non hospital nursing careers

10 Alternative Careers for Registered Nurses

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career choice. If you are interested in becoming one – or you are already working as an RN – you probably know the challenges that the job can bring. Working as a nurse in a hospital typically means long hours on your feet. It can also mean helping patients suffering from gruesome injuries or illnesses. This is the kind of atmosphere that many registered nurses imagine, however, it’s not the kind of work that you must have to be a nurse. In fact, you may decide later in your career that you don’t want a patient care role at all. It’s possible to choose an alternative career path with a nursing degree!

Nursing is an ever-evolving field that is experiencing tremendous growth. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nursing employment to grow 7% over the next several years – much faster than the average nationwide. As this field grows, the opportunities will expand, and you’ll be able to take your pick at jobs that don’t include scrubs and overnight rounds on the hospital floor. The fact is, the traditional role of nurse is not the only way of nursing – you can make a difference through other, non-clinical nursing roles as well.

In this guide, we will explore ten unexpected career outcomes for RNs today, and showcase how an advanced nursing degree can set you up for some of these incredible, alternative careers for nurses.

  1. Nurse Manager

Perhaps you love working in the hospital, or collaborating with other members of the medical team. However, maybe your talents go beyond patient care, and you have potential as a leader in this field. Nurse managers, also known as nurse administrators, help manage and supervise other registered nurses. They may run an entire nursing department, oversee a team of nurses, or manage a clinical facility. Due to the responsibilities associated with this role, nurse leaders typically require an advanced degree, such as a Masters in Nursing (MSN) degree.

  1. Telemedicine Nurse

The global pandemic has put this type of alternative career for nurses on the map. Telemedicine nursing combines technology and nursing to bring care to patients from the comfort of their own homes. This is crucial for those who live remotely, suffer from chronic conditions, or those who are physically unable to go into a healthcare facility.

Telehealth visits grew by 50% in March 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses who are interested in this type of focus should be RNs with a few years of experience under their belts.

  1. Nurse Researcher

If you love reading and researching scientific data, this may be one of the alternative nursing to seriously consider. Nurse researchers typically work for laboratories, universities, and other organizations. These are basically scientists who are paid to study diseases, treatments, prevention, and other health-related topics. The research is valuable to the healthcare world.

The average salary for a nurse researcher is $95,000. In addition to the research work, nurse researchers with advanced degrees often write books, teach classes, consult, and speak at conferences and other events.

  1. Nurse Life-Care Planner

Also known as nurse case managers, nurse life-care planners work with patients who require ongoing support for several years. RNs who work in hospitals are known for their work with doctors to create short-term care plans for patients. Nurse life-care planners are qualified to build long-term plans for those who suffer from severe illnesses or injuries. These nurses often work with insurance companies, doctors, lawyers, and whomever else is needed to make decisions involved in the necessary medical care for the patient.

Some nurse life-care planners can get the job with an associate degree, but those with a BSN or higher have the best chances of landing this position. Additional certification also helps those in this role earn a better salary.

  1. Forensic Nurse

Here is a role that is really outside the traditional nursing box. Not one for the faint of heart, the work as a forensic nurse is often stressful but rewarding. Forensic nurses work with the legal system, providing care for victims of violent crimes. They also gather medical evidence for court proceedings. The right nurse for this job is one that is comfortable speaking in public – as forensic nurses often testify in court – and can provide compassionate care to those who have lived through traumatic experiences. Forensic nurses work in a variety of settings from hospitals to correctional facilities.

  1. Health/Nutrition Coach

With a greater awareness for health and wellness, there is a booming industry for health and nutrition coaching. Health coaches often work for private businesses, and others work independently or build their own businesses.

Health coaching may be the perfect field of focus for nurses who have a passion for nutrition and fitness. Many health coaches often work with individuals, but they also lead classes and seminars. Once you have assessed a client’s health needs and goals, you may develop a plan to help that individual reach optimum health. Registered nurses can offer their expertise to guide clients toward better health.

This is a booming business. In fact, health coaching is a $6 billion industry, with a strong projected outlook.

  1. School or Camp Nurse

Those interested in working with children may want to consider roles as a school and/or camp nurse. Camp nursing is a great compliment to school nursing, as the schedule coincides perfectly during the off-season.

Camp nursing involves staying at the camp (assuming it is an overnight camp), overseeing the camp’s health clinic, and assisting with camp health needs throughout the camp session. Camp nurses offer first aid to the campers and staff as needed.

  1. Insurance Nurse

Just as you would expect with this title, insurance nurses work for insurance companies. They provide health assessments for insurance rate purposes. They also analyze health data in order to help build benefits packages. Many insurance nurses also work as case managers, combining many responsibilities into one role.

Insurance nurses conduct research and analysis, and they also report their findings to their representatives. It also helps to have an interest and understanding in statistics for this position.

This alternative nursing career offers a solid salary, with an average pay of $80,090, according to

  1. Medical Journalist

If you have an interest in writing, or in journalism in general, you may want to consider the role of medical journalist. These nursing professionals write for medical publications, keeping readers informed on the latest medical news and research. This is perfect for someone who wants to continue to contribute to the medical field but needs a break from the day-to-day nursing grind.

Some medical journalists work for universities or medical journals, but others who as freelancers or independent contributors.

The median medical writer salary is $107,000 for full-time employees and $151,000 for freelancers, according to the 2019 salary survey from the American Medical Writers Association.

  1. Nurse Lobbyist

Nurse lobbyists is one of the more demanding choice among alternative careers for nurses. These professionals fulfill an important role in their work for communities, states, and countries. Nurse lobbyists work directly with lawmakers and are typically employed by government agencies. They analyze data and health law to, in turn, improve these laws.

The median salary for nurse lobbyists is $70,000 per year, but salaries can exceed $100,000 depending on education and experience. Those with nursing backgrounds have a serious competitive edge.

Land an Exciting Career with an Education

Many of the above careers are meant for RNs with experience and either BSN or MSN degrees. A career-focused nursing school like Goodwin University can help you get you there.

After earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN), passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) and becoming licensed as an RN, you may choose to continue to complete your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). The RN-to-BSN degree program at Goodwin can be completed part-time in 16 months or on a different timeline that meets your unique needs. For added flexibility, this program is offered completely online, allowing nurses to complete their advanced degree while maintaining their nursing jobs.

The master’s degree in Nursing can take your career to the next level and prepare you for even more opportunities within the field of nursing. This program is designed to accommodate the busy schedule of a working RN and – just like the RN-to-BSN degree – may be completed fully online and part-time in as little as 20 months.

Are you ready to take your nursing career to new heights? Learn more about the nursing programs at Goodwin University by calling 800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more information.