Are you in education with no clue what future you want? You’re not alone; it’s difficult to choose a career in the complex 21st century. But what if you could simplify things by asking yourself: what are the jobs that help people the most?
We’ve researched this topic to shed light on an array of jobs. These jobs could alleviate tremendous suffering, and bring a feeling of fulfilment along the way.
Jobs that help people for the future
1) Effective Altruism
Prioritising positive impact is an example of altruism. Effective Altruism (EA) organisations promote high moral standards and conduct rigorously rational research on how such standards can best be met. These organisations call upon many skills; let’s consider research skills as an example.
The Foundational Research Institute (FRI) asks how to make Earth as hospitable as possible for future generations, contemplating far-reaching questions about suffering like:
- What are the implications of self-aware artificial intelligence?
- Where and why do we agree and disagree on what’s right or wrong?
- What impact can we have on the suffering of wild animals?
Working at an EA organisation would mostly involve bringing whatever expertise you have to the table and conducting research on their wide range of cosmic questions.. All in the interest of helping humanity (and other animals!) by expanding our knowledge of the impact we have on each other, and spreading that information.
Nobody has to be a genius to work in any of the jobs listed in this article. Many prefer specialist skills— effective altruism benefits from experience in research such as a PhD— but these are skills that absolutely anyone can learn.
2) AI Safety
While the Terminator films aren’t the most accurate depiction, artificial intelligence’s place in the future of humanity is one to be concerned about. Many experts say robots could become more intelligent than humans this century, which could spell paradise or dystopia depending on the way things go.
The most sorely-needed resource in this area is people conducting research for the development of policy. This means figuring out the best route towards a safe relationship between humans and AI.
“The great thing about the field of AI is that, because it’s still so young, it desperately needs the diverse skills of anyone who’s willing to lend a hand.”
One place where this is happening today is the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, whose members undertake similar responsibilities. Their work, with a focus on AI, consists of:
- Posing profound questions
- Seeking satisfying answers
- Sharing what they find with the people in charge.
A question they have been asking lately, for instance, is what the implications are for China’s plans to be the world leader in AI. If you want a job that helps people, one like this would certainly tick the box since you’d be helping to ensure the safety of the public through policy on how to implement AI, possibly preventing mass destruction.
The great thing about the field of AI is that, because it’s still so young, it desperately needs the diverse skills of anyone who’s willing to lend a hand. While a particularly compatible route would obviously be technology, whether your interests lie with science, social issues or even one of the arts, you’d definitely have something to contribute.
3) Nuclear Safety
Nuclear weapons could wipe our species out and take many more along with us. Yet many countries have more of them than your school probably did glue sticks.
This is a complex issue and there are many ways people are trying to make nuclear war an impossibility, but an especially relevant field is foreign relations. Jobs in policymaking can really make a difference. In this case, you’d be working to preserve peace between nations— perhaps as a diplomat working with other counties to develop policies geared towards international cooperation, like peace treaties or better trade deals.
This role would call upon skills of mediation and compromise as you form part of a team representing your country in the international tensions that rage all year. Having some qualifications would help you here. Getting a degree in something like International Relations might be a good start for getting into the world of politics.
4) Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A UN report this year has confirmed that in many ways, we are doomed by the climate change we’ve set in stone. Drought, food shortage and natural disasters await us, and if you are to work on climate change, you will sadly not be working on stopping it… but making things as good as possible for future generations. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions now, and softening the blow that’s coming for the reduced human population, would be a crucial and admirable goal to set your sights on.
“We can still reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and soften the blow that’s coming. This would be a crucial and admirable goal to set your sights on.”
One effective way to help reduce our emissions is by working on technology that emits less. With knowledge and experience gained from a relevant degree such as in climate science or engineering, you could make the next breakthrough. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a discovery that would actually start to turn things around and reverse the climate damage that has been done. How’s that for a job that would help people?
Jobs that help people in the present
5) Helping the Poor
According to Oxfam, about 1% of the world own 50% of its wealth, whilst more than a seventh of the human population— that’s over a billion people— live in extreme poverty. This problem is met with food and water aid like the work Oxfam does, but a more promising alternative to this method is emerging… and it seems almost stupidly simple.
A few charities, like GiveDirectly, create easily accessible bank accounts for the extremely impoverished, where donations are directly transferred. Recipients may spend their money however they wish, a freedom that research has shown leads eventually to prosperity, not gambling and alcohol as sceptics might predict. In other words, we can now just give our money to the world’s poorest.
A job at one of these charities could entail anything from graphic design to bringing funds right to those who need it. The only certainty is you’d be in an exciting, supportive environment, satisfied seeing the immediate impacts of your work. Alternatively, you might consider aiming for any highly-paid job of your choice and donating some of your salary to one (or any of the charities listed in this article, for that matter). Either way, you’d be a part of empowering the underprivileged and making the world a fairer place.
6) Reducing Meat Consumption
Whilst few would deny that a meal at KFC can be a highlight of the day, the meat farming industry is proven to be one of the main causes of climate change, making a role in this field one of the jobs that could help people.
Again, you might want to consider joining or working in a charity that works on putting pressure on unethical food corporations and raising awareness of the effects of the meat industry. Like others, the charities tackling issues such as factory farming would benefit from you no matter which skills you possess: all you need is compassion.
Additionally, if you feel strongly towards the impacts of the meat industry, there are personal changes you could make to your lifestyle, that you can bring with you to any job!
Jobs that have a balance of both
7) Reducing Biorisk
Ebola panicked the planet, but that was nothing compared to what pandemics are truly capable of— let alone the emerging biotechnologies which could unleash a deadly engineered plague on us all. That’s why we need more people in biomedical research, a field which seeks to discover the intricate workings of the human body.
You could work at a synthetic biology lab, directly influencing the path of this growing discipline. On an average day, you’d be doing research and writing papers on how we might use biology to better tackle pandemics (rather than creating the Black Death 2…)
An example of a synthetic biology lab is Seelig Lab whose research specialises in genetics. Researching here would help equip humanity with knowledge and tools needed to prevent societal collapse. To get involved, you’d want to study biology at higher education, with the goal of attaining a PhD in a topic that’s both relevant to the issue and interesting to you.
8) Global Priorities Research
Despite all the issues we’ve posed here, most humans don’t know enough about any of them or whether there are even more pressing ones. And the shallow amount of information we do have must be constantly drawn to the attention of powerful people who can put such knowledge into practice.
If you want to join the quest for all-important knowledge, consider an organisation like the Open Philanthropy Project which conducts research to expand our understanding and share it with the people who need to hear it. In a job like this you’d be researching things like the long-term impacts of how we live today, and coming up with solutions to the biggest and least understood problems in the world.
A typical day might involve securing funding for research and meeting with government officials to discuss how they can best put your findings into practice, shifting the world’s focus and activity to what matters most.
You might be getting déjà vu of the first career on this list, but the main distinction here is that EA gets right to the fundamentals and philosophy of making a difference in the world; Global Priorities Research meanwhile is somewhat more about the application of these ideas within the systems that make the world go round.
These careers are only a tantalising introduction to the altruistic world. There are thousands of jobs that help people where you could make a huge difference, and what’s all too often understated is how much the realm of giving still needs the rest of society. Everyone with a job like those listed still needs doctors, food and art to keep them going! No job is replaceable.
Use the Fledglink app to help you learn your strengths, find your passions, and do your research to discover what it is the world needs that only you can provide. Download now to secure your future and the futures of others!