Made it all the way through your education but decided you don’t want to be a doctor? Perhaps you didn’t secure a residency spot and are looking at your options.
Either way, don’t worry. There are plenty of jobs out there for an educated physician without a license who may be looking to take a career turn.
Let this article be your guide. Its aim is to be the most comprehensive list of jobs you might want to consider, each capitalizing on the medical degree and qualifications you already hold.
In the hope of being useful, I’ve separated 35 total jobs into four categories:
- Clinical jobs for physicians (without a license or residency)
- Non-clinical jobs for physicians (without a license or residency)
- Jobs outside of medicine for doctors
- Clinical jobs for physicians (with usually require a license but no residency)
I’ve also included data on the average salary of each, an example job listing, and relevant links out so that you can learn more about each role.
As a med student myself, and someone well aware of licensing and residential match issues, I hope this can help!
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
Before we get started perhaps you want to check out my other articles on healthcare-related careers here. Maybe you can find even more inspiration and tips!
Clinical Jobs For Physicians (Without a License or Residency)
If you still want to do clinical work as a physician but don’t have a license and have not completed your residency, your options are limited. Most people who finish med school (and an intern year) won’t be in this bracket. But there is still opportunity!
1. Clinical Research Associate
Clinical Research Associates (CRAs) are healthcare professionals responsible for helping complete medical research and clinical trials. Although the position isn’t always clinical in setting, there is a scope for research when/if the position deals with patients directly. CRAs are growing in demand and you’ll find a good amount of job listings on recruitment sites like Indeed and Glassdoor.
- Median salary: $57,000 (Source)
- Typical Job Description: University of New Mexico Clinical Research Associate
2. Genetics Counselor
Genetic Counselors play a crucial role in critical care, helping diagnose and communicate heritable diseases in individuals and their families. Not all states will let you practice without a license but taking genetics in medical school will certainly help contribute to success in the role. You can genetic counselor positions in hospitals and businesses across the country; 23AndMe and US Oncology are common employers.
- Median salary: $81,880 (Source)
- Typical Job Description: University of New Mexico Genetic Counselor
- Key website: Genetic Counseling CDC
Translators or interpreters can help doctors communicate with patients in a language other than their own. Although it’s not strictly clinical, you will be close to the action. Medics fluent in Spanish could find themselves in high demand!
You can find medical translation positions through agencies like translated.com and Absolute Translations.
- Median salary: $53,600
- Typical Job Description: Study.com Medical Translator
Non-Clinical Jobs For Physicians (Without a License or Residency)
There are a lot more non-clinical jobs for graduate doctors. Although you don’t strictly need a license or have to have completed residency, you’ll definitely need some experience to land any of these.
Epidemiology is a branch of public health (another option) that looks at patterns and causes of disease and injury. As a medical graduate having studied biostatistics, it could be a good fit. The CDC, local state governments, and private businesses are all keen recruiters of epidemiologists. You’ll find positions via the usual job sites.
- Median salary: $69,450
- Typical Job Description: Epidemiologist/Medical Scientist (US News)
5. Health Insurer Specialist
Health insurance specialists are responsible for medical insurance claims, coding, and maintaining patient records in different health care settings. Prior knowledge of health and disease could lend itself well. The best place to find health insurer specialist jobs is via online portals like Zippia and ZipRecruiter.
- Median salary: $85,000
- Typical Job Description: Study.com Health Insurance Specialist
Microbiology is a tough pre-clinical medical school subject. The career of a microbiologist is equally challenging; you’ll revisit bacteria, algae, fungi, and all the rest and ensure their environmental and human damage is kept to a minimum. A good place to start a job search is via the American Society of Microbiology (ASM).
- Median salary: $84,400
- Typical Job Description: U.S. Bureau of Labor Microbiologists
7. Medical Consulting
Medical consulting involves being hired by a company to give advice on specific health-related projects concerning your skills and expertise. Most medical consulting jobs are advertised widely and on all the prominent recruitment sites.
