As a nurse, you’re dedicated to helping others. You may be interested in an alternative career path for nurses that takes you out of the standard nursing profession and into a new field. There are many other nursing careers and alternative career paths for nurses that do not involve direct patient care available to trained nurses. After earning a degree in nursing, you may not be aware of how many alternative careers for nurses are available in both health care and other fields.
Many health care professionals look into other career options for nurses due to how difficult the nursing schedule can be, burnout, relocation, and more. If you’ve decided that traditional nursing isn’t a good fit for you, you’re likely looking into alternative careers for nurses. Many other nursing careers are in the administrative realm. Nurses know the ins and outs of health care, making health administration one of the most popular other career options for nurses. Other careers for nurses in the administrative field can include being in charge of nursing departments, putting your nursing skills to use in a supervisory role.
This list of alternative nursing careers is presented in alphabetical order.
1. Camp Nurse
Camp nursing is one of the best alternative careers for registered nurses who enjoy working with kids. By nature, this job is temporary, but it’s often a great fit for nurses who are between medical clinic jobs or just want to do something different for a while. The job involves staying at the camp, maintaining the camp’s health clinic, and assisting with camp health needs. Camp nurses often deliver first aid, especially at overnight camps with a lot of outdoor activity.
The job outlook for camp nurses looks good. Millions of American children attend camps every year, and a lot of those camps are understaffed. As a matter of fact, many camps have to go without nurses altogether. Though camp nursing is a temporary job, it’s not tough to find places to work, and some nurses even make a career out of moving from one camp to the next. Camp nurses can earn between $21.88 and $39.88 per hour.
Salary: $21-$40 hourly
2. Community Organizer/Community Health Educator
Stress and burnout are big problems among nurses. As a result, many nurses seek alternate nursing careers in community health education. These nurses don’t provide direct healthcare. Instead, In this job, nurses can spend their time educating others about health and how to make the best choices for their health needs. Community organizers and health educators work in all kinds of settings. These settings include hospitals, nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies.
The need for community organizers and community health educators is growing. As a matter of fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand will grow 11% over the next nine years. Prevention is far more cost effective than treatment, so communities are looking for ways to improve their overall health. Community organizers and community health educations can expect to make roughly $46,000 per year on average.
Salary: $46,000 annually
3. Cruise Ship Nurse
Cruise ship nursing is an exciting alternative nursing career. Cruise ship nursing looks a lot like hospital-based nursing. Nurses on cruise ships see to the health needs of the passengers and crew. The difference is that cruise ship nurses treat a lot more seasickness than the average land-based nurse. Cruise ship nurses, of course, also get to sail from place, which makes this career a good choice for those who want an adventurous career. The travel and sightseeing make cruise ship nursing an ideal career choice for some nurses.
Cruise ship nurse jobs are harder to get than most other nursing jobs. Most cruise ship hiring companies want highly experienced nurses. Furthermore, salaries on cruise ships are often lower than other nursing salaries. Cruise ship nurses earn about $4500 to $4800 per month. Many nurses seek cruise ship jobs for the travel opportunities and not for the salary. The trade-off, aside from the adventure, is that the cruise line pays for the nurse’s meals and lodging, so nurses in this job don’t have to worry about housing fees or groceries.
Salary: $4500-$4800 monthly
4. Disease Prevention Nurse Specialist
Disease prevention is one of the best alternative careers for registered nurses who enjoy research and data. Disease prevention nursing, also called infection control, prevents the spread of disease among patients, community members, and fellow healthcare workers. These nurses analyze data and make decisions about disease containment, hygiene, and more. They work in all kinds of healthcare facilities from hospitals to private practices and nursing homes.
Infection control nurses will need some nursing experience under their belts before they can get started in this particular field. Many hiring organizations prefer that their disease prevention nurses have at least a BSN. Disease prevention specialists have widely varying salaries. The average is $84,794 per year. Like all nursing careers, the need for disease prevention nurses remains high and will probably stay that way for a long time.
Salary: $85,000 annually
5. Flight Nurse
Flight nursing is popular among alternate nursing careers because it offers excitement and novelty. Flight nurses have to handle high-stress situations well. They handle some of the biggest healthcare emergencies, including cardiac arrest. These nurses work in rescue planes and helicopters, delivering medical care to patients as they’re transported to a hospital or other medical facility. Flight nurse care can often mean the difference between life and death for some patients. Flight nurses, therefore, should be prepared to handle high levels of responsibility.
