10 Alternative Careers for Nurses: Nursing Jobs Away from the Bedside
What kinds of jobs can you have with a nursing degree? There are many alternative careers for nurses outside the hospital. Some examples include a nurse case manager and a telehealth nurse. Choosing the right nursing specialty is important for a successful future as a healthcare professional.
When you think about what it means to be a registered nurse (RN), you may envision caring for patients in a hospital, clinic or home health setting. But what you do with a nursing degree if you don’t want to be a nurse at the bedside? There are plenty of alternative careers for nurses that you can consider. While these roles don’t involve direct patient care, they do affect the health and well-being of communities.
Read on to learn about some of the alternative careers for nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. And find out how you can earn a BSN sooner through the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ASBN) program at Averett University.
1. Informatics Nurse
These days, the leadership at hospitals and other medical facilities are focused on controlling health care costs. This has led to a need for nurses who specialize in the field of informatics.
Working in hospitals, IT companies, nursing schools and more, informatics nurses evaluate the needs of a facility’s staff and provide recommendations for technology improvements. They also use their nursing knowledge and technical aptitude to advance systems that will improve the quality of patient care.
Average Salary: As of October 2022, informatics nurses earn an average of $101,915 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.com.
Required Education: To enter the field of informatics, you must have a BSN and experience with electronic health care records. Aptitude for analyzing data and statistics is also helpful.
2. Health Policy Nurse
Another example of an alternative career for nurses is health policy nursing. This is a great field if you’re interested in working toward legislative change in areas like tobacco control or elder care. The best health policy nurses possess leadership ability, along with strong communication and analytical skills.
Health policy nurses use advocacy, research and analysis to bring about improvements in our society’s health. They’re employed by research firms, legislative offices, physician or nurse associations and more. They may also hold elected positions in government.
Average Salary: According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average annual salary for a health policy nurse is $79,872 as of October 2022.
Required Education: To pursue this specialty, you must earn a BSN and a master’s degree in nursing and complete a 10-week health policy program.
3. Nurse Risk Manager
Risk managers are charged with keeping patients and staff safe. They’re employed by hospitals, government agencies, nursing homes and the like. Part of their job is to inform patients about treatments and potential complications. They also handle claims of medical malpractice as well as patient complaints, in compliance with federal and state regulations. According to Indeed.com, there are 375 job openings for nurse risk managers in Virginia as of October 2022.
Average Salary: According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a nurse risk manager in the U.S. is $121,581 as of October 2022.
Required Education: To become a nurse risk manager, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Some positions require a master’s degree — particularly those responsible for the provision of safety courses to other nurses in a health care setting.
4. Nurse Case Manager
Nurse case managers work in clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities, overseeing the full scope of patient care to help prevent health care readmissions. They can also opt to specialize in pediatrics, immigration, geriatrics, or other practice areas.
Average Salary: According to Salary.com, nurse case managers earn an average of $67,113 annually, as of October 2022.
Required Education: To become a nurse case manager, you must graduate from an accredited nursing program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), gain a minimum of five years of experience as a nurse and earn certification in case management.
5. Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses may work for hospitals, mental health facilities, coroners’ offices, or correctional facilities. They can help solve crimes, gather evidence or determine a decedent’s cause of death. They can also help care for victims of crime or natural disasters and provide expert testimony in criminal proceedings.
The demand for these specialists is greater in large metropolitan areas.
Average Salary: According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average salary for a forensic nurse in the U.S. is $73,111 annually as of October 2022.
Required Education: To become a forensic nurse, you must earn a nursing degree, pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain clinical experience (duration may vary). You may also elect to earn board certification, although it’s not required.
6. Pharmaceuticals Sales
Another alternative career for nurses is in pharmaceuticals sales. Pharmaceutical sales representatives educate doctors, physicians and other medical specialists about the newest pharmaceutical products on the market. They play an important role in ensuring patients have access to innovative, well-researched treatments.
Average Salary: According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average annual salary for a pharmaceutical sales representative is $78,581 as of October 2022.
Required Education: To pursue this specialty, you must complete a bachelor’s degree, and you will most likely need to complete a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) certification.
7. Nurse Recruiter
If an administrative role in the field of human resources appeals to you, you might consider becoming a nurse recruiter. These nurses solicit, vet, evaluate and endorse potential new hires in a variety of health care settings. They may also negotiate the terms of employment offers.
The most successful nurse recruiters are good communicators with an aptitude for sales.
Average Salary: The average annual salary for a nurse recruiter as of September 2022 is $86,510, according to Salary.com.
Required Education: To obtain a position in nurse recruiting, you must first earn a BSN and have some clinical experience.
8. Nurse Educator
If you’re looking at nursing careers outside the hospital and you enjoy teaching, becoming a nurse educator is a natural fit. Nurse educators provide nursing instruction to college students and licensed nurses in both academic and clinical settings. Educators’ responsibilities include building and updating program curriculum so they have a direct impact on the future of nursing.
Average Salary: According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a nurse educator in the U.S. is $104,975 as of October 2022.
Required Education: Typically, you must hold a BSN and have a good deal of nursing experience and expertise to become a nurse educator. Many employers require completion of a graduate-level nurse educator program, such as a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).
9. Telemedicine Nurse
Another example of non-bedside nursing is a telemedicine nurse. A telemedicine nurse, also known as a telehealth nurse, uses telecommunication methods such as video call, phone, email and messaging to provide patient care. They connect with patients over the phone or internet to provide health care services.
Average Salary: According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average annual salary for a telemedicine nurse is $70,801 as of October 2022.
Required Education: To pursue this specialty, you must complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).
10. Nurse Health Coach
A final alternative career for nurses is a nurse health coach, or a fitness coach. Nurse health coaches help patients achieve a healthy lifestyle or a specific health-related goal. They create diet and exercise plans to improve the overall health of patients.
Average Salary: According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average annual salary for a nurse health coach is $46,293 as of October 2022.
Required Education: To pursue this specialty, you must complete an AND or BSN.
How to Choose an Alternative Nursing Specialty
Choosing the right nursing specialty is important for a successful future as a healthcare professional. Consider your personality style, your work style, and your job and salary goals. Nursing in general calls for higher levels of compassion, but different areas in the nursing field are better suited to different types of people.
For example, if you’re someone who likes flexibility and doesn’t need an office, an at-home job like a telehealth nurse is something that would be better suited for you than an oncology nurse. If you like having variety in your day-to-day tasks, a forensic nurse might be a good fit for you because of their different daily agendas.
Jump Start Your Nursing Career with a BSN
Now that you’re familiar with a few of the alternative careers for nurses, you’re probably curious about the most efficient way to earn a nursing degree.
If you already hold 60 or more prior college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, Averett University’s 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can make your nursing future a reality.
While admission to accelerated nursing programs can be competitive, we offer three cohort starts per year — in January, May, and August —so you can begin pursuing your nursing career sooner. Once you meet our admissions requirements, you can choose a start date that best aligns with your professional goals.
No matter the specific nursing career path you want to pursue, Averett University’s Accelerated BSN program can help you get started. Take the first step on your path to becoming a nurse by connecting with one of our admission counselors.