25 Best Careers That Help People [2024 Ultimate Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 4, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Careers that help people not only provide high job satisfaction but can also be quite rewarding financially. Review our list to see what you might want to do on a professional level.

Careers that help people not only provide high job satisfaction but may also be quite rewarding financially. Review our list to see what you might want to do on a professional level.

Careers That Help People

Jobs helping others are in high demand and may see you working for the government, nonprofits, businesses, and churches in a variety of roles.

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What Are the Careers that Help People?

According to research on job satisfaction and community effectiveness, these are the 25 careers you may enter if you want to help people live healthier, more positive lives. Click on one that interests you to jump to that section.

  1. Addiction Counseling
  2. Corrections
  3. Criminal Justice
  4. Dentistry
  5. Education
  6. Emergency Management
  7. English Language Learning
  8. Fire Science and Fire Fighting
  9. Fitness and Personal Training
  10. Gerontology
  11. Health Services
  12. Healthcare Administration
  13. Homeland Security
  14. Human Services
  15. Legal Studies
  16. Mental Health Counseling
  17. Nonprofit Management
  18. Nursing
  19. Nutritional Sciences
  20. Occupational Therapy
  21. Psychology
  22. Public Administration
  23. Public Health
  24. Religion/Theology
  25. Social Work

In general, the more education and experience you have in one of these fields, the higher your salary might be.

Addiction Counseling

addiction counselor giving her patient a glass of water during therapy session

Even before America was overtaken by a highly-visible opiate crisis, there was a need for mental health specialists that could tackle all the facets of recovering from addiction. This has now turned into its own certified field.

An addiction counselor primarily works with the patients, families, and loved ones of those affected by addiction. They may play a vital role in coordinating acute care for those affected with withdrawal symptoms.

They are also the frontline fighters that try to help patients rebuild their lives over the long term. Many also work with social workers to ensure their patients access the necessary services to keep them clean for years to come.

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In this day and age, chances to radically affect the lives of people with substance abuse abound. Addiction counselors may be employed at private and public inpatient facilities alike. Halfway houses, schools, and non-profit NGOs now also employ addiction counselors as part of their networks.

This is a rapidly growing field where job openings are expected to increase by 23% over the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics. On average, an addiction counselor can make $47,660 a year, which may make it a reliable option for those with a vocation for helping others.


corrections officer walking through the prison aisle

Corrections officers handle an essential but often overlooked part of the criminal justice systems around the nation. They offer security at prisons, juvenile rehabilitation centers, and courts.

However, over the past few years, the field has grown into an opportunity for those who want to take an active role in rehabilitating and uplifting people who have been convicted of a crime.

Careers in the corrections field are experiencing an unprecedented uptick in the current environment, as part of a larger movement towards prison reform. Salaries and growth opportunities are also being driven up thanks to the privatization of correctional facilities.

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This is why a corrections officer may now earn a mean annual salary of $47,440 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but those in the top 10% can make as much as $81,360. On a day-to-day basis, correction officers are tasked with maintaining discipline and order at their workplaces. When they work at a courthouse, this may involve maintaining serenity and handling riotous or exalted people.

In jails and prisons, they may oversee the day to day lives of inmates, ensuring they have a structured environment where they can overcome their past crimes. This may be a rewarding field for physically-fit natural leaders who believe in the virtues of discipline.

Criminal Justice

forensic expert collecting evidence at crime scene

As the term “Criminal Justice” encompasses a rather large subset of government, it can be hard to gauge at first glance what this professional path entails.

A career in criminal justice offers many different specializations. The exact avenues open for those who pursue this field may change at the local, state, and federal levels.

In a nutshell, a criminal justice career is tasked with keeping the society at large safe from those who violate its rules. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the local law, its nuances, and the rules that determine how it’s applied.

Depending on the path chosen, it may also include determining the causes of a crime, assessing its effects on the victims, or designing methods to prevent its recurrence.

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People with criminal justice degrees may work as law enforcement, in forensic, immigration and border control, homeland security, or offering legal services. This means that, depending on how each professional chooses to further their education, they may find openings across pretty much every state or federal division.

