The most common career change for nurses are administrative services managers, IT consultants, nurse case managers and nutritionists. Why would a nurse want to change career, especially in cases when it has been a lifelong dream? If adulthood has taught me anything, it taught me that dreams are different from reality.
The media sometimes present a career in healthcare as quite rewarding, but the truth is that it can be quite draining. This career comes with long hours and stress, which can take a toll on your mental health.
Is It Time for a Nursing Career Change?
If you answer this question within 5 seconds, then you are ready for a career change. Frankly, I do not find this the least surprising. Research shows that 34% of nurses nationwide intend to quit their jobs or change careers. Further research shows that the reasons for this include feeling inadequate pay, burnout, and a high-stress environment.
If you feel that your nursing career is not providing you with the ideal work-life balance you crave, then it is time to consider a career change. Well, the good news is that if you want to change your nursing career, there are endless possibilities for you.
How to transition from nursing into another career
If the workplace is unhealthy, and you feel you are due for a career change, by all means, go for it! But you should have it at the back of your mind that transitioning from one career to another requires some element of planning.
Below are practical steps to change from a nursing career:
1. Make a list of alternative careers you are interested in
Now is the time to ask yourself what exactly you want career-wise. This is an internal conflict that might take you time to come to a comfortable solution. In my post on internal conflict, I talked about how to manage and deal with internal conflict.
In the post, we will outline some suitable career changes for nurses. It is okay if none of the careers mentioned resonates with you. What is important is that you transition successfully into a career that is rewarding for you.
Your skills, interests, and passions will steer you in the proper route. Research the positions you’re interested in to learn about the wage range, career growth prospects, working conditions, and the credentials needed to get started.
2. Assess your skills objectively
The hard truth is that it will be quite difficult to transition from a nursing to a legal career. Besides the difference in educational requirements, both careers require different skill sets.
It is advisable you transition to a career that requires similar skill sets. This is where objectivity comes in. Some major skills a nurse should have include empathic skills, communication abilities, attention to detail, and leadership skills. You can acquire additional skills like writing, public speaking, or IT skills. Making a list of these skills can help you narrow down some of the best job alternatives to nursing.
3. Prepare for financial changes
Changing to another career will have a drastic impact on your finances. For instance, you may need to enroll in a program to improve your existing skills or acquire new skills. Again, it may also take some time for you to find a new career.
Thus, it is advisable to save up for these uncertainties. Change is never easy, but you can surmount any financial difficulties with the right plan.
4. Acquire or improve on existing skills
More often than not, your nursing degree will not be sufficient to launch you into your new job. You might need to obtain a specific certification or degree or improve existing skills. Before enrolling, research the programs that might provide you with the required information and skills.
The good news is that online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Edx can help you acquire new skills or improve existing ones at your convenience.
5. Start job hunting
This is probably the most difficult stage in your transition from a nursing career. After obtaining the necessary certifications, you must update your CV to showcase the additional skills acquired.
Job hunting involves networking with individuals in the desired field you wish to transition to and updating your LinkedIn profile.
Do not be deterred by one or two rejection emails. Stay optimistic, and you will surely land the career you wish to change to!
20 Most common career changes for nurses
If you feel it is time to change your nursing career, it most certainly is. As explained above, it is best if you transition into a career that requires similar skill sets
Here are the 15 most common career changes for nursing
Average annual salary: $88,090
Administrative services managers plan and direct activities for the facility for which they work, with an emphasis on operations, maintenance, and project oversight.
If you have a flair for administrative roles, you can easily transition from nursing to administrative service management.
To make yourself more competitive in this career, you can obtain a master’s in health administration. You may obtain your MHA online while working and studying what you need to know to advance in administration.
The job outlook for administrative services managers is positive, with a growth rate of 7% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 31,900 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
2. Legal nurse consultant
Average annual salary: $81,428
Legal nurse consultants serve as a link between healthcare practitioners and attorneys, providing legal and healthcare expertise. They often work for insurance companies, law firms, or government offices. A legal nurse consultant’s employment may include drafting legal documents, interpreting clinical charts, negotiating with insurance companies, and even testifying as an expert witness in medical negligence cases during a trial.
If you have always fancied the legal profession, this should be a smooth transition for you as a nurse. In addition to the clinical skills you must have garnered as a nurse, you must possess strong communication skills to break into this area.
While most legal nurse consultant positions provide on-the-job training, obtaining a Legal Nurse Consultant credential can help you stand out.
The job outlook for legal nurse consultants is positive, with a growth rate of 5% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 16,000 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
3. Information technology (IT) consultant
Average annual salary: $81,293
An information technology consultant helps businesses create, operate, and debug their IT systems. IT specialists even assist hospital personnel with EMR challenges.
Are you thinking of changing from a nursing career to IT? Well, good for you! If you are looking for a career that is less physically demanding, then transitioning to tech is definitely the right way to go. A career in tech gives you exceptional benefits, growth opportunities, and great compensation.
