The helping professions are a broad category that mostly relate to medicine, psychotherapy and social work. They are referred to as such because they all involve ameliorating some kind of acute or chronic suffering in an individual or large population. People drawn to the helping professions tend to be empathetic. They receive a sense of fulfillment when they help people in need. The challenges in the helping professions are immense, but in many cases, the rewards are significant.
- Determine your level of commitment to pursuing a career in a helping profession. You can acquire a nursing degree in as little as two years. Becoming a specialized doctor can require a commitment of eight years or longer. Most social worker jobs require a master’s degree, as do practicing psychotherapists in order to qualify for a license. Your level of technical and scientific acumen also matters. Nurses and doctors must know a certain amount of biology and pharmacology, while social workers and psychotherapists are required to learn a great deal about the human mind, relationships and society as a whole.
- Pursue a course of study appropriate to the helping profession that interests you the most. Membership in the helping professions is heavily regulated, so you will need to go through an extensive course of study no matter what field you choose. The commitment to enter these professions is substantial and requires a great deal of long-term planning. The expense of the education can be offset through scholarships and grants, but the missed earnings in the meantime make it a financially costly path to follow.
- Seek employment in the profession that you’ve trained for once you complete your course of education. Most of the helping professions require internships and training programs. These programs can assist you in qualifying for more advanced positions. Some also offer stipends, grants and loan repayments.