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What Can You Do With a Medical Degree Without Residency?

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Most people assume that all med school graduates go on to become physicians, surgeons, or employees in a hospital, clinic, or private practice setting. But some graduates choose not to participate in a residency program while others do not get accepted to a training program.

This is not necessarily something you need to worry about, though, because there are plenty of jobs you can do with a medical degree without a residency. Below, we are going to take a look at the different options you can consider if you have chosen not to pursue residency or were not selected for a residency program.

How To Become a Licensed Medical Physician?

Becoming a physician takes a lot of money, time, and effort. Because of this, you need to be quite sure that it is the career path you want to follow. So what exactly are the steps to becoming a licensed medical physician? Below, we are going to briefly outline the process involved in becoming a licensed physician:

  1. Earn your bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college
  2. Take and pass the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
  3. Apply to a medical school
  4. Complete med school training
  5. Take and receive a pass score in the USMLE Step 1 and 2 (United States Medical Licensing Examination)
  6. Match with a residency program
  7. Graduate from med school
  8. Start your residency training
  9. Pass USMLE Step 3
  10. Finish your residency
  11. Earn board certification (if applicable)
  12. Obtain your license

The whole process takes anywhere from 10 to 14 years from when you start your bachelor’s degree to obtaining your license. As we mentioned, being a physician takes a lot of money, time, and effort!

But if you happen to get to step 7, and can’t or don’t want to move on to step 8 for any reason, just keep reading!

Is a Residency Position Guaranteed After Med School?

Once you have received your medical degree and have thrown your cap in the air, you can’t simply walk into a hospital to begin your medical career. Sadly, the harsh reality is that graduating from medical school doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a position in a residency program.

Physicians need to be matched to a residency program where they will spend three to seven years doing their residency and fellowship. You will be matched to a residency program based on your top choice of hospitals and your specialty and their availability.

But what happens if you don’t match to a residency program but you intend to proceed with the path of becoming a licensed physician? First, there is a post-match process that you can apply to. Second, you can take a year off to pursue other interests and re-apply for the next cycle. Third, you can skip doing a residency and find a different job with just your medical degree.

If you are reading this, you are likely in the third category. So even if you aren’t going to do a residency program, there are so many other options. We are going to take a look at what you can do without a medical degree if you forgo residency.

What Can You Do With a Medical Degree Without Residency?

There are so many different jobs available to you if you have received your medical degree but don’t have your residency. The following jobs are just a few of the options you can pursue without completing your residency.

Medical Research Scientist 

A medical research scientist helps conduct research into new treatments in the clinical trial stage in a pharmaceutical company’s development department.

Average Annual Pay: $85,000

Technical or Medical Writing

A medical writer creates documents that communicate complicated medical information in a simpler way. This includes writing manuals, grants, journal articles, how-to guides, a medical product’s safety guide, and clinical trial reports.

Average Annual Pay: $72,000

Health Insurance Underwriter

If you have a passion for ensuring people have good health insurance, you can use your expertise in the medical sector to work as an underwriter to create insurance policies for insurance companies. Health insurance underwriters can also change and review these policies. Lastly, some may assist in data analysis to understand client needs.

Average Annual Pay: $69,400

Health and Medical Services Management

For med school graduates who have good management and leadership skills, a compliance officer, program director, or medical facility CEO may be a good fit. With your medical degree, you will have an advantage over those without a health background.

Average Annual Pay: $100,000

Medical Instructor

A medical instructor works in medical universities and colleges to teach sciences including anatomy and biochemistry from basic to advanced levels. At some colleges, professors can also conduct various science-related research.

Average Annual Pay: $73,500 (Nursing Instructors), $79,500 (Chemistry), $82,500 (Biological Science), $91,000 (Physics), and $97,500 (Health Specialties)

Physician Associate/Assistant

Finding a job with a medical degree without a residency doesn’t mean that you can’t find something within the patient-care sector. A physician associate/assistant (PA) allows you to work in a healthcare team provided you are compliant with the state’s certification process.

Average Annual Pay: $108,500

Medical Science Liaison

Medical know-how is one thing, but if you pair that with great communication skills, you can have an excellent career as a medical science liaison for pharmaceutical companies. You interact primarily with clinical experts and possible users of the product.

