Nearly all children go through a phase where they want to be a doctor or work with the police or fire department. While there are all kinds of things that attract kids to certain careers (big trucks with flashing lights and interesting uniforms being some of them), one reason so many children fixate on these careers in particular is that each involves helping other people.

We teach our children that helping others is good, and they apply this value to their plans for the future. Sadly, some outgrow the desire to serve, but if you haven’t, know that you don’t have to don a fire department uniform or go into massive debt to medical school in order to help others.

There are plenty of rewarding career paths that help people in different ways, and one of them might just be for you. Some are obvious, but some you might not have thought of before.

The forgotten recycling

We throw away far too much, from drink cans to newspapers to plastic straws and even our cooking oil. These days nearly every municipality has a recycling center, but there are some things we need to do better on, like cooking oil.

In centuries past, people naturally recycled the oil they cooked with. Since cooking fats were mostly animal fats, they could be (and were) made into soaps, balms, and candles, while any used liquid oils were saved to bake with. Since nearly everyone cooked and baked at home, rarely if ever going out to eat, there was no problem.

Today, our habits have flipped, and the restaurant industry generates enormous amounts of oil that need somewhere to go. Dumping it clogs sewers and drains and ruins whole ecosystems. Used cooking oil collection recycles it locally, helps the local economy, and plays a key part in ensuring a clean and safe future.

How to get involved

There are plenty of jobs available in this industry. You could work as a biodiesel maker, producing useable fuel from old cooking oil. You could work in logistics, arranging collections, distribution, and delivery. There are even jobs available to those qualified in business systems analysis, accounting, and sales.

Applying digital tech to user life issues

Technology has the power to improve lives in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of even a few decades ago. Consumer products make it easier to take care of a home or raise children. Medical devices improve quality of life for the disabled. Aerospace research and development, improvements in user interface and experience have the power to change the world.

Working in this industry, you could be involved in creating a way to produce shoes that fit each person. Not only the shape of their feet, but matching the very way they move. You might design cutting edge, intuitive medical carts that make medical emergencies easier for doctors and nurses to deal with.

Maybe your future will be about developing a portable scanner so advanced and so tough that eventually no battlefield surgeon or ER tech could imagine life without one. There are no limits to the way this career can help others.

How to get involved

To work where the digital meets the physical, consider getting a degree in a related field. This could be electrical or mechanical engineering, software development, industrial design, user interface development, or even project management. Look for employers who have you working alongside others in a multidisciplinary approach.

Helping others with their home design

Most people think that interior design doesn’t matter much. It’s true that everyone has their own way of living life, but great home design can still make a difference. The way we feel inside our living spaces makes a bigger difference to our mental health than most realize.

What does great home design do? It makes a living space comfortable and easy to live in. A well-designed room doesn’t take as much effort to clean or work in, making life just a bit easier for those who work from home or have young children in the house. Good home design also makes things easier for seniors to move around.

When we hate a space, we usually know it. Home design inspiration is all about that middle ground where you have no real feelings about where you live. It’s just a place to exist. Transforming it can make all the difference, because when we love where we live, our lives are immeasurably improved.

How to get involved

Home design is one-part natural flair, one-part training, and one-part a career-long passion to keep up with trends and designs. If you already find yourself getting compliments on the way you design your space, it might be time to consider a home designer degree.

Working in restorative dentistry

Few children dream of becoming a dentist; but then, dental visits aren’t high on a child’s list of fun activities! You probably already know that keeping teeth clean and straight, and dealing with cavities is important. Restorative dental care does even more.

Working in this field, you could be working with mouth and neck cancer victims, helping them return to normal function after surgery and disease wreaks havoc with their way of life. You could help wounded soldiers or car accident victims recover from life-altering injuries. You might use your talents on tiny infants born with disfigurements.

Your work doesn’t have to be all with these types of extreme cases to be helpful, though. You could also find yourself working with people whose bones, teeth, and gums have been destroyed through infection, cavities, or other types of damage. You’ll be helping them get back to healthy teeth and a smile they feel comfortable with.

How to get involved

To work as a restorative dental hygienist, you just need an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, a license, and the dexterity to do the work. If you want to do more, a medical degree in dentistry, oral surgery, or even cosmetic dentistry can start you on the right path.

Becoming a personal trainer

We put a lot of emphasis on the careers that help people once they’re already sick or injured. What about careers that give others a better shot at avoiding illness and injury in the first place? As a personal trainer, you can be involved in transforming lives.

All other things being equal, better muscle tone and flexibility go a long way to help the ordinary person avoid accidents. If they do fall, they are less likely to be hurt if they are strong and flexible. And with a healthy diet, it’s sometimes possible to avoid or at least put off some serious illnesses like Type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  

As a personal trainer, you’ll be helping people learn how to live better. You’ll know how to help them put on muscle and take off fat, gain flexibility, and improve the way they move to minimize the possibility of injury. With a strong foundation in nutrition, you’ll also be in a position to help them change the way they eat, and, in the process, change their future.

How to get involved

There are many personal trainer certifications available, but to make the biggest difference in lives, you should also pursue training in proper movement techniques and body alignment. You’ll also set yourself apart if you become a registered dietician. With all these skills working together, you’ll be able to offer clients a well-rounded plan for personal transformation.

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