Even in todays economic climate, many people still look for much more in a career than simply the ability to make money. Financial stability can be paramount, especially when you’re trying to get a return on your education investment, but you are unlikely to succeed in a field you have no passion for.

According to a study by the University of Chicago, the happiest workers in the United States aren’t CEOs – they’re the clergy. And why? Because careers that involve helping other people are statistically proven to be the most satisfying. Most of us can’t envision becoming a priest or a nun, but why not have the best of both worlds? If you care about your fellow man and want to make a difference in the world, there are ways you can get the maximum financial benefit out of even the most benevolent of career paths.


1. Teaching

TeacherEveryone knows that teachers don’t typically make high salaries, and nobody really goes into teaching for the money. And dealing with children every day isn’t an easy job – it’s reserved for the most patient, kind, and innovative among us, who can find new ways to engage a classroom and reach out to students with a wide variety of needs. But public school teachers also make more money than many other jobs requiring a four-year degree, and teachers often receive excellent benefit packages and retirement plans. Not to mention, a typical school year is less than nine months, giving teachers extra time to pursue further education, which can increase their salary greatly. If you love children and want to help them succeed, you might be surprised how rewarding a teaching career can be.


2. Counseling

counselorBecoming a counselor can be much easier than becoming a licensed psychologist because you don’t need a doctorate – in fact, half of all counselors only have a bachelor’s degree. There are many specialized areas of counseling, so you can use your career to help a variety of people from school-age children, to the mentally ill, to married couples, to drug addicts, to people just looking to learn tools for coping with their emotions. Most counselors have an innate pull towards a particular group of people that they want to help, whether it comes from personal experience or not. As a professional counselor, it is almost always a good idea to pursue higher education, to increase salary and job opportunities. Depending on where you work, often a counselor can continue to learn on the job while they’re getting a masters in counseling online or are enrolled in a specialized training program.  




3. Public Service

social-workerThese careers are typically divided between government jobs and the nonprofit sector. Under the government-sanctioned side of things, you can be a public healthcare worker, get involved in housing and urban development, or even be a fireman. Social workers perform public service work, because they typically champion people with little to no access to retargets or advocate for abused women and children. Careers in nonprofit organizations typically mean working to change policies and research ways to make the world better. You might not always make a lot of money in these jobs, but in 2007, Congress enacted the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. If your job provides safety, education, health, or law enforcement service to the public, the government will forgive the balance of your student loans after ten years. This also applies to people in the military – one of the most important careers helping others of all.


4. Nursing

nurseOne of the most popular and in-demand fields today is nursing, due to the massive shortage of qualified medical workers in this country, coupled with the aging rate of the population. Nursing can be strenuous and demanding, but there is also room for growth. Experienced nurses are finding themselves in the position to make higher salaries working case management jobs, where they can provide one-on-one specialized care. Nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists can make upwards of $100,000 a year in some states. As telemedicine is growing and medical facilities are finding new ways to deliver care, these jobs and others are on the rise. If you are a registered nurse who finds satisfaction in helping patients, a master’s degree can help you make more money doing that. It might seem like you have to sacrifice financial stability to have a career helping others and making a difference in the world, but this is actually not the case. If you want to devote your life to making other lives better, you will probably attain a sense of satisfaction and happiness that those working in an office don’t always have. And there are plenty of opportunities to find the right career for you in a smart way, where your success is just as important as the success you inspire in other people.

Image credit: teacher.001 by Mike Sansone, on Flickr  


About the guest post author:

Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger who writes often for several educational sites. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.