Flight nurses are hired through hospitals, trauma centers, fire departments, and more. Job prospects look good for these nurses. The need for them is expected to grow by 15% before 2026. That said, getting this kind of job requires a lot of dedication and training. Flight nurses need a graduate degree in emergency nursing.
6. Forensic Nurse
As an alternative nursing career, forensic nursing can be an exciting choice. This job is not for the faint of heart, though. It’s often a high stress but very rewarding job. Forensic nurses work within the legal system. They provide care for victims of violent crimes, and they gather medical evidence for court proceedings. Forensic nurses should be comfortable testifying in court and providing excellent communication. They should also be comfortable providing compassionate care to those who have been through traumatic situations. These nurses work in all sorts of places from hospitals to correctional facilities.
According to nurse.org, the average forensic nurse salary is $68,450. However, salaries can vary a lot, depending on education and experience. Forensic nurses in urban locations can expect to make more than forensic nurses in smaller rural areas. Like other nursing careers, job prospects look good for forensic nursing. The demand is already high, and it’s expected to grow by 16% through 2024. As older nurses retire from the job, younger nurses will have to step into the gap.
Salary: $68,500 annually
7. Genetics Nurse
A lot of diseases have a genetic factor. Some people’s genetics are more predisposed toward cancer, heart disease, and other disorders than others. That’s why genetics nursing is a great choice among alternative careers for registered nurses. These nurses specialize in treating diseases with genetic factors. They also provide assessments so that patients can understand their risk factors for disease. Genetics nurses work in hospitals and health clinics, especially the ones that focus on genetic disorders. Genetics nursing is a great choice for those who love research and love working directly with patients.
Registerednursing.org points out that genetics is fairly new among nursing careers. The career is growing as the population gets older, so genetic nurses are in high demand. The demand will probably stay high for several years, so these nurses won’t have to worry about finding a good job. Salaries have a wide range, but the average is $62,450. Nurses with a lot of education and experience can expect to earn more than that, however. This job comes with a lot of opportunity for growth.
Salary: $62,500 annually
8. Grant Writer
For those who want alternate nursing careers, grant writing can make a great choice. This option works well for those who need a break from direct nursing work but still want to make a difference in the healthcare field. Grant writers help researchers get the funding they need for their work. They identify potential funding sources and then write grant applications to secure that funding. In the medical field, grant writers with a nursing background are especially valuable because they have a deep understanding of healthcare needs. Grant writers should have excellent communication and research skills. They can find work through universities, hospitals, nonprofits, and research centers. Some grant writers work as freelancers, while others work directly for an organization.
A medical grant writer can make about $33 per hour on average. However, salaries can vary based on your work environment, education level, and experience. As a whole, the grant writing professional is expected to grow 8% over the next several years. People with relevant nursing experience may have a leg up when it comes to finding medical writing jobs.
Salary: $33 hourly
9. Health Representative
Health representation is a great alternative nursing career for those with strong communication skills. Health representatives act as spokespeople for their employers. They work for hospitals, healthcare centers, and government agencies, and they speak for those places at conferences and other events. Often, health representatives serve communities that most often need a voice. For example, a health representative might amplify the voices of rural communities, racial minorities, and similar groups that don’t always get what they need from their healthcare. At other times, health representatives act as brand ambassadors, promoting certain medications and other medical products. In any case, they must be comfortable with communication, particularly with public speaking.
Healthcare representatives make an average of $41,066 per year. The job is expected to grow by 7% over the next several years. Those with nursing experience and a nurse’s education may have an advantage when it comes to job prospects and salary negotiation because they understand how the healthcare field works.
Salary: $41,000 annually
10. Health/Nutrition/Fitness Coach
Health and nutrition coaching is a huge industry, and it’s one of the best alternative careers for registered nurses who want to do something different. Health coaches often work for private businesses. Others work as independent agents or freelancers. They teach employees how to get the most out of their nutrition and fitness, often leading classes and seminars. Health coaches may also work with individuals. After assessing a person’s health needs, health coaches develop a plan to help the person reach optimum health. Registered nurses, with their background in healthcare, as especially equipped to serve in these positions.
Health coaching is expected to grow by 21% by 2022. In other words, the health coaching field has great job prospects, especially for those who have nursing experience. Health coaches make an average of $48,790. That said, experience and education vary a lot among professional health coaches. Registered nurses may be able to negotiate a higher salary based on their healthcare experience.
