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What can I do with my healthcare degree (other than working in the healthcare sector)?

Ian Cooper

Career Counsellor
We’ll take you through five of the most common job titles for healthcare grads who strike out on an alternative career path.

If you’re finishing up a degree in medical or health sciences — something related to healthcare — you probably assume that you’ll end up working in, well, healthcare. 

This could mean finding a job at a hospital or large care organization. It could also involve going back to school and earning the additional degree you need in order to become a doctor, dentist, or other licensed practitioner.

However, what if none of those options appeals to you? Don't fret: We’ve got good news. 

We’ve conducted a survey of hundreds of recent grads with degrees in medical and health sciences to find out where they ended up getting their first graduate jobs. And what we found is that many healthcare-related fields of study, like psychology, public health, or even nursing or medicine, will open doors to employment in other sectors.

Turns out that healthcare students are in high demand.

Want to serve the public by working in government or education? You’re in luck. The same goes for more commercial areas like mining, accounting and advisory, or construction — each of which is one of the top sectors for healthcare graduates who don’t want a traditional healthcare employer.

We’ll give you the full list below. But then we’ll move beyond a big-picture perspective that focuses on the sector, and into something more granular: What jobs might you actually be working? 

We’ll take you through five of the most common job titles for healthcare grads who strike out on an alternative career path. While we’re at it, we’ll also suggest some highly-reviewed employers you may wish to check out based on our Top 100 rankings, all so you can go into your own search feeling a little more informed about what may be out there for you.

We hope you’ll find this helpful. Let’s get started.

5 top jobs for medical or health sciences graduates who work outside of the healthcare sector

Before we dive into the most common job titles, let’s review the top sectors that healthcare graduates end up working in (outside of the healthcare sector itself). Here are the top eight

Most common sectors (outside of healthcare) where medical and health sciences grads end up working. Source: Prosple survey of recent graduates from Australian universities.

  1. Government and public service — 61 per cent
  2. Mining, energy, oil, and gas — 10 per cent
  3. Accounting and advisory — 10 per cent
  4. Construction and property services — 6 per cent
  5. Education and training — 4 per cent
  6. Banking and financial services — 4 per cent
  7. Management consulting — 4 per cent
  8. Energy and utilities — 1 per cent 

If you don’t have strong feelings about finding any particular graduate position, then browsing open positions in any of these sectors is a good place to start your job hunt. You’ll be able to explore options ranging from general graduate programs to specific roles, and see what may appeal to you.

However, what if you do want to consider a specific career path? We’ll take you through some of the most common entry-level jobs for medical and science grads so you can begin to get a sense of what things could look like for you.

Here are five of the top job titles:

  1. Health, safety, and environment graduate
  2. Policy officer
  3. Sales or business development graduate
  4. Data and statistics graduate
  5. Research and development graduate

We’ll tackle each one in order.

1. Health, safety, and environment graduate

If you were surprised to see sectors like mining and energy or construction on the list above, here’s why those fields are actually a big destination for healthcare grads: Both are physically dangerous occupations that need people who are going to look out for the health and safety of frontline workers.

That’s where you’d come in.

As a health and safety graduate employee, you’d be responsible for doing things like helping your employer develop, implement, and uphold workplace safety plans. Depending on your educational background and training, you may also be called upon to provide first responder medical care in the event of a workplace accident.

This work has a place in all sectors, of course, but is especially important in those that involve heavy machinery, lifting large objects, and other forms of labour that expose workers to bodily danger. You would play a critical role in helping to make sure those workers stay as safe as possible on the job.

Based on our survey data, the average graduate salary for the mining sector is $81,834, while construction pays $65,039. You can reasonably expect your salary offer to fall somewhere around that range, although keep in mind that these averages don’t only cover healthcare-related job titles.

Top employers who need health, safety, and environment graduates

All these employers ranked highly on our Top 100 list:

Then, take a look at which companies are actively hiring healthcare grads for positions in mining and energy or construction.

2. Policy officer

Now, when most people think of healthcare, they probably think of a doctor, nurse, or dentist treating patients. But keeping people healthy depends not just on frontline caregivers, but on decisions made in government offices by people who are focused not on individual patients but on the big picture: public health policy. 

As a healthcare grad, you’d be ideally positioned to step into a role as a policy officer working for a government department, agency, or even directly for an MP. In that capacity, you’d work with stakeholders across levels of government to help set and guide healthcare policy for your city, state, or the country as a whole. 

