14 rewarding jobs where you can really make a difference

There may be many reasons why you’re considering a career change. We often hear from people who have an urge to use the wealth of skills and experience that they’ve built up over the years, to help a worthwhile cause.

Some of the most satisfying job roles are those which help to significantly improve other people’s lives, or that contribute to a bigger cause or sense of purpose. There’s plenty of research which shows that people who spend their time helping and supporting others are more likely to feel happier as a result. And most people would agree that doing good, feels good!

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together 14 rewarding roles that may not be the easiest 9-5 out there, but that should give you a great sense of reward and allow you to make a real difference in the world.

1. Speech and Language Therapist

Would you like to provide life-changing treatment for adults and children who have difficulties with important functions like speaking, eating, drinking and swallowing? As a Speech and Language Therapist you could.

They typically work in hospitals, schools and nursing homes with a range of different patients, from people recovering from degenerative conditions like strokes or head and neck cancer whose speech and swallowing functions have been impaired, through to children with disabilities and/or learning difficulties including deafness and dyslexia whose speech can be slow to develop. Speech and Language Therapists will usually undertake a full assessment of the problems before devising an appropriate treatment plan which could involve activities, exercises and strategies to help.

To get started as a Speech and Language Therapist, you’ll usually need to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in Speech and Language Therapy that’s approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Entry without a degree can still be possible if you apply for a role as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant where you’ll receive on-the-job training.

2. Charity Work

Whilst many positions with charities are voluntary, there are a large number of paid positions that are offered at a variety of different levels. Working for a charity – especially a national or a global charity – is a very meaningful way to spend your time (whatever position you take on), because you’ll be working towards helping that charity do amazing things for the greater good.

There are a range of roles available; from being a manager of a charity shop through to coordinating children’s play at a charity-run activity centre. Browse a wide range of roles on site today.

3. Rehoming and Welfare Officer

Would you love to help dogs and cats find their forever homes? By working as a Rehoming and Welfare Officer or Assistant, you could be responsible for helping families and animals choose one another and settle into their new lives – which can be a very rewarding and heartwarming experience! 

Many dogs in rescue and rehoming centres have complex needs that could result from their previous owner(s) neglecting, abusing or abandoning them, so it’s important that they find an owner who can be understanding and patient, which is where you would step in. 

Charities like Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and Dogs Trust often have rehoming roles available so it’s best to check in with your local branch to find out whether there’s anything available that might be of interest. You often don’t need any experience to get started – just a big heart and a genuine love of animals.

4. Emergency Call Handler

If you can stay calm under pressure and would like to help save lives, then why not consider working as an Emergency Call Handler? People call the police, ambulance and fire services at all times of the day and night and how their call is handled could be the difference between life and death.

When a person calls 999, Emergency Call Handlers will direct the correct services to the people that need it and will often stay on the phone with the person who has made the call until the service they’ve requested has arrived. During this time people can be particularly anxious or distressed, especially if they or someone they’re with is in immediate danger, so it’s up to the call handler to keep them calm and help them do the best they can in that situation until help arrives.

As an Emergency Call Handler, you will make a huge impact on the people in your community, which can be very satisfying. Most employers will offer training-on-the-job as long as you have a calm, composed and positive nature.

5. Childcare

Working in childcare, you could make a significant difference to a family’s home life by ensuring that their children are safe, mentally stimulated and well looked after whilst their parent(s) and/or carer(s) are away or at work. 

If you love children, then you’ll get great reward from being able to help guide and support them on a daily basis. Most parents find being away from their children quite tough, but a good Nanny will bridge the gap between children and their families, making their time apart as pleasant as possible.

Nanny agency, Koru Kids, welcomes older Nannies in London; placing emphasis on the value of life experience when supporting and caring for younger generations. Some people hesitate when applying for a job as a Nanny because they associate it with being a full-time commitment with live-in potential – but there are plenty of opportunities to work on a more flexible part-time basis too.

