People often get a real buzz from the feeling that something they’ve done has been genuinely and obviously helpful.
When you know for sure that your skill, knowledge, or task was of value, do you experience a wonderful sense of achievement? If that is the case, you could decide to build your whole career around the feeling of being helpful every working day.
There are various rewarding career options if you do want to dedicate your time and talents to helping others, especially jobs in the different care sectors. Many of these involve early planning to gain important qualifications, but not all options do.
What about the sort of personal characteristics you would need to make a career out of being tangibly helpful to others? Patience and empathy certainly count for a great deal. That’s because you are likely to be working directly with children, young people, or adults who need your services and support.
Also, you need to be realistic.
On most days, spending your time in a career actively helping others brings an immediate feel-good factor. You will go home with a sense of satisfaction, knowing that you have made a real difference to your customers, students, or patients, for example.
However, you may also need a degree of resilience to make this career route successful. Some caring career options can be demanding and fraught with emotional challenges.
Keep in mind, too, that every job role involves providing a service to someone, whether you are helping colleagues, customers, or business contacts.
For now, though, let’s explore careers that are especially rewarding for helpful and caring individuals.
Helping students as an educator
This is one of the most obvious careers for someone who wants to make a significant difference in the lives of others. After all, helping children and young people reach their full potential at school or college is deeply rewarding for many dedicated educators.
Teachers play an important role in shaping the whole of society, not just the minds of their students. For instance, you could be assisting the next generation of young people to develop the science and technology skills needed to cure disease or revolutionize a business sector.
There are various types of educator roles, but they generally demand qualifications such as a bachelor’s degree in education. However, you may be able to use a different degree as a springboard and complete additional qualifications. This is especially true if you want to be an educator at something like a community college or a specialist training provider.
Keep in mind, too, that non-teaching staff in schools and colleges play an important role in making education accessible and a positive experience. There could be career paths in education that make good use of your administrative skills and qualifications, or you could work in catering departments to feed stomachs as a starting point for feeding minds!
Healthcare, including nursing
People with big hearts and a strong desire to be helpful in their careers often gravitate toward healthcare roles. This includes becoming doctors, nurses, paramedics, and dentists.
Nursing, in particular, is known as a caring profession. There is a saying of unknown origin: “Save one life; you’re a hero. Save 100 lives; you’re a nurse.”
There are diverse specialties and job roles for nurses, but in general, they are the professionals who are there at the start and end of lives and on a lot of occasions in between. They also play an essential role in making sure other members of medical teams can carry out their tasks well.
This explains why former President Barack Obama said, “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.”
You can’t get more helpful than that!
One of the main reasons nurses are so vital these days is that they often fulfill highly advanced roles and responsibilities, making the correct qualifications essential along with continuous professional development.
For anyone who already has a bachelor’s degree, you can progress to a follow-on qualification that provides you with advanced nursing skills and knowledge. If this is your ideal ‘helpful’ career, an attractive option is Elmhurst University’s direct entry master’s in nursing, as it’s the first online way to achieve an accelerated MSN for non-nurses.
If, instead, you choose to be a doctor, dentist, or some other medical professional to help others, then expect several years of study and a substantial investment in getting relevant qualifications in whatever niche you choose.
Other ways to be helpful in healthcare
Nursing and other medical professions are the ultimate in being hands-on and assisting people with their health all day, every day. It’s worth mentioning, though, that if your aim is to make a real difference in the lives of others, you could direct your helpful nature down a different path.
The best example is in research fields, where researchers develop new medications, equipment, and techniques that improve the health of countless other people.
Also, working in housekeeping roles in healthcare settings or in reception and patient information roles all mean that you are providing the essential help that people need when they are ill or injured.
Helpful people and social care
Another highly rewarding career for people who have an empathetic and caring nature is social work.
This covers a diverse range of possibilities and puts you in a position to help children, adults, families, and even whole communities.
Social workers provide help for the most vulnerable people in society and support those who are facing difficulties and uncertainties. So, your work setting could vary widely, such as delivering essential support and guidance in schools, hospitals, and military bases and working with the Department of Children and Family Services, private care companies, or community-based teams, for example.
This often relies on social workers being not only instinctively helpful and empathetic but also calm under pressure and in distressing situations.
You could also consider working in a care setting for the elderly if you want a career that involves helping vulnerable people live well as they age.
There are specific qualifications for the different areas of social care.
Becoming a counselor or therapist
One of the most common social care roles is one that puts you in partnership with occupational therapists, helping people build their independence and carry out daily activities after a serious injury or illness or if they are disabled.