Obviously, this sort of position would be perfect for you if you studied public health or another, related field like health administration. But if your university background focused on learning how to take care of patients, you’d be a valuable asset as well because you would have a better understanding of what medical professionals actually go through — and bring those insights with you into your job.

The average graduate starting salary in government is $65,859. Not a huge windfall, to be sure, but you’ll see a more stable work environment (you won’t have to worry much about redundancies, for example) and generally work a consistent 40 hours a week.

Top employers hiring policy officers

These government employers all get high marks from recent grads:

Plus, browse for open government positions specifically for healthcare grads.

3. Sales or business development graduate

Why would a healthcare grad go into sales (or business development, which typically refers to the practice of unifying sales and marketing into a single department)? Because if you studied medical or health sciences, you’re potentially a perfect fit for one of the highest dollar sales markets around: pharmaceuticals.

As a pharmaceutical sales grad, your primary responsibility would often be meeting with doctors to extol the virtues of your company’s products. And when you’re doing that, it sure helps if you can talk the talk — speak to doctors in the language health professionals use so that you feel like less of an outsider and more of a colleague.

Meanwhile, if you studied psychology or counselling, your understanding of human nature would also be hugely valuable. Sales — especially high-dollar, business-to-business sales — is all about building relationships and creating trust, and you can use your psych background (responsibly!) in the service of doing just that.

Now, the average graduate salary for sales may seem slightly underwhelming at $67,654. However, most sales positions offer a compensation structure that is split between base salary and commissions. If you’re able to consistently hit your sales targets, you could quickly find yourself earning $100,000 a year or more.

Top sales employers for healthcare grads

These pharmaceutical or medical supply companies could offer you the first step to a lucrative career in sales:

See which companies in the pharmaceutical or medical supply field are actively hiring for sales roles.

4. Data and statistics graduate

Now, data and statistics is a career path that can take you in many different directions. 

If you studied public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, or simply have a passion for manipulating numbers, you could go on to be successful working in banking, accounting and advisory, management consulting, or tech. While you probably wouldn’t be working directly on health-related issues, you would be able to put your educational background to good use when creating statistical models, analyzing trends, and writing reports making recommendations that would help executive decision-makers decide on a course of action. 

As we've already noted above, you’d also do well in government. There, an understanding of how to make data-driven policy is vital to those working in health departments or on legislation that could affect healthcare for millions of Australians.

In other words, pursue a career in statistics and you’ll find doors open everywhere. 

Given that we’re talking about such a wide range of fields here, we can’t offer one specific salary average. However, we feel comfortable stating you could probably look for an initial offer of between $60,000 to $70,000, based on typical starting salaries for the sectors we’ve mentioned.

Top employers hiring grads for data and statistics jobs

Check out this mix of highly-regarded employers from several sectors:

Then see who may be hiring healthcare grads for data-focused roles.

5. Research and development graduate

Finally, you could also use your healthcare background to go into research. This could be academic, of course, pursuing a PhD and then a career in the lab, but you could also explore research opportunities in the private sector.

Here, some of your best opportunities will be in areas like pharmaceutical research or medical tech development. This could involve anything from working on new medications to helping create cutting-edge technological solutions to healthcare problems and also offers at least the potential of being involved in work that can directly improve the lives of others.

While you would likely be well-served by earning an advanced degree if you wish to establish a career in one of these areas, even a BS can open enough doors in the sector to give you a sense of whether it feels like a long-term fit. 

The average starting salary for grads in research and development is $67,867, although this may vary considerably depending on your role. If you do choose to go back to school and earn a master’s or doctoral-level degree, you’ll be in line for significantly higher compensation as well.

Top research and development employers for healthcare grads

These firms are big players in the pharmaceutical or life sciences space:

Then, see which research and development employers are currently looking for healthcare grads.

Don’t be afraid to look around

Whatever you may have thought when you started school, as a grad with a medical and health sciences background, you’ll have a wide range of options waiting for you when you finish.

Don’t be afraid to explore them! Check out employers in fields like research and development, public health policy, safety, and even sales and see what strikes your interest. 

If you’re motivated to help others, working as a policy officer or a researcher may be a great fit. If, however, you want to see a big payday, time to brush up on your sales skills.

Send out some applications, find a graduate program, jump in, and see how it goes. If you like, it — great! You can start moving up the ladder in your new field.

And if not, that’s okay too. Since your degree will open so many doors, there will always be another opportunity waiting for you to explore.

We wish you luck on your journey!

Who wants to hire you? Find out here!

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