As a nurse, you dedicate a lot of time to caring for others. While it can be a rewarding path, burnout among nurses is high. Under the strain of the pandemic, a rush of nurses left the profession. A survey by the NCSBN found that almost one-fifth of registered nurses intend to leave by 2027.

So career changes for nurses are increasing.

Many healthcare professionals are leaving hospitals, doctor’s offices, and long-term care. But when it’s time to move on to the next challenge, how can you successfully make the career change from nursing?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Most common career changes for nurses.
  • How to make a career transition away from nursing.

Most common nursing skills you can use in a career change

A degree and career in nursing teaches you a specific set of hard skills—technical skills that make it possible to do your job. Some of the most common hard skills you develop throughout your nursing career include:

  • Patient assessment
  • Medication management
  • Patient safety and infection control
  • Electronic medical records (EMR) and charting
  • Basic life support

It can be challenging to imagine how these skills can help you outside nursing. However, the hard skills you gained through training also taught you soft skills, or transferable skills, that follow you from job to job. Soft skills can include:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Collaboration
  • Attention to detail
an infographic showing the difference between hard skills and soft skills

What are the most common career changes for nurses?

There are a range of career trajectories that value your unique skill set that aren’t clinical roles, such as:

  • Healthcare recruiter
  • Diabetes specialist
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Healthcare or medical writer
  • Legal nurse consultant
  • Nurse manager
  • Case manager
  • Hospital quality improvement coordinator

If you’re not sure what your next career move should be, use Jobscan’s Career Change tool to generate ideas based on your resume. Need an up-to-date resume? Use the free Resume Builder to quickly create a nursing resume with your relevant skills and experience to start your next career search.

Career after nursing: healthcare recruiter

Healthcare requires top talent. As a nurse, you know what skills and qualifications candidates need to succeed. With a shortage of healthcare workers, recruiters who understand the ins and outs of the system can better select quality talent. Healthcare recruiters can vet candidates for hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.

As a healthcare recruiter, you’re responsible for:

  • Crafting job postings to attract the best candidates.
  • Posting the job listing on industry-specific job search sites.
  • Screening and interviewing potential candidates.
  • Verifying qualifications and credentials.

Depending on your skills and experience, your nursing background and upskilling can be enough to make a career change from nursing to healthcare recruiter. However, organizations may require an advanced degree. This could be a Master of Health Administration, a health management degree, or education in public health.

Skills you’ll need to become a healthcare recruiter include:

  • Organizational skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Industry knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Customer service
  • Database management

The average salary range for healthcare recruiters is between $58,000 and $88,000, with a median salary of $71,000.

Career after nursing: diabetes specialist

If you still want to stay in patient care but want to specialize, you can become a secondary provider and move away from frontline care. In 2021, almost 39 million Americans (over 11% of the population) had diabetes. Every year, doctors diagnose roughly 1.2 million Americans with diabetes. Diabetes specialists are increasingly critical to public health. So, it’s a stable career change for nurses.

The scope of a diabetes specialist is broad, and you can focus on anything from:

  • Patient education
  • Nutrition
  • Medication management

Many specialists are nurse practitioners or have a master’s of science in nursing, but it’s not always necessary depending on what type of patient care you want to provide. The increasing demand for nurse practitioners makes it among the fastest-growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Skills you need to become a diabetes specialist include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Broad knowledge base
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Endocrinology knowledge
  • Diagnostic ability

The average salary range for a diabetes specialist is between $57,000 and $98,500, with a median salary of $77,750.

Career after nursing: pharmaceutical sales representative

As a nurse, you work with many prescription drugs. You understand doses, interactions, and on-label and off-label uses. You can use that specialized knowledge to change careers from nursing to pharmaceutical sales.

A pharmaceutical sales representative promotes and sells prescription drugs and medical products to healthcare professionals, such as doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals. As a representative, you act as a liaison between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers. You provide information about the benefits, uses, and potential side effects of the products you represent.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives often work on commission and are responsible for the following:

  • Building relationships with healthcare professionals.
  • Meeting sales targets.
  • Staying up-to-date on industry trends and product knowledge.

Moving to pharmaceutical sales can be exciting. You often get to travel and build relationships with other medical professionals. You also get to work in a slower environment. Many of your nursing skills can transfer to the pharmaceutical industry. Some of the most critical skills for a sales representative include:

  • Product knowledge
  • Client relationships
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication
  • Goal and target-driven

The average salary range for a pharmaceutical sales representative is between $44,000 and $109,500, with a median salary of $76,750.

Career after nursing: healthcare or medical writer

Becoming a healthcare or medical writer can be a good choice if you want to move away from the clinical setting and have a desk job with standard hours. Using your creativity, healthcare and medical writers create written content related to the healthcare and medical field.