Salary: $49,000 annually
11. Healthcare Compliance Specialist
The healthcare industry has a lot of regulations, and rightly so. These regulations help patients stay safe, and they help patients maintain their right to privacy. A healthcare compliance specialist helps medical organizations keep up with those regulations. They work with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical facilities. They stay up to date on HIPAA regulations, licenses, and other legalities to make sure that their companies have what they need. If their companies fall short, they make recommendations to correct the problem and then make sure that those companies follow through.
By the middle of their careers, healthcare compliance specialists can expect to make around $80,000. However, salaries vary widely depending on education and experience. The need for compliance specialists is expected to grow by over 8% in the next several years, which is why it’s ranked among the best alternate nursing careers.
Salary: $80,000 annually
12. Holistic/Alternative Medicine
Some nurses who want an alternative nursing career go into holistic medicine. Holistic medicine is a field that takes the whole person, not just the illness, into account during treatment. There are plenty of holistic career options from massage therapy and accupuncture to yoga instruction. Some nurses become chiropractors or chiropractic nurses. Those with nursing experience get unique insight into how the body works with these options, so patients often want their insight when they seek alternative medicine.
Because there are so many holistic medicine options, it’s hard to pin down specifics for job prospects and salary. However, many careers within this field are growing. Take massage therapy, for example. They make an average of $41,420 per year, and the occupation is growing by 22% which is much faster than the average career growth. If you want to go into alternative medicine, start by figuring out the specifics of what you want to do. From there, you can figure out the average salary and job possibilities for your city and state.
Salary: $41,500 annually
13. Insurance Nurse
Insurance nurses work for insurance companies. They provide health assessments for insurance purposes. They also analyze health data to create benefits packages. Many also work as case managers, combining multiple responsibilities into a single job. Insurance nurses should be comfortable with research and analysis, and they should also be comfortable reporting their research findings to their representatives. In addition to nursing experience, it’s also good to understand statics for this career. Many insurance nurses choose to take a class or two on statistics before they get started. For those who enjoy analyzing information and then communicating that information, insurance nursing is one of the best alternative careers for registered nurses.
The average mid-career salary for insurance nurses is $80,090. Much like other nursing careers, this one is growing quite steadily. The exact numbers are tough to nail down because insurance nursing often gets folded into case management. However, insurance nurses should have no trouble finding the right job. Those who live near big cities will likely have an easier time finding insurance nursing work than those who live closer to rural areas. Still, the job prospects are good overall.
Salary: $80,000 annually
14. Legal Nurse Consultant
Like forensic nurses, legal nurse consultants help the legal system. However, unlike forensic nurses, legal nurse consultants do not work directly with patients. Instead, they consult with attorneys and paralegals during cases of medical malpractice, personal injury, and similar legal issues. They provide attorneys with the science-backed information they need to build their cases. Legal nurse consultants can work in a lot of settings, including consulting practices and law firms.
Legal nurse consulting is among one of the fastest-growing alternate nursing careers. It’s expected to grow up to 16% by 2024, so experienced nurses likely won’t struggle in their job searches. The median reported salary is $68,450. However, it’s tough to nail down the specific numbers. Salaries vary a lot by practice, state, and experience levels. Overall, though, these nurses are highly sought after because of their relevant experience and insight into the medical field.
Salary: $68,500 annually
15. Medical Journalist
Medical journalism is a great alternative nursing career choice for those who love writing. Medical journalists write for medical publications, keeping their readers up to date on the latest medical news and research. This career works well for those who want to contribute to the medical field but need a break from day to day nursing work. Some medical journalists may work as freelancers, while others work for universities or the medical journals themselves. Medical journalists must really know their subject because there’s virtually no room for error. That’s why nurses make excellent medical journalists. They know the medical field better than anyone else.
At the end of 2019, the average yearly pay for medical journalists was $91,154. The job is expected to grow 11% between 2016 and 2026, which is higher than the average job growth. People with nursing experience may have a competitive edge thanks to their insider knowledge and first-hand medical experience. Medical journals want to hire people who know their research fields, including the unique lingo that comes with it.
Salary: $91,000 annually
16. Nurse Case Manager
Nurse case managers work with people who need ongoing care over several years or more. They oversee the care of people with chronic health conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer. Sometimes, nurse case managers work with geriatric patients or others whose circumstances require lifelong care. These nurses get to know their patients, and they work with other nurses and healthcare providers to decide and implement the best healthcare course. They work in hospitals, private practices, and hospices. This is a great career choice for nurses with excellent bedside manner, great organizational skills, and a talent for leadership.