The median pay for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is $43,710 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), but this may be higher for those who then specialize at a Master’s level.


dentist with his assistant working in a clinic

Dentistry is the health field that focuses on the health of the mouth, teeth, and maxilla-facial bones. Therefore, they are considered a prestigious specialization within the healthcare field.

This is why it combines many of the same rewards and qualities as those that await general doctors and nursing specialists. However, by focusing on a specific body region, it may also offer shorter study times, and in some cases, increased job security.

Traditional dentists may choose to specialize in restorative or cosmetic procedures at an outpatient level. Within hospitals, they may also specialize in more thorough reconstructive surgery, orthodontics, or maxilla-facial surgical procedures.

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Almost all jobs within the field require working directly with patients, providing constant or long-term care.

Oral health is often characterized by a strong emphasis on prevention. This turns dentistry into an attractive field for those who like to establish long-term, trusting relationships with patients, or who like to teach as well as to act.

Entering this career requires effort and hard study after completing a Bachelor’s degree. It might compensate this by offering a median salary of $158,940 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).


early childhood education teacher helping her students during playtime

Few careers are as traditional and all-encompassing as teaching, and few offer as many opportunities to radically change the lives of people of all ages. It should be noted, however, that teaching is not the only career path open to educators, although it is the most popular one.

Expertise in education may help you find employment at private companies as a coach or an in-house trainer. Educators also often raise into administrative positions or specialize in public policy, where they may work designing the systems that will educate future generations.

No matter which path is chosen, a career in Education is often best suited for people with high-interpersonal skills who are good at showing, planning, and nurturing. There are many ways to enter the field, depending on the chosen type of specialization.

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Those who want to work with small children or at primary schools often need a degree in Primary or Early Childhood Education. This will cover knowledge about the core subject, alongside the basics of child psychology, behavioral modification methods, and emotional intelligence development.

For those who want to teach at a secondary school or college level, an expert-level degree in their chosen field is often required. This may then be followed by specialized training in teaching delivery methods.

Emergency Management

emergency respondents closing an ambulance

Emergency Management has probably always existed, but it only very recently began to be offered as its own field. This means that there are still many available avenues to craft a career in this area, both traditional and not.

An Emergency Manager is a professional who is in charge of administering, allocating, and supervising resources that need to be delivered quickly and in life-or-death scenarios.

This includes emergency assistance of law enforcement, ambulances, fire-fighting services, and more thorough interventions following major accidents or disasters. Therefore, an Emergency manager needs to be a talented administrator who understands the basics of emergency care.

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Their decisions can help ensure that EMTs will be able to reach their patients without delay. They may also be in charge of setting up protocols and systems that will be activated in cases of natural disasters, or that will oversee triage at Emergency rooms or war zones.

This may become a highly lucrative field for those with an eye for logistics who can make quick decisions, or who want to help people “behind the scenes.” While entry-level positions in Emergency response can provide around $42,230 a year, an experienced emergency manager can make $76,250 or more (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

English Language Learning

English tutor teaching a foreign student

Unlike traditional education professionals, an English language learning expert will often be exclusively devoted to teaching and perfecting the English language.

Despite the seemingly narrow field of specialty, English language learning offers surprisingly flexible career options and allows for dealing with both varied groups of students and working conditions.

Most English Language Learning specialists focus on delivering English as a Second Language. These are often remedial classes that can be targeted at foreign children or adults who need to be integrated into an English-speaking environment.

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Inside the U.S., this may offer opportunities to work with immigrants and refugees. However, this career might also open very exciting paths for those who want to travel abroad.

Many language academies offer internship opportunities and short-term contracts to native English speakers who are willing to relocate to exotic locations.

In addition to patience, English language learning careers may also require a good knowledge of linguistics, emotional intelligence, and a not-so-hidden adventurous spirit. The median reported salary is $55,350 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Fire Science and Fire Fighting

firefighter getting ready near a fire truck

Firefighters are firmly established in people’s imaginations as one of the most devoted real-life “heroes” who ensure society at large can remain safe. However, there is also a surprising depth to this field, hiding just below eye level.

