Nursing is definitely a rewarding field, and with the different paths that you can take throughout your career, it gives you the ability to seek employment in many different non - bedside settings. No matter what’s driving you to look for a new position, we've rounded up 18 non - bedside options that you might not have considered before.
We've also provided you with all the important information you'll need in order to plan your next career move, including an overview of the different roles, their earning potential, and any additional skills and requirements you might need for them. We've also provided you with links to job boards where you can find open roles for each type of position.
Note the salary, education, and job overview will vary depending on location and facility.
1. Cruise Ship Nurse
- Job Overview: As a cruise ship nurse, you support the medical needs of the employees and guests on the ship while traveling all over the world.
- Earning Potential: According to ZipRecruiter, a cruise ship nurse can make an average of $65k to $103k annually.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: In addition to critical and intensive care, emergency, and trauma medicine experience, a bachelor’s degree is usually preferred, with BLS certification, passport, and COVID vaccine.
2. Medical & Pharmaceutical Sales
- Job Overview: As an RN, you’re in a unique position to pivot into a role as a medical device or pharmaceutical sales rep because of your background in healthcare. Medical device and pharmaceutical sales reps sell medical products to doctors and medical facilities, as well as provide any necessary preliminary information and education on the products. RN sales reps can work in a variety of fields selling a variety of products, whether it’s medical supplies for dental offices or home infusion devices to hospice care facilities.
- Earning Potential: Earnings can really vary with this type of job, depending on what you’re selling and your own skillset as a salesperson. The latest Pharmaceutical Sales Salary report lists an average annual compensation (including bonuses) of over $151,000 in 2020.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Most medical sales reps have a bachelor’s degree, along with a background in business.
3. Nurse Educator
- Job Overview: As a nurse educator, you can provide education when a patient first gets a diagnosis, along with ongoing support, evaluation, and resources in alignment with the patient’s plan. Some types of nurse educators also work in a clinical capacity, educating staff at hospitals and overseeing continuing education and training. Tip: When you look online for jobs, try using the phrases “health educator” or “nurse educator.”
- Earning Potential: According to Payscale.com, the average nurse educator salary was about $78,503 in 2022. That said, your earning potential could vary pretty significantly, depending on where you work and your educational specialty. For example, a certified diabetes educator can make between $51K and $88K.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: If you have a passion for helping people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, you can take this time to explore becoming a certified educator in that particular field. If you’re looking for a more generalized and/or clinical role, an MSN may be required.
4. Nursing Informatics
- Job Overview: As a health informatics nurse, you will work on technology solutions and platforms in the medical field. For instance, you may work on developing, maintaining, or trouble - shooting electronic medical record (EMR) systems or training providers on how to use them. Health informatic nurses may also work in the data end of the systems, analyzing data in order to implement solutions.
- Earning Potential: According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an informatics nurse is about $119K. However, keep in mind that it’s a specialized role so you would have the potential to make more, depending on where you work and your level of experience.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: At a minimum, you’ll need a BSN and several years of experience. That said, most roles require candidates to have a Masters in Nurse or Health Informatics.
- Where to Find Jobs: Here are some examples of health informatics positions you can find as a nurse. When you do your own search, try using both “nurse informatics” and “health informatics.”
5. Chart Reviewer
- Job Overview: As a chart review nurse (sometimes referred to as a “utilization review” nurse”), your primary focus is on quality assurance. You’ll be meticulously reviewing charts to assess and analyze nursing care, recommend improvements, and perform risk and standards analysis. Tip: When you search for jobs online, try using phrases like “utilization review nurse” and “quality analysis nurse.”
- Earning Potential: According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a utilization review nurse ranges anywhere from $40K to $95K, depending on the state. (For example, chart review nurses in New York have the highest annual salaries.)
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: There is no formal degree required beyond having a nursing license. That said, to succeed in this role, you’ll need to have a high level of attention to detail, as well as years of clinical experience.