Becoming a nurse case worker requires education and and a lot of experience. Nurses with a BSN or higher have the best chances of getting one of the these jobs, although some may be able to get a job with an associate’s degree. In addition to a BSN, nurses can get certified specifically for case management. Certification gives nurses a competitive edge during their job searches, and it can also lead to better salaries. The average salary for nurse case managers is $69,233. This field is expected to grow because the average life expentency has also grown. As a result, it’s a good choice among alternative careers for registered nurses.
Salary: $69,000 annually
17. Nurse Lobbyist
Among alternate nursing careers, health lobbying is one of the more demanding choices. However, nurse lobbyists provide important work for communities, states, and countries. Nurse lobbyists work directly with lawmakers. They’re usually employed by government agencies, and they analyze data and health law. These lobbyists use their findings to improve healthcare law.
Healthcare lobbyists make an average of $70,000 per year, although their salaries can become much higher depending on education and experience. Those with nursing backgrounds may have a competitive edge. This career used to be fairly rare, but it has steadily grown in recent years and will likely keep growing due to changing public opinion on healthcare law.
Salary: $70,000 annually
18. Nurse Researcher
Nursing research is a great alternative nursing career, especially for those who enjoy academics. Nurse researchers usually work for universities, laboratories, and similar organizations. These are scientists who work with academia to study diseases, treatments, prevention, and other health-related topics. Their research impacts health on a big scale.
Nurse researchers have an excellent career outlook. With an average salary of $95,000, nurse researchers can live comfortable lives. The job is expected to grow 19% in the next several years, which is much higher than the average job growth.
Salary: $95,000 annually
19. Nursing Facility Administrator
Nursing facility administors, otherwise known as nursing home administrators, work in long-term care facilities. They oversee the residents’ day to day care, and they’re ready to jump into action in case of an emergency. Nursing facility administrators are in charge of a team of nurses. This job is often fast-paced, so it’s one of the best alternative careers for registered nurses who want exciting work.
Nursing facility administrators can expect to make an average of $98,500 per year. However, salaries vary widely based on location. Nursing facility administrators tend to make more money in busy urban locations than in rural ones. Because life expectancy has gotten longer in recent years, the need for nursing facility administrators has gone up, and that need probably won’t slow down any time soon.
Salary: $98,500 annually
20. Nursing Professor
Nursing professors work for universities. They teach classes and prepare future nurses for their careers. They also help develop courses, and many do research. For nurses who want to educate others, becoming a nursing professor is one of the best alternate nursing career choices.
The average nursing salary is about $102,000 per year. The job outlook for nursing professors is excellent. As a matter of fact, nursing professors are desperately needed these days. As current nurses age out of the profession, younger nurses will need to take their place, and those younger nurses need qualified professors to educate them.
Salary: $102,000 annually
21. Occupational/Industrial Health Nurse
Occupational health nurses work with businesses to create better safety conditions for their employees. Some jobs come with a greater health risk than others, and it’s up to occupational health nurses to help these employees stay as healthy as possible. Occupational health is one of the best alternate nursing careers for those who enjoy both health and business.
Occupational and industrial health nurses have great job prospects. As the population gets older and life expectancy gets longer, people are working into old age. Furthermore, manufacturing and other high-risk jobs have increased. These people and facilities need nurses to help them maintain on-the-job health. An occupational nurse can expect to make about $82,070 per year.
Salary: $82,000 annually
22. Pharmaceutical Nurse
Pharmaceutical nurses are employed by pharmaceutical companies in different capacities. Some become sales reps, others become researchers, and still others take on different roles within the pharmaceutical industry. Either way, nursing experience is a big plus within this industry. It’s a great alternative nursing career for those who feel burnt out on day to day nursing responsibilities.
This job is expected to remain stable, so nurses don’t have to worry about a job decline. Though it’s not growing in the same way that other nursing careers are growing, job prospects are still great within this career. There are several opportunities for promotion and salary increase, but the average pharmaceutical nurse will make about $73,000 per year.
Salary: $73,000 annually
23. Procurement Nurse
A procurement nurse is in charge of procuring human organs for transplant. They generally work for nonprofit organ transplant organizations. Among alternative careers for registered nurses, this is one of the most exciting options. A procurement nurse also evaluates the donor’s health conditions. Sometimes, they even assist in moving an organ from one location to another. These nurses must have excellent communication and organizational skills. They should also have a background in surgery.