Since you are knowledgeable about medical terminology, research, and scientific concepts, you can use your expertise to create clear, accurate, and engaging content for various purposes. Healthcare and medical writers may work on projects such as:

  • Writing patient education materials.
  • Developing content for medical websites or blogs.
  • Creating scientific articles or research papers.
  • Producing marketing materials for pharmaceutical companies or healthcare organizations.
  • Writing regulatory information documents.

The job aims to communicate complex medical information in a way that is accessible to their target audience. This audience may include patients, healthcare professionals, or the general public. Your skills as a nurse can translate to a successful career in writing, and the most important skills you need include:

  • Medical knowledge
  • Technical guidelines
  • Statistics interpretation and presentation
  • Research skills
  • Written communication

The average salary range for a medical writer is between $70,000 and $116,500, with a median salary of $93,250.

Discover your next career using Jobscan’s Career Change tool. Get personalized suggestions based on your resume and make your next career move.

A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse (RN) who provides expertise and consultation services to attorneys, insurance companies, and other organizations involved in legal cases. As a consultant, you bridge the gap between healthcare and the legal system.

You use your medical knowledge to analyze medical records. You find issues of negligence or malpractice. You provide expert opinions on medical matters. Legal nurse consultants may assist in a variety of cases, including:

  • Personal injury claims
  • Medical malpractice suits
  • Workers’ compensation claims

Becoming a nurse consultant lets you use your hard-earned nursing skills outside the clinic. Your job is to help attorneys understand complex medical information and provide valuable insights into the medical aspects of a case, securing favorable outcomes for clients.

Nursing hard skills and soft skills are essential to the role, and some of the most important include:

  • Medical records interpretation
  • Analytical skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Knowledge of medical standards of care
  • Communication skills

The average salary range for a legal nurse consultant is between $65,000 and $122,000, with a median salary of $93,500.

Career after nursing: nurse manager

If you want to advance into a leadership role within nursing, becoming a nurse manager is the next step. As a nurse manager, you’re an RN who oversees the operations and management of a nursing department or unit within a healthcare facility. Nurse managers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the nursing staff provides high-quality patient care.
  • Managing the budget and resources of the department.
  • Coordinating schedules and staffing.
  • Maintaining compliance with regulations and policies.

Nurse managers also play a crucial role in fostering a positive work environment. They support their staff’s professional development and work with other departments to coordinate care. Alongside your nursing hard skills, nurse managers need a range of soft skills to succeed, including:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Mentoring
  • Decision-making
  • Time management
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership skills

The average salary range for a nurse manager is between $79,500 and $116,000, with a median salary of $97,750.

Career after nursing: case manager

Working in a fast-paced emergency room or with a rotating list of patients you rarely see again can be draining for many nurses. For nurses who love their job but want to provide specialized care, becoming a case manager can be a fulfilling career move.

A nurse case manager is an RN who specializes in coordinating the care of patients, particularly those with complex medical conditions or who need ongoing care. You work with patients, their families, and healthcare providers to develop and put in place a comprehensive care plan that meets the patient’s needs. Nurse case managers:

  • Assess patient’s medical needs.
  • Arrange for necessary treatments and services.
  • Track progress.
  • Provide education and support to patients and their families.
  • Advocate for the patient within the healthcare system.

As a nurse case manager, you aim to ensure that patients receive high-quality care that is coordinated and efficient, ultimately improving outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. The skills you need to transition from nursing to a case manager include:

  • Advocacy skills
  • Care coordination
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Clinical skills
  • Time management

The salary range for a case manager is between $73,500 and $119,500, with a median salary of $96,500.

Career after nursing: forensic nurse

When you want to use your RN education and skills in a different field, explore forensic nursing. A forensic nurse is an RN who specializes in providing care to patients who have experienced violence, abuse, or trauma. They often work with law enforcement and legal professionals to collect and preserve evidence for criminal investigations.

Forensic nurses may:

  • Perform medical examinations.
  • Document injuries.
  • Collect samples for forensic testing.
  • Provide support and counseling to victims.
  • Testify in court as expert witnesses.

As a forensic nurse, you can play a key role in healthcare. You ensure victims get care and help gather evidence for legal proceedings. You may need an extra board certification from the International Association of Forensic Nurses. This depends on whether you plan to stay in a hospital, work in a coroner’s office, or consult on investigations.

Key skills you need to be a forensic nurse include:

  • Compassion and empathy
  • Patient advocacy
  • Communication skills
  • Evidence collection
  • Attention to detail
  • Confidentiality
  • Understanding of law enforcement and the legal system

The average salary range for a forensic nurse is between $48,000 and $78,500, with a median salary of $63,250.

