Alternative Careers for Physicians

For those who want a career that is similar to that of a physician, there are a few different options. Learn about a handful of these career options, their job duties and education requirements.

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Alternative Career Options for Physicians

With their extensive background in medicine and science, physicians looking to change their career can find several different options within a few different job fields. Although most of these careers have their own unique education requirements, a doctoral degree in medicine can easily be applied. Below is a list of some alternative career options for physicians.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Veterinarians $88,770 9%
Epidemiologists $70,820 6%
Medical Scientists $80,530 8%
Chiropractors $67,520 17%
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary $99,360 19%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Alternative Careers for Physicians


Veterinarians actually perform many of the same job duties as a physician, but instead of providing medical care to humans they provide medical care to a variety of animals. These professionals examine pets, livestock, exotic animals and more to diagnose injuries or illnesses and treat these conditions with medications, surgeries and other treatments. Veterinarians also administer vaccinations to animals, talk with animal owners about proper health and care for their animal and may euthanize an animal if required. They must hold a state license and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree to practice.


Physicians may be interested in working as an epidemiologist if they enjoy the research side of medicine and healthcare. Epidemiologists study the patterns and/or causes of diseases and other medical conditions and then work to try and prevent the further spread of these conditions. They may collect biological samples to study and use in their research, which is then presented to the public and may have influence on public health policy and/or health programs. Epidemiologists are only required to have a master's degree, but some may hold a doctoral degree in medicine like a physician.

Medical Scientists

Similar to an epidemiologist, a medical scientist works on the research side of medicine, which may appeal to some physicians. These scientists conduct a variety of clinical trials and other research projects aimed at improving human health by learning more about particular drugs, diseases, pathogens and more. Medical scientists also help develop new medical devices and public health programs. They need a Ph.D. and some may choose to earn their medical degree.


Chiropractors are similar to physicians in that they care for a patient's health, but they do this by specializing in treating the neuromusculoskeletal system. Like a physician they examine patients and take into account a patient's medical history, but then they begin to treat a patient's pain through spinal adjustments, correcting posture, applying cold or heat therapy and more. Chiropractors may also use X-rays to help diagnose issues and advise patient's about proper exercise and health habits that may affect their condition. These professionals need a state license and a 4-year Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary

A physician may enjoy working as an educator and passing along the knowledge they have gained through their experiences in medicine to the next generation of students at the postsecondary level. Postsecondary teachers must design their own curriculum, assignments and assessments to teach student the necessary skills in a particular set of courses. Depending on the institution, postsecondary teachers are often required to supervise graduate students, conduct independent research and serve on various committees for the institution. The majority of postsecondary teachers need a Ph.D. in their field of expertise, but some schools may only require a master's degree.

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