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Ten More Careers Making A Difference

Ten More Careers Making A Difference

Do you long to travel the world feeding the hungry? Or work with kids at your local high school? Do you have it in you to hold the hand of a dying man, or sit patiently as a teenager struggles to read a book? Perhaps you are ready to take a risk to make a difference as a firefighter, defend the rights of the accused, or inspire faith in others. Then you'll be surprised how many paying jobs are out there calling your name.

The field of not-just-for-profit work is challenging, engaging and ever changing. The work environment is usually positive; everyone shares the ultimate goal of making the world (or at least a specific part of it) a better place. Employees working in non-profits and other socially-responsible businesses tend to have a greater sense of ownership in the organization, recognizing that it is the vehicle by which they are enacting social change. Therefore they more frequently enjoy their jobs and are proud of what they do.

Whether for a public, private or non-profit organization, there is a position well-suited to your skills and interests in which you can bring about social change. In this series, we are hand-picking careers that reveal the diversity of employment opportunities in the business of making a difference. Below are the second 10 career profiles.

Whether your aim is to help people domestically or internationally, or just to feel you've left a lasting impression on the world you live in, there is a career where you can have positive impact.

Read the first article in our series, "10 Careers Making a Difference"

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

1

Diplomat or Foreign Service Officer

www.foreignservicecareers.com
University of California Berkeley Career Center's article "So, You Want to be a Diplomat?"

eHow's "How to Become a Diplomat"

Starting $40,000

Summary:

A diplomat (also known as a Foreign Service Office) has a primary responsibility to preserve, create and mend relationships between the United States and other countries around the world. Because they represent the United States government, diplomats must be personable and have the ability to communicate effectively -- this often involves mastery of the host country's language, and the ability to write well. They perform a multitude of responsibilities in their post country from issuing visas to conducting press conferences for ambassadors. Diplomats spend more than 60% of their time handling reports - reading, gathering facts, writing and proofreading.

There are five career tracks a Foreign Service Officer can take:

  • Management Officer - uses professional, corporate background to handle operations related to diplomacy, including personnel, work agreements, tax issues, handling real estate and financial assets, and providing supervision
  • Consular Officer- helps with visa application process; crisis situations within the country, lost passports, international child custody disputes, arrests, financial or medical emergencies, travel warnings, disaster assistance
  • Economic Officer - helps foreign countries develop free market economies, negotiates trade agreements to open foreign markets; interdicts terrorist and drug financing; and protects intellectual property rights in economic, trade, environmental, scientific, financial or agricultural affairs
  • Political Office - analyzes political events in the country, interprets global events according to U.S. interests, makes recommendations on foreign policy, and engages in negotiations
  • Public Diplomacy Officer - communicates about U.S. interests overseas through educational programs, builds relationships, interacts with the press, defends public policy and manages exchange programs

Knowledge of political systems, cultures, geography, international affairs and current political and social issues are vital to becoming a Foreign Service Officer. It is beneficial to have a strong background in American History and the process of how the United States government functions.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • American citizenship
  • Between the ages of 20 and 59
  • Bachelor's Degree in a related field
  • Must pass the Foreign Service Written Exam and the Foreign Service Oral Assessment
  • A detailed background check and medical evaluation

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

2

Hospice Nurse

www.nurse.com
National Association for Home Care and Hospice
Visiting Nurse Associations of America

$25,000- 50,000

Summary:

Hospice nurses care for the physical and emotional needs of dying patients and their loved ones. They are chosen for their compassion and desire to make a person’s death as peaceful and comfortable as possible - not only the dying individual but for their loved ones as well. Hospice nurses are typically registered nurses who have received additional training in pain and symptom management (palliative care). Hospice nurses typically work in conjunction with hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as on site at a patient's home.

Hospice nurses often work within a team in order to make the individual's end-of-life experiences as comfortable and pleasant as possible. The team includes a wide variety of expert individuals; most often a RN hospice manager, a social worker and a chaplain. The hospice RN case manager ensures a comprehensive care plan is in order, and a hospice social worker evaluates the needs of the patient and their family and advocates for the patient's rights. The hospice chaplain helps the patient and their loved ones work through many of the whys of life and death and they offer spiritual support.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's Degree of Science in Nursing
  • Active RN License
  • Certification requirements vary by state

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

3

Firefighter

International Association of Fire Fighters
National Fire Academy
www.firecareerassist.com

$29,550-54,120

Summary:

Firefighters help protect the public against fires and other emergencies that take thousands of lives each year. The main objective of firefighting is to extinguish fires in order to save lives, property and the environment. Firefighters are rescuers trained to put out hazardous fires that jeopardize communities, and may be part of an emergency response team at the scene of an accident, fire, flood, earthquake or act of terrorism.

