Top 9 Jobs for People Who Really Want to Make a Difference

Your career is something you’ll be doing for the majority of your life, so it’s important to choose something that’s close to your heart. Enjoyment is essential of course, but for most people, it’s also important to help others and really make a difference in people’s lives. If you’re someone who cares and wants to change the world, read on to find out the top 9 jobs that are perfect for someone like you.

Social Worker

If you’re looking for a rewarding, inspiring job, look no further than social work. Social workers operate right in the midst of trouble, working with both children and adults to help them through difficult times and keep them safe from harm. This means you could be heading into really difficult settings, from providing support to severe drug users to the arrest of an abusive parent to helping homeless people – any situation where there are vulnerable people, your job is to be there for them.

It’s a great opportunity to really get stuck into the issues and see first-hand the difference you’re making, and although at times it may be challenging, it’s an incredibly rewarding job. If you’re interested in social work and want to know more, these social worker must read books recommended by Florida State University are great for getting an idea of the kind of work you’ll be involved in, and how to best approach difficult situations you may be faced with, such as eating disorders.

Median Salary: $49,470

Job Outlook: 11%


The prevalence of obesity in the United States in 2016 was nearly 40%, and this number is rising. With the constant bombardment of fatty foods, technology and sugary snacks, there’s no wonder America is seeing a rise in the number of cases of heart disease, strokes or type 2 diabetes. As a dietitian, your role is to target those who need help maintaining a healthy diet and prevent them from developing these diseases. This means undertaking nutritional assessments, educating and advising patients on ways to improve their health and how they can adopt healthier eating habits, as well as devising plans and information to help people stay healthy. This is a great way to help people, as you can make sure they live a long, healthy life, and don’t die early or develop serious medical problems. A dietitian is the perfect role for someone who wants to help people take control over their health and their life and give them the motivation and zest for life they may have lost.

Median Salary: $60,370

Job Outlook: 11%

Elementary School Teacher

We learn about our beliefs, our attitudes, and the way we see the world as young children, so it makes sense that this is the place to start if you want to have a positive influence on people’s lives. As an elementary school teacher, not only are you responsible for forming the foundations of their academic journey by teaching them basic reading, math, science and other subjects, but you’re also responsible for teaching them about how the world works. This means showing them skills like teamwork, empathy, confidence and communication skills, and giving them a start to life that will push them onto much greater things.

You’re also in a great position of responsibility, as you make sure the children under your care are safe from harm, potentially dealing with issues like bullying and home disturbances. For some children who have a difficult home or social life, a kind, loving teacher can be exactly what they need to keep their motivation to move forward and achieve great things.

Median Salary: $57,980

Job Outlook: 3%

Environmental Engineer

Climate change is becoming an ever more pressing issue, affecting our environment and society more and more each day. For example, did you know that there’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any time in human history? And that global warming is causing the sea to rise so much that Indonesia has to move its capital city as its current one is sinking? Whether we notice or not, climate change is a big issue and we need people tackling it on the frontline – people like environmental engineers. They are responsible for minimizing the impact of development on the environment and can help influence policies on health, pollution and other areas related to our climate, finding technology-based solutions to complex problems.

Other responsibilities include disposing of waste, providing safe drinking water to third world countries, controlling environmental hazards, improving recycling and decreasing all kinds of pollution (this includes working with renewable energy sources). This will have a huge impact on our generation and for future generations to come, not only to protect our environment but to teach future generations how to keep it safe and raise awareness about the risks of climate change. As an environmental engineer, you’re not only saving people – you’re saving the world.

Median Salary: $87,620

Job Outlook: 5%


We all know the classic image of a firefighter dashing into a building, and running out with a coughing person between their arms. Of course, most stereotypes aren’t true, but for firefighters this is exactly the kind of thing you’ll be doing – risking your life against fires to save people’s lives. You’ll need to be able to work well under extreme pressure, as often you’ll be called out to emergency situations where you’ll need to make quick but safe decisions. Of course, you won’t just be dealing with fires – other issues like floods, road accidents, terrorist incidents, crashes, and even people getting stuck are all things you’ll be called out to, and you’ll need to be able to keep a clear head and not only keep people safe from physical danger, but minimise any stress or suffering they might be experiencing. You’ll also be responsible for spreading the awareness of fire safety and educating people on how to prevent fires in the first place – this includes going to schools and teaching children what they should or should not do in case of a fire, and anything they should not do that may cause a fire. Although being a firefighter is an incredibly high pressure job, you can see the immediate effect of how you’re helping people big or small, and save people from extreme suffering or sometimes even death.

