Top 14 Alternative Careers for Nurses
Reviewed by Abbie Jacobs, RN, BSN
As a nurse, it’s not uncommon to spend most of your time in a hospital caring for sick and suffering patients and providing emotional support for their families. However, the many tasks and responsibilities that nurses must do can be mentally trying. This could mean maintaining a professional demeanor, positive attitude, and emotional connection to patients can become exhausting. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Many other nurses have left their jobs and found different careers that offer the flexibility, creativity, and excitement they crave, while still staying in the realm of nursing or healthcare. What some people might not know is there are many unique career paths that nurses are qualified for and which offer a refreshing change of pace. So if you’re tired of the bedside and want to find a job that offers more excitement – and a potentially higher paycheck – continue reading to discover alternative careers for nurses.
14. Health Coach
If you’re passionate about healthy living, a career in health coaching could be an enjoyable and rewarding career path for you. In this role, you would help your clients achieve their health goals by creating specialized diet plans and exercise routines. While a background or education in nursing isn’t required for this career, your knowledge of the human body would be an asset. Additional education or experience working as a nutritionist may be required. A wide range of employers is possible, including health insurance companies, wellness centers, and weight loss companies. These professionals make $45,564 annually or $20.32 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
13. School Nurse
As a school nurse, you would provide care for children or teens. In this role, you would likely deal with the occasional scraped knee or nosebleed, and be there for the emotional support of the children. In more serious situations, you may need to perform CPR or other emergency medical procedures. Because school nurses have more regular work schedules than general nurses, pursuing this career path could be a preferred alternative to being in the hospital for extended shifts on nights and weekends. They make $46,482 per year or $22.60 hourly (PayScale.com, 2019).
12. Camp Nurse
Camp nurses work with children or teens that attend seasonal camps. Job tasks might be similar to those of a general nurse, but the setting is much less clinical. Duties might include offering first aid, completing routine medical procedures, and overseeing the health and safety of campers as well as staff. A job as a camp nurse could offer an exciting and unique job atmosphere that would take you out of the traditional hospital setting. Camp nurses make an average of $59,865 per year or $25.82 per hour according to (PayScale.com, 2019).
11. Home Health Nurse
Home health nurses travel to their patients’ homes to provide medical care. Job tasks might include bathing and dressing patients, caring for wounds, administering medicine, and monitoring IVs or equipment. Some of these duties are similar to tasks a general nurse does for patients in a hospital, but home health nurses must travel to their patients’ home because most of them are housebound. Companies may provide their nurses with driving accommodations or compensation due to the travel aspect of the job. Home health nurses make $60,780 or $27.21 per year (PayScale.com, 2019).
10. Hospice Nurse
Hospice nurses work with individuals who are suffering from terminal disease or illness. As a hospice nurse, you would be tasked with managing the care and comfort of patients, communicating with them and their families, managing patients’ pain, maintaining their hygiene, offering emotional support, and managing other caregiving staff who are involved with the patient. Being able to make a difference in patients’ lives by providing some peace and comfort for them during their final days can give hospice nurses the fulfillment they’re looking for. Most hospice nurses visit patients’ homes to provide care, but some work in hospice centers, nursing homes, or hospitals. Their average salary is $64,769 or $30.53 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
9. Flight Nurse
Flight nurses help transport injured patients to the hospital. This job requires quick thinking and decision-making skills. Due to the nature of the job, the atmosphere tends to be high-intensity and emergency-oriented. Flight nurses should be able to remain calm under pressure and use their knowledge and skills to put patients and other staff at ease. Flight nurses typically monitor their patients’ vital signs, treat wounds, administer CPR, and complete other medical procedures. They make an average of $69,852 per year or $30.87 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
8. Medical Writer
If writing is something you’re talented at, working as a medical writer might be a good match for your skill set. With a background in nursing, your experience and thorough knowledge of medical procedures and terminology could make you an effective communicator through written word. In this role, you might research, write, and edit technical documents, collaborate with subject matter experts, and review data and research. Pharmaceutical companies, health services providers, and medical equipment companies all employ medical writers. The median salary is $71,481 or $49.26 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
7. Travel Nurse
Travel nurses are hired on a temporary basis and sometimes spend just months or even weeks at each facility before moving to the next. The duties and roles that a travel nurse must do are very similar to those of a general nurse, such as providing patient care, administering medicine, conducting medical tests, and overseeing procedures. However, the perk of this career is the ability to see and live in other parts of the country without having to find new jobs. Their pay is typical of nurses, at $71,829 annually or $33.64 hourly (PayScale.com, 2019).
