Common Career Changes for Nurses

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Common career changes for nurses

Are you a nurse looking to change careers? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to look at some of the most common career changes nurses make when looking to change things up. We’ll explore options, including other careers in the healthcare industry to making a wholesale change to a different industry altogether.

Rest assured you’re not alone in looking for a new career. After years of a pandemic, many nurses have decided it’s time to try something new. The reasons for this change are vast but include feeling feel burnt out after working long hours on the job. Others may feel like they want to use their skills in a different setting. And still, others may simply be ready for a new challenge.

Whatever the reason, changing careers is a big decision. It’s important to do your research and explore all your options before making a final decision.

The good news… there are a lot of options ranging from an easy shift within the industry that requires little schooling, to changes that will require a new degree or certificate and a decent amount of training.

Whatever your circumstance, rest assured that changing your career from nursing to something else is possible. If you think you’re quality of life would increase by making a switch, then get started making it happen.

Become a manager

One of the most common career changes for nurses is to move into management or administration. This can be a great option for nurses who want to use their leadership skills in a new way. There are many management and administration programs available, both online and offline, and healthcare facilities across the spectrum need good management and admin staff.

Teach nursing to others

Another popular option for nurses who want to change careers is to move into teaching. This can be a great way to use your knowledge and experience to help others learn about the field of nursing. There are many different types of nursing education programs available, and you can find one that fits your interests and goals.

Other healthcare careers to consider

Certified nurse assistant

A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They also take vital signs and report any changes to the nurses. CNAs typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. The median salary for a CNA is $28,530.

Home health aide

A home health aide helps patients with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They also provide light housekeeping and transportation services. Home health aides typically work in patients’ homes, but they may also work in hospices, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. The median salary for a home health aide is $24,060.

Medical assistant

A medical assistant performs administrative and clinical tasks in a healthcare setting. They may take vital signs, prepare patients for exams, and schedule appointments. Medical assistants typically work in doctors’ offices, clinics, or hospitals. The median salary for a medical assistant is $34,800.

Dental assistant

A dental assistant helps the dentist with procedures such as teeth cleaning, X-rays, and fillings. They also schedule appointments and take payments from patients. Dental assistants typically work in dental offices. The median salary for a dental assistant is $37,770.


A phlebotomist draws blood from patients for tests, transfusions, or research studies. They may also take vital signs and collect other specimens such as urine samples. Phlebotomists typically work in hospitals, blood banks, or clinics. The median salary for a phlebotomist is $33,670.

Veterinary technician

A veterinary technician assists veterinarians with animal care and treatment. They may take X-rays, administer vaccines, and assist with surgery. Veterinary technicians typically work in veterinary offices, clinics, or hospitals. The median salary, according to Glassdoor, for a veterinary technician is $41,978.

Radiologic technologist

A radiologic technologist performs diagnostic imaging procedures such as X-rays and MRIs. They may also prepare patients for exams and operate equipment. Radiologic technologists typically work in hospitals, outpatient centers, or diagnostic imaging centers. The median salary for a radiologic technologist is $60,070.


A sonographer uses ultrasound technology to create images of the inside of the body. They may also provide patient education and support. Sonographers typically work in hospitals, outpatient centers, or diagnostic imaging centers. The median salary for a sonographer is $69,650.

Physical therapist

A physical therapist helps patients regain movement and function after an injury or illness. They may also help prevent injuries and manage pain. Physical therapists typically work in hospitals, clinics, or outpatient centers. The median salary for a physical therapist is $84,020.

Occupational therapist

An occupational therapist helps patients with disabilities regain independence. They may also help prevent injuries and improve workplace safety. Occupational therapists typically work in hospitals, clinics, or outpatient centers. The median salary for an occupational therapist is $65,129, according to Payscale.


A chiropractor diagnoses and treats problems with the musculoskeletal system. They may also prescribe medication or perform physical therapy. Chiropractors typically work in private practices, hospitals, or clinics. The median salary for a chiropractor is $68,640.

Pharmacy technician

A pharmacy technician helps pharmacists dispense prescription medication. They may also perform administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and taking inventory. Pharmacy technicians typically work in pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics. The median salary for a pharmacy technician is $32,700.

Medical records technician

A medical records technician processes and maintains medical records. They may also code diagnostic information for insurance purposes. Medical records technicians typically work in hospitals, clinics, or physicians’ offices. The median salary for a medical records technician is $37,110.

Registered dietitian

A registered dietician provides nutrition counseling and education. They may also develop meal plans and oversee food service operations. Registered dietitians typically work in hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities. The median salary for a registered dietitian is $58,920.

Respiratory therapist

A respiratory therapist provides breathing treatments and other care to patients with respiratory problems. They may also provide emergency care to patients with heart and lung problems. Respiratory therapists typically work in hospitals, clinics, or home healthcare settings. The median salary for a respiratory therapist is $60,280.

Exercise physiologist

An exercise physiologist develops and implements exercise programs. They may also conduct research on the effects of exercise on health. Exercise physiologists typically work in hospitals, clinics, or fitness centers. The median salary for an exercise physiologist is $49,170.

Recreational therapist

A recreational therapist uses leisure activities to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of patients. They may also provide community outreach and education. Recreational therapists typically work in hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes. The median salary for a recreational therapist is $47,860.

Social worker

A social worker helps people cope with the challenges of daily life. They may also provide counseling and support to families in crisis. Social workers typically work in hospitals, clinics, or social service agencies. The median salary for a social worker is $44,200.

Use transferable skills

Nurses have a wide range of transferable skills that can be applied to many different careers. And don’t stop at just the medical skills you’ve gained while working as a nurse. There are so many others that a nurse uses on a daily basis, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork.

Of course, nurses also have a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology, which can be helpful in transferring to other careers in medicine, such as physical therapy or chiropractic.

Consider going back to school

There are several options for nurses who want to change careers, but if you want out of the healthcare field altogether, then you’ll likely need to go back to school. The good news is there are all sorts of programs you can pursue, from two-year associate’s degrees to four-year bachelor’s degrees. There are also shorter-term programs like cybersecurity and data science bootcamps to help you enter the IT field.

Some popular career change options for nurses include becoming a teacher, starting a business, or trying your hand at writing/blogging. If you’re interested in working with children, you could become a kindergarten or elementary school teacher. Or, if you want to be your own boss, you could start your own business in healthcare consulting or open a home healthcare agency. And if you’re good with words, you could use your writing skills to become a freelance healthcare journalist or blogger.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I change careers from nursing?

Really only you can answer this question, but don’t take the decision lightly. You’ve likely gone through a lot of training to become a nurse, and the country needs nurses now more than ever. So first, consider finding another employer, or another type of facility if you’re not happy. One of the great things about nursing is the demand in so many different healthcare settings.

That said, if you don’t think a job switch will help, then it’s time to move on.

Am I too old to change careers?

NO! Anyone can change careers at any age. People are working until later in life these days, giving them more time to change careers successfully.

Even though you can most likely make a shift, be mindful of your financial obligations and family needs.

If you can’t make the shift without going into debt, or won’t be able to make bill payments, then you need to reconsider. Most likely, what you need to do is find a training program that will allow you to get new skills while maintaining your current job. That way, you can make the change with minimal impact on your income.

The bottom line

Changing careers from nursing is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. If you’re a nurse and you’re thinking about making a change, use this as an opportunity to explore your options and find a career that’s a better fit for you. There are plenty of great careers out there for nurses, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

If you give something new a shot and it doesn’t work out, then you can always re-enter the nursing field. It’s a great profession with a lot of job security, and you’ll always be in demand. So get out there and find the career that’s right for you!


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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