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Careers with purpose

Four Interesting Careers With Purpose

Follow your dreams. Pursue your passions. Cliches like these can be a guidance or a hindrance –– depending upon your perspective. Just remember those oft-repeated nuggets represent the beginning of your journey and not the finish. For me a lifelong interest in history, politics, and other cultures led me to pursue careers in diplomacy and counterterrorism. My success made my deep dissatisfaction troubling and confusing. I followed a fairly meandering path before discovering my own purpose –– which led me to a career as a career coach. Our passions are not singular nor are they frozen in time. Instead, our dreams evolve. So should we.


One secret to truly discovering your passion is to go with the flow. Sometimes when I offer this advice to a Type A client, they misunderstand. They think I’m suggesting they slam the brakes on their hustle and drop their speed from 60 mph to zero. Nothing could be further from the truth. After all, if you’re riding rapids in Colorado, you most certainly aren’t sitting still. It’s just the second you fight the flow –– like by battling the current, for example –– you risk crashing against the rocks. So let life happen. Be open to opportunities and consider these careers with purpose.




When PayScale explored careers with purpose, they discovered unsurprisingly that faith-based careers ranked number one for high levels of meaning at work. Around 98% of religious leaders surveyed felt that way. This comes from how they help others while staying true to themselves and their beliefs. It’s a very demanding job but the salary is rarely commensurate with its degree of difficulty. Still, if you are looking for a fulfilling career or if you’ve dreamed of pursuing this, there are plenty of opportunities available. You needn’t devote forty plus hours per week. Instead, considering volunteering at your local church, temple, or mosque. Being involved with mission work, outreach or charity can be deeply fulfilling.


2. Surgeon


Considering how many boys and girls say they dream of being doctors to help people, it makes sense that the grownups who fulfilled their childhood expectations report deep levels of satisfaction.Yes, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons or other surgical specialists typically earn over 400 K per year. Yet few doctors enter the profession motivated by money. It’s just too difficult for one thing –– with an educational requirement of seven years postsecondary schooling followed by a three-year residency.


If you are interested in a healthcare career but don’t want to spend ten years preparing, consider working as a Physician’s Assistant (PA.) Requiring a Master’s Degree and often taking on roles once delegated to doctors, PAs earn a good salary and are in high demand. Indeed, the challenges healthcare workers endured during the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll. A recent study conducted by the JAMA Network Open showed that more than 20 percent of healthcare workers have considered leaving their profession while one-third want to reduce their hours. This might give you pause but if you’re truly interested, you should pursue it. 

3. Self-Employed Business Owners


This collection of passionate dreamers rated their work environment, feeling of openness, and sense of trust the highest amongst all of Payscale’s respondents. They also had a job satisfaction rate in the 90th percentile. This is partly due to their sense of control over their work environment and how tasks are completed –– a big contributor to feeling good about your work and what you do. It’s a rollercoaster of an endeavor but most self-employed business owners couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If you’ve always wanted to be an owner-operator, start mapping out the steps towards creating your own company. Don’t let anything stand in your way. Then again, if you’re serious about this you probably already have an extra supply of the “can-do” spirit.

4. Teaching


Although the pay can be low, those who can teach are second only to doctors for fulfillment. According to a recent Gallup study nearly 70% of teachers qualify as “thriving” based on their current and expected future quality of life. Whether teaching literature at a university or running a kindergarten, teachers rank number one in reporting that they had smiled or laughed in the past day.  


Generally, people who are able to control their work environment while taking on  challenging and ever-changing assignments report the highest feeling of purpose. Those who work in these four careers with purpose might sometimes feel physically exhausted but rarely feel emotionally exhausted. On the other end of the spectrum , fast food workers and casino floor managers are not just unfulfilled. They worry their job is actually making the world a worse place to live in. Fulfillment workers (also known as pickers or warehouse workers) tend to be deeply unhappy because their job is repetitive and takes place almost entirely within cavernous warehouses. Many people accept unfulfilling jobs to pay the bills or as a stepping stone. There’s nothing wrong with that –– so long as the gig has an expiration date. In other words, continue pursuing your dream job while putting a little money aside for the courses or conferences you’ll need to make it happen. To find a career with a purpose, make sure your heart is in it and your mind will follow.  


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