If you're a healthcare worker who is considering switching careers from nursing, you're probably wondering how your skills might translate to another industry. Fortunately, many of the careers you could gravitate toward let you build on knowledge you likely already have.
The move toward a career as a physical therapist is the most common career change for nurses, and it's easy to see why. Physical therapists often work regular business hours, and it's possible to work full or part time. Not only that, but physical therapists earned a median annual wage of $95,620 nationally as of May 2021, and jobs in this field are expected to grow 21% during the decade leading up to 2030.
That said, nurses will have to head back to school to make this change from a nursing career. All physical therapists need to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), which takes approximately three years after earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an equivalent degree in healthcare or a related field.
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
Whether someone is considering a career change from nurse practitioner or looking to transition from registered nursing, a career as a clinical laboratory technologist or technician could be a suitable fit. These workers typically take on full-time roles, and it is fairly common to work evenings or weekends in facilities that stay open around the clock. However, hands-on care of patients is not a requirement for this job, which may be important for nurses who are hoping to transition toward a less personal side of the healthcare profession.
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned a median annual salary of $57,800 nationwide in May of 2021, and jobs in this field are expected to increase 11% from 2020 to 2030. This compares favorably to the 8% growth rate expected for all occupations combined. Clinical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor's degree to find work, whereas technicians only need an associate degree.
Health Education Specialists
Nurses who love teaching others should consider using their knowledge and expertise to improve the health of those in their communities. Health education specialists promote wellness and positive health habits in their communities, and they typically find work with nonprofit organizations, public health departments, and healthcare facilities. The median annual salary for this career was $48,860 nationally in May of 2021, as compared to $77,600 for registered nurses nationwide in the same month. Job openings in the health education field are expected to increase by 17% around the country from 2020 to 2030.
Health education specialists promote wellness and positive health habits in their communities, and they typically find work with nonprofit organizations, public health departments, and healthcare facilities.
While health education specialists ideally need education and experience in nursing, typically a bachelor's degree in healthcare or a related field is the only requirement. You may decide to pursue a bachelor's in health education, or even a master's degree in the field. However, some employers require health education specialists to also become certified by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. or another certifying body.
Medical and Health Service Managers
Medical and health services managers — also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators — plan and oversee medical and healthcare services in a facility. They often work full time, and it's common to spend time on call in the case of an emergency.
With more responsibility comes higher pay, however. Medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of $101,340 nationally as of May 2021. Professionals who secured work in hospitals earned an even higher median salary of $119,450. Amazingly, job openings in this field are expected to increase 32% during the decade leading up to 2030, compared to just 9% for other management occupations.
While medical and health services managers typically need a bachelor's degree in healthcare and related experience to secure a position, master's degrees are also common. An online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management, or a master's degree in the subject, can help nurses qualify for this position.
Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives
Nurses who want to work regular business hours can also look into a career in pharmaceutical sales. Professionals who switch to this career will learn all they can about the various pharmaceutical products they represent, after which they will sell them or recommend them to doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers. Pay in this career is relatively strong, with sales representatives of technical and scientific products, including pharmaceuticals, earning a median annual salary of $94,840 nationally as of May 2021. However, jobs in this field are expected to grow just 5% through 2030, which means only 18,200 new jobs are projected to open up during that timeline.
Fortunately, making this career change from nurse practitioner or registered nursing shouldn't be too difficult. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in healthcare to get started, and the majority have their own training programs for new hires.
Administrative Services Managers
Administrative services managers plan and direct activities for the facility they work for with a focus on operations, maintenance, and overseeing major projects. This position is commonly found in healthcare and social assistance facilities, and these professionals typically work full time. While administrative services managers tend to earn more in other fields, professional administrative services managers who work in healthcare earned a median annual salary of $88,090 nationally as of May 2021. Meanwhile, job openings for this career are expected to increase 9% from 2020 to 2030, which translates to 28,600 new jobs during that time.
Those considering switching careers from nursing to this role are in a strong position. The BLS reports that a bachelor's degree and related work experience are required, so nurses should qualify right off the bat.
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Professionals who find work as a medical records and health information technician are in charge of coding, organizing, and tracking various health information data. Most work on a full-time basis, and the majority work in healthcare settings, such as medical and surgical hospitals.
That said, wages vary depending on the exact position held in this field and where the job is completed. As an example, the BLS says that health technologists and technicians earned median annual wages of $45,620 in May 2021, but "health information technologists, medical registrars, surgical assistants, and healthcare practitioners and technical workers" earned a median salary of $51,840. It's important to note that professionals who work in this field for the federal government earned a much higher median salary: $99,750.
Job openings in this field are expected to grow from 9% to 11% through 2030, depending on the position, which is slightly higher than anticipated growth for all US occupations combined. Fortunately, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a degree in a related healthcare field should be more than sufficient to find work in this field.
According to CareerExplorer, nutritionists focus the bulk of their work on advising clients and the general public on the basics of healthy eating. The majority of these workers hold roles in hospitals, the government, or outpatient healthcare centers, with some earning more than others. For example, government data from the BLS shows that dietitians and nutritionists earned median annual wages of $61,650 as of May 2021, but that those who worked in outpatient care centers earned a higher median annual salary of $74,640.
Jobs in this field are expected to grow 11% in the decade leading up to 2030, which will add as many as 7,800 new positions nationwide. However, nutritionists typically need a bachelor's degree or advanced degree in dietetics, food science, nutrition, or a related field to find work, and many pursue an advanced degree. With that in mind, registered nurses with a bachelor's degree could enter this field by going back to school to earn an Applied Clinical Nutrition (ACN) credential or an online Master's in Nutrition.