Education Programs That Influence Social Change

Many of today’s young people are looking for meaningful careers that have purpose. For them, it’s not enough for jobs to be a means to pay for necessities. Ideally, their careers also serve the greater good by benefiting people while improving laws and policies. Sometimes, careers that improve people’s lives through social change do not pay as well as the private, for-profit sector, but employees engaging in careers with purpose don’t seem to mind.

7 College Programs in Social Services

Nine out of 10 people are willing to earn less money in order to perform work that is more meaningful. Here are some examples of higher education programs that teach students how to make the world a better place.

1. Sociology

Sociologists study society and how it affects individuals and larger populations of people. Possible careers for sociologists include staff positions with nonprofit organizations and local governments as well as consulting positions with technical and scientific companies.  

The average salary for a sociologist was $86,110 in 2020. Employment opportunities for sociologists are expected to increase 5% through 2030. 

2. Political Science

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems and governments. Students learn how governments work, how political systems influence social justice, and how public policy changes can be made. Careers in political science include government politician, government lobbyist, and public administration.

The average wage for a political scientist in 2020 was $125,350. Employment of political scientists is projected to grow 9% through 2030.

3. Law

Individuals who study law learn how local and federal laws and regulations are written and enacted, and how they affect people. Some lawyers practice criminal prosecution or criminal defense. Other lawyers help clients operate within the laws of their specific industries, such as media, energy, education, copyright, environment, or banking.  

In 2020, the average wage for lawyers was $126,930. Employment for lawyers is expected to increase 9% through 2030.

4. Environmental Science

Environmental scientists use their science-related expertise, research abilities, and data-gathering techniques to monitor how people affect the environment. They study how environmental changes affect human behavior and population movements. These scientists work for government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help protect the environment from pollution and the effects of climate change.

The average salary for environmental scientists and specialists was $73,230 in 2020. Employment opportunities for environmental scientists are expected to grow 8% through 2030.

5. Education

People who pursue education for their career field play a crucial role in shaping the lives of young people. Careers in education include K-12 (kindergarten through high school) teachers, college professors, school principals, and other administrators and tutors. These professions help inspire children and young adults to become lifelong learners. The current teacher shortage means youngsters in school and adults who want to further their education to improve their employment status may not be able to receive the attention they might require

In 2020, the average salary for kindergarten teachers was $57,860, the average salary for elementary school teachers was $60,940 and the average high school teacher’s salary was $62,870. Employment for K-12 teachers is projected to increase 7-8% through 2030.

6. Social Work

Social workers specialize in how social policies and programs impact individuals, especially those who are financially, socially, or mentally disadvantaged. They help individuals, families, and groups of people solve problems and cope with challenging situations in their everyday lives. Social workers become community activists and counselors. 

The average salary for social workers was $51,760 in 2020. Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 12% through 2030, which is greater than many other occupations.

7. Psychology

Psychologists study human behavior to determine why people behave in a particular manner in order to better connect, communicate and motivate individuals or general populations. Psychologists become mental health, behavior, and drug abuse therapists and counselors for individuals, couples, families and children.

The average salary for psychologists was $82,180 in 2020. Employment for psychologists is expected to grow 8% through 2030.

Conscientious young adults who want to improve their local communities and make their municipal, state, and federal systems work more efficiently have several career paths available in the human services fields. See the accompanying resource, by the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland, to learn more.

This infographic was created by the Do Good Institute, earn your certificate in nonprofit management

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