The way you view your job has a serious impact on your overall job satisfaction, and those who view their work as both a career and a calling are often the most fulfilled. If you are passionate about helping others, there are several career options that offer a good salary, excellent employment outlook and allow you to make a difference in peoples' lives on a daily basis.
A social worker helps clients identify problems in their lives and address those problems through coping strategies, referrals to community programs and services, and referrals to professional treatment. Many social workers specialize in a specific population, such as the elderly, children in school, families or people suffering from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Most social workers are employed by schools, governments or healthcare organizations. You must have at least a bachelor's degree to be considered for entry-level positions. A major in social work is best, though some employers also consider candidates with a degree in psychology, sociology or another related field. Social workers earned an average of $42,480 a year as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nurses provide basic health services to patients and families of patients. They work in hospitals, doctor's offices, retirement communities and patients' homes. Your exact duties as a nurse depend on your level of education and certification, as well as the laws in your state. Licensed vocational and licensed practical nurses must complete a roughly one-year nursing program, and have a lower level of responsibility compared to other types of nurses. Registered nurses must complete a bachelor's degree program in nursing, which takes about four years of full-time study to complete, or an associate's degree or diploma program in nursing, which takes about two to the years to complete. The BLS reports that LVNs and LPNs earned average salaries of $40,380 per year as of May 2010, while RNs averaged $64,690.
Physical therapists help patients who have illnesses or injuries that have caused them to have limited or painful body movements. This is accomplished through identifying problems and assigning treatment plans, which might include stretches, exercises or using specialized equipment. You must have at least a master's of physical therapy to become a physical therapist, though most have a doctorate. Most physical therapists gain hands-on experience while studying through clinical rotations, then complete a residency program after graduation lasting nine months to three years. Physical therapists earned an average salary of $76,310 per year as of May 2010, according to the BLS.
Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse counselors help people deal with and overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol. They do this through group therapy with other recovering addicts, one-on-one therapy, referrals to job and education services, educating family and friends and employing various behavior modification techniques. The requirements for becoming a substance abuse counselor vary greatly, depending on the job. The most basic positions require only a high school diploma. People in these positions may lead group activities or perform administrative tasks, and often require the supervision of a licensed substance abuse counselor. To become a licensed substance abuse counselor, you must have a master's degree and significant supervised clinical experience. The BLS reports that substance abuse counselors earned an average of $38,120 per year as of May 2010.