The goal of taking up any job is to earn a living. But work doesn’t always have to be about money. Social impact jobs are those that focus on creating positive changes in the community.
Social impact is one of the core factors that can influence an individual’s career choice. Most people assume that social impact jobs are those related to working in nonprofit organizations. But you don’t have to work directly in the social space to positively impact society.
You can achieve social impact if you work to create social or environmental good. You can also create social impact directly or indirectly by “doing more good” or “doing less harm.” These jobs mainly exist in five primary sectors that are:
- Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs)
- Corporate social responsibility
- Government and public service
- Social enterprises
Table of Contents
- Nonprofits Social Impact Careers
- 1. Project Managers
- 2. Fundraiser and Marketing Executive
- 3. Advocacy Director
- 4. Executive Director
- 5. Research Analyst
- 6. Communications and Linguistics Experts
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- 7. Social Impact Manager
- 8. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator
- 9. Public Policy Directors
- 10. Community Affairs Director
- 11. Waste and Sustainability Analyst
- Government and Public Services
- 12. Public Health Workers
- 13. Social Workers
- 14. Substance Abuse Counselor
- 15. City Planners
- 16. Politicians
- Social Enterprises
Nonprofits Social Impact Careers
Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) provide the biggest opportunities for social jobs. You can find NPOs in various fields, from environmental sustainability to the provision of clean water in third-world countries.
One of the myths about pursuing a career in nonprofit organizations is that they don’t pay well. Although nonprofit institutions don’t generate revenue, working for them guarantees similar or even higher pay than profit-oriented institutions. NPOs are exempt from paying taxes.
Some of the careers for social impact in NPOs are:
- Project managers
- Fundraiser and marketing
- Advocacy director
- Executive director
- Research Analyst
- Communication and linguistic experts
1. Project Managers
Nonprofit organizations are often involved in implementing various projects towards a specific cause. A career as a project manager fits in well in nonprofit institutions. Project managers are responsible for the planning, execution, and completion of projects.
They are vital to helping NPOs achieve their mission by taking charge of all initiatives initiated by the organization. The average salary of a project manager in the United States is $74,011.
You can pursue a career in project management if you have an education in management. A background in Information Technology is also helpful to becoming a successful project manager.
2. Fundraiser and Marketing Executive
Nonprofits acquire capital for their projects mainly through fundraising. Most nonprofits hire professional fundraisers from outside consultant institutions. The role of a professional fundraiser is to organize campaigns and events where nonprofit organizations can solicit donations.
Marketing executives for nonprofit organizations are responsible for maintaining the image of the body. Fundraisers and marketing executives often work together to coordinate promotional activities for nonprofit institutions. An education in marketing or a degree in advertising and economics is enough to get a career as a marketing executive in an NPO.
See Related: Different Types of Social Responsibility to Know
3. Advocacy Director
An advocacy director is responsible for arguing for or against particular causes. NPOs use them to popularize a certain cause, especially in government or public institutions.
Advocacy directors are instrumental in highlighting the importance of different community initiatives. Other roles of advocacy directors include compiling progress reports on various causes handled by the NPO. They are also in charge of spearheading campaigns and mobilizing people to take action.
Advocacy directors or managers don’t necessarily have to work directly for NPOs. Some may work in healthcare, law departments, and social service institutions.
4. Executive Director
An executive director of an NPO performs the same duties as a Chief Executive Officer. Thus, you will be responsible for the overall management of the body. An executive director position is a social impact job that pays well. For instance, executive directors may get paid from $137,000 to $230,000.
An executive director doesn’t have to oversee the day-to-day running of the organization, as this is the role of a senior manager. But they must engage in high-level fundraising, board management, and finance and business development decision-making. A master’s degree and years of experience are some of the requirements needed for an executive director of an NPO.
5. Research Analyst
Nonprofit organizations often rely on data to decide what causes to work on or support. Research analysts possess skills to collect, analyze and present data related to projects or causes undertaken by the NPO. The median salary of research analysts in NPOs is $44,630.
Research analysts are in charge of evaluating the feasibility of various projects. Most NPOs need data to advocate for multiple causes or show evidence of the harm certain actions in the community are causing.
6. Communications and Linguistics Experts
Nonprofit institutions often have to work globally and interact with diverse cultures. A linguistics expert can work with people speaking other languages to foster communication between the NPO and local communities. Communications experts are important in developing specific messages to convey the NPO’s vision.
Communications and linguistic experts don’t have to be permanent employees of NPOs. Nevertheless, you can opt for a career in social enterprise if you are a communications or linguistic expert.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become more popular as businesses take a more active role in investing in projects for the benefit of the community. Social jobs based on CSR may pay higher than NPOs because funding comes from the company.
Corporate social responsibility job titles often go to a company’s employees. But companies may decide to outsource labor based on the nature of the CSR project. Here are some prospective careers in CSR:
- Social impact manager
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator
- Public policy directors
- Community affairs directors
- Waste and sustainability analyst
7. Social Impact Manager
Social impact managers track and measure social metrics and goals when undertaking corporate social responsibility projects. Social impact managers can oversee nonprofit projects undertaken by corporate entities. They also develop strategies to execute corporate social responsibility projects in the community.
Social impact managers can earn from $60,000-$70,000. A background in human services or social work and a bachelor’s degree is necessary for a social impact manager career.
8. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator
The primary role of a diversity and inclusion coordinator is to foster greater inclusivity in the company. The coordinator also oversees the implementation of CSR projects by ensuring that they represent the true face of society.
The coordinators also review hiring and internal human resource management practices. Diversity and equity coordinators often require a bachelor’s degree in any field related to human resources.
