The Most Common Career Changes For Nurses (UK)

Nursing is a noble and rewarding profession, but it might not necessarily be a career that you wish to stay in until retirement. Therefore we will explore the most common career changes for nurses UK in this guide, and present the most common career change options for nurses across a broad spectrum of different industries.

If you’re thinking about hanging up the scrubs for goods, this guide to the most common career change for nurses UK is just for you.

As well as discovering the most common career changes for nurses in the UK, it will help you consider what are the key things to look for in your next career as well as the steps you can take to turn the dream into a reality. 

most common career change for nurses uk

Why do nurses look for career changes? 

Research shows that around 1 in 9 nurses leave the NHS annually. While many of them will either retire or move into the private sector, there are still thousands of nurses who look to pursue another career. 

Before looking at the most common career change for nurses UK, it’s important to understand the reasons for leaving the job – not least because it may help you decide which jobs are suitable for your next chapter. 

Some of the reasons cited for leaving nursing include;

  • A desire to be self-employed or run a business to take greater control of their future.
  • To create a better work-life balance and escape the stress of nursing.
  • To have a more stable working schedule and social working hours.
  • A need for increased earnings that go beyond the nursing average of £35k-£38k.
  • Feeling burnout or undervalued by their bosses or employer.
  • A desire to pursue a new challenge and fresh surroundings after years of nursing.

What to look for when searching for the most common career changes for nurses

Dream job after a career change for nurses

You can make your dream job a reality. Whatever your reasons for wanting to quit nursing might be, it’s imperative that your next steps are the right ones. The last thing you want to do is make a decision that you regret or find yourself back at square one and looking for another career this time next year. 

While knowing the most common career change for nurses UK options will provide inspiration, it’s vital that you select one that aligns with your requirements. When considering your options, it’s important to ask the following questions;

  • Does it suit my skills? As a nurse, you have a desire to help others and good organisational skills.
  • Is it accessible? When starting a new career in later life, for example, high paying jobs that don’t need a degree are probably more suitable.
  • Does it offer longevity? Likewise, you want the next career to be one that you can enjoy for many years to come and potentially up to retirement age. 
  • Will it be enjoyable? This is your chance to find a job that you actually love so you must not let the opportunity pass you by.

Looking at the best and most common career change for nurses (UK)

If you have decided that nursing is no longer the right choice and know what you want to look for in your next job, now is the time to consider the best options at your disposal. Ultimately, any of the UK’s 350,000+ nurses have the potential to follow any career path that they desire. However, some career changes for nurses are more popular than others. Here are 10 of the best.

Personal Trainer

most common career change for nurses uk to become a personal trainer

If you’re a nurse looking for a fresh and exciting challenge, becoming a personal trainer stands out as a very attractive proposition. It helps you continue to help people improve their health and overall quality of life while still enjoying a completely new setting.

Studying to become a personal trainer is actually one of the most common career changes for nurses in the UK.

As an experienced nurse, you already boast several transferable skills – not least in relation to human communication – while your existing knowledge of the human body provides a solid platform to build upon. 

Alongside job satisfaction, salary is undoubtably an important factor when considering a career change from nursing. When you start searching for ‘how much do personal trainers make‘ you will find a wide range of answers online. Some sites will quote salaries in the region of 30k however the actual average earnings are actually a lot higher.

There is no limit to potential earnings in this sector, particularly if you open your own business – one of the top paying self employed ideas. How much you earn will depend on lots of different factors, such as location, how much you charge per personal training session, and the types of services that you decide to offer.

Qualified personal trainers can focus on sectors within the industry that they feel passionate about. Likewise, the option to run group classes or start online training means that PTs are blessed with the opportunity to build their own path. No wonder it is the most common career change for nurses (UK).

Your first step to becoming a personal trainer with no prior qualifications from the fitness industry is to study one of our internationally recognised Level 3 personal training courses.

You can choose to study any of our fitness qualifications in person or you can study online for complete flexibility.

For the in person study options you can choose from any of our UK locations, which includes our London Personal Trainer Courses, our Manchester Personal Training Courses and our Glasgow PT Courses.

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Common career change for nurses to become a strength and conditioning coach

Strength and conditioning coaching is another career path that shares similar traits with personal training. Your job will be to work directly with clients to improve their health and fitness through structured programmes. In this instance, though, you’ll focus solely on strength and conditioning elements.