Career after nursing: hospital quality improvement coordinator

For a career change to an administrative role, becoming a hospital quality improvement coordinator is a good use of your skills. A hospital quality improvement coordinator oversees and carries out initiatives. These initiatives aim to improve the quality of care and services in a hospital.

As a hospital quality coordinator, you work closely with many departments and stakeholders. You to find areas for improvement, create strategies, and track progress toward quality goals. With a background in nursing, you have direct experience working at the ground level of medical organizations. That experience helps you determine what makes for an efficient and inefficient system.

Some responsibilities may include:

  • Analyzing data and performance metrics.
  • Identifying trends or patterns that may indicate areas for improvement.
  • Developing and implementing quality improvement plans.
  • Coordinating training and education programs for staff members.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and guidelines.

The goal of a hospital quality improvement coordinator is to improve patient outcomes, safety, and satisfaction. They do this by promoting a culture of continuous quality improvement within the hospital. Essential skills you need to change your career to this role include:

  • Knowledge of clinical quality
  • Understanding of compliance
  • Detail-oriented
  • Leadership skills
  • Quality management
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills

The average salary range for a hospital quality improvement coordinator is between $78,000 and $95,500, with a median salary of $86,750.

How to make a career change as a nurse

Making a career change, however drastic, is easier said than done. If you need help identifying the next move, Jobscan’s Career Change tool can help you narrow down the best potential careers based on your resume. Just scan your resume, and it will generate a list of possible career paths that match your skill set.

Below, you can see the list of careers to consider. The list is based on an uploaded nursing resume.

screenshot of the output from the career change tool with a list of new careers to consider outside nursing

You can interact with the list. You can see the detailed match report to see which skills align with these roles and which skills you need to include on your resume to stand out.

The career change report also shows you a breakdown of your resume skills. It lets you visualize them. In the following image, you can identify the critical skills already on the resume.

screenshot of the career change tool output showing the skills included in the resume

Once you’ve made a resume for your new career, tailor it to the job’s description. Use Jobscan’s resume scanner to check that it has the skills and keywords in the job description.


What can you do with a nursing degree besides nursing?

With a nursing degree, many career paths and opportunities exist beyond traditional nursing roles. Some options to consider include:

Healthcare recruiter
Diabetes specialist
Pharmaceutical sales representative
Healthcare or medical writer
Legal nurse consultant
Nurse manager
Case manager
Hospital quality improvement coordinator

These are a few examples of the diverse career options available with a nursing degree. Exploring your interests and determining which path aligns best with your skills, passions, and goals is important.

What is the best major to switch to from nursing?

Depending on your interests and career goals, there are many possible majors to switch to from nursing. Some popular options include:

Health Administration: This major focuses on the management and administration of healthcare organizations, preparing you for leadership roles in healthcare settings.

Public Health: With a major in public health, you can work on improving the health of communities through research, education, and policy development.

Healthcare Informatics: This field combines healthcare and information technology, focusing on managing and analyzing healthcare data to improve patient care and outcomes.

Nutrition Science: If you’re interested in the relationship between food and health, a major in nutrition science can lead to a career as a dietitian or nutritionist.

Psychology: A psychology major can be a good fit if you’re interested in understanding human behavior and working with individuals in a healthcare or counseling setting.

Social Work: This major prepares you for a career helping individuals and families overcome challenges and access necessary resources.

Your best major will depend on your interests, skills, and career goals. Speaking with an academic advisor or career counselor for personalized guidance may also be helpful.

What type of nurse is most in-demand?

The type of nurse most in-demand can vary depending on location, population demographics, and healthcare trends. Yet, some nursing specialties are consistently in high demand across different regions. These include:

Registered Nurses (RNs): RNs are highly sought after in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs): NPs have advanced training and can provide primary care services, making them valuable in both urban and rural areas where access to healthcare providers may be limited.

Critical Care Nurses: With the growing demand for intensive care services, critical care nurses who specialize in caring for critically ill patients are always in high demand.

Emergency Nurses: Emergency nurses play a crucial role in providing immediate care to patients in emergency departments, making them essential members of the healthcare team.

Geriatric Nurses: As the population ages, there is an increasing need for nurses who specialize in elderly care and are knowledgeable about age-related health issues.

It’s important to note that while these nursing specialties may be in high demand, local job markets may vary. It’s always a good idea to research your area’s specific needs and trends when considering a nursing career path.

Additional resources

How to Make a Career Change at 50

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Kelsey Purcell

Kelsey is a Content Writer with a background in content creation, bouncing between industries to educate readers everywhere.

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