Going To Community College To Give Back To The Community

by A Guest Author

With all the attention given to career paths that allow people to become rich and famous, there is little attention given to jobs that help the poor. However, for individuals who truly want to contribute to the community, helping the disadvantaged can be a rewarding career.

Social Worker

There are many community-based organizations that look for social workers who work in disadvantaged regions. For example, with an undergraduate degree in social work, you can find work with government offices that provide services to people with HIV. Services can include helping them find housing and medical services.

Social workers work in a variety of settings, including government offices, schools, hospitals and community-based nonprofit organizations. Entry level social workers need an undergraduate degree in social work. Individuals who have a graduate degree in social work and who pass a national or state exam can become licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and provide counseling and more advanced services for the poor.


Another career path that can provide opportunities to help the poor is as a teacher. Teachers who work in disadvantaged areas, such as low income urban regions or low income rural areas, may qualify to have their student loans discharged if they provide services in these areas for 10 years or longer.

Many teachers find they enjoy working in areas with students who do not have the advantages provided in higher income areas. Often, teachers find they are not only providing learning opportunities for their students, but also for other family members. Teachers can work with all ages, from kindergarten to high school to providing literacy classes for adults who are learning to read and write English. Teachers can also assist adults who are earning their general education diploma (GED).

Nurse Practitioner

Many medical clinics provide needed services to the poor in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, people may not have access to hospitals or doctors’ offices simply because they are not available. Nurses practitioners in health clinics for the poor provide many of the services that might otherwise be provided by a doctor, such as diagnosing ailments and prescribing medications. They may refer patients to other community services, such as housing assistance offices and social workers.

Nurse practitioners have advanced training in nursing, including a Masters degree and clinical practice training. They are required to pass a state license and must take continuing education courses to maintain their license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1], the demand for nurse practitioners is expected to grow faster than average in the coming years. Nurse practitioners typically earn more than $60,000 per year.

Substance Abuse/Drug Counselor

Substance abuse is often a problem that is rampant in poor regions. Substance abuse counselors may work in treatment programs, hospitals, medical clinics or community-based organizations. As a drug counselor serving a disadvantaged population, you provide a wide variety of services to clients and the community. Services may include identifying clients in need of services, helping clients get placed in detox programs, providing drug abuse assessments and providing counseling services to clients and their families.

Drug abuse counselors must have an undergraduate degree, usually in social services or a related field. Many substance abuse counselors are also required to hold a graduate degree in counseling psychology or social work. Additionally, certified drug counselors must pass a national exam and take additional educational course work to maintain their certification. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm], drug abuse counselors earn an average annual income of approximately $38,000 and the demand for this profession is expected to grow at a faster than average rate in the coming years.

For people who want to make a difference, choosing a career path that will allow them to serve the poor can be genuinely satisfying. There are many careers that will allow you to provide these needed services, many of which include working for nonprofit community-based organizations and in government programs for the poor.

About The Author:

Wendy Russell is a CPS social worker and guest author at Best Social Work Programs, a site with resources to help prospective students evaluate top social work programs.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by JoJo Johnson

This post was written by A Guest Author

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