Alternative Careers In Health

Wish to work in health but have no medical degree? Have a medical background, but want to branch out? Here are alternate careers in health.

Wish to work in health but have no medical degree? Have a medical background, but want to branch out? Here are alternate careers in health.

By Sandhya Renukamba

A fairly rigid education system in India, lack of proper guidance or a suitable opportunity at the crucial stage of 10+2, or just plain confusion and a general lack of clarity in teens about what one wants to do in life, might mean that we spend a few years getting a degree that doesn’t lead to a career that one might have dreamed of.

Sometimes circumstances might lead to a career break, and we find ourselves unable or unwilling to go back. Alternative career options in health could be the answer, as many opportunities are opening up. Universities and institutes offer short-to-full courses for careers in health, often as distance education/online, with relaxed age restrictions. Eligibility criteria could be a basic degree in any faculty, or, in specific cases, in the humanities/life sciences.

Here are some of the alternative careers in health that you could look at, if working in this sector interests you.


A dietician consultation is integral to health check-ups. Many disorders, both of the body and of the mind, can be traced to the food one consumes – what, how much, when and how. There are many sub-specialities in this, like ayurvedic nutrition, paediatric nutrition, and convalescent nutrition.

Course links: Details of courses offered here.

Eligibility: A 10+2 in the sciences for a Bachelors in dietetics and a degree in basic sciences/life sciences for a Masters. Good colleges often have an entrance exam.

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Career opportunities: Here and here are some relevant details.


This is an extremely important field for mental health, and the call for good psychotherapists/counsellors in on the increase in educational institutes and corporates. One can even set up their own consultancy, or be attached to hospitals. Degree holders in any faculty are eligible in most places.

Course links: NIMHANS, SNDT, IBAM, IBMS are some recognized institutes.

Eligibility: A degree in any faculty is usually sufficient to apply. Most institutes have no age restrictions. Some institutes like NIMHANS might require a medical degree.

Career opportunities: Here are some details.

Yoga instructor

Yoga can be done at home, needs no special equipment, and has proven itself to be an invaluable part of fitness routines.

Course links: Some links here, here and here.

Eligibility: Anyone with an interest in yoga, and some personal experience of regular yoga practice.

Career opportunities: Many. Yoga being a way of life rather than just for fitness, these are much in demand.

Fitness consultant

Interested in physical fitness, and want to do something more than just hitting the gym yourself? Training to be a fitness consultant is a good option.

Course links: Some links here, here and here.

Eligibility: Anyone can go in for this. For those without a background in life sciences/medicine/para-medical branches, there is usually an orientation programme familiarizing them with human anatomy and physiology.

Career opportunities: One can set up one’s own consultancy with a gym, or branch out into the arena of sports, gymnastics, yoga, zumba, martial arts, be attached to a hospital, become a private fitness trainer… it’s a wide field.

Medical Social Worker (MSW)

Often, patients may be unable/unwilling to verbalise their health, or neglect healthcare due to many psycho-social factors. MSWs are the interface between healthcare professionals and society, working at the grassroots level, both in urban/rural settings. Recognising the felt needs of a demographic, following up on treatment given once the patient has returned to their home, identifying and retrieving treatment defaulters – invaluable in cases of communicable diseases, or negligence due to social factors; an MSW is indispensable.

Course links: Here are a few links that could be explored.

Eligibility: A 10+2/degree in life sciences or any degree with some experience in social work/health. A willingness to work closely with the disadvantaged and ability to empathize is necessary.

Career opportunities: Most hospitals, NGOs, government health care outfits, these days require an MSW.

Health education

There are a variety of issues that often need to be explained to laypersons, and children, to spread awareness of health and health-related social issues.

Course links: Here is a relevant link. Also, most medical colleges with a Preventive and Social Medicine (Public Health) department.

Eligibility: A medical degree/degree in education/media/communications.

Career opportunities: Even working in the field through NGOs, schools, or writing about health issues for periodicals online/in print/health education videos, etc., can be a great way of giving back to society.

Music therapist

Music affects the mind in myriad ways, and its power can be harnessed for healing.

Course links: Here, here and here are some links.

Eligibility: Any degree with some serious music training, and an ability to empathize with emotions evoked by music. A medical/life sciences background would be convenient.

Career opportunities: Here are some details.

Medical writing

An understanding of medical concepts and familiarity with medical jargon is necessary to present facts in a way that a layperson can easily understand. A lot of medical writing is also done for hospitals, pharmacological companies, scientific journals, healthcare websites/magazines, and needs a lot of research, to be tailored for the target audience.

Course links: Here are some relevant details.

Eligibility: A degree in life sciences/medical fields, with a flair for language.

Career opportunities: Here and here is some detailed information that may be of use.

Hospital administration

Hospitals need to be managed well – right from small clinics to massive institutions – for an optimal, wholesome, and satisfactory healthcare experience. Degree/diploma courses in hospital management include medical topics, but a background in medicine would be convenient.

Course links: Here and here are some details.

Eligibility: Any degree, medical/non-medical.

Career opportunities: Here are some details. 

Pain management and palliative care

Debilitating pain can be a feature of many disorders. While traditional medicine works towards treatment of these disorders, pain management can contribute to a better quality of life.

Course links: Details here.

Eligibility: 10+2 in sciences, or any medical degree/postgraduate degree for some courses.

Career opportunities: In most hospitals – it is fast becoming a part of post-surgical care, as well as palliative care in many neurological/ musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, terminally ill patients and some chronic diseases.

Some other alternative career options can be in the field of clinical research, midwifery, reiki, holistic healing, massage therapy, acupressure, reflexology, aromatherapy, meditation, pilates, etc. Volunteering in a hospital could also offer experience that might open up many avenues.

Here are a few more links that could be explored – the possibilities are endless!,, HTCampus, LearnHub, Webindia123, IGNOU, College of Social Work, AIIPMR, Tata Institute of Social SciencesBharati Vidyapeeth, All India Institute of Public Health.

So go for your dream career now, even if a little late.

*Photo credit: Tax Credits (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)


About the Author

Sandhya Renukamba

In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya Renukamba is fortunate to associate every day with a whole lot of smart and fabulous writers and readers. A doctor read more...

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