To transition successfully into tech, some of your skills as a nurse might prove useful, such as communication, Critical thinking & problem-solving skills. It is also imperative that you acquire additional tech skills like expansive knowledge of Network Infrastructure, SQL Servers, and Linux.
You can also build your skillsets via online courses and internships. There are various online learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and EDx that you can utilize to sharpen your skills. More so, top technology firms like HP, BT, and Goldman Sachs provide six-month or summer technology internships. This is an excellent method to expand your network, develop your talents, and gain insight into the industry.
The job outlook for information technology consultants is positive, with a growth rate of 35% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 19,500 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
4. Nurse case manager
Average annual salary: $75,905.
Nurse case managers are employed in a hospital or nursing home to expedite discharge and assess patients’ needs both during and after their hospitalization.
If you still want to be in the healthcare sector, this is a wonderful alternative for you. The skills acquired as a nurse, such as attentive listening, clinical, and communication skills, are easily transferable in a nurse case management career.
To boost your chances of landing a high-paying job, it is advisable that you obtain a certification in nursing case management.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 28% increase in job growth for nurse case managers. It will provide 56,600 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
Average annual salary: $74,640
Nutritionists counsel customers and the broader public on the fundamentals of good eating. The bulk of these employees work in hospitals, government agencies, or outpatient healthcare facilities, with some earning more than others.
Nurses and nutritionists have similar skills requirements like good communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. In addition, nurses who wish to transition to nutrition must possess knowledge of biological processes related to proteins, vitamins, fats, and other nutrients.
Nutritionists often require a bachelor’s or higher degree in dietetics, food science, nutrition, or a related discipline, and many pursue a further degree. Keeping this in mind, registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree may be able to enter this sector by returning to school to get an Applied Clinical Nutrition (ACN) accreditation or an online Master’s in Nutrition.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 7% increase in job growth for nutritionists. It will provide 5,600 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
6. Business analyst
Average annual salary: $63,980.
A business analyst collaborates with a company’s management team to evaluate data and comprehend problems and their core causes. They also devise methods to improve efficiency and assist in the development of reporting tools. They also make certain that the company’s policies and processes comply with state and federal standards.
If you enjoy conducting research and working with data, a business analyst position might be ideal for you. The on-the-ground knowledge of a nurse may be especially valuable for analyst jobs in the healthcare business, whether at a hospital, insurance firm, or health tech startup.
A bachelor’s degree in nursing is frequently adequate for an entry-level business analyst position, but you may need to seek extra schooling in business administration, economics, or finance to be promoted to higher positions. So, you may want to include a master’s in a finance-related field in the foreseeable future.
The job outlook for business analysts is positive, with a growth rate of 11% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 101,900 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
7. Healthcare lobbyist
Average annual salary: $63,757
A lobbyist works to influence the laws that are created, approved, and implemented.
If you have always had a flair for impacting positive changes in your society, this might be a good career to transition into. This position necessitates excellent writing and verbal communication skills, as well as a working understanding of politics, governance, and lawmaking.
To excel in this career, you must have intimate knowledge of the ways in which the healthcare system needs improvement. You may, for example, help raise awareness about the necessity of safe staffing or unionization initiatives.
To pursue a professional lobbying position, you must either attend law school or get a master’s degree in a field such as healthcare administration, public policy, or political science.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 6% increase in job growth for health lobbyists. It will provide 600 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
8. Healthcare Recruiter
Average annual salary: $56,984
Healthcare recruiters assist firms in finding competent candidates and assessing the strengths and shortcomings of applications for various healthcare roles.
As one might imagine, some of the most popular job moves for nurses are around the healthcare industry. Many nurses, for example, go on to work as healthcare recruiters. Often, nurses have spent years cultivating relationships with so many other healthcare professionals that assisting in the recruitment of them for a new job that would help them advance their careers is a natural match.
You can easily obtain a masters in a field such as human resources, business administration, healthcare administration, communications, or economics. Alternatively, a Certified Physician Recruiter or Certified Medical Recruiter (CMR) will demonstrate that you have the knowledge and expertise in the medical recruitment field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an 8% increase in job growth for healthcare recruiters. It will provide 81,900 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
9. School counselor
Average annual salary: $52,424
School counselors play an important role in making sure that students have the resources and assistance they need to be successful. School counselors work with students of all ages—helping them adjust to a new academic setting, select classes, navigate personal and social problems, and choose and pursue post-secondary education—and they often interact with parents and guardians as well.
This might be a great non-healthcare job idea for you if you love working with kids and have strong leadership, advocacy, and communication skills,
To be a school counselor, you might need to earn a master’s degree, complete a postgraduate supervised internship in a school, and meet your state’s licensure requirements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 10% increase in job growth for school counselors. It will provide 32,000 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
Average annual salary: $52,233
Realtors provide guidance and assist sellers and buyers in marketing and purchasing property for the right price under the best terms.