It is a relatively easy career to start and positions will become available as soon as you’ve completed an internationally accredited Level 2 Fitness Instructor course. However, as with becoming a personal trainer, there are many additional courses that can be taken to open up more opportunities.

After achieving a minimum of a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification your next step is to either move on to study one of our Level 3 Personal Trainer Courses, our Level 4 Strength and Conditioning Course or both!

The average salary is reported to be around £30,000 but it should be noted that there is no ceiling on potential earnings as like personal training you can operate your own business and its one of the top self employed ideas. As with personal training, strength and conditioning coaches can also create extra revenue streams through content and other channels. There is also the chance to start a business and hire additional coaches over time.

Former nurses who do not wish to work solo may also enjoy the atmosphere presented by working for a sports club. From Premier League football clubs to university clubs, a versatile landscape for strength and conditioning coaching awaits.

Read our guide on how to become a strength and conditioning coach.

Sports Massage Therapist

Most common career change for nurses (UK) as a sports massage therapist

Becoming a sports massage therapist is another job that appears on the list of most common career changes for nurses UK. For starters, you can get jobs working in the NHS, which is something many nurses may wish to consider. Even when working in the NHS, it’s likely that work hours will be more sociable.

The role of a sports massage therapist is to conduct fitness-level assessments, test joints, examine injuries, and prepare sports people for competitive action. It can also extend to determining whether a patient needs to see a doctor for additional treatment. 

While clinic workers will earn a little less than the average nurse, working in the private sector boosts average salaries to the £40,000+ bracket. Many of the skills gained through nursing will be easily transferred to this profession too. When combined with specific sports massage therapy training, you’ll be set to become a brilliant therapist. 

There are also opportunities to work alone or as part of a team with clubs, coaches, and fitness trainers. With several distinct pathways available, it is a challenging yet rewarding career that provides high levels of engagement.

Your first step to becoming a qualified sports massage therapist is to study our Level 3 Sports Massage Course. This is available to learners without any prior qualifications. After completing the Level 3 Sports Massage Course you can then continue with your studies to complete our Level 4 Sports Massage Course.

Teacher / Lecturer

As a nurse, you are familiar with supporting others. However, helping people back to full physical health isn’t the only way to improve their lives. Education is an essential part of human existence and can go a long way to unlocking a person’s full potential. Teachers and lecturers are needed to facilitate this type of growth. And you can become one.

Given your nursing degree, you can complete a one-year postgraduate certificate in education to become a primary school teacher. This allows you to launch an entirely new career and teach an array of subjects like English.

Alternatively, you could work towards becoming a university or college lecturer with a focus on nursing. It will require some training, which you’ll probably do alongside nursing until you’re ready to launch the new career. As such, good time management skills will be pivotal. Once mastered, though, the path to starting a new career is fairly smooth.

Teaching and lecturing will open up many doors. You can work for a single employer, become a travelling lecturer, or even opt for online teaching through e-learning initiatives. From nursing to educating others on another passion, the options are plentiful. 

Healthcare Tech Consultant

Working as a nurse for many years, it’s very likely that you’ve regularly had ideas about how services could be improved. If any of those suggestions stem from healthcare tech, retraining a healthcare tech consultant could be ideal. 

Tech plays a huge role in all types of healthcare from fitness education to on-ward patient care. Your new career will include consulting SMEs in the industry on how to implement new technologies, including items ranging from digital medical imaging to digital medical records. The end goal is to help them improve their practices.

The base pay range in this field is between £30,000 and £50,000 while additional cash compensation is around £3,500. It should be noted, though, that the growing significance of technology in healthcare will likely see this rise and more positions open up.

More importantly, you’ll already have many of the prerequisites, including a nursing degree and experience of working in the healthcare industry. If you can combine this with computer literacy and show an understanding of modern tech used within healthcare settings, you can climb the career ladder in this field very quickly.


Nutrition course for personal trainers

As a nurse or former nurse, you are fully aware of the impact that nutrition has on a person’s health and general quality of life. It is also an area where millions of people need guidance, which is why becoming a nutritionist one of the most common career changes for nurses (UK)

The role of a nutritionist is to help clients gain a better understanding of nutrition and build healthier relationships with food based on their current health conditions and future goals. From facilitating weight loss to promoting improved athletic performance, building dedicated nutrition plans and helping clients show accountability can deliver life-changing results.