Some firefighters specialize in forest fires, and receive training in different methods and equipment than other firefighters. When they work for national forests and parks, forest fire rangers, inspectors and prevention specialists patrol for travelers or campers who violate fire regulations and watch for fires from watchtowers and report them. When fires break out, crews of fire fighters suppress the blaze with heavy equipment and water hoses.

Fighting fires is dangerous and complex, and is therefore vital to be able to work on a team, follow protocols and obey orders. Many firefighters work more than 50 hours a week; most department schedules include 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • High School Diploma
  • 2-year Fire Science Degree (optional)

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

4

Public Interest Lawyer

American Bar Association
www.legalauthority.com

$23,000-55,000

Summary:

Public interest lawyers are both advocates and advisors in the community. Whether they work civil or criminal cases, they concentrate on particular causes, choosing cases that might have an impact on the way law is applied. Public interest lawyers represent special interest groups like the Sierra Club, NOW, WWF and other organizations in which their main objective is to make the world a better place. Law reform and class action litigation are areas of focus for public interest lawyers - especially in the areas of gay rights, women’s issues, employment discrimination, civil rights, environment and education. Public interest lawyers also work as public defenders, providing representation to persons who could otherwise not be able to afford it. The areas of law most commonly associated with public defenders are domestic relations, landlord/tenant disputes and consumer protection.

Lawyers do most of their work in their offices, law libraries and courtrooms. They rely heavily on networking a vast web of contacts, and their ability to work with people. Their day consists of meetings and research on current cases when they are not in the courtroom arguing a case. They are faced with heavy pressure and crucial deadlines; on average lawyers work more than 50 hours a week.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's of Arts or Sciences Degree
  • Juris Doctor (J.D.)
  • Pass a state bar examination in the state in which they choose to practice

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

5

Military Officer

www.todaysmilitary.com
"How to gain practical experience while serving your country" (PDF)
"A Day in the life of a Military Officer"

$30,000-130,000

Summary:

Military officers make up 16 percent of the Armed Forces, and are the leaders of the military, supervising and managing activities. Military officers, depending on seniority play a vital role and the future of the armed forces. Officers oversee operations and maintain operations within their branch of service. There are five branches of the military; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.

The process of joining the military as an officer is different than joining as an enlisted, and under normal circumstances applications must be a four year college graduate. Occupations within the Armed Forces include:

  • Combat specialty officers plan and direct combat activities. Special operations officers’ duties include leading their units in offensive raids, intelligence gathering and search and rescue missions.
  • Engineering, science and technical officers lead or carry out activities in areas such as space operations, environmental health and safety and engineering.
  • Executive, administrative and managerial officers are responsible for overseeing areas such as finance, international relations and supply; they are also responsible for ensuring that each department in the service works together.
  • Health care officers examine, diagnose and care for patients in their area of specialization.
  • Human resource and development officers control the recruitment, assignment and training strategies in the military.
  • Media and public affairs officers supervise the development, creation and presentation of information or events to the public. They may produce and direct television broadcasts or prepare press releases and news reports.
  • Protective service officers are accountable for the safety and protection of individuals and property in military bases and vessels.
  • Support service officers maintain a wide range of services in support of the morale and well-being of military personnel and their families. Their responsibilities specialize from food service managers to social workers to chaplains.
  • Transportation officers manage all transfer of military material and personal by land, air or water.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's of Arts or Science

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

6

Economist

National Association for Business Economics

$55,000-103,000

Summary:

Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, watch economic trends and develop forecasts. They study issues such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, business cycles, taxes, and employment levels. Using mathematical formulas and theories to make predictions, they study, develop and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy.

Economists may work in government as advisors or critics on current economic policy, or in the private sector advising business on their current economic standing projections for the future. They may also work in academia. They typically apply their skills in areas of health, education, agriculture, urban and regional economics, law, history, energy, the environment, or other issues. Economists who work in the private sector are employed by organizations in fields such as banking, finance, marketing, lobbying and non-profit.

Politicians often consult economists before enacting policy, thus giving them an important role in legislation. Economists employed by the government provide vital assessments on current economic conditions and effects certain policies will have on current economic conditions.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Masters Degree or PhD in economics

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

7

International Relief Worker

Becoming an Aid Worker: An Experienced Professional Explains How It's Done
www.peacecorps.gov
International Red Cross
www.vso.org.uk
www.care.org
www.reliefweb.int

$6,000-20,000 housing is typically covered

Summary:

An international relief worker is someone who takes on projects as needed in response to humanitarian crises. The primary goal of humanitarian aid is to reduce the suffering, save lives and maintain a healthy life for those victimized by the crises. There is also a development aid which is designed to address long standing socioeconomic problems that inhibit ones well being or that have been brought on by an emergency.

A relief worker is a great career for someone who wants to find rewarding work internationally. Yet, they must have the ability to relocate frequently and adapt to intensely trying situations and challenging environments.

