It’s not uncommon to be in a stable occupation that pays well but always seems to be lacking something. Perhaps the work you do doesn’t feel meaningful or provide that much-needed sense of fulfilment. 

On the other hand, your job could be making the world a better place, albeit at the cost of your financial health. Ultimately, that’s no good for anyone. There needs to be balance. 

Fortunately, it is possible to find a profession where you can earn a great salary while helping humanity. Many careers fit the description, and they’re in a wide range of industries. Chances are you’ll find at least one that you’ll thoroughly enjoy. Here are 7 meaningful careers for altruists.

Occupational Therapist

Median Annual Salary: $84,270 (CareerExplorer)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 18% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Master’s degree

As an occupational therapist, your job is to help people maintain their physical and mental health through exercises and assessments. Patients can range from seniors who want to become independent to children with learning disabilities. 

Aside from a degree, you’ll typically need whatever licensure is required by your state. That may be a relatively high requirement, but the rewards of working in this industry are unlike most, with excellent salaries and opportunities for growth. At the same time, you’ll be making a major difference in someone’s life with each working day. 


Registered Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $62,962 (PayScale)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 12% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor of Science 

Nurses work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, and patient’s homes. Depending on your chosen specialization, you could even take your expertise abroad. The nursing sector is currently seeing high demand and is set to remain that way for the next decade, with a severe shortage of registered nurses nationwide. 

Moreover, you can take online nursing programs to quickly obtain the necessary qualifications without having to attend university. This page about accelerated BSN programs at Baylor University has more information. 


Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Median Annual Salary: $44,890 (BLS)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 63% (BLS)
Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Here’s one you’ve likely never thought of. And you read that right – the job outlook for solar photovoltaic installers is incredibly high at around tenfold that of most occupations. This is thanks in no small part to soaring demand for solar energy and the expertise required to provide it. 

PV installers are responsible for the maintenance and installation of solar panels. Most of them only have a secondary education, but you’ll likely need to complete a course or one-year apprenticeship to land a lucrative position. In doing so, you’ll be playing your part in saving the environment and helping organizations benefit from green energy. 



Median Annual Salary: $51,291 (Glassdoor)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 11% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

In a country where over 70 million people are obese and around 99 million are overweight, it should come as no surprise that there’s a dire need for experts who can help America’s population eat better. As a dietician or nutritionist, your job is to advise clients on how they can reach their physical health goals and combat illnesses like diabetes. 

Most dieticians have a bachelor’s degree and internship or residency at an institution. As you gain experience and begin to specialize, you can expect to earn a higher salary and start utilizing your skills to provide a unique service. 


Urban Planner

Median Annual Salary: $56,799 (PayScale)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 11% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Master’s degree

Urban planners are responsible for ensuring that new developments are built with the environment and its inhabitants in mind. They work with the government as well as private groups and corporations. As cities continue to expand, demand for urban planners and their unique expertise is only getting higher. 

Some of your daily tasks in this job include preparing studies, performing inspections, approving documents, and coordinating with local authorities. Urban planners also create maps and diagrams. You’ll typically need a master’s degree that is accredited by a local board as well as certification, although the latter isn’t always required. 


Environmental Engineer

Median Annual Salary: $65,421 (PayScale)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 5% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Somewhat similar to the above occupation, environmental engineers work to help companies reduce their impact on the natural world. This includes preventing air and water pollution, aiding public health, and drawing up new policies in pursuit of those endeavours. This is one of the highest-paying jobs on the list. 

Responsibilities of environmental engineers include making recommendations, renewing regulations, reviewing industrial and municipal practices, and creating air quality management systems among other tasks.



Median Annual Salary: $47,828 (Glassdoor)
Job Outlook 2018-2028: 5% (BLS)
Typical Entry-Level Education: Secondary education and a non-degree award

A childhood dream for many, firefighters are real-life heroes who earn more than you’d expect. The altruistic aspect of this career goes without saying, as your job is to save lives in the most literal manner possible. But that’s not all a firefighter does. For instance, you might also spend time educating the public about fire prevention.

This is an ideal career path for those who cannot or wish not to obtain a tertiary education. It’s also suitable if you prefer a more challenging, hands-on kind of work, as your responsibilities include driving emergency vehicles, treating injured people, and handling equipment. 


Careers to Consider

These are all great options, but they aren’t the only ones. Just about every career has an impact on society in one way or another. It’s up to you to determine what kind of impact you want to make. 

Perhaps you’re better off in a calm and relaxing environment. In that case, being a massage therapist might be the solution. Maybe you enjoy helping kids reach their potential. There are plenty of teaching jobs that fit the bill. Give it some thought and see what you can come up with. 

Regardless of your choice, it won’t be long before you’re making a positive difference in the world. At the same time, you’ll be earning a great salary and going home each day feeling satisfied and fulfilled.