This encompasses varied scenarios as well as opportunities for growth into administrative or public policy positions.

Firefighting is a highly physical career that requires hands-on contact with life-threatening situations. This may happen both in cities and in forests or rural areas, where they deliver quick aid during large scale national disasters.

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Fire science couples experience with evidence-based knowledge regarding the physics of fire, the way it spreads, and its expected behaviors.

This might, therefore, jumpstart professional growth, as it may open up positions in forensics, the administration of firefighting units, or as public policymakers. The median salary for a fire science expert as a Fire Lieutenant is $78,870 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Fitness and Personal Training

fitness trainer assisting a senior couple

Most people tend to think of personal trainers as the gym experts who, hired to work with individual clients, provide an extra push for those who are seeking to maximize their performance or aesthetic appeal.

In truth, this is only a relatively minor part of the opportunities offered by fitness trainers. This is a highly personal but flexible field that offers positions in hospitals, sports teams, schools, and gyms alike.

A Fitness and personal trainer expert must have a solid foundation of basic anatomy, especially where the skeletal and muscular systems are involved. They must also possess a good understanding of nutrition and a well-developed bedside manner that motivates without demanding.

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Naturally, a drive toward self-improvement and a passion for pushing the limits of the human body is also useful. This is a hands-on field where many use their own physiques as their CVs, and therefore personal fitness will likely be important.

In addition to private practice, fitness trainers often work with professional athletes or sports teams to maximize their efficiency or oversee their practice.

Many also venture to hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, or special-needs schools, where they may assist rehabilitating people after great injuries or regaining strength after a long illness.


doctor visiting a senior home

Gerontology is the field devoted to catering to the specific physical and medical needs of elderly people. As the world is experiencing a rapid increase in life expectancy, this is now widely considered to be one of the fastest-growing fields within healthcare, especially where entry-level positions are concerned.

Gerontology professionals may provide people 70 or older with the necessary care to ensure they continue to experience a long, rewarding life.

The most widely known path available in this field is to provide private care to elderly adults, especially those recovering from surgery, handling a chronic illness, or who are experiencing age-related dementia.

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However, many gerontology experts also work at hospitals, nursing homes, or as part of state-run welfare agencies. It is very common for them to liaise with or to assist general health practitioners or social workers.

The average salary for a gerontologist in the U.S. is $91,510 (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and salaries are expected to go up as the demand for such professionals increases.

Health Services

nurse assisting a patient

People who want to devote their lives to helping others often gravitate toward careers in the healthcare sector; after all, what can be more impactful than helping to provide life-saving care or pain relief to people who are at their most vulnerable?

However, the complex gears of our healthcare system are not made up solely of doctors and nurses: there is a wide range of administrative positions that are also essential to keep a hospital running.

Majoring in Health Services may be a great path for those who prefer a “behind the scenes” approach. These careers focus less on the scientific background required for directly curing people but place a greater emphasis on enabling doctors and nurses to do their best.

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On a day-to-day basis, health service professionals coordinate with insurance companies to ensure coverage and advocate for patients as their case managers.

They may also be in charge of designing workflows and distributing shifts in a fair manner, ensuring all patients have a shot at receiving prompt care.

Just like the healthcare field in general, this is a field that is experiencing rapid growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates graduates can expect to earn a salary of up to $69,870 or more after 10 years of experience.

Healthcare Administration

healthcare administrators in a meeting

Our increasingly complex healthcare system needs competent, caring, and efficient personnel to ensure it stays running. Among the many levels in a hospital’s hierarchy, healthcare administrators hold a significant amount of power – despite rarely coming in direct contact with the patients.

A healthcare administrator may help ensure that all hospital resources are used in the most efficient way possible, and therefore ensure all patients can access high-quality and prompt care.

They are also in charge of supervising the different teams of health professionals, coordinating their tasks, and monitoring that international standards and protocols are kept.

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In the private sector, a healthcare administrator may be in charge of reconciling the business side of a hospital with its mission to deliver care. At public offices, they may also design and implement public health policy at a local or state level.