Median Salary: $49,620

Job Outlook: 5%


Mental health is another issue that is becoming more and more talked about. It’s more common than you think – in fact, a fifth of Americans experience mental illness each year. As a therapist, you’ll be dealing with a variety of problems – this could mean delving into people’s childhood or maybe talking about the issues they’re experiencing in the present, such as occupational problems. Your job is to talk through it with them and offer them a place to speak without judgement, as well as to try to understand where they’re coming from.

You also help them build up resilience, developing coping strategies when faced with stress or a stressful situation and may deliver therapy. This can be a variety of different things, such as hypnotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – it all depends on what your style is, and what you think is most likely to help people. If you’re looking to make a difference, this is perfect for doing so – you’ll be able to individually guide people into taking control of their lives and allowing them to be happier, as well as helping them to overcome any serious issues they may be facing or have faced in the past.

Median Salary: $79,010

Job Outlook: 14%


Choosing to become a researcher is an incredibly flexible job, as you can choose which specific area you choose to go into. As a researcher, you’ll be spending a lot of time collecting, studying and analysing information to help offer new findings to your area of interest. These help to move industry and technology forward, mostly for the better – for example, some researchers focus on the treatments for diseases, developing cures for anything from cancer to the common cold, meaning their research has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for many people, but to also save people’s lives.

Other researchers may choose to specialise in ocean science and how to preserve marine life, or perhaps you’re more interested in how we can streamline technology and computers to enhance their efficiency; wherever you choose to focus your field, there are plenty of opportunities to be able to make a difference, whether that’s through improving quality of life, saving lives altogether, or advancing our society to a better place – even if you’re more behind the scenes than face-to-face.

Median Salary: Varies; for computer and information researchers, this was $118,370

Job Outlook: Varies, for computer and information researchers, this was 16%


Becoming a surgeon is a highly-desired path, but with hardwork and dedication, anyone can make it there. It requires a lot of time and effort – you’ll need to do years and years of studies and work experience to be able to start as a qualified surgeon, but even through your studying and placements, you’ll be able to start making a difference. After all, surgeons are responsible for performing operations, many of which have to be done precisely, carefully and quickly, or the consequences could be dangerous.

You can specialise in a particular area, from cardiothoracic (focusing on areas inside the chest, like the heart and lungs), to paediatric (specifically with children) to plastic surgery – there are plenty of routes, but competition can still be incredibly fierce. Having said that, working with or alongside surgeons allows you to change someone’s life – you can save them from a life-threatening disease, or offer them a transplant to give them a longer and healthier life. A surgeon is someone that people have to depend on, not only for making sure the operation goes well, but also for emotional support and hope, and at some points you will be an incredibly important person for the person undergoing the operation. Being able to change lives and help people through what can be an incredibly frightening and difficult experience is one of the best ways to make a difference.

Median Salary:$208,000

Job Outlook: 7%


If you’re religious, why not consider working alongside that religion and entering part of the clergy? As a member of the clergy, you’re responsible for sharing the word of God which, if it’s a big part of your life, is an important job. But the making a difference part comes from helping people. Often, people turn to religion in a difficult part of their life – if they’re going through a divorce, for example, they may turn to religion to seek comfort or try to understand what’s happening. You can be there to offer support, and share love and support through faith.

A place of religious worship is also a special place for others to meet people similar to them and unite in a common interest, which for some helps tackle some loneliness they may feel, particularly in older people. Members of the clergy don’t just help their congregation, however – they also do a huge amount of charity work. For example, the Tzu Chi Foundation is a Buddhist charity that offers support to those who are suffering or in need worldwide. This means you can make a difference not only through helping individuals in your congregation by giving them some peace and clarity in an ever more confusing world and society, and give them something to believe in when they struggle to find something, but you are also supporting those who are in need and offering donations to charities who can help them.

Median Wage: $47,100

Job Outlook: 8%

These jobs are incredibly important to our society, and if you’re looking for a career that’s fulfilling and helps you make a difference in people’s lives, choosing one of these is the best way to achieve your goal.

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