10 Alternative Careers for Doctors Why do doctors decide to change a career? Alternative careers for doctors Tips for a successful career switch Conclusion
10 Alternative Careers for Doctors Why do doctors decide to change a career? Alternative careers for doctors Tips for a successful career switch Conclusion
Updated 28/12/2020

10 Alternative Careers for Doctors

Would you like to switch your doctor career to a new profession? Review the most popular alternative careers for physicians, including work scope and average salaries. Learn how to pass the hiring process for a new job successfully.

Would you like to switch your doctor career to a new profession? Review the most popular alternative careers for physicians, including work scope and average salaries. Learn how to pass the hiring process for a new job successfully.

A doctor’s career is generally considered to be a stable, well-thought choice to last a lifetime. It takes 10 to 14 years to become a practicing doctor in the chosen specialty. It is hard to imagine that one could decide to switch a career after such a long path. However, a degree in medicine and practical experience as a physician opens lots of doors. If you are looking for opportunities to try a new profession, check the most popular alternative careers for medical doctors in our article. Learn how to switch to a new job having a physician’s expertise under your belt.


Why do doctors decide to change a career?

A recent report from Medscape states that 42% of physicians report being burned out in 2020. Feeling no career satisfaction, doctors are thinking about switching to another area. Certain reasons are influencing such decisions.

1 Physical and emotional burnout

Practical medicine is stressful and physically exhausting. Working off-hours, challenging medical cases, and rigid hospital schedules all make doctors think about alternatives. Many young health professionals have no idea how much time various bureaucratic procedures may take when starting their practice. According to a recent ResearchGate report, physicians spend 25% to 60% of their workday on paperwork instead of directly assisting patients. Being physically and emotionally exhausted, doctors will naturally decide to consider another occupation.

2 Strive for better work-life balance

Young specialists usually adapt well to enormous work hours and dedicate all their time to work. But in the future, they begin struggling for a better life-work balance to spend more time with family, recover after challenging work shifts, travel, and do other things that make them feel happy. Switching to another profession is a solution they often go with if there is no chance to move to a lighter work schedule at their current position.

3 Medicine was chosen unconsciously or under pressure

The family wanted you to follow in the father’s wake and become a doctor, or you had the opportunity to become a medical student and just drifted along. It is tough to know for sure what your true calling is. While growing up and starting to work, you may simply realize that you want to do something else. It is quite a common situation for doctors to leave medicine.

4 Passionate about another career

A new idea suddenly excited you so much that you cannot perform your regular job anymore. If you live and breathe some new occupation, you will think about switching your career sooner or later.

5 Money matters

Switching to private practice or mastering a new profession is often motivated by the desire to have higher compensation. While obtaining experience, doctors begin to value their time more and observe how to increase their income.

6 Pandemic

Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel working with COVID-19 patients deserve honor and admiration. However, facing the risk for life every day, working in such extreme conditions is a big challenge even for the most devoted professionals. Some doctors, comparing risks to benefits, decide to try other occupations, tired of constant stress.

There are many more reasons to search for non-clinical jobs for doctors. Every personality has its own drivers for changes. Regardless of motives, nearly 20% of surgeons and physicians would prefer to make a career change, according to Stanford Medicine’s 2020 Health Trends Report.

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Alternative careers for doctors

In most cases, physicians choose a medicine-related profession when switching careers. The education and expertise they’ve gained are welcome in many areas. It would be unreasonable to ignore such high demand. GetCoverLetter prepared a list of the most popular alternative careers for physicians and examined their average salaries.

1 Aesthetics: cosmetology and microsurgery

Cosmetologists with higher medical education have more professional capabilities and can perform complicated cosmetology procedures and microsurgeries. The traditional range of aesthetic services includes skin peeling procedures, laser therapy, dermal filler injections, and massage. Cosmetologists also perform various minimally invasive manipulations to enhance the patient’s appearance. The average salary for cosmetologists in the USA is $30,342/year but can reach well over $100,000 for surgeons in this field.

2 Coaching

Ex-physicians often turn to consulting work, including career coaching. Knowing the medical industry from the inside, they have valuable knowledge to share with future applicants. They usually help choose the specialty and the specific workplace according to the applicant’s expectations and skills. They also help pass all the stages of the hiring process for successful employment. Career coaches receive $40,089/year on average.

3 Teaching

An MD degree provides the opportunity to teach students in medical schools and universities. If you possess good communication skills, have experience in scientific work, or wish to get it, teaching could be a reasonable choice. This profession fits those who prefer to keep working with people while being in a less stressful work environment. Teachers earn $42,579/year on average. However, college professors often earn much more, depending on the institution.

4 Science

Doctors are all researchers. Often finding the right therapy for certain cases in their practice requires in-depth research in available resources. You can develop some scientific ideas and make your own input into medical science. Scientists receive from $50,953 to $77,173 per year, depending on the degree.

5 Complementary medicine

Complementary medicine has been gaining more popularity. More and more researches confirm the efficiency of chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, and other alternative therapies. This field helps maintain a better work-life balance, as there are usually no urgent cases. An average naturopath’s wage is $33/h, which is about $69k annually.