This may be a great field for people who are highly driven and very organized, and who want to place their talents at the service of as many people as possible.

The large degree of responsibility undertaken by healthcare managers is also well-rewarded, making it one of the highest paying careers on the list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for an administrator with a bachelor’s degree is $104,280.

Homeland Security

female politician speaking during a conference

The Department of Homeland Security has quickly become one of the largest public and federal employers in the country.

This has naturally created a high demand for professionals who understand the legal framework in which they operate, and can carry out or manage the different services they handle around the country.

For a future Homeland Security professional, their first priority and goal will be to protect the security of the country at large, as well as its people.

On a day-to-day basis, this will offer many different professional paths and specializations: identifying and neutralizing high-tech threats, reinforcing and strengthening our physical borders, or enacting protocols that allow for the identification of dangerous elements.

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They may also be tasked with managing and coordinating the resources needed for a prompt, large-scale response, such as the one following a natural disaster or the prospect of war.

A career in Homeland Security may be a great option not just for those who want to protect and serve. It may also offer people with a predisposition towards technological skills the opportunity to pursue a stable and impactful position.

This might also be a fascinating field for people who have a keen eye for politics and international relations.

Human Services

human services worker talking with a senior woman

Human Services is a field exclusively devoted to helping out those in need, as well as the most vulnerable in our society.

As a whole, the field relies on a large array of direct practitioners, social workers, and aid providers, who are in charge of identifying the places where resources are most urgently needed.

Then, they may be in charge of ensuring these resources (which could encompass rehabilitation services, assistance for job seekers, or direct food aid) can reach those in need without getting lost in the way.

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Naturally, all these tasks require decent administrators who are as willing to crunch the numbers as they are to visit the field. This may be a great field for highly empathetic and discerning people who want to make a difference in the life of specific individuals by uplifting the community as a whole.

It also requires a deep ethical background. In addition, it may offer several possible specialization paths, which range from age-focused services (such as for children or the elderly), public policy design, and background checks for service recipients.

A Human Service worker will typically work for a state agency or a non-profit. Depending on the degree of experience and location, yearly salaries will range between $35,960 and $58,120 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

lawyer having a meeting with a client

Legal Studies are often seen as the starting point for a Law career, with all the fascinating and lucrative possibilities that this entails. However, there are many types of degrees and certifications available in the Legal Studies field.

Most Legal Studies programs focus on providing their students with a thorough understanding of how the law works its effects on the lives of the citizenry at large.

Legal Studies may be a great career for anyone who wants to help individual citizens in their daily dealings with law enforcement, institutions, or even wills and trusts.

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While most people certainly want to go through life without ever needing legal counsel, the truth is that we all live within a complex legal system.

In this sense, a Legal Studies professional may perform a fundamental task in ensuring proper justice is carried out, protecting property, liberty, and rights of a wide array of people.

For a professional who holds a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, salary expectations might be high and ever-growing. Most entry-level positions in legal aid can start at $52,920 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Those who then move onto a Law Degree can expect that to grow exponentially.

Mental Health Counseling

female counselor with patient in her office

A Mental Health Counsellor is one of the frontline fighters on each individual’s struggle against mental illness, whether episodic or chronic.

Nowadays, it is estimated that up to a third of all adults in the U.S. are dealing with a mental health issue – which can range from depression or anxiety to more complex bereavement or adaptation disorders.

People who are going through these rough patches in life are in dire need of guidance and support. A Mental Health counselor may be the professional in charge of providing this help.

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As mental health disorders are now recognized as one of the most common forms of disability in the United States, the role of certified and competent counselors is now more visible than ever.

Counselors may play an integral role in supporting the long-term recovery of patients with addictions, allowing returning soldiers to reinsert themselves into civilian society, and helping those with mood disorders to cope better with the demands of daily life.

This is a field that requires a great degree of empathy and a very caring bedside manner. It requires a great ability to recognize behavioral patterns and to offer practical solutions. On the other hand, it is also a rapidly growing field, as mental health coverage has increased around the country.