- Median salary: $104,000
- Typical Job Description: Bain & Company Healthcare Consulting
8. Medical Research Scientist
Medical research scientists help create and run studies that investigate diseases and how best to treat them. Most medical scientists have a Ph.D. or medical degree. You’ll find jobs via most online recruitment websites.
- Median salary: $82,000
- Typical Job Description: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Medical Research Scientist
9. Medical Director/Manager
Medical directors lead and guide healthcare organizations. They coordinate teams of nurses, physicians, and other non-medical staff to ensure smooth running and delivery of practice. Most recruitment is done internally or via referral, you’ll need to have built up a strong reputation before securing the top jobs!
- Median salary: $222,463 (Source)
- Typical Job Description: National Institutes of Health (NCBI) Medical Director
10. Medical Officer
Medical Officers can do anything from advising on health issues and controlling diseases, to providing medical support and investigating medical concerns. The job is similar in scope to medical director, depending on the size of the organization.
- Median salary: $203,173
- Typical Job Description: CDC Jobs Medical Officers
11. Medical Writing/Editing
Medical writing and editing gigs are a great place to combine medical knowledge and creative work. There’s scope for work in journalism and news, advertising and marketing and even via your own website or information resource. You’ll find top-paying jobs for medical writing on sites like Upwork. You can also start your search via the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).
- Median salary: $107,000
- Typical Job Description: NCBI – How to Become a Competent Medical Writer
12. Medical Science Liasion
This job is typically inside pharmaceutical or biotech companies that need someone to advise and run departmental areas. Medical science liaisons focus on a specific therapeutic area (e.g. Oncology, Cardiology, CNS, etc.) and disease states.
Start your job search at the Medical Science Liasion Society (MSLS).
- Median salary: $167,000
- Typical Job Description: Study.com Medical Science Liasion
13. Medical Scribe
Medical scribe work could also be considered clinical by some but I’ve included it here just in case. A go-to job for many pre-meds looking to network, gain hospital experience and still get paid, it’s an important supporting role that involves recording patient-doctor interactions. Head to ScribeAmerica for job opportunities.
Jobs Outside of Medicine for Doctors (Without A License or Residency)
The pharmaceutical industry is an obvious match for medical graduates interested in business and sales. Outside of this booming sector, there are a ton of other options. Medical devices, medical education, and consumer health are just a few potentially lucrative markets to explore. You can find entry-level roles and work your way up via roles advertised by online career portals.
- Median salary: $67,757
- Typical Job Description: Glassdoor Pharmaceutical Sales
15. Financial Services
Many financial organizations are keen to hear from medical graduates interested in various finance, banking, or investing roles. The aptitude needed for med matches very well with business. Organization, strategy, and work ethic are the qualities that can help you get ahead. Financejobs.net is a good starting point.
- Median salary: $32,000-$390,000
- Typical Job Description: Financial Services Salary.com
A ton of business owners and CEOs went to medical school, never practiced medicine (or got licensed/completed residency), and went on to become successful founders. A few examples include Ryan Haynes and Shiv Gaglani, founders of the medical education platform Osmosis.
Entrepreneur doctor Ali Abdaal has a lot of interesting things to say when it comes to building businesses while working in medicine.
- Median salary: Varies
- Typical Job Description: CEO Salary.com
17. Management Consulting
Management consulting is another huge business role that can borrow from your medical education and have you offering important advice to companies across a range of industries. Management consultants in the pharmaceutical industry often have medical degrees, deciding to make the shift following the promise of high earnings and a less intensive schedule.
Mckinsey & Company is just one big-name player taking on medical consultants.
- Median salary: $100,000 (entry level)
- Typical Job Description: Glassdoor Management Consultants
18. Medical Billing/Coding
Medical billing is a specific role within health care insurance services that involves submitting and following up on claims. Although it doesn’t require in-depth science knowledge or a ton of experience in healthcare, it’s relatively easy to get into before working your way up to more specialized medical insurance roles.
Check out medicalbillingandcoding.org for more information.
- Median salary: $40,000
- Typical Job Description: Salary.com Medical Billing Clerk
Teaching is varied in scope and broad in nature. As a medical graduate, you’ll have very specialized knowledge across many different science subjects; opening up doors to teach biology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and a lot more. You can look into University-level roles or take a step into the world of children’s education. There’s a huge demand!
