Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Got a future career in mind? See which AP courses can help. Thinking of taking a specific AP course? See which college majors and careers it could lead to.
Got a future career in mind? See which AP courses can help. Thinking of taking a specific AP course? See which college majors and careers it could lead to.
Explore the history of art across the globe from prehistory to the present. You’ll analyze works of art through observation, discussion, reading, and research.
American studies majors look closely at the United States and its people from a variety of angles.
As a young and incredibly diverse nation, the United States is considered by many to be a work in progress. American studies majors explore the colorful canvas of the United States, often asking what it means to be American.
If you choose this major, you’ll study everything from the novels, music, and film of the United States to its politics, economy, and history. You’ll even investigate primary sources such as the letters of a Civil War soldier or the oral histories of the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles.
Anthropology is the study of humans and other primates (such as chimps). As an anthropology major, you'll study how groups live with each other and how their bodies and cultures have changed over time.
How are people alike? How are they different? How have these differences come to be? As an anthropology major, you’ll explore all kinds of mysteries about people and primates.
You might, for example, look at how one group of people communicates without the help of modern technology -- or you might study the effects of cell phones on another society. You might study how ancient societies protected their people against disease -- or how public-health policy affects modern city dwellers. As an undergrad, you might specialize, focusing on culture, biology, archaeology, or language.
Architectural engineering programs combine architecture and engineering. Majors learn about the links between design and construction. Course work covers such topics as building materials and construction methods.
The Taipei Tower in Taiwan is 101 stories and 1,667 feet tall. It’s built in an area that gets hit by typhoons and earthquakes. How do you build something so tall? How do you make it safe? On the 88th floor, in the center of the tower, there’s a steel mass that weighs well over a million pounds. When strong winds blow or the earth moves dangerously, the heavy sphere absorbs the energy from the building and helps to stabilize it.
As an architectural engineering major, you’ll confront challenges like those posed by the Taipei Tower project.
Students of architecture prepare to become professional architects. Classes cover such topics as architectural theory, design, and history; drafting; and project and site planning.
While architecture is grounded in science, its heart is in the arts. Well-designed buildings not only serve the people who use them. They are also works of art that help define the town or city in which they stand.
As an architecture major, you'll learn how to work with others to imagine buildings, from straw-bale houses to the tallest skyscrapers. And with the technical know-how you pick up in such classes as architectural engineering and construction materials, you'll know just what needs to be done to bring them to life.
Area studies majors study the histories, politics, economics, and cultures of various areas of the world. They usually focus on a specific area, but sometimes compare two or more areas.
If the magical realist novels of Latin America capture your imagination, you might major in comparative literature or Spanish. Or if it’s the history of colonialism in African countries that fires your brain, you might major in history. But if you want to know Latin America or Africa inside out, then major in area studies. You’ll not only study everything from an area’s history to its present-day economy and art, you’ll also bring greater understanding to specific topics, from magical realism to colonialism.
While only a few schools have departments called area studies, many more have programs dedicated to specific regions. Some schools offer programs in comparative area studies. At others, you’ll have to design your own area studies major.
Students of art history, criticism, and conservation learn about the history of art, the interpretation of works of art, and the care and conservation (protection) of artworks.
It doesn't matter whether you're standing in front of a prehistoric cave painting or inside a present-day art installation that uses interactive video and sound. As a student of art history, you'll look at how the artist has used color, line, form, space, light, and shadow to communicate an idea or emotion. Your classes will cover such topics as the theory of art, the study of specific periods and styles of art, research methods, and conservation techniques.
Archaeology, anthropology, literary criticism, philosophy, and history will all play a role in your studies. You'll learn to use the tools of these fields to see art alongside the history and culture of the artist.
This major prepares students to teach art and art appreciation programs at various educational levels (mostly kindergarten through twelfth grade).
There's a middle school in California covered with murals. One wall beckons with oversized images of playing cards — fantastic queens, knights, and princes. On another, dinosaurs stalk through a prehistoric scene. On a third, kids stroll to class, so realistically painted they blend in with the real-life kids nearby.
Who painted these eye-catching murals? The students. With the skillful guidance of their art teacher, students did it all — created the designs, sketched the outlines, brushed on the paint. If you love the idea of helping kids turn raw creative energy into works of art, consider studying art education.
