23 Meaningful And Fulfilling Jobs That Help People

You’re looking at careers that involve helping people

Because you instinctively know that if your career doesn’t help you become the person you want to be, the size of the paycheck won’t matter. 

Helping people jobs allow you to create a legacy that prioritizes serving others rather than living a lavish lifestyle or providing a fortune for those you leave behind. 

You want more out of life than to be comfortable, but you still want to earn enough to provide for yourself and the people who depend on you. 

As you’ll see in this list of socially conscious career options, the two can go together.

23 Meaningful Jobs that Help People 

Look through the following options for jobs that help people and pay attention to your immediate reaction. But don’t be afraid to push past it and learn more. 

teach teaching students on a forest jobs that help people

Only when you discover more about a particular job do you begin to understand whether it will provide the fulfillment and meaning you're seeking in your work.

Elementary or High School Teacher

Teachers for grades K through 12 are responsible for teaching their students essential skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic to begin with) and providing a well-rounded education to prepare them for life beyond their high school graduation. 

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree + teaching certification (for public schools)

Average Salary: $48,932

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in education with a specialization in the field you wish to teach (math, English, biology, etc.) 
  2. Complete a student teaching internship in the subject you wish to teach. 
  3. Take the licensure exam for the state in which you want to teach. 

Early Childhood Educator

Early childhood educators are responsible for helping children aged five and under learn important cognitive and social skills. They also help their families create stimulating and supportive home environments for those children to give them the best possible start.

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education

Average Salary: $48,497

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. 
  2. Complete a supervised internship program or a student teaching practicum to complete your graduation requirements. 
  3. Take your state’s licensure examination to obtain your license and certification.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers help students with special needs — autism, ADHD, etc. — to learn and thrive in a school environment. 

Their primary duty is to design and implement Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that will help each student manage their learning and behavioral challenges so that they can make the most of their time in school. 

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in Special Education

Average Salary: $52,727

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in education or special education. Some states may require a master’s degree that specifies teaching children with special needs.
  2. Obtain a license and certificate from the state where you plan to teach. 

911 Dispatcher

Typically, when someone calls 911, their life is in danger. By dispatching the proper emergency personnel and staying with the caller until help arrives, 911 dispatchers save lives and give callers hope that they and their safety and well-being matter. 

Required Education: High school diploma or GED (general education diploma)

Average Salary: $40,344

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED.
  2. Make sure you’re at least 18 and have a clean criminal record.
  3. Develop your typing skills (Minimum 90% accuracy and minimum 35 wpm)
  4. Look for 911 Dispatcher employers through your state’s Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and complete the application process.

Firefighter

Firefighters are a critical part of an emergency response, especially one involving fire. They put their lives at risk to protect lives and property endangered by fire or other volatile elements like dangerous chemical spills and downed powerlines. 

firefighter pointing at someone jobs that help people

Required Education: High school diploma or GED

Average Salary: $48,890

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Acquire a high school diploma or GED. You must also be 18+ years old and have a valid driver’s license and a clear criminal record. 
  2. You also must be physically fit and pass a drug screen. 
  3. Pass all the required test, such as the written test and the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
  4. Secure an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license and attend a fire academy to train. 
  5. Become a firefighter and advance your career by getting formal education or gaining valuable skills and experience. 

Paramedic or EMT

Paramedics or EMTs are the first to respond to an emergency. Their job is to administer life-saving or stabilizing treatment until a patient can be safely transported to a hospital. 

With their knowledge and experience, they save lives by treating those who are seriously injured, in danger, or in medical distress when every second matters. 

Required Education: EMT Basic Training

Average Salary: $40,309

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Complete a basic emergency medical technician (EMT-B) training (six months). Other institutions may require a two-year degree. 
  2. Pass either a state or national exam to become a certified paramedic. The exam includes cognitive as well as psychomotor tests. 
  3. Complete an advanced EMT training or a two-year training program to advance your career. 

Emergency Physician / ER Doctor

ER doctors handle a dizzying variety of medical crises every day — some more urgent than others. They work long hours and are counted on to expertly assess each patient’s problem and identify the best solution for it.

ER doctors and nurses save lives every day. Thanks to them, sick and injured patients receive the care they need in order to heal. 

Required Education: Medical degree

Average Salary: $269,546

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree — typically a pre-med degree like physics, anatomy, etc. 
  2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and pass it. 
  3. Become a doctor of medicine in a minimum of four years — the last two years of which will typically involve an internship. 
  4. Obtain a license by passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). 
  5. Finish a residency program in a hospital; then enter a fellowship program. 

Pediatrician

Pediatricians are medical doctors who work with children from infancy to young adulthood to ensure they receive the best medical care. They diagnose and treat illnesses, address developmental delays, and make necessary recommendations for specialized care. They play a critical role in the health and well-being of their growing patients.

Required Education: a doctorate degree is the entry-level requirement for a pediatrician.

