Most people plan their careers around the opportunity to earn high wages, but you want to do something different with your work: You want to do good. Dedicating your life to a career that improves your community in a particular way is a worthy goal, and it is more than possible — with the right credentials, of course.
Anyone can volunteer to do good for free, and there are many positions that allow you to give back but offer abysmal compensation packages. If you want to survive and thrive in a career dedicated to doing good, you most likely need a master’s degree. Here are a few master’s degrees in different fields to inspire your next major career decision.
Teachers and other educators assume a large amount of responsibility for preparing children for adulthood — not only with hard skills like grammar and math but with social and emotional competency gained through classroom and playground experiences. Educators have the potential to affect thousands of lives over the course of their careers, and those thousands of children will become adults who shape society’s future. A master’s degree in education is not essential for teachers or school administrators, but it does provide educators with greater knowledge and skill in working with diverse classrooms and achieving positive learning outcomes. Plus, master’s degrees in education tend to unlock a higher earning tier, which can be crucial in a field where income is notoriously low.
Social work is perhaps the most selfless and altruistic occupation — but it can also be among the most heartbreaking and difficult. Social workers take responsibility for helping to improve circumstances for the most vulnerable members of a community. Often, social workers will develop a focus in their career, such as helping individuals escape domestic abuse or ensuring children are raised in a safe and healthy environment. As with education, a master’s degree in social work increases a social worker’s earning potential, but it also qualifies a social worker for more advanced responsibilities. For example, a master’s degree can allow a social worker to participate in clinical social work, which involves treating mental illness through counseling.
Public health is arguably among the most important jobs in the healthcare system as it helps to educate the greater population about health issues to prevent widespread disease and suffering. Most public health workers work outside healthcare institutions; some help craft health-related government policy in state and federal agencies while others work directly with members of the public to ensure health and wellness. Usually, public health professionals have a health-related bachelor’s degree, and a master’s in public health helps them specialize to reach the career path of their dreams.
Sustainability and Environmental Policy
The climate crisis is a very real and very pressing concern, but with so few professionals experienced in issues related to sustainability and environmentalism, businesses and government agencies are often at a loss for how to alter their operations to effect substantial environmental change. A master’s degree in sustainability and environmental policy will provide deep knowledge pertaining to the actions that must be taken to prevent the worst consequences of the shifting climate. With such a master’s degree, professionals can find work in local, state and federal governments as well as in larger companies looking to become sustainable in a significant way.
The professionals with the greatest power to do good for the largest number of people are political leaders. These professionals develop policies and craft laws that can radically improve (or worsen) the lifestyles and livelihoods of vast swaths of the global population. Though degrees in political science or geopolitics do not guarantee a successful career in politics, they can help those eager to enter the political sphere develop greater awareness of the complex forces that policymakers are responsible for.
Alongside politicians, business leaders have the potential to make major impacts on culture and society. Executives at large companies can make decisions that have large scale economic ramifications, which can affect individual lives in serious ways. Earning a master’s degree in the field, like the famous MBA, will qualify workers for more advanced positions within organizations, giving them more authority to make decisions that lead to positive outcomes for society. Because business administration is not inherently an altruistic profession, workers and leaders need to commit to using their advanced knowledge and skill for good.
You don’t need a master’s degree to do good in the world — but it certainly helps. With more advanced education credentials, you gain more authority, and that authority can help you improve the world around you in meaningful ways.