Ethics

Ethics is a discipline that can be helpful in any career that deals with people. Read on to learn more about ethics and the academic programs that include the study of ethics. See how they can help you attain your career goals, and get the career outlook for several relevant jobs.

Is Ethics for Me?

Career Options

Ethics is a discipline concerned with the principles of right and wrong. Ethics can be found in any area of study that deals with questions of morals and obligations to do the right thing. There are many careers in legal studies, environmental policy, business operations and healthcare that involve ethics. For instance, medical assistants assist physicians and patients, perform clerical tasks and handle medical records. Lawyers may advise and defend their clients, conduct research and prepare for trials. If you become a philosophy teacher, you'd typically work at a college or university instructing students and conducting research. You usually work inside a classroom or an office for most careers that involve ethics.

Employment Information

The job outlook related to ethics depends on which career you choose. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that lawyers would experience a 10% increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022, but may face significant competition for legal jobs (www.bls.gov). Medical assistants were projected to see a 29% increase in jobs between 2012 and 2022, and postsecondary teachers were predicted to see an increase of 19%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2012, medical assistants earned an average annual salary of $30,780, philosophy teachers made $72,200 and lawyers earned $131,990.

How Can I Work in Ethics?

Education

Studies in ethics can be found at the undergraduate and graduate levels. You can take a single course in ethics that pertains to your area of study or you can take a full program focused on ethics. Bachelor's degree programs in philosophy, sociology and business administration are just a few choices that could lead to a job or a graduate program in ethics. If you want to teach ethics at a college or a university, a doctorate program in philosophy may give you the tools to follow that career path.

If you want to work in the healthcare industry, a course in medical ethics could complement your preparation for a career as a medical assistant. Medical assistants generally just need a certificate or an associate's degree for most positions. If you wish to eventually work in higher-management or you are already working and want to open up opportunities for advancement, you could complete a doctoral program in bioethics. A graduate program in bioethics may give you course options in philosophy of medicine and foundations of bioethics, among others.

Some schools offer a master's program in applied ethics, which gives you the option to specialize in an area, such as public policy, science and emerging technologies. If you would prefer to use studies in ethics to advance your career in business, you could complete a master's program in business ethics. This program may train you to use ethical judgments in making decisions as a manager or top-level official.

Lawyers who already have earned their professional law degree may pursue a master's degree in legal and ethical studies. You usually have diverse course options, including law and morality, philosophy of law and environmental ethics.

Licensing and Certification

Depending on your career field, you may be subject to licensing and certification requirements. For example, postsecondary teachers may need to have professional licensing or certification, depending on the field they teach. Medical assistants can earn voluntary professional certification, which can be highly desired by employers. And lawyers are required to earn a law license issued by the state they want to practice in before they're allowed to work in that state.

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