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Every student has their own idea of what is important to look for in a future career, and a lot of people find that helping other people is something they feel passionately about. Maybe you want to change someone’s life for the better, or maybe you just want to brighten their day, but either way there is a long list of career choices if you’re a people person. Not only that, many careers in public service or general care are growing. There’s a great demand in many areas, and the sense of satisfaction and gratitude you can receive will make a difference in your life while you’re making a difference in someone else’s. Here are a few basic categories.
If you think back to high school or even elementary school, you probably know of at least one teacher who really inspired you or made you feel like your individual traits and talents were special. Maybe you want to be that teacher that a student can look back on and remember as someone who made a difference in their life and their self-esteem. Many schools may offer credential programs that lead English, Math, and History majors on a path to get their teaching license after college. Or think about teaching kindergarten and elementary school if you want to work with younger children and their parents, as well.
There are lots of different kinds of counseling, and top counseling schools will be able to guide you toward your particular preference of client and your personal strengths. Many people go on to become school counselors, helping children with behavioral or emotional issues cope with the stress of going to school, but you can also counsel adults with serious problems like drug addiction, divorce, or depression. If you don’t shy away from dealing with difficult issues, and if you’re generally gifted at listening to people without judgment, you might make a great counselor and not even realize it. Look for a degree in psychology or find a counseling program online, depending on which area you’re interested in.
You probably know how in-demand healthcare careers are these days. As the population ages, the shortage of nurses and qualified caregivers becomes more of a problem. In fact, U.S. News and World Report says that jobs in the medical field are growing twice as fast as average. So if you’ve ever considered a career as a nurse or a medical assistant, now is the perfect time. Doctors, pharmacists, and psychiatrists are in demand as well – so an investment in medical school might pay off more than ever if it is something you’re really passionate about. There are also many schools that offer specialized medical degrees you can finish in less time, if you want to start out in nursing or another area.
4. Criminal Justice
If you’re fit and determined, and serious about helping your fellow man, you might find police work a rewarding career. But law enforcement doesn’t just mean putting on the uniform – you can also work in criminal justice, forensic research, and many other careers that involve solving crimes and keeping the public safe. Criminal justice careers are not for the faint of heart, but they also come with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re saving lives, and if you work in the security or rehabilitation of prisoners, you could be helping people turn their lives around. A criminal justice major will open the door to a long list of possible jobs.
5. Social Work
Some kinds of social workers are involved with non-profit organizations, directly working to change public policy and help disenfranchised people like children and the disabled. Others work directly with clients, such as children placed in foster care, to protect them from abuse and neglect and make sure their physical and emotional needs are being met. Social workers also work in rehabilitation clinics and domestic violence shelters. Their work can be harrowing and stressful, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. You can make a difference in whether a disenfranchised person has a chance at a normal and productive life.
Helping others as a career can mean dealing with the hardest problems that people face in their lives. But for a certain kind of person, knowing that you’ve made a significant change in someone’s life can be the greatest feeling in the world. If you’ve ever been faced with serious illness, poverty, victimization, or emotional trauma, you know that it’s important to have the help of a qualified professional. And for many reasons, becoming that professional can be its own reward.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.