Students of city, community, and regional planning learn to create livable and environmentally healthy communities.
You may have heard of the term urban sprawl. Urban sprawl refers to the uncontrolled growth of cities and suburbs. The typical results: traffic congestion, a lack of green or open spaces, poorly designed or nonexistent public transportation, and unhappy residents. City, community, and regional planners address urban sprawl and other problems that communities face, such as pollution.
Planning majors learn about the principles of architectural design and how to use them to create communities in which people are proud to work and live. They explore such topics as affordable housing, public transportation, land use and zoning, economics, and environmentally friendly buildings.
Classics majors study the languages, literatures, and civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome and the places under their control.
Ancient Greek and Roman literature continues to be reinterpreted in every way possible, turning up in forms as different as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Wonder Woman comic books. Yet you may be surprised by how different from us the founders of Western civilization were after all. For instance, the Athenians regarded their women practically as slaves.
There is still a lot we don’t know about the way the ancients lived. Classics majors delight in finding out. Whether researching the ethnic diversity of ancient
Students of comparative literature learn about the literature and literary traditions of two or more different countries, cultures, or languages.
Try to imagine King Lear translated into Chinese and you will have an idea of the difference it makes to read a literary masterpiece in its original language. As a comparative literature major, you will study literature and literary movements across national and cultural boundaries. You may trace the influence of Chinese poetry on American poetry, or compare early Japanese novels to more contemporary French ones. Whatever you read, you will learn to see life from a variety of perspectives.
Students of dance learn to express ideas and emotions through dance forms such as ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance. Classes cover such topics as dance technique, choreography, and the history of dance.
Is dance your favorite way to express yourself? As a dance major, prepare not only to develop your physical skills, but also to explore the history, theory, and science of your art. Get ready for a tough schedule of technique and choreography classes, long evenings in rehearsal, and academic classes. Dance majors challenge their bodies and their minds in this demanding art form.
Both the bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) and the bachelor of arts (B.A.) prepare students for careers as dancers and choreographers. The B.A. also prepares students for careers in dance education, administration, and therapy.
Students of design and visual communications study a wide range of applied arts disciplines, from interior design to illustration and beyond.
Like broad strokes across a canvas, the major in design and visual communications cuts a wide swath through a range of applied arts, from fashion design to industrial design.
In this major, you’ll learn what it takes to communicate ideas and information effectively -- no matter what art form you’re using. Though you’ll have to take a few courses on theory, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to build the practical skills you’ll need to work in the field.
Digital arts students use computers to create art. They work in digital photography, animation, electronic sound and music, graphic design, and other digital or interactive media.
The work of a great choreographer re-created with hand-drawn 3-D figures, a multimedia representation of the mind of a child with learning disabilities, an electronic “concert” shaped by the artist’s own brain waves and heartbeat -- these are a few of the projects created by today’s cutting-edge digital artists. The digital arts have been described as the place where artistry and technology meet. If you are a creative person who loves technology, a major in digital arts could be the right choice for you.
You’ll learn how to use a wide variety of digital animation programs, including 2-D and 3-D graphics programs, and explore electronic music, video installation, and Web design. You’ll also study the history and theory of digital media and work on perfecting basic art skills in foundation courses such as drawing, design, and color theory.
Ethnic studies majors examine race and ethnicity, focusing on a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of minorities in the United States.
What do we mean when we say race? What about ethnicity? How has the immigrant experience changed in the last hundred years? How does a history that includes the enslavement, displacement, and exclusion of people of color shape the United States today? And how can we begin to overcome this legacy? These are some of the many questions you'll explore as an ethnic studies major.
You'll study ethnic groups from every angle to arrive at a greater understanding of our diverse world. To do so, you'll take classes in disciplines that range from history, political science, economics, and sociology to literature, music, and art history.
Fashion design majors learn the nuts and bolts of designing and making clothing and accessories. Classes cover everything from sketching and computer design to pattern making and fabric selection.
You may dream of seeing your creations on the runway. But if you decide to take the plunge and major in fashion design, get ready to be snapped into reality.
