Some of the happiest people in the world are those who help others and who get to pursue their dreams via work. These careers help make a difference.
In today’s world of fast-paced everything, juggling a plethora of responsibilities seems par for the course. Between forging a career, having a family, maintaining a social life and making enough time for personal health and development, making the most of the 16 hours or so of each waking day can feel challenging to say the least.
Women in particular often feel this strain, for a variety of reasons related to how society perceives us and what we may or may not want out of life. Having that perfect life and achieving everything we could ever want may sound fulfilling, but sacrifices have to be made to truly have it all.
An increasing number of women feel trapped in their current occupations, with no room for advancement and/or no opportunity to truly make the world a better place. Without an outlet for the natural caregiver in all of us, our dreams and aspirations can flounder over time. It goes without saying that some of the happiest people in the world are those who help others and who get to pursue their dreams via work.
As it turns out, finding career paths where you can excel and make a difference isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Let’s take a look at how women can strive towards that perfect life by embarking on careers that they enjoy and that truly make a difference.
Helping People Through Social Work
The maternal instinct is a hard concept to beat: any mother will tell you that her desire to protect children from harm overrides virtually everything else. It is this kind of instinct that helps ensure healthy and happy children grow up and become successful adults. Yet all too often, many children do not enjoy stable and productive home environments.
Women who love working with children and who want to build a career in a field where real differences can be made may find social work to be a top contender. The field of social work is often overlooked by career-focused women due to a variety of stigmas that society has placed on the field. Among the most common are negative associations with the occupation that it is a “female’s job” and a belief that low pay is a universal constant in this profession.
However, there are many people who excel in social work and find lucrative careers helping others. Likewise, any career-driven woman should understand just how inaccurate the assumption that some jobs are for men and others are for women is, as they’ve likely encountered this backwards mindset at many points in the past.
Earning a degree in social work requires dedication and effort, but there are a host of opportunities if this career field is one where you feel you can make the biggest difference. From traditional universities that offer courses in social work to a BSW online program, women have the option to pursue this career field even while working elsewhere in the interim.
While pop culture often portrays social work as an arm of governments exclusively, the reality is that social work comes in many forms. A variety of high-paying institutions utilize social workers for a plethora of reasons. Common work settings for social workers include domestic violence facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, local schools and centers that help the disabled. In short, there is no shortage of opportunities to help those in need when pursuing a life-long career in social work.
Being a Fortress of Inspiration in Business
Not every woman has the same instincts or desires when it comes to life, family and friends. The fact is that too many stereotypes have been used to portray women both positively and negatively over the centuries – but very few of them truly do us any favors. Women are multi-faceted beings with hopes, dreams and ambitions that are every bit as much varied as men. For some women, pursuing that professional career in the world of business is their top priority.
Needless to say, the world of business has been a historically male-dominated profession. Many women who follow their dreams into business report instances of intimidation, patronizing attitudes and even verbal and physical assault. Given that it wasn’t common for most women to work alongside men until the past century, these problematic attitudes and situations aren’t necessarily surprising.
However, there are women who are putting forward the effort into breaking down these barriers. Pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s in business administration is one of the most common professional career trajectories for women today – but learning the skills is only one part of the greater effort.
Countless women who will one day grow up and become professionals need role models in business. Some strong-willed women have taken it upon themselves to deal with the inequalities and abuse in the world of business, and be those fortresses of inspiration for the next generation.
Of course, the world of business is completely open – women do not have to follow the standard professional track in order to make a difference. Female-owned businesses have grown by 60 percent over the past decade, in large part due to female small business owners emerging onto the scene and taking control of their destinies. Pursuing a career in business arguably opens up more opportunities to make a difference than anywhere else, given that starting your own business can be pursued regardless of niche or industry.
Pursuing a Career in Education
People may come from different backgrounds and have unique life experiences, but some things tie us all together. One of the most crucial examples is the fact that we all were shaped and taught by educators as children. This vital component of a healthy, smart and enlightened society remains just as crucial today as it has been throughout human history. Students with great teachers who are committed to their jobs ultimately grow up to be productive and intelligent adults.
Few professions allow women to make such a huge difference in such a short period of time as educators. Touching dozens of students at a time, a long-term educator can make a difference in the lives of thousands of students over the course of their careers. With a constant need for new educators, this is one occupation where women do not have to worry about job security or automation replacing them.
