4 Helping professions in high demand

careers that help people

If you’re considering pursuing a career in a helping profession, you’re probably motivated by a desire to work for a greater good. For you, being able to positively impact others by providing care and support makes the job worthwhile. But at the same time, you want to be confident that you can use your degree and find a job after completing school.

All these reasons can make it tricky to determine exactly which position is right for you. To help you jump-start your search for a rewarding career, we compiled this list of four helping professions that are currently in high demand.

4 fulfilling careers that help people

Explore the helping professions profiled below to see if there is a good fit for your unique skills, goals and interests.

1. Registered nurse

Registered nurses (RNs) are responsible not only for providing comprehensive medical care to their patients, but they also offer compassion and emotional support to them and their families. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system as they have the most direct contact with their patients and act as their advocates. RNs were already in demand before the 2020 pandemic exacerbated the nursing shortage across the United States.

Typical RN duties include:

  • Assessing patients’ conditions and recording medical histories and symptoms
  • Administering medicines and treatments prescribed by attending clinician
  • Working with clinicians to perform diagnostic tests and analyze results
  • Educating patients and their families on how to manage illnesses or injuries

Job outlook: Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow seven percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. This increased demand for healthcare professionals is largely due to the rapidly aging population, which typically requires more medical attention than the younger generations.

How to become a RN: There are three types of programs (diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degrees) that can qualify you for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. Keep in mind that nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will have more employment prospects than a diploma or associate degree as many hospitals now require new nurses to hold a BSN. Some schools even offer accelerated BSN programs that will allow you to qualify for these rewarding roles even sooner.


2. Postsecondary teacher

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, are specialists in their area of study and work at colleges and universities. Teaching is a classic example of a helping profession. Educators often work closely with their students and have the potential to make a lasting impact on their lives. Many college instructors are experienced professionals in the subject they teach (e.g., a former police officer who becomes a criminal justice professor), so if you are looking to make a meaningful career change, this option is worth considering.

Typical postsecondary teacher duties include:

  • Developing an instructional plan, including lessons and assignments, for the course(s)
  • Teaching online and/or in-person classes and assessing students’ progress by evaluating papers, exams and other work
  • Providing guidance to students about career paths and professional advice
  • Staying informed about innovations in the field and serving on academic or administrative committees as needed

Job outlook: Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow nine percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This projection includes both part-time and full-time positions. It’s important to note that this growth varies significantly by field. For example, employment for teacher of health specialties is forecasted to grow by 21 percent in the same time frame.

How to become a postsecondary teacher: The education requirements for this career vary according to type of institution and the subject being taught. To work at a four-year college or university, faculty typically need a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree. However, there are part-time positions, certain specialties and community colleges open to hiring applicants with a master’s degree. Work experience is also an important factor that is often taken into consideration by hiring committees.

3. Marriage and family therapist

The goal of all mental health professionals, including therapists, is to support their clients or patients and help them understand their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Marriage and family therapists specialize in the often-complicated relationship dynamics amongst family members or between partners and use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients.

Typical marriage and family therapist duties include:

  • Encouraging clients to discuss and process their emotions and experiences
  • Guiding clients through difficult transitions in their lives
  • Helping clients develop coping strategies and skills
  • Referring client to other resources, specialists or services

Job outlook: Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, more than five times faster than the average for all jobs. As more healthcare providers adopt integrated care models, wherein multiple problems are treated simultaneously by a group of specialists, the demand for therapists will increase.

How to become a marriage and family therapist: You will need a master’s degree to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). Most therapists in this specialty obtain a bachelor’s in psychology before going on to earn a master’s degree.

To learn more about this helping profession, read “What is an LMFT? Your guide to this psychotherapy career.”

4. Social worker

There are many different types of social workers, and they all share one thing in common: the desire to help others live full and happy lives. Social work is divided into three practice areas: micro, mezzo and macro. Micro social work is done at the individual level, focusing on access to things like housing, healthcare and other resources. Mezzo social work involves groups and organizations like schools, neighborhoods and businesses. Macro social work involves advocating for systemic changes to programs and policies at the local, state and national levels.

Typical social worker duties include:

  • Working directly with people and communities to ensure their basic needs are met
  • Assessing client’s needs, situations and strengths and helping them to develop goals
  • Connecting clients with additional resources and acting as their advocate within the care system
  • Responding to crisis situations like mental health emergencies, intimate partner violence, child abuse, substance abuse, homelessness and more

Job outlook: Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialization. For example:

  • Child welfare, family and school social workers are projected to grow 12 percent.
  • Healthcare social workers are projected to grow 14 percent.
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers are projected to grow 17 percent.

How to become a social worker: Most employers require entry-level social workers to hold a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). However, some workplaces may accept a degree in a related field, like psychology. Supervised fieldwork and/or internships are a significant component of the training process for direct-service and clinical positions. If your goal is to assess, diagnosis and treat mental illnesses and disorders, you can become a clinical social worker by earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW).

Wondering if you could thrive as a social worker? Find out in our article “8 Signs a social work career is your calling.”

Earn a degree that makes a difference

Hopefully you found some inspiration in learning about the rewarding roles of registered nurses, postsecondary teachers, marriage and family therapists and social workers, which are just a handful of the many careers that help people. While the demand for these jobs is high, so is the level of responsibility.

If you’re up for the challenge, the first step is acquiring the training and education needed to assume one of these rewarding roles. UMass Global has been equipping and empowering students to have a positive impact with their careers for more than 60 years. Becoming a student here means you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are motivated to make a difference.

Find out if UMass Global is a good fit for you by reading our article “8 Signs you belong at University of Massachusetts Global.”


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