This is one demanding major. Working around the clock to finish original creations won't be enough. You'll also have to meet the highest standards of accuracy, taking exact measurements and cutting patterns to precision. But if fashion is your passion, this major may be custom-made for you.
Students in fashion merchandising learn how to manufacture, buy, promote, and sell fashion items, from clothing and jewelry to cosmetics and furniture. They also learn about textiles (fabrics and the fibers used to make them).
Do you like to spend your Saturdays sifting through flea markets for the latest retro fashions? Do your friends always want to borrow your chic shoes and your funky accessories? If so, maybe you should take a walk down the fashion runway. As a student in fashion merchandising, you’ll learn about fabrics and textiles. You’ll also get to study the cultures and subcultures that shape the way people dress.
The result? You’ll graduate as a savvy business professional with your finger on the pulse of the fashion world.
As a student in film production, you'll learn how to make movies, exploring the role of each person on a film set. You’ll also study movies, learning from the production choices of other artists.
If every picture tells a story, then movies tell a series of small important stories. Each carefully composed scene is framed, lit, and paced to bring meaning to the script. Every detail, from where the actors stand to the sound of rustling leaves, is the result of planning and cooperation. It’s a good day on a film shoot when a three-page scene is shot the way the director and cinematographer pictured it months before. If you major in film production, you’ll find out how people, ideas, and technology come together to create the movies that become a part of our lives.
As a film studies major, you’ll study film history, theory, and criticism, as well as the basics of film production. You’ll also examine related arts such as television and video.
Think of your favorite movie. Was it the story you liked? Or the characters? The action? How about the look of it? Digging deep into your gut feelings about movies is just the beginning of film studies.
If movies mean more to you than just an evening out with your friends, this could be the major for you. You’ll learn how to discuss and write about films critically. You’ll also learn about the connections movies have to history and national identities. You’ll even learn what all those people listed in the credits actually do. P.S. A gaffer is a lighting technician.
Graphic design majors learn the design and computer skills necessary to create the look for books, magazines, CD jackets, websites, and more.
Look at a CD jacket, website, magazine, or poster. Are you drawn in by the images and words you see? Are the colors appealing? Is the look open and inviting, or busy and cluttered?
These are the kinds of questions you’ll confront as a graphic design major. You’ll learn the basics of good design, which include the way type (style of lettering) and images are used to make visual statements. Whether your goal is to work in print or multimedia, you’ll learn to use the cutting-edge computer programs that every graphic designer today needs to know.
History majors learn how to interpret objects and written documents from the past. They also read the works of published historians and evaluate their ideas.
You’ve probably heard older people talk about the “good old days.” But were they really all that good? Were people and ideas all that different? How did the good old days become today?
To answer questions like these, you’ll need to look for clues -- and not only in textbooks filled with dates and biographies. As a history major, you’ll find history in everything from a 1956 Elvis Presley poster to a 1934 ticket stub showing the price of a movie. You’ll even find it in last summer’s playlist of your favorite songs.
By the time you graduate, you’ll know how to decide for yourself what to think about the old days -- good or bad. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll learn what those days can teach us about today and tomorrow.
Interior design majors learn how to create practical and beautiful indoor environments, improving people's lives at home and at work and protecting their health and safety.
Look around the room you're in right now. Does it have good lighting? How does it make you feel? Are the colors of the walls in harmony with those of the furniture? Interior designers ask questions like these about the indoor spaces where we spend so much of our time. If you choose this major, you'll learn about much more than choosing wallpaper and matching it to drapes. You'll learn how to turn anything from a college dorm room to a corporate boardroom into a great space.
Students of landscape architecture learn how to design and create landscapes using plants, trees, structures, and other natural and human-made elements. Classes cover such topics as horticulture (the study of growing plants); landscape design, history, and theory; and project and site planning.
If you love architecture and the outdoors, you might consider studying landscape architecture. Landscape architects design outdoor spaces.
If you study landscape architecture, you might go on to help parks bloom in big cities. You could also study plants with a master gardener, design the green space for a new suburban community, or help restore a wetland. You might cooperate with an architect to create outdoor areas that beautify and accent the buildings they surround.
Mass communications majors undertake a thorough investigation of mass media, from its institutions, history, and laws to the ways in which it transforms our culture.