You can become a diversity and equity coordinator if you are working as a human resource manager. As an inclusion coordinator, you’ll ensure that people with different sexual orientations aren’t discriminated against in an institution. People with a fluid gender identity also benefit from the efforts of diversity and equity directors.
9. Public Policy Directors
Large institutions and multinationals often hire public policy directors to help manage CSR projects. The directors have to ensure that CSR projects align with public policy. They are often not viewed as community-impact careers because they help companies develop public policy initiatives.
Public policy directors are instrumental in developing CSR projects that align with the community’s policies. They often work in political or governmental institutions. Companies can use their skills to develop CSR projects that meet the desired social change goals.
A public policy director position is one social job that pays well. The salary often ranges from $172,000 to $244,000. A bachelor’s degree in political science, public policy, or economics is necessary to get a career as a public policy director.
10. Community Affairs Director
A community affairs director ensures that a company’s CSR projects work for society’s interests. Community affairs directors work directly with community members to understand their needs and get their feedback on any CSR project.
The salary of a community affairs director is approximately $67,267. Community affairs directors help institutions develop CSR projects that align with their business strategies and the community’s needs.
Most community affairs director positions require candidates that have a bachelor’s degree. The level of experience needed often varies depending on the job type. But large corporate institutions often hire the most experienced job seekers.
11. Waste and Sustainability Analyst
Companies are now hiring waste and sustainability experts as part of their CSR initiatives. These experts are in charge of analyzing the sustainability of a company’s waste management system. Waste and sustainability experts can come up with recommendations on what CSR projects will positively impact the environment.
A bachelor’s degree in any field related to environmental science or sustainability is enough to begin a career as a waste and sustainability expert. The average salary of sustainability experts in the United States was $79,000 in 2022.
Government and Public Services
The government and public sector must work in the community’s best interest. Some of the best social impact careers are in the government or public sector, such as:
- Public health employees
- Social workers
- Substance abuse counselor
- City planners
12. Public Health Workers
Public health workers are individuals dedicated to improving or safeguarding the community’s health. Workers who serve the role of maintaining public health include:
- Public health inspectors
- Sanitarians and Environmental health scientists
- Public health nurses
- Public health advisers
Public health workers earn approximately $51,200 annually. The workers get paid by the state which has employed them. Social impact roles in the public sector are attractive because they often have a higher level of job security and may come with a pension plan upon retirement.
Anyone can become a public health worker if they have the required expertise. Public health advisors usually have a bachelor’s degree in public health or a medical background.
13. Social Workers
Social workers serve a variety of functions based on their specialization. For instance, some social workers are responsible for caring for the elderly. They can also be involved in different volunteering initiatives in the community. Others are responsible for caring for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Thus, social workers are responsible for carrying out the most social impact work at the community and national levels. They have the knowledge to provide support, advice, and counseling. The job outlook for social workers will likely increase by 9%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a social worker is $50,300.
See Related: Ways to Start Investing in Low-Income Neighborhoods
14. Substance Abuse Counselor
A substance abuse counselor provides a support system for individuals struggling with drug addiction. Their responsibilities include working with recovering addicts to help them modify their behavior.
Substance abuse counselors earn an average salary of $51,600. A licensed counselor can become a substance abuse counselor if they undergo training for the job. Training may take up to 3 years in certain states, such as North Carolina.
15. City Planners
City planners are in charge of developing and implementing plans created by local governments. City planners play social roles by ensuring that land use plans and policies are inclusive. The employment rate for city planners is projected to grow by 4%. Thus, you may experience social impact recruiting in this field.
The average salary of city planners is $78,500. City or urban planning allows you to implement plans that accommodate previously marginalized communities. A degree in urban and regional planning is vital to securing a career as a city planner.
Politicians, especially in democracies, get elected to represent the citizenry in different leadership positions. They are involved in policy-making; thus, their decisions should impact the community positively. But many politicians don’t value the citizenry as their employer.
Politicians can legislate laws and policies tailored to improve the community’s welfare. They are also crucial in addressing climate change as a key priority. Politicians earn a salary ranging from $174,000 to $200,000.
A social enterprise is an organization that uses for-profit strategies to achieve social goods. These organizations have a profit motive, which makes them different from NPOs. But the profits earned by these institutions are invested in social projects or programs such as gender and sexual orientation awareness.
A career in this field requires individuals committed to improving the community’s well-being. An example of a social enterprise organization is Warby Parker, a glass-selling company. For Every pair of glasses sold, the business donates a pair to someone in need. These enterprises may get additional funding from government grants.
Working at a social enterprise is one way of having a fulfilling career in the social impact space. The salary of full time workers in the enterprises will differ based on their positions. For instance, marketing and communications experts can earn as much as $74,000.
See Related: How to Create a Social Impact Measurement Framework
Entrepreneurs are now looking to create ventures that generate social impact jobs. Coming up with a business model to solve community-based problems is sometimes better than looking for a social impact job.
Entrepreneurship that focuses on social causes is also profit-driven. But the main goal of social entrepreneurs is to help the community or pursue environmental sustainability. One of the pioneer social entrepreneurs is Bill Drayton.
Drayton began launching social impact businesses while in college and founded Ashoka. Drayton’s company trains and supports individuals with the vision to become social entrepreneurs. Ashoka also engages in social impact investing in promising projects.
You can become a social entrepreneur if you are passionate about addressing societal problems. A job search on the internet is the easiest way to learn about any social impact job openings. Another way to know about jobs in the field is by subscribing to different job sites to get a job alert whenever a new job is available. You can also volunteer if you don’t have the skills or educational qualifications to get a social impact job.