This leads to another career path that’s deeply rewarding for someone who wants to be measurably helpful. There are many categories of therapists and counselors who work directly with people on a huge range of issues.
You could decide to be an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist, for instance, but what’s the difference?
Physiotherapy involves movement. Your job as a physiotherapist would involve working with patients to help them improve or regain mobility or function in their limbs. For example, you could be incredibly helpful if you are the one helping patients learn to walk after major traumas.
However, an occupational therapist also provides help that’s essential. The difference is that they focus on the whole person and ways they can complete daily tasks safely, comfortably, and independently. For instance, as an occupational therapist, you could help someone transition back home after major surgery, adapting their routine or home to accommodate anything that could put their recovery or rehabilitation in question.
There are many other types of therapists that help people too, of course, including ones who specialize in things like mental illness, post-traumatic stress, or substance misuse. The underlining principle is that you will be giving your patients coping strategies to help them progress.
Counseling, on the other hand, generally involves helping people reach a better understanding of their issues. This could cover such things as relationship counseling or providing services to help people quit smoking or manage their weight better.
This, like healthcare, is a huge field for anyone looking for a career helping others. That means that you may find your ideal job by researching more therapist and counselor specialties and the qualifications needed.
Childcare professions for caring people
Some careers that involve helping other people are far more practical than others. This includes looking after children as a nanny or someone who works in a daycare business rather than being an educator or social worker.
That’s not to say this is a more mundane sort of caring role, though; far from it! Anyone working in childcare is not simply helping parents do their full-time jobs. They are also giving children a great start to life by keeping them safe and giving them chances to learn, grow, and socialize.
There are essential qualifications and licensing requirements for many childcare roles, and for good reason. At the very least, you will be expected to know pediatric first aid and CPR.
Working for a charity or nonprofit
Another rewarding career that involves helping people in a practical way is doing all sorts of different jobs with charities and non-profit organizations.
This is a great option for anyone who is already qualified in a particular profession and who wants to switch to a post that involves directly supporting people in their times of need.
A good illustration of this is a lawyer who takes up a position at a nonprofit organization to provide legal expertise to customers at zero cost. Another example is medical professionals who enroll with bodies like Doctors Without Borders.
If you don’t have professional qualifications but this sounds like an attractive career path for you, there are countless charities and nonprofits that need dedicated administrators and office staff too, for example.
Animal care roles
Being helpful doesn’t have to mean working with humans, of course. You may want to apply your caring nature to the animal world.
The rewarding careers this covers include a highly diverse range of roles with very different qualifications and experience requirements.
For instance, becoming a veterinarian or a veterinarian nurse demands specific degrees and levels of achievement. Whereas, if you prefer the idea of helping animals thrive in zoos and similar facilities, there are specific zoology, conservation, marine biology, or animal management courses you will be expected to enroll in. The same applies to working in wildlife sanctuaries.
Alternatively, you could help both animals and their owners if you decide to opt for a career in a pet daycare, boarding business, or riding stable. That sort of helpful job role may simply require that you prove you have a genuine interest in animal welfare.
You could combine two of these ideas for careers that involve helping others by getting a job helping to run an animal sanctuary or charity.
Working overseas helping people
To combine a career helping people with overseas travel, you might want to consider joining organizations like the Peace Corp, Direct Relief, AmeriCares, the International Rescue Committee, and CARE.
Working in a new country to help people doesn’t have to involve working for an international aid organization, though. One of the advantages of training in a caring profession is that your skills and knowledge may well be highly transferable and in demand overseas. That can make careers like nursing a great option if you would like to move permanently or temporarily to a new country.
If this is a long-term goal, make sure you know what qualifications are recognized in your chosen country and always gather legal insights on continuing your career abroad.
What about the rest?
If none of the above ‘caring’ career ideas sound perfect for you, then there is great news. These days, wanting to help people and having an empathetic nature are things many employers value. That’s true in a wide range of types of businesses too.
It’s often referred to as having emotional intelligence. That means you’re the sort of person who’s tuned into their own mental and emotional health and can respond intuitively to the needs of others.
Research has shown that being emotionally intelligent is four times more likely to help you achieve success in your career than your IQ. On average, emotionally intelligent people earn substantially more than people who don’t have this trait.
It all goes to show that being a caring person who wants to help others is an invaluable asset for any career you choose. However, it is especially important if you want to enter a profession such as nursing or teaching.