Nonprofit Management

team of young professionals in a nonprofit organization in a meeting

Managerial and administrative skills are always in high demand across a wide variety of industries.

However, most of the time, the education provided to those pursuing a degree in Management is focused on profit, productivity, and bottom lines – although not only private, for-profit companies require efficient management.

Most educational institutions and human services providers are classified as non-profit organizations, and therefore require their own approach when administering them.

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Rather than pursuing growth and profit, a nonprofit manager must know how to make the most of all available resources and ensure that any services offered can be sustainable and opportune. In this way, they will ensure that the nonprofit organization can continue helping people for years to come.

This field also offers further specialization paths in public relations, fundraising, information systems, and even public service marketing. Nonprofit managers with a Bachelor’s degree and up to 4 years of experience can expect a median yearly salary of $69,600 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

While this offers a very comfortable life for an entry-level position, salaries don’t grow exponentially with experience, but they may offer high job stability and high rates of job satisfaction.


nurse taking care of a pregnant woman

A nurse is a healthcare professional who is in charge of maintaining, improving, and supporting the recovery of patients of all ages.

While the typical nurse in most people’s minds is the one providing direct care in a hospital setting, the Nursing field has expanded recently and now encompasses a wider variety of roles.

Nurses are some of the most visible workers at day hospitals and even outpatient settings. They may also run and organize public health awareness campaigns and provide community-wide inspections meant to improve the wellness of the general population.

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No matter the setting, a nurse’s goal is to help ensure each person can achieve the best possible state of wellness and health.

This is often a fast-paced, physically demanding job, and it tends to attract people with a high degree of social responsibility and a nurturing psyche.

On the other hand, it is also one of the fastest growing fields in the country, and many countries around the world expect shortages of nurses in the coming decades. Salaries vary depending on the type of degree pursued: on average, a Registered Nurse makes $75,330 a year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Nutritional Sciences

nutritional scientist examining fruit

A Nutritional Science degree falls within the healthcare field and therefore may offer many opportunities to protect people’s health and improve their wellness on a daily basis. This professional path requires a thorough knowledge of biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology.

This knowledge is then used to ensure patients and the general public can access safe and nourishing meals.

The most common specialization for Nutritional Science graduates is to become a dietician. In these cases, day-to-day tasks may be focused on designing and implementing diet plans meant to support a variety of treatments, which are not always limited to weight management.

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However, nutritional scientists may also find work as food safety auditors, public health educators, or in the private food industry. Further specializations are available in public policy positions, where they may help design interventions at schools or institutions meant to impact a large number of people.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Nutritional Sciences graduate with more than 5 years of experience is $63,090. However, this may vary depending on the state, their professional membership, or registration as a dietician.

Occupational Therapy

occupational therapist helping a patient during therapy session

An Occupational Therapist is an allied health professional that devotes their life to helping people move the way they need in order to accomplish the goals they want.

While this sounds incredibly simple for those who have been blessed with good health, the role of the occupational therapist can be life-changing for people who were born with a disability or who are recovering from a major illness or accident.

Occupational therapists may work individually with patients and help them develop the skills and dexterity needed to perform a variety of tasks by themselves. Those who specialize with children often help them bridge the gap needed to integrate into a standard education program.

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Others work closely with physical therapists in order to help the injured regain their independence or resume full work duties. With the elderly, they often focus on helping them keep their mobility through the decades, halting the progression of dementia or cognitive diseases.

An experienced occupational therapist, working independently or as part of a health network, can often expect to net as much as $41 per hour. After a few years of experience, this can easily become a salary of $86,280 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).


psychologist talking to a patient in her office

Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and of the mind’s processes. As both a field of study and a career, that makes it an incredibly wide topic – which in turn, makes its day-to-day activities hard to define, as it leaves fascinatingly flexible possibilities open.

Traditionally, most psychologists tend to continue on as certified or professional counselors. Their careers are then defined by the people they aid.

Those who choose to specialize in clinical psychology may focus on people with harsher mental conditions and may help guide them into recovering a fulfilling, independent life.