Career areas in relief work include:

  • Education, youth outreach, and community development
  • Business development
  • Environment
  • Agriculture
  • Health
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Information and communications technology (ICT)

Relief workers are generally employed by NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).

Feeding the hungry, helping victims of war, preventing disease, ensuring safe drinking water, counseling teenagers, teaching computer skills, putting a roof over a family's head - relief work is a most challenging -- and rewarding -- career path.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's Degree

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

8

Special Education Teacher

The Council for Exceptional Children
National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education
National Center for Special Education Personnel & Related Service Providers

$40,000-60,000

Summary:

Special education teachers work with children, youth and adults whom have mental and physical disabilities that require specialized assistance in order to learn. Students who struggle with reading, speaking, or applying other classroom skills qualify for Special Education. Dyslexia, a learning disorder, is one of the most common disabilities that require special education. Only a small number of special education teachers work with students that have a severe degree of mental disability. The majority of special education teachers work with children and youth that have minor disabilities that only need to amend the curriculum to meet the child needs.

A key element of a special education teacher's job is creating and managing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) -- a learning plan designed for each student. Depending on the level of disability, teachers can use problem-solving assignments, small-group work or individualized strategies to helping the child grasp the material. Working with students that have disabilities usually requires special accommodations when taking tests or doing public reading assignments.

Special education teachers don't teach in the traditional way alone. They:

  • help identify students who would benefit from special education
  • are involved in the behavioral, social and academic development of the disabled student
  • keep in close contact with parents of the students
  • work closely with teams of social workers and speech pathologists to provide appropriate help to each student

Special education teachers need to be able to adapt to each circumstance, and be patient in testing various learning techniques to promote learning in the student. Satisfaction comes from the student's successful grasp of the material.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's Degree, but many states require a Masters
  • Licensure required in all 50 states

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

9

Clergy Member

Princeton Review's "A Day in the Life of a Clergy"
www.religiousworlds.com

$23,000-63,000

Summary:

A member of the clergy (Priest, Rabbi, Minister, Imam) is someone with formal religious leadership within a religion. Frequently referring to their work as a calling rather than a career, clergy members are usually responsible for spreading their chosen religion’s doctrines in an understandable way. Clergy are responsible for religious education, moral guidance and spiritual counseling.

Common work activities of the clergy include:

  • Interpreting and teaching religious principles and tenets for the congregation and community
  • Performing religious ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms, funerals or rites of passage
  • Visiting with those in the community unable to attend church, for instance those in the hospital or elderly
  • Giving emotional and financial aid in hard times or disaster situations
  • Providing counseling in times of trial and tribulation for individuals, families and communities
  • Constantly improve their knowledge of the religion and what they are teaching
  • Spreading the message to the community at large
  • Organizing public service, outreach and fundraising programs
  • Supervise personnel and operational details
  • Work with committees and officials elected by the congregation

Clergy who serve large congregations often share their duties with associates or more junior clergy who sometimes specialize in music, education, or youth counseling.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's degree in theology
  • Masters Degree or PhD in religion or theology is common

#

Title / Program

Resources

Typical Annual Salary*

10

Coaches and Sports Instructors

Princeton Review's "A Day in the Life of a Coach"
National High School Coaches Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association
Associations for coaches and instructors of specific sports

$33,000-50,000

Summary:

Whether they specialize in football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, hockey, soccer, volleyball, track, or one of many other sports fields, coaches organize amateur and professional athletes and teach them the fundamentals of individual and team sports. Athletes rely on coaches to help them fulfill their potential and gain a competitive edge. Coaches are responsible for the readiness of the team or athlete. To prepare them for competition, coaches:

  • refine athletes’ individual skills during practice sessions with drills and exercises that improve the athletes’ form, technique, skills, and stamina
  • serve as a role model, instilling fundamental attributes that will support athletes' success in the game as well as life, including good sportsmanship, the ability to work as a team, and a competitive drive to do better
  • evaluate or scout the opposing team to determine game strategies and practice specific plays
  • call specific plays during competition to surprise or overpower the opponent
  • make decisions based on individual players' strengths and weaknesses for optimum team chemistry and success
  • purchase and maintain equipment, materials and supplies
  • arrange for athletic scholarships
  • negotiate contracts with professional athletes
  • enforce nutritional and health-oriented guidelines

Sports instructors teach professional and nonprofessional athletes individually. They organize, instruct, train, and lead athletes in indoor and outdoor sports such as bowling, tennis, golf, boxing, swimming, weight lifting, gymnastics, scuba diving and karate.

Coaches travel often. Many coaches in high schools are primarily teachers of academic subjects who supplement their income by coaching part time.

Education, Certification & Experience:

  • Bachelor's Degree and experience in the specific sport
  • Certification for sports instructors is preferred

 

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