Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Jobs: Skills, Salary and Definition

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working in a scientific setting offers a mixture of clinical and non-clinical roles to candidates. Candidates typically have involvement with the direct diagnoses, treatment and observation of a patient, while non-clinical roles often focus on hospital administration or development of treatments and pharmaceuticals. Understanding the difference between clinical and non-clinical jobs can help you make more informed career choices and decide on a field to specialise in. In this article, we discuss the difference between clinical vs. non-clinical job and outline the top 15 clinical and non-clinical jobs with their salaries and primary duties.

Clinical vs. non-clinical jobs

The key difference between clinical vs. non-clinical jobs is that direct involvement with the observation, diagnosis and treatment of patients is more common with clinical roles. Non-clinical roles typically involve people who work in a clinical setting but don't interact or have any involvement with the treatment of a patient. This doesn't mean that those who work in non-clinical roles don't have involvement in medicine, as non-clinical jobs can also involve those who develop vaccines or biological engineering. The key difference is commonly patient interaction and direct treatment.

Related: 16 Hospital Jobs to Consider

8 clinical jobs

Here are some examples of clinical jobs that orientate around providing direct patient care:

1. Medical doctor

National average salary: $126,911 per year

Primary duties: Medical doctors or physicians primarily look after non-surgical patients and patients who have recently undergone extensive treatment and require occasional check-ups. They monitor a patient's progress and refer them for further treatment if they notice a deterioration in their health or another medical issue. They may specialise in a particular medical field, such as cardiology or dermatology. Physicians require a medical degree and many years of training, fellowship, specialisation and certification to qualify as a practising physician.

Related: Understanding the Average Australian Doctor Salary

2. Registered nurse

National average salary: $76,076 per year

Primary duties: Registered nurses (RN) are fully qualified nurses who have received authorisation from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to practise full-time. Registered nurses can work in multiple clinical roles, from surgical ward nurses to palliative care. These professionals typically have direct involvement in patient care and administer medications, run tests, help in the diagnostic process and may assist during surgical procedures. They require a bachelor's degree in nursing and a certification from AHPRA to practise legally.

3. Healthcare assistant

National average salary: $55,886 per year

Primary duties: A healthcare assistant works with nurses to help patients with everyday activities like walking, getting out of bed, cleaning and checking vitals. Healthcare assistants primarily work to make patients more comfortable and help them feel at ease in a hospital. This may involve talking to them and establishing a companionship. Healthcare assistants typically don't require a degree, but a certificate in healthcare may be useful to ensure they possess any necessary skills or basic medical knowledge.

4. General practitioner

National average salary: $223,532 per year

Primary duties: General practitioners work in general health settings and look after everyday clinical needs. This involves seeing a rotation of patients and making diagnoses based on mild symptoms. They may prescribe medications to treat infections or pain or may refer the patient to the hospital or a specialist. GPs require a medical degree and years of experience before qualifying as a GP. They may have specialised in a different field previously before moving on to everyday healthcare.

5. Physiotherapist

National average salary: $81,434 per year

Primary duties: Physiotherapists work with patients with skeletal conditions to relieve pain, help them walk and establish muscular strength. They may rehabilitate patients who have had a recent injury or illness and require long-term physiotherapy to recover. Physiotherapists may not require a medical degree but may require a sports science qualification to equip them with the necessary knowledge about anatomy.

6. Nutritionist

National average salary: $72,271 per year

Primary duties: Nutritionists work in clinical settings to help people form better relationships with their food. This involves creating diet plans, administering advice, referring to other specialists and examining pre-existing conditions. Nutritionists can work in a variety of clinical settings, from running their own private business to working in intensive care and ensuring that incapacitated patients receive proper nutrition. Nutritionists may require a bachelor's degree in science or nutrition to qualify and gain recognition from the Nutrition Society of Australia to practise legally.