6. Nurse Health Coach
- Job Overview: As a health coach, you could play an instrumental role in providing motivation, education, and inspiration to clients who are looking to improve their health. You’d also be responsible for outlining practical plans for them to stick to. Health coaches encompass areas and specialties from wellness and fitness to chronic disease management, so you’d really have the ability to choose a specialty that fits your passion in this role. Tip: When looking for jobs, try reaching out to your certifying organization – they might be able to connect you to job boards in your field.
- Earning Potential: The average salary for health coaches ranges from $50 to $73K, with 10 percent making above $100K, according to the Health Coach Institute.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: The American Council on Exercise offers two courses for becoming a certified health coach, and both are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). As an added bonus, healthcare coaching can be done 100 percent remotely, so it’s a job you can try before permanently quitting your bedside role.
7. Nurse Writer
Job Overview: As its name suggests, medical writers create written communications for various audiences within the medical field. As a medical writer, you could do everything from write content for a medical website to compose technical information for hospital websites, brochures, or patient information. You could also work directly with healthcare providers on their content needs, or write for literary or professional trade journals.
Tips for finding jobs: You could get started as a healthcare writer by reaching out to content agencies such as Nurses Who Write to learn how to write for healthcare organizations as a freelance writer, pitching editors on a freelance basis, or contacting websites or publications that specialize in your area to partner with them on content creation. You can also create a profile on sites like Upwork or Contently and allow the content teams to find you. It’s a good idea to use content sites to get started earning clips, then work to strike out on your own.
Earning Potential: Pay can vary based on your expertise and ability, but the American Medical Writers’ Association lists the typical medical writer’s salary range as being anywhere from $58K to $100K+.
Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Although there is no standard of education required for medical writing, the American Medical Writers’ Association offers education and testing to earn the Medical Writer Certified (MWC) credential.
8. Telehealth Nurse
- Job Overview: As a telehealth nurse, you would be providing medical assessment and care remotely. You could be employed with a telehealth company, or work for a provider that offers telehealth services.
- Earning Potential: GlassDoor lists the average wage for a telehealth RN as $87K. Keep in mind that telehealth interactions have risen dramatically, so the field offers a major opportunity for future earning potential.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: There are programs online you can explore to become certified in telehealth, or you can gain on - the - job training.
9. Flight Nurse
- Job Overview: Flight nurses are trained to care for patients in an emergency aircraft during their transportation to a medical facility.
- Earning Potential: GlassDoor lists the average wage for a flight RN as $86K, which could hit six figures with overtime.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: The more bedside experience the flight nurse has, the better. They have to be knowledgeable in the care of the critically ill for any patient populations, advanced medical devices, and familiar with aircraft operating procedures and safety practices.
10. Health Blogger/Vlogger
- Job Overview: With a background as a medical professional, you can specialize in creating content on certain medical conditions, or go more broadly and focus on writing articles on lifestyle and health tips. Create your own blog or YouTube channel (for your video blog “vlog”) and let the traffic come to you.
- Earning Potential: The pay range really varies with blogging, but top, full - time bloggers can make six figures annually.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Anyone can get started blogging, but you can also give yourself a head start by taking an online course or workshop that teaches you how to monetize a blog, build an audience, and work with companies and brands on ads and sponsored posts.
11. Nurse Researcher
- Job Overview: As a clinical nurse researcher, you will dive into research and conduct studies with patients on anything from new standards of nursing care to new medication trials. Your duties could include everything from being the nurse who enrolls patients in studies to the nurse who analyzes the data.
- Earning Potential: Payscale lists the average salary for a research nurse as $82K, with reported earnings up to $147K and as low as $63K.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Requirements may vary, but some RN research roles require only a BSN degree, and some clinical care experience. More advanced roles may require a PhD in nursing or another related field.
12. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
- Job Overview: SANEs are registered nurses with at least two years of experience who provide care to victims of sexual abuse.
- Earning Potential: ZipRecruiter lists the average annual pay for a SANE nurse at $63,804.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: To become a SANE nurse, a nurse must:
- Be a registered nurse
- Practice clinically for two years in an approved setting such as ER, critical care, or maternal child health
- Complete an approved SANE program
- Follow local and state requirements
13. Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC)
- Job Overview: LNCs help attorneys work on civil or criminal cases that involve the healthcare, nursing, or medical industry. They often serve as expert witnesses, analyze medical information, and consult with attorneys, law firms, or law enforcement.
