Careers For People Who Want To Make An Impact


See rewarding career options for ambitious people who want to make a difference.

By Chris Kyle

Want a career that lets you make an impact...without going broke?

Having a career that lets you help others is one way to have an impact. Being in a position to make significant changes is yet another possibility. So is working in management.

As you can see, there are many ways to channel your ambition and make a difference, so finding the right career may depend on what suits you and your personality best.

[Want to make an impact? Find schools now.]

With that in mind, check out our list of rewarding careers that make a difference...then see how you can prepare for them.

Career #1 - Marketing Manager

Want to make an impact in the business world? Marketing managers promote their product to the public and the results have a profound effect on a company's bottom line, making them critical, game-changing players.

Education: Studying marketing or business administration is a great start, but often a bachelor's degree isn't enough. To break into management, an MBA is also helpful.

Average Earnings: $120,070*

[Search for Marketing and Business degree programs]

Career #2 - Paralegal

In the legal world, the difference between winning and losing usually happens long before a case goes to trial and more often than not there's a paralegal who is a pivotal player in that process. Working alongside lawyers, paralegals have a huge behind-the-scenes role, analyzing cases and researching and interviewing witnesses.

Education: An associate's degree in paralegal studies can help you transition into a paralegal position. If you already have a degree, earning a certificate in paralegal studies in as little as six months, is another great step toward this career.

Average Earnings: $50,080*

[Find Paralegal schools near you]

Career #3 - Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

CPAs are among the very few people who actually understand the tax code, let alone the new federal banking regulations that Congress just passed. And unlike unlicensed accountants, CPAs can file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), making them an influential ally of public companies registered with the SEC.

Education: The road to a career as a CPA varies, depending upon the state in which you practice, but the minimum requirement is generally a bachelor's degree in an area like accounting or finance.

Average Earnings: $48,468 - $73,440*

[Search for Accounting degree programs now]

Career #4 - HR Manager

HR managers are the gatekeepers to companies large and small. Not only do HR managers actively work to recruit and retain the best workers, their efforts have a huge impact in shaping a company's culture.

Education: Going to business school could be a good investment for aspiring HR managers. A bachelor's degree is required and many managers also have an MBA.

Average Earnings: $105,510*

[Find Business schools now]

Career #5 - Computer Programmer

As a computer programmer, your co-workers might not fully understand what you do for a living, but they do understand that you're an invaluable part of today's digital world. Using computer languages like C++ and Python, programmers write the code that powers ideas to life.

Education: To attract employers, demonstrating your expertise with a technology-related degree is a great start, whether it's an associate's or bachelor's. Certificate programs are another great resumé builder.

Average Earnings: $74,690*

[Find Technology degree programs]

Career #6 - K-12 Teacher

When talking about making an impact, it's impossible to overstate the difference teachers make in the lives of their students. As a teacher, you could be involved in helping to map the future of the next generation.

Education: A bachelor's degree and your teacher certification are vital steps towards a position as a teacher. Earning a master's degree can also help.

Average Earnings:
Elementary School Teachers: $53,150*
Middle School Teachers: $53,550*
Secondary School Teachers: $55,150*

[Search for Teaching programs]

Career #7 - Database Administrator

Unlike in the past, finding information isn't the problem these days. The tough part is figuring out how to sort and make sense of it all. Enter database administrators, who are often charged with safeguarding data from hackers and computer meltdowns.

Education: Employers want to hire database administrators who have a bachelor's degree in an area like information systems or database technology, according to the Department of Labor. Having a master's degree can help increase your opportunities.

Average Earnings: $74,290*

[Find IT programs]

*Average earnings salaries come from the U.S. Department of Labor, using 2009 median salary information, except CPA, which comes from January 2011 salary data from

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