What are the most common career changes for nurses?

If living life in scrubs with a stethoscope around your neck isn’t all you thought it would be, don’t worry, you can still put your knowledge and nursing education to good use. If you are considering making a career change, here are some great options to consider.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists still get to work with people who are suffering from injuries or illnesses. They help them on their road to recovery. Not all physical therapists work in hospitals; some can work in private clinics. Working in a private clinic generally comes with the added benefit of a higher salary than working in a hospital. You might need to complete some additional certifications to become a physical therapist, but your nursing skills will be transferable and helpful as you work directly with patients.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary for physical therapists is roughly $90,000 per year, with the top 10% making over $124,000!

Clinical Social Worker

People in this field work on assessing diagnoses, treatment options, mental illness issues, and behavioral disturbances. You will need to be licensed and certified by the state in which you practice, but you will have a lot of knowledge and first-hand experience with a nursing background. Having already studied nursing will help you to understand patient challenges better.  

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The BLS states that the average national salary for social workers is around $50,000 per year, with the top 10% earning over $82,000 per year.

Medical & Pharmaceutical Sales

With nursing experience comes knowledge about pharmaceutical products and different medicines used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. This can help if you are interested in pursuing a new career in the medical and pharmaceutical sales field. You will be able to better communicate with other healthcare professionals and doctors that you will be presenting your products to. This should, in turn, lead to better sales numbers in comparison to others without this experience.

This profession can come with a nice salary; the national average has been listed around $93,000 per year, with the top 10% earning over $158,000.


If you love food and have a passion for health, this might be a great match. While you will need to have a bachelor’s degree and potentially internship experience (if your nursing experience is not sufficient), this is a great career choice where you can still work with individuals on their health.

This job gives patients some form of “preventative maintenance” for their body, and by helping them make healthier eating choices, could prevent other health complications later on.

Data from the BLS show that the average national salary is around $61,000, with the top 10% earning over $84,000 per year.

Medical Writer

Do you have an eye for detail and a passion for research? Medical writing might be just the right fit for you! In this field, you will be responsible for detailing, documenting, and sharing news and research to help save lives. You’ll need to be knowledgeable in both writing and science to be successful in this field. You’ll be working with doctors, scientists, and other experts and need to be able to communicate effectively. This job is increasingly in demand, so there are a lot of opportunities for a career change.

The average national salary lands around $73,000, with the top 10% in this field earning more than $117,000 per year!     


Having a nursing degree opens the door to a world of opportunities both inside and outside of a doctor’s office. It’s up to you to see where your passion lies and begin on your new journey. Good luck and happy job hunting!