If you’d prefer to work with larger groups of children outside the family home, then you may be better suited to working in a nursery environment.

6. Assistance Dog Trainer

Assistance Dogs are canine heroes who guide, lead and assist people with disabilities such as sight or hearing loss, helping them to live as normal a life as possible. They act in such a protective and helpful manner that sometimes it’s hard to believe that they aren’t human! But as clever as they are, there is a lot of behind the scenes training that goes on before they are ready to be paired with a person with a disability. 

An Assistance Dog’s training has to be flawless, otherwise they could end up leading the person they’re helping into danger e.g. leading a blind person into a busy road. As an Assistance Dog Trainer you could teach puppies everything they need to know to make a disabled person’s life that little bit easier – which can be very rewarding.

There is no set route to becoming an Assistance Dog Trainer, but it does help if you have a degree in animal behaviour or plenty of experience with dogs. However, if you don’t have any relevant qualifications or experience then the best way to get involved is to look out for opportunities with charities like Guide Dogs UK and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – as they’ll often take people with little or no experience and train them on-the-job in paid positions. If you’d like to find out more about what this involves, then it’s best to get in touch with charities of interest directly – this way you’ll get a better idea about whether it’s the right role for you.

7. Midwife


Midwives play a very special role because they are trusted to deliver the most precious gift that any of us will ever see – life! So for that reason alone, Midwifery scores top marks on the job satisfaction scale. Many people often describe Midwives as having one of the most privileged jobs in the world, because they’re actively contributing to the continuation of the human race.

Not only will you get to be a key witness to the miracle of new life entering the world on a daily basis, you’ll also get to play a key role in supporting women and their families on their pregnancy journey.

Midwifery degree courses take around three years to complete and are typically full of mature students who are looking to start a second career and want to use their skills and life experience to help others. Interested? Find out more below.

8. Teacher

teacher rewarding job

Children and young people look up to their teachers, not only as educators of curriculum-based learning, but as pillars of wisdom who can inspire, guide and encourage them while they establish their place in the world. Most of us will remember our favourite Teacher(s) even decades later because they were such a positive influence on our life and learning.

There are many people out there who could benefit from your extensive skills and life experience in the classroom – and with dedicated programs to help experienced individuals retrain into the profession, there’s no better time to learn to teach.

If you’re looking for a place to start, then Now Teach offer a specialised recruitment and support programme for experienced professionals who want to retrain as teachers. Once accepted onto the programmes you’ll be guided through the entire process of becoming a qualified teacher, from applying to teach to finding a school placement, through to achieving newly qualified teacher status (NQT).

Or find out more about becoming a Teacher…

9. Nurse

nurse helping patient

If you’re a natural nurturer, then a career as a Nurse could be a very fulfilling way to spend your time. Nurses work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to try to ease or eradicate the discomfort of patients who are injured or unwell. A nursing career carries a great sense of purpose because everyday you are responsible for helping to nurse patients away from sickness and towards health.

With such a high demand for Nurses, there are now apprenticeship routes into Nursing for those who are willing to first get a job as a Healthcare Assistant. Or for those that would rather take the traditional route, there are plenty of universities around the country who offer vocational nursing degrees – and it’s now very common to see people adopting nursing as a career later in life when they have the advantage of life experience. Although Nursing may have a slightly longer training period than some other rewarding professions, the role comes with a great degree of flexibility and plenty of opportunities to progress into more senior roles.

10. Care Worker

As a Care Worker, you could be the ray of sunshine that someone needs to get through the day. The role is designed to give people, young or old, who are in need of care – the help and support they need to be able to live happier lives. Although this help and support is usually practical e.g. cooking, cleaning, washing and dressing, you may also provide emotional support to clients and their families if the care receiver is suffering as a result of illness or disability.

With so many people out there in need of care, many employers are happy to take on people with little or no experience and train them on the job. Providing that you are kind and compassionate with strong communication skills, you could apply today.

