Most people feel a twinge of compassion when they see or hear about others suffering through tough times. For many, this feeling is only temporary and will quickly be replaced with their own thoughts and concerns. However, there are those who have a constant, burning desire to help others in need cope with or overcome unfortunate circumstances.
If this sounds like you, there are several meaningful career opportunities that focus on helping people improve their outlook on and quality of life. From social work to special education to counseling, a variety of skilled professions work to restore people’s sense of dignity, peace and self-sufficiency. If you have a passion for assisting others and want to exercise those skills in your career, here are six inspirational jobs that focus on helping people.
Social workers help people deal with various life-altering challenges such as unemployment, neglect or abuse, adoption or a terminal illness. As a social worker, your responsibilities may include helping clients apply to health care, Medicare and child care services, or moving battered women and children to safe shelters. To become a social worker the best option would be to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work, although some employers accept degrees in psychology, sociology or a related field. Social workers in school and health care settings often need to continue their education, so expect to pursue a master’s degree in social work if you are interested in these fields. Most states also require licensure or certification. Time management and organization skills are important as social workers often juggle multiple clients. You should also be compassionate and possess good listening skills.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers instruct students who have mental, emotional, physical and learning disabilities. They may teach general topics, such as reading, math or writing, or they may teach basic skills such as communication techniques. To become a special education teacher in a public school, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in special education and obtain a state-issued license or certificate. As with social work, school settings often require mastery in education, so you will be expected to earn a relevant master’s degree as well. If you are interested in teaching special education in a private school, licensure and certification is not always required — although some private school employers may prefer these credentials. Patience and communication skills are paramount for those of you who wish to enter this rewarding profession.
School counselors help students conquer or manage emotional or behavior problems that may prohibit their success in school. They also collaborate with school officials to prevent such issues as bullying and violence. As a school counselor, you may provide both individual and group counseling. A master’s degree in school counseling or a related field is the usual educational requirement. Public school counselors also need a state-issued certification or license. To succeed in this career you will want to be an excellent listener and speaker, in addition to having interpersonal skills to help you build trusting relationships.
Occupational therapists assist people with injuries, disabilities or illnesses with recovery. This may include showing patients how to perform exercises to relieve pain, or showing autistic children how to perform daily tasks. Occupational therapists must earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy, and if this career path is for you, a Ph.D. is worth consideration. You will want to be in good physical shape to be able to stand for long periods of time, occasionally lift patients and travel with ease. In addition, occupational therapists must show patience and compassion. Communication skills and interpersonal skills are also essential.
Clinical counselors help people address and overcome their mental and emotional issues that negatively impact their life. Depending the type of program you attend to earn your counseling degree, you may advise and help your clients develop successful coping strategies for a variety of problems, including substance abuse, suicide, grief, anxiety and divorce. Types of clinical counselors include mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. In addition to state licensure, the educational requirement for this profession is a master’s degree in counseling. Clinical counselors need to demonstrate empathy and feel compassion. Acute listening skills and good interpersonal and speaking skills are also required.
Nurses conduct physical exams, analyze patient histories and monitor treatment. They treat wounds, provide patients with medications and counseling in addition to other forms of health education. As a nurse you will also be expected to coordinate, direct and supervise medical care. There are various types of nurses including licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who need a nursing certificate or diploma. Registered nurses can obtain a license, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree and must also be licensed. Advanced practice registered nurses need a master’s degree in addition to licensure. If you would like to pursue nursing take heed that emotional stability will be key. In addition you must have critical thinking skills, patience, stamina and compassion.
These are six popular careers for people who feel a calling to help. Those with a desire to assist others and are inspired by any of the careers listed should take the time to explore their options. Whether it’s as a social worker, teacher, counselor, occupational therapist, nurse or even another profession, there is always a need for professionals who can help people in need.
Megan Dottermusch is the community manager for the online masters in counseling program at Northwestern University offered by The Family Institute. TFI offers students the unique opportunity to gain clinical experience and acquire key skills to become successful clinical mental health counselors regardless of where they live. Megan is passionate about promoting proper nutrition and fitness, combating mental health stigmas, and practicing everyday mindfulness.
6 Careers for People Who Love to Help People