Top 5 Health Care Careers That Make a Difference

Looking for a career that will help make the world a better place? Try one of these health care jobs.

It's a New World for Health Care Workers

health care career worker in world-changing role

Most of us have had our share of jobs that feel like fun—maybe you spent a summer scooping ice cream, dog-walking or working at a radio station. Every job matters. But how often do we get to work in jobs that impact us emotionally, and serve other people beyond fulfilling their basic needs? How often do we work in jobs that we feel can change the world?

From PayScale’s 2013-14 College Salary Report, the data-crunchers compiled a list of the Top 10 Majors That Change the World. Respondents were full-time employees who completed bachelor degrees. That’s why you won’t see any mention of fields like medicine, chemistry or nanotechnology on this list. But these fields of study are likely to lead you to meaningful work—with far fewer years spent in the classroom.

Of the Top 10 reported majors, five are in the health care field. Let’s take a look:

1. Nursing

It’s no surprise that out of 131 careers reported in the survey, nursing has the highest ranking of employees who self-report a meaningful work environment. View the most important duties of Certified Nursing Assistants. Nurses provide essential support during every step of a patient’s experience in health care. By serving so many, nurses are forerunners in changing the world, one patient at a time. Read our tips on pursuing your health care education in today’s economy.

2. Special Education

Primary and secondary special education teachers work with parents, general education teachers and school administrators to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for their students, tailoring schedules and goals to each child's specific needs and abilities. Then, they work with students and parents to carry them out. These carers are friends and mentors to those students with disabilities and exceptional abilities.

3. Medical Technology

Medical technologists perform technical and scientific functions in lab settings—such as testing for disease and helping to control and minimize infections. The results technicians find ensure that doctors make a correct diagnosis. Their contributions to the field of medicine are critical.

Many entry-level positions require an associate’s degree and training, allowing you to begin work fairly quickly as a medical lab tech, pharmacy tech, radiologic tech, surgical tech and veterinary tech.

4. Biomedical Engineering (BME)

One popular position in biomedical engineering, or BME, is ultrasound technician. Also called diagnostic sonographers, they use sound waves to provide medical images. Their accuracy and attention to detail helps find life-threatening diseases early and gives patients peace of mind in stressful times.

5. Tie: Athletic Training, Social Work & Child and Family Studies

A three-way tie took the fifth slot in this year's poll. Inside the broad field of athletic training is the necessary specialization of physical therapy. Part teacher, part coach, and part medical professional, you'll help patients improve their health in a hands-on environment where the relationship with the patient is often as much a part of the equation as your physical therapy expertise. Learn about becoming a physical therapist.