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.

Early on, we recommend you focus on building useful skills. See our list of top skills to build and how to get started.

After that, you have to apply them. On this page, we provide reviews of 20 or so specific career paths that put these skills to use tackling the world’s most pressing problems. Use these career reviews to get ideas for paths and to figure out your next steps.

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The highest-impact career paths our research has identified so far

Most of these paths are difficult to enter, and it’s common to start by investing years in building useful skills before pursuing them. But if any might be a good fit for you, we encourage you to seriously consider it.

We’ve ranked these paths roughly in terms of our take on their expected impact, holding personal fit for each fixed and given our view of the world’s most pressing problems. But your personal fit matters a lot for your impact, and there is a lot of variation within each path too — so the best opportunities in one lower on the list will often be better than most of the opportunities in a higher-ranked one.

Other high-impact career paths we’re excited about

Our top-ranked paths won’t be right for everybody, and there are lots of ways to have an impactful career. Here we list some additional paths we think can be high impact for the right person. These aren’t ranked in terms of impact, and there are surely many promising paths we haven’t written about at all.

Some ways to build career capital

Most high-impact career paths, like those above, require years building up skills and experience — what we call career capital. See general advice on career capital, or check out the guides below on some specific ideas. The list is far from comprehensive.

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

Typically, once you have some good ideas for impact, we recommend narrowing down mainly based on fit — including whether the path is likely to be sustainable and personally satisfying.

Early on in your career, it might be more helpful to pick a broader skill set to learn instead of narrowing down to just one particular path.

If you want to do a more detailed comparison of a list of options, use our career decision process.

This is also just one step in making a full career plan – see the rest of our advice on career planning, including a career plan worksheet.

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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