Three careers that can help you improve your community

In considering the direction they want their career to take, many people prioritize the concept of “giving back.” Here are three careers that will help you improve your community.

People gain support from their communities, but communities need support as well to function effectively as safe, productive spaces. Devoting your career to creating and maintaining beautiful and healthy communities can be a noble and rewarding decision.

There are many you can use private funds and your free time to improve your community, but if you are looking for a career dedicated to community betterment, you have have fewer options. To help you, we’ve picked three of the most popular community-centric career paths.

1) Social work

Social work is an incredibly broad and diverse field, but the ultimate goal of every social worker is to help their community. Most social workers enter the profession with the intention of improving the well-being of people in their community to ensure that all people are able to meet their basic and complex needs.

A firm foundation in education is required for employment in social work. Prospective social workers need to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field, like sociology, political science, social justice or human development. Social workers also need a master’s degree in social work to become licensed in their state.

Before licensure, social workers must perform a certain number of fieldwork hours, which will give them real-world experience and point them toward the specialty they want to pursue in their careers.

Social workers can work with individuals and families, schools and universities, hospitals, non-profit groups, corporations and more. In their pursuit to do good, social workers can promote mental health, fight substance abuse, unite children with loving families and more. Though social work isn’t known for its high salaries, it is undeniably one of the most beneficial careers for your community.

2) Local government

When considering entering politics, many imagine sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office – or at least pursuing a seat in the US Senate. However, if you are hoping to make significant impacts in your immediate community, you might think more locally.

State and local governments have more power over the well-being of their communities than higher levels of government, and it is much easier for you to obtain employment within local government agencies.

While it can be useful to have some kind of political education, such as a degree in political science or public policy, such a background isn’t necessary for work in local government. Instead, you should try to gain experience in related fields, perhaps by participating in a government fellowship or internship or volunteering on a political campaign.

Developing a network of influential supporters within your community is also useful, especially if you are looking to take up public office, like city council or state legislature.

Members of local governments have remarkable influence over their communities. Government officials can work to improve their local school systems, their public transportation systems, their parks and green spaces, their economic development and more. People working within the government should strive to make the changes they want to see, but they should also listen to other voices within their communities to ensure equitable wellbeing.

3) Entrepreneurship

Small businesses are the foundation of local economies. By creating small businesses, entrepreneurs introduce growth and innovation to their community, offering employment opportunities and generating wealth to help fund local projects.

Many entrepreneurs have education and career experience within business – and many do not. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and colors; anyone with a small business dream and the drive and funding to achieve it can find success in entrepreneurship.

Prospective entrepreneurs might consider what products or services are lacking in their local community. It is important to be creative in envisioning how a community might benefit from a new business; entrepreneurship courses in architecture, planning and real estate might be exactly what an urban community needs to thrive.

Entrepreneurship might be the most lucrative career option if you are looking to give back to your community, but entrepreneurial success rarely comes easily. It can take years for startups to get out of the red and for business owners to take home salaries. Still, entrepreneurs benefit from dozens of additional perks, to include control over the culture of their company, which can affect the surrounding culture of their community as the business grows.

People rely on their communities for support and success – so it makes sense that plenty of people want to devote their lives to seeing their communities thrive. The three careers we discuss above are some of the most impactful on the health and wellbeing of communities, so if you are looking to give back you can consider aiming your career accordingly.