Whether becoming a standalone nutritionist or adding it as an additional service to your personal training career, a Level 3 Nutrition for Sport & Exercise course will put you on the path to success. Again, modern tech also opens the door to online coaching as well as franchising opportunities within this field. 

Speech Language Pathologist

Speech language pathology is a rapidly growing career choice. In fact, job opportunities between 2019 and 2029 are expected to show a 25% improvement. While it does require some additional training courtesy of a Master’s degree, it is a highly rewarding career and understandably one of the most common career changes for nurses UK choices. 

You could potentially work in education or healthcare. Either way, the role focuses on diagnosing speech problems and subsequently building tailored strategies to help them overcome their issues. Most commonly the goal will be to treat speech, language, voice, and fluency conditions but it can extend to other tasks.

Newly qualified professionals in this field earn around £28,000 but more experienced speech language pathologists can earn £50,000. The working week tends to last 38-40 hours between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, which also offers a greater work-life balance than current nursing positions.

Medical Writer

Most common career changes for nurses (UK) as a medical writer

All healthcare companies need to produce an array of promotional and educational materials. This can include websites, brochures, leaflets, and letters. Medical writers are needed to produce both online and offline content. It is another career path where your experience within the healthcare industry may be very useful.

Unlike many content creators working in 2024, medical writers must ensure that all content adheres to industry regulations while also fitting the healthcare organisation’s own protocols. As an experienced nurse, you’ll already feel familiar with many of the rules. If you are also equipped with the necessary writing skills, it should be easy to move into this field.

Medical writers can expect to make £35,000+ per year, although there can be a huge variance depending on which path you take. Whether working for a single employer or working as a freelancer, it will be possible to take greater control of your schedule. It also avoids the physical and mental stresses often associated with nursing.

Life Coach

The role of a life coach is to ultimately help clients build a better future. This can cover a range of areas including physical health and fitness, mental health, career advice, relationship advice, and taking accountability. Working one-on-one with clients gives you a chance to make a real difference, which certainly appeals to many former nurses.

Life coaches may acquire various qualifications depending on the areas of life coaching that they wish to pursue. Meanwhile, you could focus on niche audiences. Whether it’s helping young professionals, new parents, or people who lost their way on the road to a healthy lifestyle is up to you. Online and offline coaching can be provided. 

In this role, you also need to show an understanding of individual human qualities. Likewise, helping clients set goals and build plans that fit around their responsibilities is a key skill. It is a challenge but can help people unlock their potential and ultimately lead better lives. Most will charge £40-£60 per hour too, so the earning potential is strong.

Childcare Worker

As a nurse, your ability to take care of others is clear. If working in paediatrics has always given you an extra sense of satisfaction, the move towards childcare could be the perfect solution. You already have many of the human skills and will be well positioned to keep children safe in childcare settings.

The median salary is £25,758 but experienced workers can expect to make up to £58,500. Perhaps more tellingly, there are plenty of opportunities to work Monday to Friday during school or normal business hours. Therefore, it is a popular choice for nurses who want to spend more time with their kids or find a better work-life balance.

As one of the most common career change for nurses UK options, there is a good chance that you will also have colleagues who previously worked in nursing. It is a connection that can make you feel more welcome while simultaneously allowing you to gain valuable advice on how to get more out of the new profession.

How to get started with your career change

nurse career change

The NHS is a wonderful organisation that does incredible work in taking care of patients throughout the UK. However, if you have lost the love of nursing or feel that a new challenge is needed, now is the ideal time to pursue a new career. After all, you only get one shot at this life and must do what is right for you.

Before handing in your resignation, though, you may wish to start work on building a better future. Completing a personal training course is the perfect solution and will subsequently allow you to make the transition away from nursing with greater ease. 

Here at The Fitness Group, we pride ourselves on supporting people like you in launching their new careers or business dreams.

To learn more about how to get started with how to become a personal trainer, how to become a sports massage therapist or how to become a strength and conditioning coach – three of  the most common career change for nurses UK then get in touch today.

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