THE BLOG
08/12/2014 11:38 am ET Updated Oct 12, 2014

Service as a Career Path

One of the ways a person can give back to their community is to serve full-time. This doesn't necessarily mean volunteering full-time, as very few us of are in a position to do that. Interestingly enough, many of our retired seniors come closest, volunteering vast amounts of time for causes they care about. Many seniors have the time and enjoy the social aspect of volunteering. It also provides them a sense of value. Far too few of the rest of us appreciate the value that volunteering can bring into our lives.

Non-Profit Full-Time Jobs

What I am referring to when I talk about serving full-time, is selecting service as a career path. The last couple weeks I discussed the ways service can boost your career, but now I want to discuss different career options that tie-in with service. While acquiring a non-profit designation prevents an organization from making a profit, it doesn't prevent it from having a paid staff.

The fact is the more talented and skilled a non-profit groups paid staff is, the greater good it can do in pursuit of its cause. The challenge is, typically, positions in the non-profit sector pay less than similar positions on the for profit side. This is, in part, because non-profit boards have to worry about "appearances." They may be uncomfortable having a well paid staff. It is a bit of a chicken and the egg story with non-profit staff compensation, but realities are what they are.

Choosing service as a career path can provide a good living however, and many offer great employee benefits. And they have the added benefits of working for the greater good.

Types of Service Career Paths

The non-profit sector needs the same talents as the for profit sector. They need administrators and they need CEO's. They utilize marketing skills and need event planners. They may call their salespeople "Directors of Fundraising" or "Underwriting Associates" but the skills are the same. There are skills that you likely have that can be used in a full-time service career. There may be a college course or two you could take to help round out your skills. If you are just starting your career, you may consider building your college path around ultimately entering the non-profit sector. Examples of service career paths include:

  • Marketing Director -- Serves to help promote and brand the organization to the community. Seeks to eliminate misperceptions.
  • Director of Development -- Oversees raising money for the organization.
  • Event Planner -- Helps to create and implement events, usually associated with fundraising.
  • Grant Writer -- Utilize specific writing skills designed to apply for funding from a variety of sources. Larger organizations will have a full-time grant writer, or skilled writers can freelance their skills.
  • Volunteer Coordinator - Serves as a liaison between the non-profit and the volunteers who help them achieve their mission.
People in all stages in life can make the change to a service career. It may be a rewarding and refreshing change from working for stockholders. It is also nice to work with people who are on a similar mission to making the world a better place.