In which careers can you make a positive impact on your community?

There are jobs that pay generously, offer excellent prospects and give back to the community as well. Working in public service is not for everyone, but people who want to make a difference in the long term can find these careers extremely satisfying. From enforcing the law, to treating sick people or animals and maintaining the natural beauty of a neighborhood, there are many community-minded jobs to choose from. Here’s a look at some of the most popular in the US right now and a little background on what makes each role unique.

Assist those in need as a social worker

Social workers help their clients live healthy and successful lives. They empower people to make positive changes and advocate for them until they are ready to speak up for themselves. From finding the right school placements to getting a person the medical care they need and helping a community campaign for cleaner water, social workers find solutions. They work with individuals, family groups and communities, as well as government departments, nonprofits and local businesses. Some specialize in a particular area of work, such as assisting the elderly, supporting foster parents or helping refugees.

In each situation, they make the community a better place to be by assessing what their clients need, organizing support and engaging with other services to get things done. It’s an exciting and rewarding job with plenty of prospects for promotion. A degree can be an entry point into the profession for some practitioners. Other people who are interested in social work often wonder, “Is earning an MSW worth it?” The short answer is yes; at Florida State University, the Master’s in Social Work opens up a huge range of career paths. The program is available to people with an unrelated degree, and most students graduate in just three years.

Support the well-being of ex-service people as a veteran’s counselor

Active members of the armed services can find it difficult to transition back into civilian life. As well as moving themselves out of military life, they also need to support their family with making the adjustment. This involves finding a home, a job and also a school for their children to attend. Frequently, veterans are striving to change their lives while also managing a disability. Counselors who specialize in helping veterans can assist with every aspect of their new life. They might suggest civilian careers to which the veteran’s skills are transferable, or offer financial planning to ensure they get their military benefits or offer support with mental health struggles.

Serving in conflict situations can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional health. Veterans’ counselors try to restore their client’s well-being by providing coping strategies and offering family or marital counseling as well. Veterans’ counselors must attain a bachelor’s degree in a related subject to get started, but other certifications are available in each state. They can also choose to further their education with additional qualifications, but experience plays a major role in a counselor’s career development.

Enforce the law as a police officer

Choosing to become a police officer is one of the most impactful ways a person can serve their local community. The role is not based on a person’s academic achievements, as potential recruits are only expected to have a high school diploma. However, specialized training is provided to officers throughout their careers through local or state academies. Once they have qualified, a police officer will make their neighborhood a better place to be — in several ways. They will investigate crimes, attempt to find suspects, apprehend felons and ensure they are kept behind bars. Other officers will respond when a person dials 911 and tackle the emergency they are presented with. Traffic cops stop cars that are driving dangerously, make arrests and even testify in court if a serious incident has occurred.

Once a criminal is processed and in custody, officers may have to deal with them on a one-to-one basis. This could include explaining their rights and questioning them about the crime they are suspected of. There is also an office-based element to the role, as crimes have to be documented in detail, reports must be taken from victims and cases need to be filed in case they are investigated again in future.

Protect the community from harm as a firefighter

The only qualification needed to become a firefighter is a high school diploma; however, new recruits will also need to undertake intensive training at a fire academy before they can start work. Instruction is given in using hoses and fire hydrants to harness a water supply, as well as driving a fire truck and operating the equipment on board. Moreover, in some states, they are expected to earn paramedic credentials as well. This ensures they can give first aid to the people they have recovered from a fire and keep the injured person comfortable until a medical team arrives.

Firefighters carry out many community-based roles. They are most commonly associated with responding to emergency calls, rescuing people who are trapped and putting out fires. As well as helping people, they can save animals that are in danger and protect the environment. This type of work is often done by firefighters with specialized training, and it involves extinguishing forest fires or bushfires in places like parks and reserves. More senior fire officers will inspect buildings to look at fire damage and give advice on repairs or point out potential fire risks. Firefighters can be based in a residential or workplace setting, or they might work from a local firehouse.

Raise awareness and preserve the natural world as a conservation scientist

Conservation scientists have a degree in their field and often choose to take other qualifications that allow them to specialize in a certain area of work. In their day-to-day role, they use their scientific knowledge to understand more about the natural world. They study the flora and fauna that make up a community’s natural resources, then use this information to encourage residents, politicians and decision-makers to care for it.

