(BPT) - Often, we don't think about heroism until we see it in action - when disaster strikes and ordinary people exhibit extraordinary courage and compassion to help victims in their time of need. The truth is, however, that the best of human nature is on display every day in the lives of millions of Americans who work in public service jobs across the country. Sometimes all it takes to tap that inner hero is an opportunity - and the education - to serve others.
'People may not realize how broad the opportunities are in public service fields,' says Connie Bosse, vice president of Kaplan University's College of Public Service. 'From law enforcement and emergency responders to teachers and child advocates and behavioral therapists who help children with developmental disabilities, thousands of career options offer people the chance to make a living and help others in a meaningful way.'
Numerous studies on job satisfaction show that workers in a broad range of fields say job satisfaction is important to them. Public service jobs such as firefighting, teaching and therapy consistently rank among the top most-satisfying careers in the General Social Survey conducted by the National Organization for Research.
Whether you're a recent high school graduate looking for a direction in higher education or an established professional looking for a meaningful career change, public service holds many opportunities. The Kaplan University College of Public Service created a Network of Good video series which highlights alumni and their path to public service. As with any career, it's important to receive the right training, education and degree to ensure professional success. Here are some degree paths that can lead to public service careers:
* Human services - A bachelor of science in human services can prepare you to work in a variety of fields, including mental health, social services, education, rehabilitation and even the courts. If you already have an associate or bachelor's degree, you may be eligible for an accelerated degree path.
* Education - Graduate programs are designed to serve educators and instructors at every level, from colleges and universities to K-12 environments. There is also a bachelor in early childhood development that encompasses caring for the educational needs of young children and can extend far beyond the elementary school classroom. This degree can open doors to careers in childcare centers, Head Start programs and other before- and after-school care settings.
* Public administration - Strong leaders are vital to the success of any organization, whether public or private. A master's in public administration can help you qualify to serve in leadership roles in local, state or federal government agencies, a variety of organizations and nonprofits.
* Homeland security - With natural disasters and terrorist threats making daily headlines, the federal government says demand for professionals qualified to work in homeland security and emergency response roles will increase. A master's degree in homeland security and emergency management can help you find a career in emergency preparedness and response, border and transportation security, information analysis, homeland defense and more.
For those interested in learning more, there is a wealth of information, inspirational stories and videos about public service professionals at the Center for Public Service, an online information resource center created by Kaplan University. Visit the site at center-public-service.kaplanu.edu.