6 Doctorpreneur

Entrepreneurship among doctors is highly popular after receiving some expertise as hired specialists and professional renounce. Most often, it is a private practice, private clinic, or some consultancy firm. However, their options are endless. For instance, it can be an IT startup inventing a new medical application. You can start your own business in the area entirely out of medicine. There are no average statistics for doctorpreneurship profits.

7 Health Economics

Health economics involves working on optimizing the effectiveness and value of the country’s healthcare system. Often economic careers for doctors leaving medicine require additional education, and there are various training programs available across the USA. Usually, they take up to 12 months. The average salary for a health economist is $97,811/year.

8 Lifestyle medicine

Lifestyle medicine specialists consult patients in dietary, exercising, sleeping, mental health, positive mind, and other areas directly influencing the quality of life. They do not deal with severe medical conditions. They work on optimizing lifestyle patterns and checking how current patients’ habits affect their health from the medical side. The wages also vary depending on specialization. As an example, a registered dietitian earns $83k - $90k yearly on average.

9 Medical technology

Health tech products like digital applications, appliances, and record systems solve specific medical problems, improve patient care, and enhance the healthcare experience. Doctors switch to the technology sector to integrate technological innovations into medicine, test new products, and improve current healthcare technologies. The average earnings for healthcare technology specialists are $76,500/year.

10 Health Policy

Healthcare policy specialists work on setting goals for the healthcare system to meet society’s demands and solve current medical problems on a governmental level. Some former medicine professionals get hired by the government and can progress up the career ladder to minister positions. Salaries for health policy associates start from $53,554/year.

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Tips for a successful career switch

If you decided to evolve in your career path and change your profession, there are a few steps to consider. No matter which alternative career choice for doctors seems attractive, you should be well-prepared for a successful transition.

1. Observe available opportunities and make a choice

Even if you already have a specific profession in mind, it would be beneficial to research available job openings. Having high-end education and experience in your pocket, you can be the desired candidate in multiple areas. If you are aware of all opportunities, it would be easier to make the right choice. Check the online job boards, commercial and state organizations’ websites, and companies that deal with projects you are interested in to get the list of open jobs and their requirements.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, read and watch relevant success stories and even consult people in business directly. This way, you will get a better picture of what resources are required to launch your own business, the primary strategies for entering the market, etc.

2. Consider additional education

If your future profession requires knowledge you don’t have, consider getting additional education. For example, it would be much easier to get hired as a cosmetologist having relevant certification. Usually, professional training courses don’t last more than 12 months, and you can attend them combined with your current practice.

3. Optimize your resume for a new career choice

Applying for jobs you’ve never done before requires a resume that will make employers believe in your potential for the new field. It goes without saying that doctors are highly respected in society. No one doubts their professionalism and strong mental qualities. However, employers have strict requirements that a candidate has to match. And your resume is like your bridge between past work experience and a future profession. You need to adapt all your professional background to the new occupation. Go through a simple to-do list:

  • Focus only on past job experiences and transferable skills that can be useful for the desired position.
  • Insert relevant certifications, volunteer activities, participation in conferences, and other industry-specific venues.
  • Insert relevant keywords for the position you want to get. Automated applicant tracking systems react to specific keywords in the resume text.
  • Compose a resume no longer than one sheet: no one reads long resumes.

If you are uncertain what structure and style to choose, use a professional GetCoverLetter builder for composing a resume. It saves lots of time while boosting your chances for a successful application.

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4. Prepare an individual cover letter for each employer

Applying for the same type of job differs from starting an entirely new career. In the latter case, you need to use every chance to convince the employer of your potential and capabilities to succeed as an entrant. A short motivational cover letter will strengthen your chances of getting hired. If you apply for multiple jobs, create an individual cover letter for each application. Make sure their content directly answers all employers’ central question: “Why should I hire you?”. As a reference, check a cover letter example for a health coach.

A correctly composed and convincing resume and cover letter will help you get the job interview.

5. Present yourself effectively during the interview

The last step on the way to your dream job is an interview. Unless you plan to become an entrepreneur, you will need to apply all your communication and self-presentation skills to make a good impression on your future employer.

  • Find out as much as possible about the hiring company. It will help to optimize your answers to their expectations and feel more confident during the interview.
  • Check the typical interview questions and answers online. Many companies and employees post such lists to help applicants.
  • While answering the interviewers’ questions, demonstrate your constructive thinking and trouble-solving capabilities. Even having no specific experience to give practical examples, you can show your potential in finding interesting solutions to any problem.
  • Ask questions. Given that you are entering a new profession, it is natural to be highly curious about the potential job. Moreover, it demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment.
  • Make sure to take away the mobile phone. Nothing should distract you from the conversation.
  • Don’t be late. Punctuality is a must for a candidate.

During the pandemic, lots of interviews are conducted online. Check a guide for passing a video Zoom interview to be prepared.



Our quality of life highly depends on our satisfaction from work. It is not just about making money. It is an area for personal fulfillment, growth, and achieving higher goals. There are dozens of less stressful yet enjoyable jobs for doctors outside of medicine, where you can apply all your expert knowledge and skills. Plan your career switch in detail, get prepared, and go for your goals!

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