Everyone has different passions and motivations that drive their career path. However, a rewarding career should offer plenty of personal and professional fulfillment for most people. It’s typically one where they’re interested in what they do, they feel like they make a difference, it matches their personality and lifestyle and there are opportunities to learn and develop.
For one person, that career might be working in a hospital, donning lab coats and protective gear before running medical tests. For another person, a rewarding career involves helping children learn to write the alphabet or developing code for a text-to-speech program. A rewarding career doesn’t have to mean regular promotions or climbing the ranks. Most often, it just means doing some good in the world. If you are a recent graduate, returning to the workforce or looking for a change, check out the ten most rewarding careers.
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1. Occupational Therapist
Often providing literal hands-on help, occupational therapists aid patients in building or redeveloping the skills and abilities necessary for daily living. They might help rehabilitate someone injured in an accident, provide tools or physical aides to assist with everyday tasks or help people with disabilities develop the skills they need for daily life. Becoming an occupational therapist takes time; it requires a master’s degree in occupational therapy, plus a license in the state where you work.
2. Kindergarten Teacher
Numerous people find reward in teaching children, particularly in their early childhood years. As a teacher, you hold a critical role in helping children grow and develop and setting them on the right track to success. Every state has different requirements for becoming a kindergarten teacher. However, you will generally be expected to have a bachelor’s degree and take a teacher education program, which includes student teaching. You must also receive a certification or license for the state where you plan to teach.
Poor dental care can adversely affect your physical and mental well-being. Becoming a dentist to assist other people with their dental health can be a rewarding career that also offers numerous opportunities to develop your practice and grow professionally. If someone has a broken tooth, cavity, infection or other tooth problem, the dentist is the one to treat it.
Dentistry requires one of two doctorates (either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine) and a license in the state where you want to work. Then you need to take written National Board Dental Examinations and regional clinical examinations. If you are hoping to specialize in a specific dentistry field, you must train in that specialty for several years and participate in a dental residency program.
Although a firefighter’s work is strenuous, many firefighters report great meaning in their careers. Some firefighters focus on fighting fires in urban environments, while others become wildland firefighters and attack wildfires. Potential firefighters must have finished high school and need to undergo training at a fire academy. Depending on where you live, you may also need to become certified in emergency medicine.
5. Registered Nurse
Not all heroes wear capes; some, like registered nurses, wear men’s or women’s scrubs instead. Nurses work in various medical settings like doctor’s offices and hospitals. They provide a variety of advice and medical assistance to patients while working with other physicians in the practice to ensure all patients receive quality care.
They may also be responsible for entering and maintaining patient electronic health records, providing medications and developing and implementing treatment plans. Nurses might pursue a bachelor’s or associate’s in nursing, although some prefer to take a nursing certification course at a trade school. Once they have received the necessary education, they need to become licensed in the state where they work. To obtain a license, nurses must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Religion and faith hold significant meaning to many people, so it’s no surprise that members of a religious clergy often find their careers highly rewarding. The role of the clergy is to educate people on their religion’s teachings, provide spiritual guidance to those in need and offer leadership to religious programs in their area. Since clergy must have extensive knowledge of their religion, they usually must have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant religious study before becoming ordained.
Vets provide medical care and treatment to animals, ranging from routine care to surgical procedures. A vet’s medical scrubs might be covered in fur and weathered by claw marks, but all of them will tell you it’s worth it if it means they get to help their furry friends. Veterinarians typically must have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology and become credentialed in the state where they wish to work.
8. Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech disfluency can make it difficult or embarrassing for someone to speak out loud, so many speech-language pathologists find significant meaning in helping people find their voice. After familiarizing themselves with the range of conditions leading to speech disfluency, the speech-language pathologist works with patients to teach them strategies for speaking clearly and fluently. A speech-language pathologist must have a master’s degree and needs to be either licensed or registered, depending on where you live. You may also need to undertake an internship or fellowship program to gain relevant experience.
9. Software Developer
Software development may not seem like a gratifying career at a glance, but many developers have dedicated their time to developing tools meant to help others, ranging from simple smartphone apps to complex medical technology. The job itself also comes with enjoyable benefits, such as being able to work from anywhere. While some employers expect software developers to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, many programmers can obtain work without a degree as long as they have the necessary skills and coding knowledge.
Chefs often find reward in the art of preparing food and sharing it with others. For some chefs, the fulfillment of their career comes from learning to cook new dishes and mastering different cuisines; for others, it stems from seeing other people enjoying the meal they’ve cooked. Formally, chefs only need a high school diploma, though some choose to take classes in culinary arts.
Find the Best-Fitting Career for You
A rewarding career depends on finding an occupation you thrive in and want to keep doing. Take time to decide what’s important to you in a career, what you find interesting and the direction you might want your career to go.