If you’re looking for a career that will allow you to make a tangible difference in your community, chances are that you’re not willing to settle for the average job or base your aspirations entirely around salary amounts. Instead, you’re probably searching for something more involved and fulfilling – a path that will let you serve as part of societal solutions rather than contribute to the growing list of global problems that range from economic to environmental concerns.
If you’re only in it for the money, there are plenty of industries that can make you rich while also polluting the Earth. In fact, the vast majority of companies have a carbon footprint of some sort, so one could argue that, with the current energy technologies and manufacturing practices, economic growth, in general, has a collectively negative effect on the environment. Fortunately, if you choose a career in one of the following fields, you can start taking small steps to initiate positive changes in your community.
1. Healthcare Administration
Working in the public health sector will have you dealing with the local medical resources and professionals in your area to establish, enforce, and manage healthcare systems. Instead of starting at a lower-level position that won’t have you directly involved in making the decisions that result in changes made in your community, consider starting out with a healthcare administration job, which will have you working with local healthcare professionals and resources from the very start. You can start with an entry-level position by earning a bachelor’s degree and then advance to earning your masters in healthcare demonstration (MHA) later on. You can even find online programs that are offered through local universities by running a web search for “online MHA program” followed by your city name, i.e. “online mha program in Boston.”
2. Business Administration
As we mentioned earlier, most businesses are not operating in an environmentally friendly manner. Furthermore, many local companies don’t utilize any of their profits and available resources to initiate positive change in their communities. By earning a degree in business administration, you can start your own local companies that run on green energy and engage in eco-friendly practices like recycling and community clean-up projects. This kind of degree is widely applicable within almost all industries, because all companies need managers, and having an MBA qualifies you as an ideal candidate for many managerial positions.
3. Social Work
Social workers help families and individuals in their communities by providing support and access to services that aim to improve quality of life and community environments. The field of social work is broad and encompasses a wide range of professions including school social worker, medical social worker, marriage & family counsellor, substance abuse counsellor, mental health counsellor, corporate social responsibility director, social science researcher, and many other job titles. One role that is particularly interesting for people who are trying to initiate community change would be housing & community development director, a position that will have you working to secure and provide housing for the members of your community who need it the most.
4. Civic Engineer
If you want to be involved in the building and urban planning aspects of community development, a degree in civil engineering might pique your interest. Civil engineers are directly involved in creating, implementing, supervising, constructing, operating, and maintaining community infrastructure systems and projects. This includes taking part in the development and maintenance of buildings, roads, airports, bridges, dams, tunnels, and water & sewage treatment systems.
Becoming a local politician is another way you can play a hands-on role in initiating positive change in your community. By being involved in the development of new policies and regulations in your area, you can help secure funding for important projects and serve as a facilitator of social progress. The world needs more good people to get into politics, so if you’ve always bought into the popular stereotype that “most politicians are lairs,” you have the chance to combat that view and be part of the solution by being an honest and effective local politician in your county, city, or state. Many people are afraid to get into politics because of all of the responsibilities involved, but somebody has to step up to the plate and handle this increasingly important job from the perspective of someone who really wants to make a difference.
Of course, you stand to make a positive change in your community any time you have the opportunity to participate in education and the influence the next generation. While teachers don’t make the highest salaries, it’s a reasonable living and one that comes with very fulfilling experiences as you watch your students grow into young adults and graduate. Many teachers build lifelong relationships with some of their students and become known as pillars of their community for their service in the field of academia.
7. Law Enforcement
Many parts of the world are facing a significant shortage of police officers, as there simply aren’t enough people who want to sign up for this potentially risky and challenging job. However, somebody has to “take the bad guys off the streets” and contribute to the decreasing crime rates. Plus, since violent crime rates are in fact decreasing in most areas, becoming a police officer is becoming less risky with each passing year as more criminals are brought to justice.
Community Improvement Happens Incrementally
Any of the above occupations and fields of study should put you in a position to help implement and sustain positive change in your community. It’s important to remember that large scale change takes years if not decades to come to fruition. Still, in all of the aforementioned career paths, you’ll be able to see evidence of immediate changes you’re making in the lives of others. Those little improvements eventually add up to a better world for the children of tomorrow, which is the end goal of all jobs that work to build a brighter reality for future generations.