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Just as many psychologists choose to specialize as substance abuse counselors, caseworkers, and family therapists. For those who want to experiment with career paths outside of healthcare, many corporate avenues may be open in Human Resources or Success coaching.

Those who are willing to pursue further degrees after their bachelor’s degree may also pursue Forensic Psychology or engage in research.

Naturally, the salary expectations for a psychologist will vary greatly depending on the field of specialization. Those who work for the private sector (as recruiters or in Human Resources) can expect an average salary of $121,220. Clinical psychologists, on the other hand, make around $79,820 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Public Administration

public administrator speaking during a conference

The discipline of Public Administration is all about impacting the largest amount of people while remaining within a set budget. Unlike private management and administration, where the emphasis is placed on growth and revenue, public administrators seek to spend every dollar where it counts.

How does that translate into every day professional life? In this field, people are expected to manage, oversee, and decide in which way are public policy programs implemented.

This may be a great career for those who feel they are suited for the steady cycles of an office environment, but who want to impact their community’s life. Most graduates in Public Administration will work in the public sector, either at local or state agencies.

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Within the field, there is also ample opportunity to specialize or to cater to specific populations. Urban planning and management, educational development, technology initiatives, and public affairs spending all fall within a public administrator’s sphere of influence.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public administration has a pretty wide salary gap, depending on the level of work performed. Those at the administrative or supervisory level can earn about $65,310 a year, while at a chief or manager level, the average salary is $113,270.

Public Health

doctor checking on a family during community visit

Public health experts deal with the health of a community or a population at large, rather than that of an individual patient. Therefore, this field combines basic health sciences and medicine with administrative skills and statistics.

Public health workers are responsible for maintaining and improving the facilities and structures that allow other healthcare workers to conduct their jobs more efficiently.

Traditionally, the field of Public health has usually been reserved for experienced healthcare professionals who then pursue epidemiology or public health policy at a master’s level.

However, the field has grown substantially over the past decade. In turn, this has opened up new routes to reach the same destination.

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Public health professionals may oversee health educators and private hospital administrators. Much of their job may involve analyzing the results of different strategies and using this hard data to make decisions within their sphere.

This may involve allocating funds or determining protocols and regulations. In addition, many may work in disaster management, public health education, or as health and safety consultants for large corporations.

The average salary for a public health specialist at a Master’s Level ranges between $56,500 and $101,890 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Those who find jobs in the private sector usually earn more, but state employees report higher job satisfaction and stability.


priest reading a bible

When most people think of devoting their lives to helping others, they tend to overlook the spiritual needs of the population at large. However, those who want to pursue a career in religion may find their hands full of both tasks and rewarding opportunities.

Most people with a Theology Degree often join or found their own religious organization. As leaders of a local congregation, they can help provide spiritual succor to their flocks.

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Further up the chain, theologians may find a place within large organized religions, overseeing the needs of a chapter or a region. Others become grassroots activists or youth counselors, where they help those in vulnerable situations to find meaning in their own lives.

Religion and theology require people who are not just eager to help, but who are willing to take a step back to examine the causes behind suffering. This makes it a great option for those with more reflective personalities.

Social Work

social worker visiting a senior woman in her home

Sitting comfortably in the crossroads between humanitarianism and healthcare, social work is a discipline devoted to improving the social function of people and communities.

Because of this, it merges many of the concepts and skills that are typical of sociology, psychology, public health, and even economic administration.

Most social workers are employed by government agencies or non-profits. Their day-to-day activities are just as likely to require office work as field visits.

Many work as direct service providers, examining the locations and circumstances in which people (especially the elderly, vulnerable, chronically ill, or previously incarcerated) require assistance.

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They may also analyze which type of assistance will be more relevant, and help allocate resources in the most sustainable way possible.

The other main specialty for social work is clinical social work. They may work directly with people affected by chronic health conditions, learning disabilities, or debilitating mental conditions. They help monitor their recovery and ensure more specialized services are available when needed.

This may be  a very rewarding career for service-oriented people and for those who keep social justice close to their hearts. Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that social workers often enjoy great job satisfaction and stability, making it one of the best careers. The average salary for a social worker in the United States is about $51,760.

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