7. Psychologist

National average salary: $90,034 per year

Primary duties: Psychologists work with patients suffering from mental illnesses in many clinical settings. They help patients overcome trauma, establish healthy boundaries and offer advice for anyone in crisis. They may construct dedicated care plans and work with other clinical professionals to assure their patient's mental and physical safety. Psychologists typically require a minimum of six years of education and training, a master's degree, a doctorate and a registration with the Psychology Board of Australia to practise as a psychologist legally.

8. Surgeon

National average salary: $141,695 per year

Primary duties: Surgeons typically work in hospital settings and perform life-saving procedures to improve patient health and quality of life. Surgeons can specialise in a variety of fields, from dermatology to brain surgery. Surgeons require meticulous attention to detail, time management and expert knowledge of anatomy. They require a medical degree and may train for many years through internships and fellowships before working independently.

7 non-clinical jobs

Here are some examples of non-clinical jobs that still involve medical care:

1. Porter

National average salary: $48,904 per year

Primary duties: Porters primarily transport patients from different areas in a hospital from a wheelchair or hospital bed. They may also drive patients to different care facilities or ensure that they have safe transport to different specialists. Porters can work in a variety of clinical settings, but typically work inside hospitals. Porters don't typically require any further qualifications, but it may be an expectation for them to have extensive knowledge of health, safety and accessibility.

2. Hospital receptionist

National average salary: $53,216 per year

Primary duties: Hospital receptionists help book appointments, schedule surgeries and place orders with medical suppliers to ensure that a hospital runs smoothly. Receptionists can work inside wards or be front of house staff in a clinical entrance setting. They may work as part of a team and help nurses prioritise the order of patients based on a checklist of symptoms. Receptionists may not require any qualifications but require a good understanding of technical skills and time management.

3. Human resources

National average salary: $113,950 per year

Primary duties: Human resources (HR) departments in clinical settings focus on patient interaction and staff interactions. Their job is to address and solve any grievances among staff, supervise recruitment processes, carry out redundancies and mediate meetings. They require extensive employment law knowledge and have good interpersonal skills to work with many people every day. HR professionals may benefit from a degree in business management or a postgraduate degree in human resources to understand the fundamentals of employment law.

4. Biomedical engineer

National average salary: $206,136 per year

Primary duties: Biomedical engineers help to research, develop and test new treatments, vaccines, construct organs and seek clearance from health advisory boards to introduce new products into healthcare systems. They may test and analyse viruses or diseases to better understand how we respond to them or develop ways to fight illness. Engineers also maintain or repair any medical equipment and help to update or improve existing systems. Biomedical engineers require a bachelor's or postgraduate degree in biochemistry, engineering or mechanics and may have a doctorate in their chosen field.

5. Medical salesperson

National average salary: $109,088 per year

Primary duties: A medical salesperson travels to hospitals and clinical settings trying to sell medicines, equipment or new products for their client. They may organise specific meetings with hospital executives and provide samples of the product while pitching its benefits. Medical salespeople typically require a background in sales and business development to have the necessary networking and pitching skills to sell a product quickly.

6. Medical researchers

National average salary: $105,592 per year

Primary duties: Medical researchers primarily work in academic settings, researching new discoveries about diseases and helping clinicians find more treatments. They may work as part of special task forces to help fight specific diseases or assist medical academics and help them publish new material. They may require a bachelor's degree in science or related healthcare field and may require previous laboratory experience to understand complex formulas and medical jargon.

Related: 20 Careers in Health Science

7. Medical insurance handlers

National average salary: $81,934 per year

Primary duties: Medical insurance handlers may work on behalf of private medical facilities and handle their client's data, process claims and process payments. Insurance handlers make calculated decisions on the medical cover based on the type of treatment the patient has and the likelihood of success. They may also process legal proceedings against clinical facilities in a case of malpractice. Insurance handlers typically don't require formal qualifications, but they can benefit from gaining experience and skills by using data management systems.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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