Average Salary: $170,560

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree — typically a pre-med degree like physics, anatomy, etc. 
  2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and pass it. 
  3. Become a doctor of medicine (M.D.)  in a minimum of four years — the last two years of which will typically involve an internship. 
  4. Complete a three-year residency program in pediatrics. Then, if you choose to specialize in a sub-field of pediatrics, pursue a fellowship. 
  5. Obtain a license by passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). 
  6. Get board certified (optional). 

Nurse Practitioner

Certified Nurse Practitioners (NPs) can serve as primary care providers to patients of all ages and backgrounds — prescribing medication, diagnosing illnesses, and educating patients about preventive care. 

As a primary care provider, they can cultivate relationships with their patients and gain a better sense of any improvement or decline in their health. 

Required Education: Master’s degree in nursing (MSN)

Average Salary: $107,030

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). 
  2. Complete a set of nursing clinicals to gain hands-on experience. 
  3. Pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination).
  4. Earn a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). 
  5. Follow your state’s requirements for licensure as a certified Nurse Practitioner. 

Nurse Midwife

Nurse-midwives prepare women for pregnancy and childbirth, guiding them along the way and working to ensure a safe and healthy labor and delivery for both mother and baby. They also administer tests and teach parents about the health needs of their babies. 

nurse holding baby inside incubator jobs that help people

Required Education: Master’s degree + state license

Average Salary: $103,770

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Acquire a Bachelor’s degree in nursing at an accredited institution.
  2. Pass the licensure exam and become a registered nurse (RN). 
  3. Work for at least one year before joining a midwifery program. 
  4. Acquire a Master’s in midwifery at an accredited institution. 
  5. Pass the licensure exam for the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) and become a certified nurse midwife.

Dietician and Nutritionist

These essentially perform the same function, which is to assess how diets and supplements can affect your health and to design a meal plan for a client’s optimal health.

Their expert, one-on-one nutritional advice can save and improve the lives of people struggling with eating disorders or metabolic disorders. 

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in clinical nutrition, dietetics, public health nutrition, or foods and nutrition

Average Salary: $59,660

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s degree in of the above-named fields. Some employers require a Master’s or even a PhD. 
  2. Train as an intern for a minimum 1,200 hours under the supervision of a licensed dietitcian/nutritionist.
  3. Pass the exam for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Commission on Dietetic Registration. 
  4. If your state requires it, obtain a license (if needed) from the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  5. If your state requires it, obtain a certificate to qualify you as a Certified Nutrition Specialist from the Board of Certification of Nutrition Specialists. 

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists clean your teeth and assess the health and overall condition of your teeth and gums. Their knowledge and regular care helps patients avoid costly and painful infections in the long-term, possibly saving their lives as well as their oral health.

Required Education: Associate’s degree in dental hygiene or bachelor’s degree

Average Salary: $74,820 (full-time) or $35.97 per hour (many hygienists work part-time)

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. 
  2. Earn and maintain CPR certification (for medical emergencies on the job). 
  3. Gain clinical experience as a dental assistant while completing your training. 
  4. Follow your state’s requirements for licensure as a dental hygienist. 

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Mental Health Counselor 

Mental health counselors assess their patients’ needs and recommend treatment options. They also provide an empathetic ear while gently guiding their clients to insightful questions and breakthroughs in self-knowledge and personal growth. 

Required Education: Master’s degree + supervised clinical experience + a state license

Average Salary: $44,840

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or other mental health studies. 
  2. Complete a more specialized Master’s degree for mental health counseling. 
  3. For private practice, obtain a license from the National Board of Certified Counselors. 
  4. For public practice, obtain a license from your state. 
  5. Obtain certifications from different organizations to continue your education, find opportunities in your chosen specialty, and advance your career. 

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Substance abuse counselors help people with addiction problems, while behavioral disorder counselors help those with behavioral challenges due to autism, ADHD, mental illness, or other concerns.

Both are caring professionals with skills that make them uniquely suited to handling disruptions caused by people struggling with mental health challenges or addictions. 

Required Education: a Bachelor’s degree + supervised clinical experience + a license

Average Salary: $44,630 

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s degree in substance abuse or addiction studies. 
  2. Complete a Master’s degree program in addiction counseling or addiction studies.
  3. For private practice, obtain a license from the National Board of Certified Counselors. 
  4. For public practice, obtain a license from your state. 
  5. Obtain certifications from different organizations to continue your education, find opportunities in your chosen specialty, and advance your career. 

Eating Disorder Counselor

Eating Disorder Counselors work with patients struggling with an eating disorder (e.g., anorexia, bullimia, binge eating, etc.) and help them and their families create a plan for their continuing recovery. 

With their knowledge, experience, and empathy, they help those with eating disorders to recognize them for what they are and to want a healthier relationship with food. 

Required Education: Master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology

Average Salary: $46,240

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in pyschology or another relevant field. 
  2. Complete a supervised clinical internship. 
  3. Earn a master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology. 
  4. Obtain certification or licensure required by your state, according to the American Counseling Association website

Marriage & Family Therapist

These therapists help couples and families resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. If they pick up on warnings signs of abuse (physical or emotional), they work with the abused to get the care and protection they need. 

