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 paths we think are especially impactful, such as long-term AI policy research and being a China specialist. The lists are based on 10 years of research and experience advising people.

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. Click on the profiles to learn more about why we chose each one, how to assess your fit, and see open job opportunities. Once you have some ideas for impactful paths, we recommend you select between them primarily based on your fit — see our guide on how to make a career plan for details on how to choose.

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Which career paths do we think are often highest impact? Five key categories

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 the highest-impact careers our research has identified so far: our priority 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 exploring that, as it may be one of your most impactful options.

Sometimes recommended: other 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. Skim the list and consider any that might be a good fit for you. The options under each heading are in no particular order.

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

  • Learn about policy-making and government while having a direct impact by helping improve government policies.

  • Get a valuable credential in a field relevant to most of our priority paths, plus set yourself up for high-paying roles that could enable you to earn to give.

  • Be at the forefront of machine learning, where you’ll be well-placed to contribute to the safe deployment of AI and other emerging technologies.

  • Learn about founding a startup and gain a wide range of skills as an early-stage employee at a fast-growing startup.


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 key ideas series, the overall impact of your career depends both on how impactful the path is in general, and on 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.

Plan your career

Read next: Personal fit: why being good at your job is even more important than people think

People’s productivity varies greatly, so personal fit is one of the most important factors in determining the expected impact of your career.

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