When there is conflict, they work in collaboration with ranchers or farmers to find ways of supporting a healthy ecosystem using sustainable measures. In order to protect forests, parks, rivers and lakes, conservation scientists develop management plans for their protection and educate people about the proper use of these spaces. They also help to control problems, such as forest fires, erosion and poor soil quality, by assessing the damage these problems have caused and organizing strategies to control or minimize them. In doing this, they help to give everyone a safe place to picnic, hike and enjoy being in nature.

Get residents on the road to recovery as a registered nurse

Excellent healthcare has a major impact on the community, whether it is preventative or emergency in nature. Nurses work in the community in a number of capacities. They might be responsible for running outreach clinics that vaccinate people or giving advice in rural communities. Other nurses are based in local schools, where they take care of children, but many are based in a hospital where they care for patients on a ward. Either way, they will have earned a nursing degree, passed the NCLEX-RN exam and fulfilled any other state requirements, before starting their career.

Nurses in any environment monitor and evaluate the health of their patients. They can assist in a person’s recovery, provide educational materials and refer patients to a specialist if their condition is not improving. In the community, they can help people manage long-term conditions successfully, so they can remain at home rather than spend time in a hospital. Nurses keep people in their neighborhood well by encouraging healthy living practices, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Get new initiatives off the ground as a financial advisor

Financial advisors invest time and money in qualifying, as a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement. However, this is a very well-paid role that offers the opportunity to work for a business or as a self-employed person. Financial advisors are needed in the community because they help their clients work out ways of achieving their goals. This could include buying a new house, opening a restaurant or simply planning for an early retirement.

People turn to financial advisors because they offer independent guidance. Consumers are often overwhelmed when it comes to sorting through offers from banks, loan companies and credit card providers. Financial advisers help members of their local community work out what is best for them and their financial future. Some FAs choose to specialize in advising homebuyers or business owners, while others have a more general practice.

Give the community a healthy smile as a dentist

A constant fixture on US News’ best jobs lists, dentistry involves years of training, but the gratification of helping patients can make it all worthwhile. All communities need access to a good dental practice that offers them a range of preventative treatments, emergency care and essential advice. The salary for people in this role is extremely generous, and there are always opportunities for opening an independent practice.

No two days are the same for a dentist. They see many people each hour, and each person might need a different treatment. The work is also very satisfying because dentists can spot a problem and then deliver a solution that works. This could be through improving the look of a person’s smile or taking away the pain of toothache.

Ensure local pets and livestock are in great health as a veterinarian

In order to start work in this career, prospective vets will need to graduate with an accredited veterinary degree and complete the certifications that are required by their state. This can take years and demands a great deal of commitment, but for people who remain dedicated, the rewards are ample. In any community, residents have beloved pets that they depend on for support. They trust their local vet to keep these animals healthy.

Vets also perform routine operations and some complex surgical procedures. These include spaying or neutering, as well as setting broken bones or removing tumors. A key part of being a community vet is educating pet owners and anyone else who takes care of animals, such as farmers and stable owners. Vets advise on appropriate animal care, good nutrition and responsible ownership. This service helps safeguard animals and reassure owners, but can also protect public health.

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Inspire the younger generation as a teacher

Teachers help shape the lives of young people living in their community. They can inspire children who are unsure of what career to aim for, support them in their studies and mentor them through academic challenges. It’s the type of role that can make people feel very proud at the end of a busy day. Teachers all need a bachelor’s degree in education, but most states have supplementary certificates that teachers can take to move up the career ladder.

New teachers have to write curriculums in a way that achieves the school’s learning objectives. They must also plan put what topics will be taught and when and then deliver the information in an engaging way. It’s a rewarding role in which people can see tangible results each day, as their pupils gain more skills and competencies. Teaching offers excellent job security and is a good choice for people with family commitments, as they will get the same time off as their children.

Choosing a life of community service

For people who want to work for the betterment of their community, job satisfaction is about more than good conditions and a great salary. By undertaking these careers, they are making a clear difference to their neighborhood, be it through caring for people, tackling emergencies or supporting the local environment. Over the course of a lifetime, these careers offer the chance to make a hugely positive impact — one that will even be of benefit to future generations.