Whether you’re still in college or you’re looking for a career change, one of the key factors in your decision-making process should be this: whether you just want to earn a paycheck or you actually want to make a difference in other people’s lives. There are all types of careers, and you already know this. But one way to find satisfaction in your professional life – which carries over into your personal life – is to combine two very simple requirements. The first is to be able to earn a salary that will support you, also known as a living wage. The second is to be able to make a difference. Satisfaction in your professional life has the tendency to carry over into satisfaction in your personal life. Let’s take a look at five careers that meet these standards – they can help you to earn a living wage while allowing you to make a difference in the lives of others.

Human Resources

As a child playing dress-up or daydreaming in the attic, you probably weren’t dreaming of a life in corporate human resources (we’ll abbreviate this as “HR” from now on). There’s a reason to take another look at this career, however. People who work in HR can help set the tone in a company’s workplace for inclusion, fairness, and diversity. The HR staff can help stamp out bullying and harassment. If you’re wondering how to go about doing that, don’t worry; there are training programs like these SHRM Practice Tests – SHRM stands for the Society of Human Resource Management – to help you.


You can’t compile a list about careers where you can make a difference without mentioning teachers. It’s a job where the pay is definitely not the deciding factor, but the ability to touch the lives of students on every level is unmatched. The joy you bring to the learning process will stick with your students for the rest of their lives, and fostering a love for knowledge and learning can mean the difference between success and failure. If you’re still not sold, there’s always the one perk that everybody mentions every time this career is discussed: summers off!

The Medical Field

People find themselves in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers at some of the most vulnerable times in their lives. As a medical professional in any capacity – from custodian to brain surgeon – you have the opportunity to make a difference. Your kindness and sympathy can make a difference, and so can your skill and ability to carry out your professional duties.

The Hospitality Industry

Here’s another career that probably didn’t make your Wish List during your senior year in high school. People come to the hospitality industry for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a temporary stopping point on the way to something else; for others, a permanent vocation. But there’s one undeniable characteristic of the field: You touch people’s lives. And in some cases, the financial benefits of working in a restaurant or hotel can match or exceed those of professions where you work in an office.

Emergency Services

Before you talk yourself out of even trying to become a firefighter or a police officer, know that many others before you have done it – even as a career change after several years in another field. In other words, not all of the cadets were spring chickens when they started! The examinations and training for some positions in the emergency services can be strenuous, but the rewards for being on the front lines helping people can be immense. And there’s more than firefighters and police officers; the emergency services includes 911 dispatchers – which are the people who answer the phone when you call in with an emergency – as well as paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and more.