6. Nurse Educator
A nurse educator manages the continuing education requirements and curriculum of nursing staff in a hospital or medical facility. As a nurse educator, you would work with administrative staff to provide continuing education programs and training guides for health care employees. Additionally, you might conduct research to develop better workplace initiatives and improve the level of care the facility provides. Some travel may be required to interact with other facilities and implement better processes. These professionals make an average salary of $74,642 or $36.27 (PayScale.com, 2019).
5. Legal Nurse Consultant
Legal nurse consultants typically work for insurance companies and offer their expertise on medical matters. Some employers require consultants to have experience in legal work, but that is not always necessary. As a legal nurse consultant, you would analyze medical records, case files, and other documents to understand the health of an individual. You might also conduct client interviews, translate healthcare language for legal staff, or provide testimony in court for legal cases. These consultants have a median salary of $77,045 or an hourly rate of $49.18 (PayScale.com, 2019).
4. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
These representatives work for private companies and manage the sales of pharmaceuticals to hospitals or private practices. Their duties include developing presentations for potential clients, meeting with clients, analyzing data and completing research, and implementing sales strategies. Because it’s important for representatives to understand basic medical terminology, having a background in nursing could give you a significant edge on other applicants. They enjoy an average salary of $78,691 or $14.95 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
3. Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses specialize in helping victims of violence, trauma, and abuse. Their duties might include assessing injuries, collecting evidence by taking photos of the injuries, and taking reports from patients. As a forensic nurse, you must be prepared to deal with disturbing situations, which may be challenging for some, but could be interesting to others. Forensic nurses can work in a variety of settings, including emergency rooms, urgent care departments, or coroners’ offices. In addition to their other duties, they must also act as a liaison between the victims and their families. They earn an excellent salary of $91,765 or $30.69 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
2. Nurse Midwife
Nurse midwives specialize in female health services, particularly relating to pregnancy. They are employed by obstetrician or gynecologist offices, hospitals, clinics, or private practices, and they sometimes make house calls to provide care within the patient’s home. As a nurse midwife, your duties would include educating patients on infant care, preparing mothers for their baby’s birth, performing medical checkups, aiding during childbirth, and providing postpartum care for both the mother and baby. These devoted workers enjoy a higher salary than some other career paths, with a median of $93,333 or an hourly rate of $46.96 (PayScale.com, 2019).
1. Nurse Anesthetist
This career option requires a CRNA degree (certified registered nurse anesthetist) which takes longer to earn than a traditional nursing degree. However, nurse anesthetists earn a much higher salary than other careers on this page. In this role, you would mostly be tasked with administering anesthesia to patients for surgery and other procedures, which requires extreme attention to detail. Nurse anesthetists work alongside other medical staff, including an anesthesiologist. Their median salary is $147,286 or $79.73 per hour (PayScale.com, 2019).
If you are having doubts about pursuing or continuing a career in nursing, remember that it’s okay to feel unsatisfied in your current role, and you should feel comfortable exploring other career paths. Others like you have explored different job options and have been much happier for it.
For more information, feel free to visit the following forums, articles, and community discussions to connect with others who feel the way you do about wanting to leave floor nursing.
- Nurse.org: 10 Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Nursing Job And What To Do Next
- Allnurses.com: Finally Leaving Nursing forum
- Allnurses.com: Leaving Bedside Nursing forum