Start your journey with a quick browse of Harvard Medical School’s Medical Education Teaching portal. It’s got some great info!
- Median salary: $60,000
- Typical Job Description: Glassdoor High School Science Teacher
Clinical Jobs For Physicians (Usually With a License But Without Residency)
Licensing is state-dependent for some of these roles. Depending on where you’re based, you might be able to get up and running in some of these careers quickly.
Obviously, roles like Physician Assistant (PA) and Respiratory Therapy (RA), etc. do require schooling, but with a med degree, the path could be a lot shorter!
- 20. Acupuncture
- Average Salary: $75k
- Jobs: acupuncture.com
- 21. Anesthesiologist Assistant
- Average Salary: $95k-$180k
- Jobs: gaswork.com
- 22. Dental Assistant
- Average Salary: $35k-$44k
- Jobs: dentalpost.net
- 23. Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound Tech)
- Average Salary: $74k
- Jobs: ardms.org
- 24. EMT
- Average Salary: $36k
- Jobs: emtjobs.nremt.org
- 25. Hair Restoration Technician
- Average Salary: $58k
- Jobs: online job sites
- 26. Lifestyle Medicine/Weight Loss Clinic
- Average Salary: $41k-$182k
- Jobs: online job sites
- 27. Massage Therapy
- Average Salary: $48k
- Jobs: amtamassage.org
- 28. Medical Review Officer
- Average Salary: $65k
- Jobs: aamro.com
- 29. Medical Spa RN/Cosmetic Services
- Average Salary: $77k
- Jobs: nurse.org
- 30. Nursing Assistant
- Average Salary: $31k
- Jobs: allnursingschools.com
- 31. Personal Trainer/Nutritionist
- Average Salary: $28k-$81k
- Jobs: allnursingschools.com
- 32. Phlebotomist
- Average Salary: $32k
- Jobs: online job sites
- 33. Physician Assistant
- Average Salary: $112k
- Jobs: jobs.aapa.org
- 34. Respiratory Therapist
- Average Salary: $58k
- Jobs: aarc.org
- 35. Surgical Technician
- Average Salary: $51k
- Jobs: ast.org
Deciding not to go all the way to medical licensing, or not being able to match, should never deter you from doing what you want.
Hopefully, the ideas above have helped show some interesting ways you can still use your knowledge and earn while doing so (despite not actually working as a physician).
Good luck exploring!
If you enjoyed this article, you might find the following interesting:
- 10 Business Ideas For Medical Students
- 6 Most Common Reasons For Leaving Medicine
- 3 Best Paid Jobs For Pre-Med Students (That Don’t Require Experience Or Training)
I Don’t Like Any of These Jobs, What Else Can I Do?
Having a medical degree under your belt opens up endless possibilities. You don’t have to stay in STEM-related fields.
To the vast majority of employers, a candidate holding a medical degree can be a valuable asset. It shows commitment, experience, intelligence and a range of transferrable skills.
If nothing on this list strikes your fancy, consider applying for any jobs/other careers anyway!
How Do You Become A Licensed Physician?
The process involved in becoming a licensed physician is different in every country. In the US, you’ll need to complete four years of medical school as a post-graduate and then complete both parts of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
Upon graduation doctors then go on to “match” and find residency training. There they’ll have to pass USMLE Step 3 and complete residency before obtaining a full license.
Why Aren’t All Doctors Licensed?
There are many reasons doctors don’t get fully licensed.
Common reasons include:
- Being unable to match into residency
- Being dismissed from an internship or residency position
- Being an international medical graduate (IMG) newly arriving in the country to begin a medical career
- Other personal reasons (finances, family, health, etc.)
Just because a physician isn’t licensed doesn’t mean they are any less knowledgeable on a theoretical level when it comes to medicine.
What Are Employment Chances Like After Medical School?
Most med students find employment following med school. The match rate (the percentage of 4th-year students getting into a first-year residency program) is around 92.8% (Source).
Those that don’t match also have the option of reapplying the next year after time out.
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.