11. Funeral Director

funeral flowers

Although becoming a Funeral Director is a slightly unusual way to make a difference, most of us – at some point in our lives – will be grateful to the person that helps to ease the pain of saying goodbye to someone we love. As a Funeral Director, you’ll be providing support and comfort to people during some of the toughest times of their lives by taking care of their loved one’s funeral arrangements, from start to finish.

Someone who has just lost a family member or a friend, will have a lot on their plate already, and trying to plan a funeral during this time can be difficult…which is where a Funeral Director steps in. An individual or a family will usually express their wishes about the funeral to the Funeral Director, who will then get to work to make sure that everything is taken care of.

If you have extensive experience in the customer service industry (but not necessarily in funeral care), you may be able to apply for a role as a Funeral Director straightaway. Or, with little or no experience at all, the fastest route to a career as a Funeral Director is to become a Funeral Arranger or a Funeral Care Apprentice first, to build up knowledge and experience in the field.

12. Relationship counsellor

relationship counsellor

Relationships matter and the quality of our closest relationships can have a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves, how we choose to live our lives and how we treat those around us. So the work that a Relationship Counsellor does with couples can be incredibly important in helping people to achieve happiness, not only together, but as individuals and families as well.

Recent research has proven that frequent and unresolved conflict between parents is one of the biggest factors in the poor well-being and mental health of children. Couple counsellors work to resolve arguments and difficulties as a priority.

A Relationship Counsellor won’t offer couples advice, but will listen, encourage partners to listen to each other, and ask questions that will prompt couples to explore their feelings further. Whilst the aim of the counselling is usually to help couples get back on track, sometimes it can also bring about the end of a relationship if one or both people in a pairing discover that they would actually be happier apart.

There’s no set standards for becoming a Relationship Counsellor, but you will need to undertake some theoretical and clinical training before you can work independently with clients. Tavistock Relationships offers an Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy course – set out over several weeks – which is specifically designed to give people with little or no clinical experience greater insight into what it’s like to be a Relationship Counsellor. Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be able to secure a place on a Tavistock Relationships Masters Programme, which will help you to become a fully qualified Relationship Counsellor.

13. Life Coach

If your friends and family often turn to you for advice and you love helping and inspiring them, then it’s worth considering a career as a Life Coach.

Life Coaches help people take control of and improve their lives in a variety of different ways. We all know how it feels to worry about taking the wrong path in life or to dream about something that feels totally out of reach – but Life Coaches inspire, motivate and encourage people to take positive steps forward and get the most out of life.

You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a Life Coach – just confidence in your ability to motivate and inspire others. However, if you want to enhance your credibility in the role and make sure that you’re equipped with as many tools as possible to help clients, then you should consider taking an industry-recognised Life Coaching qualification. This is easy to do from the comfort of your own home and will show you how to make anything possible for both yourself and others.

14. Personal Trainer

By becoming a Personal Trainer, you could help people take steps towards being happier, healthier and more comfortable in their own skin. It’s about much more than helping people look good – regular exercise boosts energy and confidence so the role is as much about helping peoples minds as it is their body. Seeing the progress that people make from the start of their fitness journey can be very satisfying – especially when you know that you’ve played a part in this.

We should all be able to feel good about ourselves and Personal Trainers try their best to make that happen by working one-or-one or in groups with clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. As a Personal Trainer, you’ll usually work in gyms or have the option to become self-employed if you want greater flexibility and control over your schedule.

Although you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a Personal Trainer, it’s advisable to take a recognised qualification to improve the safety and credibility of the service you’ll be offering.

 Are you interested in finding a meaningful role? Are there any other roles we’re missing? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

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13 thoughts on “14 rewarding jobs where you can really make a difference

  1. Avatar
    Frances on Reply

    Having just retired at 62 from a 40 year teaching career, I find it very strange that teaching should be on your list. I have never found anyone over 40 who has been able to cope with the demands of changing career to teaching. The workload, emotional and physical demands of the job mean many in the profession of 50 cannot cope.
    It is definately NOT a job to take up after another career.

