The highest-impact career for you is the one that allows you to make the biggest contribution to solving one of the world’s most pressing problems. On this page, we list some broad categories of impactful careers, followed by about 30 more specific and unusual career paths we think are especially impactful, such as long-term AI policy research. The lists are based on 10 years of research and experience advising people, and represent the careers it seems to us will be most impactful over the long run if you get started on them now — though of course we can’t be sure what the future holds.

You can use the lists on this page to get new ideas for impactful careers and make sure you haven’t missed a great option. Then select between them primarily based on your fit — see our guide on how to make a career plan for details on how to choose. Click on the profiles to learn more about why we chose each one, how to assess your fit, and see open high-impact job opportunities.

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Key categories of impactful careers

Before thinking about specific career paths, we think it’s valuable to consider what kinds of careers tend to be highest impact. The career categories below can enable you to make a big contribution to whichever global problems you think are most pressing.

List of top-recommended career paths

If you want to help tackle the global problems we think are most pressing, these are the career paths we most recommend — our priority paths. Most of them are difficult to enter — you may need to start by investing in building skills for several years, and there may be relatively few positions available. However, if you have the potential to excel in any of these paths, we encourage you to seriously consider it.

We’ve ranked these paths roughly in terms of impact, assuming your personal fit for each is constant. But there is a lot of variation within each path — so the best opportunities in one lower on the list will often be better than most of the opportunities in a higher-ranked one. Note we may periodically adjust this list based on changes in the opportunities for impact or updates to our views.

Sometimes recommended: other high-impact career paths we’re excited about

Below we list some other career paths that we don’t recommend as often or as highly as those above, but which can still often be top options for people we advise. Take a look and consider any that might be a good fit for you. These aren’t ranked in terms of impact.

High-impact but especially competitive

Potentially high-impact but still under-researched

Other impactful options if you’re an especially good fit

Steps to build career capital and increase your future impact

These aren’t career paths per se, but they can be great phases in your career that can set you up to have an even greater impact later. This list is especially incomplete compared to the others.

How to choose which career path you should pursue

The purpose of these lists is to give you more ideas about high-impact career paths. There are likely many other options worth considering for your personal list that we don’t cover.

As we cover in our career guide, the overall impact of your career depends on both:

  • How impactful the path is in general
  • Your degree of personal fit with it

So once you have some good ideas, we recommend you narrow down based on fit — including whether the path is likely to be sustainable and personally satisfying.

To help you work out which career path is best for you, we’ve created an eight-week planning course to help you systematically think through important factors in choosing a career, generate more ideas, and identify your best option. (After that, check out our job board for opportunities in the career path that fits you best.)

Plan your career

New to 80,000 Hours? Take a look at our career guide.

Our career guide is based on 10+ years of research alongside academics at Oxford. It aims to teach you how to find a fulfilling career that does good.

It’s full of practical tips and exercises. At the end, you’ll have a draft of your new career plan.

Read now

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