Required Education: Master’s degree and state license

Average Salary: $50,090

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology
  2. Work in a clinical environment as a therapeutic assistant or technician
  3. Earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

Occupational Therapist

As an occupational therapist, you would help patients with disabilities or injuries improve their physical performance and muscle coordination. You’d also assess their home and workspaces to identify changes that could make their daily lives more comfortable and improve their health and well-being. 

man comforting crying man jobs that help people

Required Education: Master’s degree in occupational therapy

Average Salary: $80,782

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn an associate’s degree in any field related to occupational therapy. 
  2. Pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam. 
  3. Gain experience by working at therapy assistant jobs. 
  4. Obtain a master’s degree in occupational therapy or any related field. 
  5. Pass the Occupational Therapy Registered (OTR) exam. 
  6. Take the licensure exam for the state in which you want to practice. 

Child and Family Social Worker

These are social workers who focus on child and family development. They ensure children are protected and are receiving adequate care and nutrition. They look for signs of abuse and provide access to food, housing or shelter, and other childcare services. 

Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in social work or any related field

Average Salary: $53,950

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in social work or any related field. 
  2. Complete an internship program through local nonprofit organizations, clinics, or hospitals. 
  3. Earn a master’s degree in social work to advance your career. 

Social and Community Service Manager

These professionals manage programs designed to serve the public to ensure they run efficiently and fulfill their purpose. They may work for nonprofits, government agencies, or nursing homes, 

Required Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Average Salary: $65,320

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work, public health, business administration, or another related field. Some employers might require a master’s degree. 
  2. Gain experience by applying to and working lower-level management positions. 

Personal Care Assistant (PCA) 

Personal care assistants provide care for those who need help with day-to-day activities due to injury, disability, or a medical condition. They provide critical support for their client’s physical, mental, and emotional health.  

woman holding wheelchair jobs that help people

Required Education: certification and training

Average Salary: $55,000

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Complete a Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015). You might also choose a specialization in Aging, Home and Community, or Disability. 
  2. Complete training under a Senior Personal Care Assistant or RN.
  3. Obtain certification for First Aid and CPR for medical emergencies. 

Career Advisor

Career Advisors help students choose a career path that suits their goals and personalities. They also give them the tools they need to go after the jobs they’ve studied for. 

You could be responsible for helping students identify, prepare for, and find meaningful and fulfilling jobs for themselves. 

Required Education: Master’s degree in pyschology or any related field 

Average Salary: $44,863

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, or any related field. 
  2. Earn a master’s degree in counseling, career services, or the psychology of human development. 
  3. Complete a supervised internship program for licensure and certification.
  4. To earn your license, take and pass a counseling exam — including the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
  5. To improve your credentials, obtain a certificate from the National Career Development Association (NCDA). 

Translator and Interpreter

Translators and interpreters bridge language and cultural barriers to foster communication and facilitate understanding. They may work in schools, in courtrooms, or for businesses to ensure no one is left out due to hearing difficulties or language barriers.

Required Education: a Bachelor’s degree + fluency in at least two languages

Average Salary: $49,930 

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree — ideally in a language other than your own
  2. Maintain fluency in both languages, as well as any others you learn. 
  3. Look for translator or interpreter jobs for the public and private sector. 
  4. Advance your career by publishing content in a non-native language or deepening your understanding of its related cultures (travel, volunteer work, etc.)

Lawyer

Lawyers advocate for the legal rights of their clients by providing legal advice and, if a case goes to court, by defending or prosecuting with the purpose of seeking justice. 

As a lawyer you can make all the difference in whether your clients receive the justice they have a right to expect. You play a critical role in whether an innocent suspect is proven so or suffers imprisonment or worse.  

Required Education: Juris doctor degree

Average Salary: $117,118 

Steps to Get Started: 

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in any field (criminal justice, political science, etc.)
  2. Pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
  3. Choose a law school and complete the application process. 
  4. Finish a juris doctor degree (minimum 3 years)
  5. Pass the bar examination to qualify for a lawyer’s license. 

Which of these jobs that help people spoke to you?

You’re interested in careers to help others because you’ve embraced a simple truth: everyone is their neighbor’s keeper. And you see living that truth as an essential part of becoming the person you want to be

So, which of the career options listed here made you want to look into them more closely? 

Make a short list of those that call out to you and jot down some ideas on why they appeal to you more than the others. 

Then do some digging. May what you learn change your life immeasurably for the better. 

Jobs that help people allow you to create a legacy that prioritizes serving others. Check out this list of jobs that cement your legacy of helping people.
Barrie Davenport
 

Barrie is a certified life coach and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She has been a featured writer for The Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, and Zen Habits. She is the creator of six popular self-improvement courses. She writes books on relationship skills, emotional abuse, mindfulness, and more.

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