The average yearly salary of a procurement nurse is $62,475. However, these nurses have plenty of opportunities to earn bonuses and salary increases. This job does have a high turnover rate, which means that open jobs remain steady. Nurses who want to take part in this career likely won’t struggle to find work.
Salary: $62,500 annually
24. Program Development
Nursing program development specialists have to take on a lot of roles. They’re in charge of developing nursing programs, orientations, and other systems. Lots of organizations employ these specialty nurses. Program developers work for nonprofit organizations, universities, nursing home facilities, and many other places. Once they develop nursing programs, they’re often in charge of teaching and leading those programs. This job requires a lot of organizational skills. It’as one of the best alternate nursing careers for those who want something a little different every day.
Nursing program developers make an average of $67,034 per year. This active market is expected to grow over the years due to longer age expectations among the population. That said, salary can vary based on your experience level and location.
Salary: $67,000 annually
25. Quality Assurance Nurse Specialist
Quality assurance nurses work in a lot of facilities. Generally, they work for hospitals, but they can also work for nursing homes and other medical facilities. Quality assurance is an excellent alternative nursing career for people who have a lot of experience and a lot of organizational skills. These nurses promote quality and good outcomes for the organizations where they work, and they make sure that these places follow through on their policies. Quality assurance nurses also communicate with patients, organizational heads, insurance companies, and case workers.
The average quality assurance nurse salary is $71,949 per year. However salaries can vary depending on a lot of factors. Experience, education, and certification are just a few of those factors. Location is also a big factor in salary. The job is expected to grow 16% over the next several years, which is a lot higher than the average job prospect growth in the US. For those who have the right skills and experience, finding a job in this field won’t be difficult.
Salary: $72,000 annually
How Do I Get a Job Outside of Nursing?
If you’re interested in other careers for nurses that still involve direct patient care, it’s a great idea to get a specialty in a specific field of nursing, such as geriatric or pediatric care. There are many career alternatives for nurses that will still allow you to do the patient care work you love. These alternative careers to nursing can allow you to work in a supervisory or administrative role in a health care facility. When you’re looking for alternative careers to nursing, you’ll want to consider the schedule of the facility, as well as how the salary of the career alternatives for nursing compares to your nursing job.
There are many alternative career options for nurses. When you’re considering making moves toward alternative career options for nurses, it may be necessary to earn an additional degree. Talk with your school’s advisor about the career alternatives for nurses that make the most sense for your career goals and background.
Can I Be a Nurse Without Doing Direct Care?
With a nursing degree, you’ll have many options for career paths. There are many nursing jobs not at bedside care, and many of these jobs are in healthcare administration. Healthcare organizations know that nurses are experts at healthcare management, and many RN alternative jobs are in this field. Whether you’re just starting your nursing career, or if you’ve been providing direct care for years and are ready for a change, many alternative nursing jobs can help you meet your career goals.
It can be a good idea to start the search for alternative nursing jobs within your organization. Let your supervisor know that you’re interested in nursing jobs not at bedside. You’ll need to decide if you’re interested in an RN alternative job that still provides some patient care (such as a school nurse) or an RN alternative job that does not provide patient care (such as a nurse educator or a researcher for a government organization).
Does a Nursing Degree Have Value Outside of Nursing?
If you’re earning your nursing degree, you may be wondering, “what can I do with a BSN besides nursing?” The good news: when you’re asking yourself what other jobs you can do with a nursing degree, you have many options. There’s nothing wrong with asking yourself, “what can I do with a nursing degree besides nursing?” Perhaps you’re finding the hours of working as a nurse challenging, or you don’t enjoy patient care as much as you’d hoped. Many people who are curious about what other jobs you can do with a nursing degree decide to go into the field of nurse education, using their experience and expertise to educate future nurses.
Some nurses who wonder, “what can I do with a BSN besides nursing?” find that they enjoy working in healthcare administration. Many healthcare administrators have nursing degrees (often in addition to public health or health administration degrees). If you’re wondering what to do with nursing degree besides nursing, it’s a good idea to talk to your academic advisor. They can help you answer the question of, “what can I do with a BSN degree besides nursing?” while considering your interests. They can also recommend classes you can take now to help you in the future if you’re interested in what to do with nursing degree besides nursing.
If you’re curious about, “what can I do with a BSN degree besides nursing?” you’re not alone. Many professionals earn their nursing degree, then find themselves wondering, “what can I do with a nursing degree besides nursing?” Your nursing skills can take you far in the professional world.