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Jobs that Make a Difference in People's Lives

There are many ways to make a difference in someone's life, and many different kinds of careers that help people in some way. We discuss a handful of the available jobs that make a difference in people's lives.

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Career Options for Jobs that Make a Difference in People's Lives

There are numerous careers that make a difference in people's lives and cross a variety of fields. For those interested in helping people in some way, whether it be through education, public service and more, we have complied a list of just a few of the jobs that work to improve people's lives.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Special Education Teachers $57,910 6%
Social Workers $46,890 12%
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers $59,680 5%
Occupational Therapists $81,910 27%
Registered Nurses $68,450 16%
Mental Health Counselors $42,840 20%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Jobs that Make a Difference in People's Lives

Special Education Teachers

All educators can impact the children whom they work with at various levels of education, but special education teachers can particularly make a difference in the lives of their students. They specialize in working with students with special needs, including learning, physical, emotional or mental disabilities, to help them succeed to the next grade level. To do this, they design and implement Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students that address each student's specific needs. This usually involves adjusting lesson plans and providing extra assistance in the classroom. Special education teachers need at least a bachelor's degree and state license or certification, but some private schools may not require certification.

Social Workers

Social workers make a difference in people's lives by helping them solve various kinds of problems. They may help diagnose behavioral issues, help clients adjust to hard life circumstances and situations, recommend different kinds of social services and more. They meet with clients and help them set goals, evaluate their needs and continue to monitor their progress to make sure their lives have improved. Social workers may specialize in working with children or families, working in the healthcare or school systems, or providing clinical treatment. The majority of social workers only need a bachelor's degree, but clinical social workers need a master's degree and license.

Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers

Police and sheriff's patrol officers hold public service positions that make a big difference in people's lives as they work to protect lives and property. This requires them to patrol different areas, ensure that laws are being enforced, respond to emergencies and more. They may be called to arrest suspects, collect evidence at crime scenes and testify in court. Their work also requires detailed reports and paperwork after an incident. Most police and sheriff's patrol officers have at least a high school diploma, meet physical and personal qualification standards and receive extensive on-the-job training.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists may not make a difference to people in the general public like police officers, but they make a huge difference with their disabled, injured and/or ill patients. Occupational therapists help prepare their patients for everyday living and work by evaluating a patient's needs, developing a treatment plan and then beginning the process of helping the patient improve, recover or learn the skills needed to live independently and/or work a job. They do this by using everyday activities and therapies, and they also recommend and train a patient how to use any needed specialized equipment, such as a wheelchair. These professionals may have a doctorate, but they need at least a master's degree and license to practice.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) help make a difference in people's lives who come through the healthcare system for various reasons. RNs are responsible for providing patient care, which can include, but is not limited to, recording medical history, administering medication, observing the patient, performing diagnostic tests and monitoring medical equipment. They also provide emotional support to patients and their families, and may be more readily available to answer questions and educate patients on their condition than physicians. All RNs need to be licensed, but they may hold a diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree in the field.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors make a difference in people's lives by helping individuals, couples, families and groups of people overcome a wide variety of mental and/or emotional issues. These counselors meet with their clients, listen to their problems and concerns and help them process their reactions to various situations. They then help their clients develop the appropriate skills and behaviors to respond to stressful and hard situations, as well as making recommendations on community services, like support groups. These professionals usually need a master's degree and a state license.

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