Are you tired of your current job, or maybe just looking to do something different or more fulfilling? Many people are stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy—jobs that give them no purpose.

If you’re one of those people and want to learn more about how to move into a meaningful career helping others, you’re in the right place! Here are some top tips to help you on your journey.

Consider Why You Want to Change Your Career

Changing your career is a big decision to make. But choosing a path that focuses on helping people can make it worthwhile—having a mission gives you passion and drive. If you’re just starting to think about a change, write down your reasons for doing so, and keep referring to and adding to that list over time. It’s a great way to encourage yourself if you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, and it can help guide you toward the job you ultimately want.

Research Career Paths and Job Types

It’s essential to start researching different career paths and job types as soon as you decide to change careers—you don’t want to waste money on a course or certification program only to find out it isn’t actually what you want. Learn some ins and outs of different jobs in human-focused fields by:

  • Reading articles and guides for job-seekers in careers that interest you
  • Talking with people who work in those fields
  • Getting an understanding of what knowledge, skills, and experience are needed for different job types you like, and figuring out what path makes the most sense for you
  • Researching salary, benefits, and other perks of those jobs

It’s also worth looking at adjacent fields you might not have considered before—for example, if you want to go into teaching but are daunted by the amount of time it’ll take to get your qualifications, starting with gigs that have a lower barrier to entry, like tutoring or even TEFL, can help you figure out if this is what you’d like to do long-term. You might even find opportunities you didn’t know existed that are perfect for you!

Using the research you’ve gathered, create a list of job roles that really stand out to you and consider the pros and cons of each. In the next section, we’ll cover common careers that allow you to help people.

Build the Right Skills

When moving into a more meaningful career to help people, you might find that you need to reskill and develop other areas of knowledge and expertise. It takes a lot of patience and training to work with the general public, especially if you’re working with people in a vulnerable or emergency situation—say, if you wish to become an EMT or a police officer. You’ll need to become adept at communication, problem-solving, teamwork, compassion, and much more.

In addition to soft skills, you’ll need to get some basic certifications and training* to enter a person-focused field. Let’s look at some job types you might gravitate towards, and some training you could need for each:


If you’re interested in working in healthcare, you could start with introductory First Aid courses and even get into more focused paths, like obtaining a Bloodborne Pathogens certification, which can be incredibly helpful (and even required) for jobs where you may come in contact with bodily fluids. A few healthcare paths that may call to you:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): Requires a certificate and state certification; provides basic patient care under the supervision of nursing staff.
  • Medical Assistant: Needs a diploma from a medical assistant program; performs administrative and clinical tasks in healthcare settings.
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): Requires completing a practical nursing program and passing the NCLEX-PN; provides basic nursing care.
  • Registered Nurse (RN): Needs an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN; provides and coordinates patient care, educates about health conditions.
  • Physical Therapist Assistant: Requires an associate degree from an accredited program; works under physical therapists to help patients improve mobility.
  • Physician Assistant (PA): Needs a master’s degree from an accredited program and a state license; practices medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers.


There are a ton of different ways you can get into teaching, from tutoring in a subject you already know as a side gig, all the way to becoming a full-time educator in a school. A few ideas:

  • Teaching Assistant: Typically requires at least a high school diploma and some districts may require an associate degree or relevant certification; assists with classroom duties.
  • Substitute Teacher: Requirements vary by district, ranging from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree; fills in temporarily for absent teachers.
  • Preschool Teacher: Requires an associate degree in early childhood education; educates preschool-age children.
  • High School Teacher: Needs a bachelor’s degree in education or in a teachable subject plus a teaching certificate; teaches students in grades 9-12.
  • Special Education Teacher: Requires a bachelor’s degree in special education; works with students who have a range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.
  • School Administrator: Needs a master’s degree in education administration or leadership; manages school operations and daily school activities.


If you wish to be a counselor and help people with their mental health, then you will likely need to obtain a degree, along with various specialist qualifications and work experience. Helping people with their mental health is highly sensitive work—here are some potential job types you may wish to look at:

  • Substance Abuse Counselor: Requires certification or a diploma; provides support and treatment for clients with addictions.
  • School Counselor: Needs a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field; helps students develop academic and social skills.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist: Requires a master’s degree and state licensure; specializes in treating mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage and family.
  • Mental Health Counselor: Needs a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field; works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): Requires a master’s degree in social work and state licensure; provides mental health services for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses.
  • Psychologist: Needs a doctoral degree in psychology; assesses, diagnoses, and treats mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

Police and Security

Being a police officer means that you can help enforce the law and investigate crimes—and it’s a great way to help people and the wider community. You don’t often need prior qualifications, but you will need to attend police training at the local police station and academy. But police work isn’t the only job type available in this area:

  • Security Guard: Typically requires a high school diploma and a short period of on-the-job training; monitors premises to prevent theft, violence, or infractions of rules.
  • Police Officer: Requires a high school diploma and graduation from the police academy; enforces laws, arrests suspects, and attends to emergencies.
  • Correctional Officer: Needs a high school diploma and completion of a training academy; oversees individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison.
  • Fish and Game Warden: Requires a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, biology, or related fields; enforces fishing, hunting, and boating laws.
  • Detective: Typically needs several years of experience as a police officer plus additional training; investigates crimes by gathering and analyzing evidence.
  • FBI Agent: Requires a bachelor’s degree, significant work experience, and completion of the FBI Academy program; investigates national security and federal law enforcement cases.

Law and Legal Work

A lawyer gets the opportunity to help advocate for someone, especially if they are struggling with their rights as a human being. Here are some jobs that you might wish to pursue if you’re interested in legal work:

  • Paralegal: Requires an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies; assists attorneys by preparing and organizing documents.
  • Legal Secretary: Needs a high school diploma or GED, along with specialized training or work experience; performs clerical duties and prepares legal documents.
  • Court Reporter: Requires postsecondary training and sometimes state licensure; transcribes spoken or recorded speech in court proceedings.
  • Lawyer: Needs a bachelor’s degree, three years of law school, and a passing score on the Bar Exam; represents clients in legal matters.
  • Judge: Typically requires a law degree and extensive experience as a lawyer; presides over court proceedings and makes legal decisions.
  • Mediator: Often requires a bachelor’s degree and additional training or certification; facilitates negotiation and conflict resolution between disputing parties.

Ready, Set, Go!

Combining all your knowledge, ideas, and research, you should set tangible and attainable goals. Consider what your end goal is—do you want to work your way up from tutoring to eventually teaching full-time in a school district? Or do you think detective work sounds intriguing, and are you willing to start with enrolling in the police academy? Reverse-engineer the steps you’ll need to take to reach your final goal, and create checkpoints, deadlines, and rewards for reaching your different accomplishments over time—you might just find that switching careers isn’t as daunting or impossible as you thought.

Very best of luck!

* The requirements and certifications listed in this article are basic stepping stones to help you begin your research into your career choice; requirements can vary based on many factors, including location, etc.

Featured image by Carlos Magno on Unsplash

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