Ultimately, the perks that come with being a teacher can vary. However, the average teacher earns more than the average American – and with pensions, decent pay and substantial time off throughout the year, many find the profession to be flexible enough when meeting other, non-career obligations.
A variety of educational professions exists, even though we may most commonly think about grade school teachers. From college professors and kindergarten paraprofessionals to corporate trainers and remedial experts, touching the lives of many and making a difference is always possible with a degree in education.
Providing TLC in Healthcare
No list for how women can make a difference would be complete without the inclusion of the largest occupational sector on the face of the planet. The world of healthcare is vast, with millions providing various services to those in need on a daily basis. Doctors and caregivers alike are constantly making a difference in the day-to-day lives of their patients – for those who want to leave the world a better place than when they found it, careers in healthcare are a common calling.
For women who are intrigued by the notion of working in a healthcare-related field, it’s important to point out that there’s a seemingly endless number of options to consider. With both part-time and full-time positions, careers that require minimal training or advanced instruction, and occupations that put women both on the front-lines of care and behind the scenes, there is no better example of an industry that is as multi-faceted as women.
Nursing is one prominent example of a care-giving career that can be rewarding both financially and emotionally. Nurses earn an average of around $60,000 per year, putting them in the top quarter of income earners. Some nursing positions can be obtained with as little as two years of instruction through a high-quality nursing program, while others (which obviously lead to better salaries) may require four or even six years of instruction.
However, women can be anything they want to be – which is why we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of female doctors over the past two decades. In this field, women can make a difference, provide a high quality of care and satisfy their personal ambitions all at once. With even relatively new doctors earning six figure salaries, the opportunity for personal advancement in this field remains just as big (if not more so) than in careers such as business administration.
Saving the Environment
The world we leave behind for our children and future generations in many ways will be our primary legacy. As the planet continues to experience the effects of climate change, pollution, dwindling natural resources and other huge challenges, more and more leaders are needed to step up and take charge of the situation. This is arguably the best reason why more women should consider careers in environmental sciences and engineering.
STEM careers in particular are in demand in the 21st century, with double digit growth annually in many fields. In environmental sciences specifically, however, demand is increasing throughout every industry. From mega corporations to recycling firms in need of environmental best practices, women can make a difference in the future of the planet’s resources and health simply by showing up to work every day.
A wide variety of environmental careers exist, including marine biologists, environmental specialists, academics and scientists, and environmental engineers. Most of these careers do require a four-year degree, but they also tend to pay well above the national average – and offer plenty of opportunity for advancement over the course of your career.
There are numerous examples of women in environmental sciences making a difference every single day. Regardless of whether you decide to pursue academic work, serve as a corporate adviser for a business or pursue a stable career with a governmental body or organization, this broader career field lets women make a huge difference in the future of our planet and live up to their potential at the same time.
Committing to Public Service
Last but not least, many of the stereotypes and limitations currently holding women back come from the very top. That is, they are the result of outdated policies and regulations that reinforce existing behaviors and beliefs without sound reasoning behind them. Virtually everybody has heard about how important it is to participate in the democratic process, but few ever take it upon themselves to actually run for public office.
The gender gap in public service is astonishing. Among those elected to office at the federal level, only around 30 percent are women; while that number is slightly better at the local and state levels, women make up a majority of voters. This disparity is playing a huge role in why policies seem so geared against women and why various services and ideas are often scoffed at by those with the power to change things.
Before you commit to running for congress, though, know that there are many ways to get involved and make a difference in your local community as an elected official. Starting at the municipal level, there are mayors and city councilors who make decisions on how to spend money, which policies to prioritize, and which areas receive attention from local public efforts. Likewise, county-level governments often are operated by legislative bodies, tax commissioners, school boards, sheriffs and other entities that are ultimately accountable to the voters as a whole.
There are, of course, state legislative, statewide and federal offices where tremendous change can be made, but most people starting out will want to make a name for themselves and start locally. It is arguable that one woman can make a bigger difference on the lives of her neighbors by running for local office than by running for House or Senate.
Women no longer have to wait for permission or take instructions from men when it comes to choosing their careers and priorities. These six career fields are just a few examples of ways that women can make a difference in the lives of others and ultimately benefit themselves at the same time.