    1. Avatar
      Helen on Reply

      Hi Frances. Thank you for sharing your experience of your long teaching career. There is no doubt that it is not a career for the faint hearted and some people might find that daunting as a second or third career. However, it is also true that new challenges are often highly revitalising and I’ve spoken to a number of people who have made the change and loved their new sense of purpose. As with all career changes, we should go in with curiosity and our eyes wide open.

      1. Avatar
        Carol on

        I totally agree Frances I retired at 50 from teaching 16-24 year olds. Not a career I would want to start at this age.

  2. Avatar
    Bianca on Reply

    My sister is 47 and has recently qualified as a teacher. There’s no denying it’s a mentally, emotionally and physically challenging job but she loves it. She was a teaching assistant before, so she had a realistic picture of how tough the role would be like – important for anyone considering retraining into teaching to talk to teachers and get practical experience to ensure it’s right for them.

  3. Avatar
    Robert on Reply

    Frances has obviously worked in the wrong schools. I am an ex-serviceman who qulaified as a teacher at 42, then spent the next 20 years successfullly teaching, mostly in the larger inner-city schools, without a day off for illness I would add.
    At my first school they would not take new teachers without ‘life experience’ as the students were quite challengeing to say the least. At all my schools mature teachers were welcomed with open arms as, not coming straight from school, they all had other skills to offer on top of subject teaching.
    I have worked with many new ‘mature’ teachers over the years and been involved in new teacher mentoring for many of them. Older entrants into teaching can cope very successfully and often stay in the profession longer than younger new entrants who can get disillusioned far more quickly.
    Teaching is challenging, both physically and mentally. Teaching is a vocation and not to be entered into lightly, but do not be put off by your age. If you want to become a teacher, go for it!

  4. Avatar
    Gill on Reply

    Can I also add Occupational Therapist to your list of careers where you can really make a difference. We look at people holistically, helping them to overcome barriers to enable them to carry out the things that matter to them. The term ‘Occupation’ covers everything that we do as human beings, from making a cup of tea to getting back to work, and we train to understand how both physical and mental health difficulties can impact on someone’s ability to engage with daily life., affecting their routines, activities of daily living, access to wider society, self esteem, confidence and so on. We are the only profession that train in both areas of physical and mental health, and there are a huge range of jobs that we can do, both inside and outside statutory services. It’s also not for the faint hearted, and the job demands can be huge, but most OTs are passionate about what they do, and once trained your view of people and the world is never the same! I qualified with my degree at age 45 and I’ve never looked back. I now manage a team of OTs in adult Social Care. 😊

    1. Avatar
      Helen on Reply

      Thanks for your feedback Gill – I’ve passed it on to Elise, who wrote the article. Not having personally had any experience of working with OT’s, your description really painted a picture of the work and why our members might enjoy it. Much appreciated.

    2. Avatar
      Gill G on Reply

      Lovely to read your post Gill, as at the age of 52 I have just been accepted by Cardiff University onto their 3 year OT degree course. It’s a big step for me and I do still wonder if I’m doing the right thing at my age-even though it’s something I really want to do, and the course tutors were very positive about encouraging older students with life experience-so it’s great to see it being mentioned here as a worthwhile role for us more mature students!

  5. Avatar
    CB on Reply

    I qualified as a Social Worker aged 56!! Life experience definitely helped me and learning and developing at this age is invigorating!!

    1. Avatar
      Helen on Reply

      Hi CB – thank you so much for sharing. It’s so easy to use age as a barrier against ourselves, so hearing from people who’ve made that change and are making a difference to other people’s lives is so inspiring.

  6. Avatar
    Rosalin on Reply

    Changed from Chef to Secondary English Teacher in my mid 40s, yes it’s exhausting, not as exhausting and high octane as being a chef, but it is far more rewarding.
    You don’t have to be a full-time teacher, or you could teach TEFL. There are many teaching options, with a variety of experiences, don’t be put off by age, it’s just a number.

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