Best Careers for Fighting Poverty
Many people are looking to make a difference these days through volunteer work, making donations and voting, but there are also many careers that can make a huge impact. The best careers for fighting poverty may be surprising to some, but each makes a difference in the lives of others.

Working in these fields makes the world a better place and improves the lives of the poor:

  1. Teachers
    Kids spend approximately 1,200 hours annually in the classroom. A teacher’s influence is vast and encompasses the education, mental health and safety of the children they teach. Education is vital in the fight against poverty and provides students with the tools necessary to make a living and gain the schooling needed to avoid poverty.
    It is important more than ever that female teachers gain employment in developing areas. This allows girls in culturally strict regions to be able to attend school, feel safe and receive gender equality in the classroom.
  2. Social Workers
    Those in vulnerable situations are able to receive support through their social workers, such as family counselors. Social workers work to improve the mental health of those seeking counsel, and help diagnose emotional issues, so that they can receive treatment and progress professionally.
  3. Doctors and Nurses
    Working in one of the best careers for fighting poverty, those in the medical field have the power to affect the health of people in poorer communities. They can even opt to go abroad with volunteer groups or Doctors Without Borders during seasons they choose.
    Doctors and nurses can also help vaccinate those in developing countries, provide health counsel and improve the health conditions of the community they work in. Citizens in good health are less likely to remain or fall into poverty in the first place. With good health, they are able to work full time, participate in the economy and attend school.
  4. Entrepreneurs
    People who start their own businesses are able to address issues that may not have already been addressed by their communities or nations yet. Entrepreneurs have the power to not only create jobs and positively impact their local economies, but are also able to create influential movements and businesses.
  5. Lawyers
    Lawyers are able to participate in pro-bono work, providing legal assistance to those who would not otherwise be able to afford the help. They are also able to prevent those wrongly accused from going to prison, which stimulates the economy and keeps people in the work force and out of crime.

There are many influential jobs that can reduce poverty in communities, but these are the best careers for fighting poverty that have the widest reach. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime and to be able to make those hours count is an impactful feat, accomplished by those who care enough to make a career out of making a difference.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

Child abuse
Around 57,000 children under the age of 15 die every year around the world due to physical abuse. Physical abuse consists of acts done to a child by a caregiver that cause the child physical harm or have the potential of causing them physical harm. Examples include being beaten, kicked, burned, or slapped.

The social work profession exists to combat these types of social injustices. Presently social workers in the U.S. are synonymous with child welfare workers. However, the social work profession began as an advocacy movement for the poor and underprivileged. One could argue that the social work profession has lost sight of its roots by focusing on direct practice interventions of child abuse.

However, there has been a gradual focus on the macro impact the social work profession was established to address. Currently, social workers are advocating for social justice through their work in public policy, program development, administration, and community mobilizing. Through this macro lens, the social work profession has a place in combating global poverty.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) established six core values that are embraced by all social workers. They are the following: service, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, and social justice. The social work profession is distinctly qualified to address global poverty, as it is a profession that exists to pursue social justice.

The ethical principle of social justice stresses that social workers pursue social change by advocating for vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Who is more vulnerable and oppressed than the world’s poor?

The world’s poor face an immense amount of violations in terms of human rights and social justice, as well as oppression. Their daily concerns include lack of access to education, high child mortality rates, deaths caused by preventable diseases such as malaria, food insecurity, and high rates of child abuse. The social work profession was created to address these types of issues through advocacy measures.

Since the late 1800s, social workers have focused on eliminating poverty through friendly visits, settlement houses, and government roles under the New Deal in the 1930s and 40s. The work of settlement houses focused on mobilizing local people to improve neighborhoods. These people were living in poverty and experiencing human rights violations. It was social workers that were driven to seek social justice for them through organizing and advocacy efforts.

Social workers care about protecting the most vulnerable, specifically children. With 57,000 children dying every year around the world due to physical abuse, it is time for social workers to reclaim their professional roots and act to combat global poverty, as they are uniquely equipped for this. Though child abuse is widespread in high social classes, increased physical abuse, neglect, and sex abuse might be symptomatic of poverty. How can social workers advocate for the children of the world?

Social workers are exceptionally trained to be educators, mobilizers, advocators, lobbyists, politicians, researchers, community organizers, authors, and speakers for the vulnerable and oppressed in this world.

With principles of human rights and social justice as strong pillars of the social work profession, social workers are uniquely equipped to combat global poverty issues.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: Child Safe International, Social Workers, NASWDC

Although most people are familiar with social workers and the various governmental agencies with which they work, not many are familiar with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This organization was founded in 1955 as a consolidation of seven other organizations for social workers in the United States.

According to the NASW’s website, it is dedicated to enhancing the professional growth and development of its members across the country, as well as to create and maintain professional standards and ethics and to promote effective social policies.

The NASW has published a standard Code of Ethics in order to maintain consistent practices amongst social workers throughout the United States. It emphasizes the need to forego discrimination, maintain respect for all clients, and to advocate for social justice.

The organization focuses its efforts on two major aspects of social work: professional practice and social advocacy. The NASW works to encourage social workers to adopt practices that lead to the ultimate goal of providing tangible services, effective counseling and psychotherapy, and assisting communities.

Each state has a chapter of the NASW, and there are also chapters in New York City, metropolitan Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and an international chapter.

The NASW also runs a NASW Press in order to publish scholarly articles and monographs about social work. In addition to its official newsletter, the NASW Press runs the quarterly journal Social Work.

Advocacy and promoting social justice is another major focus of the NASW. It seeks to engage social workers with grassroots advocacy campaigns for federal legislation, candidate elections, and social reform. Some of the current political issues that the NASW is addressing include health care reform, immigration, and drug policy reform.

In order to keep social workers informed about ways that they can engage in advocacy campaigns, the NASW has organized a listserv for members so that the NASW government relations staff can keep members informed of different advocacy efforts. The NASW also runs a CapWiz system that allows social workers to email or send letters to their members of Congress.

In 2012, the NASW issued a document to the Obama administration entitled “Building on Progressive Priorities: Sustaining Our Nation’s Safety Net.” The document calls on the Obama administration to promote and encourage bipartisan approaches to seek sustainable and effective solutions to benefit Americans in need. It asks for the administration to invest in social work efforts, expand social work research, rebuild the economy, strengthen health care, advance the rights of women and disabled people, care for children and the elderly, and protect veterans and their families.

Beyond simply being an organization designed to unite social workers across the country, the NASW seeks to promote a code of ethics for all social workers as well as to promote activism amongst its members in order to improve the lives of people in need across the country. The NASW serves as a centralized and effective way for social workers to engage in activism, promote valuable legislation, and better serve the populations that need them the most.

Sarah Russell Cansler
Photo: White House