this sector.

Healthcare workers have a slightly higher education level

Healthcare workers have a slightly higher education level: 54 % have a higher education diploma, compared to 45 % of people working in other sectors.

Very little regional differences

There are very few regional differences. 16 % of people living in the Flemish Region work in the health sector, compared to 14 % in the Walloon Region. This percentage is slightly lower for people living in Brussels (10 %). 

Many part-time jobs and non-standard working times

Part-time work is very common in the health sector: 47 % of people employed in this sector work part-time compared to only 22 % in the other sectors.

People working in the health sector also have more often non-standard working times:

  • 37 % work on Sundays (20 % in the other sectors)
  • 44 % work on Saturdays (36 % in the other sectors)
  • 39 % work in the evenings (34 % in the other sectors)
  • 18 % work at night (11 % in the other sectors)

Healthcare workers more often have children

23 % of people aged 25-49 working in the health sector have a child younger than 15, 25 % two children and 8 % 3 children or more.
44 % don't have any children younger than 15, compared to 48 % in the other sectors.


[1] Section Q of NACE-BEL 2008 'Human health and social work activities' includes, in addition to human health activities, residential care activities and social work activities without accommodation.