Does it seem like a realtor and a nursing career are entirely different? Well, not necessarily. Advocating for patients is an integral part of a nursing career, which is easily transferable to a career in real estate. Just like nurses, realtors must possess good communication and organizing abilities, as well as the ability to interact with diverse personalities.
To become a realtor, you must first complete a pre-license training program (which may include tens of hours of classroom or online instruction, depending on the state) and pass a licensure test.
The job outlook for realtors is positive, with a growth rate of 5% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 54,800 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
11. Social worker
Average annual salary: $50,499
A social worker assists families and individuals in a variety of settings, such as a hospital, a health department, another government organization, or a rehabilitation institution. In this capacity, they locate homes, resources, and other services for their customers.
Transitioning from a nursing career to a social worker should be relatively easy since you already have experience in assisting and teaching patients, as well as providing them with the tools they require when they are released. In addition, you will need to be respectful and responsive to cultural beliefs and practices since you are dealing with people from diverse backgrounds.
Online learning platforms like Coursera, caredemy.co.uk, and Udemy offer good inline social work courses. You may also need a master’s degree in social work and a license to practice as a social worker in some states.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 9% increase in job growth for Social workers. It will provide 74,700 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
12. Grant writer
Average annual salary: $49,768.
Grant writers have a great deal of responsibility in creating documents that help organizations or government agencies obtain funds. They research, write, and edit grant applications and reports for the groups they represent, which might be a health agency, a theatrical company, or another nonprofit.
If you’re a nurse who enjoys research, has good organizing and writing abilities, and is dedicated to helping others and serving the community, grant writing might be the right career for you.
A grant writing certification course can help you prepare for this profession. You can volunteer for local NGOs to develop your portfolio and eventually secure paid jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 6% increase in job growth for grant writers. It will provide 5,400 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
13. Health educator
Average annual salary: $47,863.
Health educators teach patients about drugs, illness processes, and test results. They also educate patients on breathing methods, safe ambulation, breaking old habits, and developing new ones.
This is a perfect alternative career for you if you have always had a flair for teaching and imparting knowledge. To get started as a health educator, it is advisable to teach one course or clinical group part-time to sharpen your teaching skills.
A master’s degree or postmaster’s certificate in nursing education in addition to your Bachelor’s degree in nursing will surely land you a competitive role. Alternatively, you can earn a Health Education Specialist certification online. Nurses interested in working in this profession can apply to work for an infection prevention team at a hospital, a nonprofit health organization, or a public school.
The job outlook for health educators is positive, with a growth rate of 12% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 16,000 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
14. Relocation Specialist
Average annual salary: $46,602
Relocation specialists coordinate all of the details to assist individuals in relocating to a new area. They may assist with house sales and purchases, hiring packers and movers, sorting out shipping issues, and even setting up utilities. A relocation expert often works in a company’s HR department to assist workers with relocating for their employment.
The crux of the nursing profession lies in assisting patients, and you can easily transfer these skills to assisting your client relocate with no hassle.
To demonstrate your expertise, you may even become a Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist! This type of accreditation distinguishes you as an expert in this field.
The job outlook for relocation specialists is positive, with a growth rate of 5% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 54,800 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
15. Medical Billing/Coding Specialist
Average annual salary: $46,660
Medical billing/coding specialists ensure that insurance companies pay healthcare providers as soon as feasible. Medical billers examine a doctor’s data, create bills, and submit them to the insurance company. Medical billing professionals are employed by hospitals, clinics, and billing corporations.
Nurses are an excellent match for this career path because of their vast clinical expertise and soft skills.
You may need to first obtain a medical billing and coding certificate, which can take four to fifteen months.
The job outlook for medical billing/coding specialists is positive, with a growth rate of 7% over the next ten years. BLS projects it will produce 14,900 job opportunities across the United States from 2021 to 2031.
Other common career changes for nurse
- Case Manager
- Health Journalist
- Medical Device Sales
- Public Health Nurses
- Occupational Health Nursing
Experiencing Burnout as a Nurse?
Nursing may be a very fulfilling career, but it can become harmful when job stress interferes with your personal life. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is caused by continuous professional stress and appears as mental and emotional tiredness, detachment from the job, and decreased efficiency.
The following are some of the most common signs of burnout:
If you recognize these symptoms, emphasize self-care methods in your daily routine, such as meditating, going for walks outside, or counseling. Burnout and depression are frequently related to one another, according to the International Journal of Nursing Studies. Depression, anxiety, and emotional fatigue may make life outside of work more challenging.
Conclusion: Most Common Career Change For Nurses
Nursing is a wonderful job, but it can also be challenging. If you’re considering some common career changes for nurses, you might want to start by taking a course to develop new skills.