- Earning Potential: Payscale lists the average wage for an LNC at $80,432 per year.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Because LNCs are often called as expert witnesses, they need solid clinical and nursing backgrounds. They must understand medical terminology, procedures, healthcare and nursing policies, and standards of care. Getting experience in med - surge or specialty areas such as intensive care can provide a solid foundation. There are also courses available to help nurses start their journeys.
14. COVID-19 Testing
Job Overview: COVID-19 testing is considered a waived test, or a test that the CDC or FDA determines to present little risk of error. Since the pandemic, a large number of nurses have started businesses operating as mobile waived test labs — commonly known as CLIA labs. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Program regulates labs testing human specimens and ensures they provide accurate, reliable, and timely patient test results.
Nurses who own these testing sites must follow federal, state, and local laws as well as ensure they’re practicing within their scope of practice. As this varies by state, be sure to do thorough research.
Earning Potential: Comparably lists the average salary of a Clia Labs Operations Director at $95,000. Note that in domestic states a nurse cannot be a director.
Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: To test the public for COVID-19, a nurse should be a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse and understand the principles of infection prevention and control. Additionally, they must know how to perform a nasal, nasla pahrnengy, or oral swab.
If owning a lab doesn't interest you here are a list of covid testing jobs!
15. Infection Prevention & Control Nurse (ICP)
- Job Overview: ICPs work to prevent and identify the spread of infectious bacteria and viruses. The role varies depending on setting, but the job entails everything from tracking and trending outbreaks to creating policies and procedures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
- Earning Potential: According to Payscale, the average annual salary is $74,030 per year.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: ICNs can be RNs or LPNs, depending on the setting. They should be detailed and task oriented, as well as have great communication skills. Additionally, some facilities require ICNs to earn their Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC).
16. Occupational Health Nurse
- Job Overview: Occupational nurses work with employers to make sure that all health and safety procedures are followed to ensure a safe work environment. They may also treat minor injuries, administer drug screens, and screen for COVID-19.
- Earning Potential: Indeed lists the base average annual salary of occupational health nurses as $70,024.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: LPNs and RNs may find these jobs enjoyable. They should be confident in their clinical skills and therefore should consider gaining experience before transitioning into this role. The American Board of Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN) offers certification for nurses who wish to go that route.
17. Nurse Consultant
- Job Overview: The nurse consultant role is vast. Generally, nurse consultants provide support or training to businesses and healthcare organizations. They use their clinical or nursing experience and expertise to guide these facilities. A nurse can consult on everything from infection control and EMR implementation to clinical skills and mental health and well - being. To find jobs, nurses should consider starting their own consulting firms or working as contractors for existing healthcare consulting groups.
- Earning Potential: Payscale lists the average annual pay for a nurse consultant at $87,521.
- Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: Nurses need vast experience and expertise in the area they’re considering consulting in. Many nurse consultants go on to earn advanced degrees or certifications, although they are not necessarily required.
18. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Instructor
Job Overview: CNA instructors teach nursing assistant students on nursing fundamentals and basic clinical practice. They train students to do daily tasks such as bed making and obtaining vital signs, as well as observe and record students as they practice clinical skills.
Many nurses start their own CNA training schools. There are programs and courses that guide nurses through the licensing process to ensure their schools meet state requirements. CNA instructors can also work for nursing homes, some colleges, or hospitals.
Earning Potential: According to Salary.com the average pay for a CNA instructor is $26 per hour.
Additional Skills/Educational Requirements: The requirements for instructors vary by state, but generally, the instructor must have a year’s experience as a nurse and have an active, unrestricted license. Keep in mind that many states require that instructors pass their state’s state - approved instructor training course.
There are a number of career paths for nurses – venturing outside of bedside nursing. If one of these jobs interests you or something else is on your radar, it’s time to create goals, find a mentor, and put a plan in place. A guide to creating “SMART Nursing Goals” could help verbalize your dream and set attainable steps to accomplish. Good luck!