Jobs that Help People in Need

There are a variety of fields where people can make an impact and help those in need, including jobs in government, mental health, rehabilitation, and teaching. Read on to discover the educational requirements, salaries, and job growth for careers that improve the lives of others.

Career Options that Help People in Need

While some people prefer to work in business or with numbers, others want to directly impact their community and create positive change. For people looking to get a start in the 'helping professions', there are career options in fields such as government, health care, and teaching that provide a variety of ways to contribute to populations in need. Here are some of the top job options for people who want to make a difference.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Social Worker $46,890 12%
Registered Nurse $68,450 16%
Substance Abuse Counselor $41,070 (for all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors) 22% (for all substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors)
Political Scientist $114,290 -2% (decline)
Special Education Teacher $57,910 6%
Occupational Therapist $81,910 27%
Mental Health Counselor $42,840 20%
Home Health Care Aide $22,600 38%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs that Help People

Social Worker

Social workers help people coping with various life situations, including poverty, disability, or substance abuse. Their work varies by field, but they may refer clients to community organizations for help or evaluate services clients are already on. Clinical social workers work with behavioral and mental health challenges and may provide therapy. A bachelor's degree in social work or a related field is the typical entry-level requirement, with the exception of clinical social workers who need a master's degree and post-master's clinical experience. In addition, most social workers must be licensed.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses coordinate with doctors and other health care professionals to provide preventive and other medical care to various patients and communities. For instance, a geriatric nurse would help elderly adults. To become a registered nurse, you need to get a bachelor's or associate degree in nursing or get a diploma from a nursing school. Nurses must also be licensed.

Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors help people recovering from addiction issues to change their behavior; they may also refer clients to appropriate services, such as organizations that help individuals find housing or jobs. Most substance abuse counselors have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, but educational requirements vary widely depending on the employer.

Political Scientist

Political scientists analyze political trends and evaluate policies that help certain government or community groups. While work in government at the macro level may be a more indirect route to helping people in need, it can help shape policies that affect some of the most vulnerable groups in our society. To become a political scientist, you will need at least a master's degree in public policy, public affairs or a related major.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers help students with disabilities that need special accommodations in order to maximize their learning potential. The disabilities may be mild or severe and may include physical, mental, emotional, or learning disabilities. Special education teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in early or special education and need to have completed student teaching requirements. Licensure or certification is required for teachers in public schools.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help treat people with injuries or disabilities to regain the ability to do work or day-to-day activities, such as cooking. They often help elderly, disabled, or other populations in need and may help a person get and use special equipment needed for mobility or work tasks, such as a special keyboard for computer-based jobs. Occupational therapists must hold at least a master's degree and become licensed.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors help people deal with their emotional problems by listening to them talk about current life challenges and helping them to develop coping strategies. They may help their clients adjust to difficult transitions like job loss or may help them to improve the relationships they have with family and friends. Mental health counselors must have a master's degree in counseling psychology and must also be licensed.

Home Health Care Aide

Home health care aides work within the home of elderly or disabled individuals in order to do light tasks such as housekeeping, provide companionship, and help the person they care for with mobility or other issues that may limit them. Many home health care aides have a high school diploma (though one is not required), and some may attend specialized training where they learn subjects such as how to cook for someone with dietary restrictions.


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