Average Annual Pay: $129,400

Medical Consulting

Using your knowledge of patient care and medicine, you can help a company create better-quality products for patients and clients.

Average Annual Pay: $87,000

Female EMS Paramedic Proudly Standing in Front of Camera

Medical Jobs Without Doing Residency

While the above options are the better-paying options that still allow you a relatively hands-on option, there are plenty of other jobs you can consider, as below.

Sleep Medicine – Provide diagnosis, treatment, and therapy for various sleep disorders.

Average Annual Pay: $68,000

Emergency Medical Technician – Respond to emergency medical care and transportation of patients in out-of-hospital scenarios.

Average Annual Pay: $36,500

Personal Trainer – Assist in coaching and fitness counseling, providing encouragement and support to clients.

Average Annual Pay: $40,000

Pain Management – Teach self-treatment options and techniques to allow patients to manage and alleviate chronic pain.

Average Annual Pay: $61,000

Diagnostic Medical Sonography – Give patient care by providing rigorous assessments using ultrasound technology.

Average Annual Pay: $74,000

Ultrasound Technician – Monitor pregnancies, cardiovascular, and neurological conditions in mothers and babies.

Average Annual Pay: $58,500

Respiratory Therapist – Provide direct care and treatment to patients who have respiratory conditions.

Average Annual Pay: $62,000

Massage Therapist – Assist in managing stress, aches, and pains while boosting overall health using therapeutic massage techniques.

Average Annual Pay: $41,500

Medical Review Officer – Oversee and review laboratory tests in workplace drug tests and other drug programs.

Average Annual Pay: $40,500

Cosmetic Services – Assist in improving patients’ appearance with enhancement procedures including botox and filler.

Average Annual Pay: $25,000

Aesthetic Medicine – Improve the cosmetic appearance of patients using different treatments to remove moles, wrinkles, cellulite, skin discoloration, and more.

Average Annual Pay: $31,500

Hair Restoration – Assist patients with balding areas and thinning hair on various parts of their body to improve their appearance through restoration.

Average Annual Pay: $47,500

Acupuncture – This is an alternative medicine that stimulates the different parts of the body by penetrating microneedles to treat various health problems and alleviate pain and tension.

Average Annual Pay: $49,500

Lifestyle Medicine/ Exercise Physiologist – Promote the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity, a predominantly whole food plant-based diet, restorative sleep, stress management, healthy social relationships, and avoidance of substances like alcohol, smoking, and drugs to treat chronic illnesses and conditions.

Average Annual Pay: $49,500

Preventive Medicine – Practitioners of preventative medicine promote measures to take and practice to prevent death, disease, or disability.

Average Annual Pay: $75,000

Naturopathic Medicine – This alternative medicine option promotes various non-invasive and natural remedies to heal the body.

Average Annual Pay: $44,000

Non-Clinical Jobs for Medical Degree Without Residency

If you would prefer to use your medical degree for a non-clinical job, there are a few healthcare jobs you can do out of a clinic or hospital setting. Below are just a few top options.

Medical Legal Work – This job typically requires that you have clinical experience and a medical degree, although most companies may require a medical license and board certification. You can work in a medical legal office assisting with medical lawsuits and cases.

Health Writer – If you enjoy writing, you can write health and medical content for the general public. Most health writers need to have clinical experience in a specialty to create authority.

Medical Informatics – This is a growing field that many physicians are choosing to enter into. It involves working with the implementation of technology and electronic medical records.


If you are deciding whether joining a residency program is what you want or if you haven’t been matched with a program, there are so many other jobs you can do once you have graduated from med school. So, no matter why you are not doing a residency, it doesn’t have to be the end of your career in medicine. 

The options we looked at above are just some of the options you can choose from. Plenty of non-resident medical physicians have enjoyed excellent success in their chosen careers, all without their residency, which means you can too!

1 thought on “What Can You Do With a Medical Degree Without Residency?”

  1. I am a non-clinicala MD and this article does not even begin to describe the opportunities available to an MD without a residency. The salaries are very misleading as well. The world is ripe with opportunity for non-clinical doctors

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