Which do you trust more -- the news you see on the tube or the news you read on the Internet? How have TV, newspapers, and other forms of mass media shaped your life? What influence do advertisers have on the choice of music played on the radio?
As a mass communications major, you’ll examine questions like these. You’ll analyze different forms of media, study the impact media has on our culture, and learn about media history and laws. You may also have a chance to test the waters by creating media projects of your own.
Students of music learn about the history of music, music theory and composition, and the performance of one or more instruments. Classes cover such topics as musical styles, ear training, and performance.
The study of music is as varied as the kinds of music that exist throughout the world, from Renaissance to rap. Music majors study everything from producing pop albums to staging performances as they were staged in Mozart’s time.
The bachelor of arts (B.A.) in music is usually offered at liberal arts colleges. Generally, the B.A. requires a lot of course work outside the area of music. At a music conservatory, on the other hand, you can earn a bachelor of music (B.M.) degree, which will prepare you for a career as a professional musician.
Philosophy majors examine basic questions about such topics as the nature of existence and knowledge. They also study the history of philosophy, learn how to use logic and argue their ideas, and use philosophy to better understand other fields.
Philosophy dates back to ancient times when Confucius and Plato walked the earth. Yet it is very much alive today in such questions as whether or not computers think. Philosophers question issues that others either take for granted or find too difficult to ponder. If you choose this major, you'll find yourself asking everything from why we should be good to how we know what we know. You'll even question your own questions.
Some philosophy undergrads become philosophers. But most by far build careers in other areas, such as law. And thanks to all that pondering, all develop great skills in logic, problem solving, and creative thinking that pay off in any field.
Religious studies majors learn about the nature of religious belief and traditions. Courses focus on specific religions such as Hinduism, academic fields used to study religion such as anthropology, and religious history and politics.
How can religion lead both to the activism of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to cult suicides? How was the universe created? Do we have souls? Religious studies majors explore such questions -- but they don't settle for simple answers. Instead, they seek rich insights through research, reading, writing, and discussion.
Whatever their differences, most religious studies majors agree that, as one student put it, "we are really one people; we just have different ways of expressing truth." If you are fascinated by religious questions and traditions, and enjoy exploring many points of view, consider this major.
Students in studio arts learn the skills and techniques they need to express themselves as visual artists.
Why major in art? Why not just grab a paintbrush, pencil, or chisel and do your thing? The reasons to study art in college are many.
You’ll have the chance to try out new media -- you may enter school as a painter and fall in love with printmaking. You might start out sculpting in clay but discover that wood is your true love. From your teachers, you’ll learn skills and techniques that will help you work more efficiently and consistently. With your peers, you’ll practice the art of critique. And in art history classes, you’ll learn from great masters new and old.
Theater majors study plays and other dramatic works and their production. Classes cover such topics as theater history, playwriting, acting, and directing, as well as lighting, scenery, and costume design.
If you’ve ever acted in a play, you know how much work it takes to put a production together. A theater major is your ticket to every corner of the theater world.
Whether you specialize in acting or design, you’ll learn in class, backstage, and onstage. You’ll read, discuss, and write about all kinds of theatrical works. You’ll also get your hands dirty applying what you learn in class as you build sets, design costumes, direct, or act in department productions.
Students of theater design and stagecraft learn how to make sets, costumes, lights, and sound all work together in a theatrical production.
If your main interest in theater is not performing onstage but working behind the scenes, theater design and stagecraft may be for you. Majors in this field learn to make the world of a play complete through scenery, costumes, lights, and sound.
As a theater design and stagecraft major, you’ll tackle such challenges as painting a wall to look like a stormy sky or lighting a stage as if the sun is setting. Your classes will cover such topics as set design, lighting, sound, scene painting, and costume design.
Actors play characters in theater, film, TV, radio, and other media. Actors interpret scripts and perform roles that entertain, inform, or teach an audience.
Pursuing an acting career takes passion, dedication, and the willingness to share the spotlight. You might live in New York City or Los Angeles and wait tables while you attend countless cattle calls (mass auditions) just to be considered for a small walk-on role.
While most big-name stars and aspiring actors alike do live and work in New York City or Los Angeles, many actors can find work outside these hubs. Opportunities exist with regional theater companies, TV studios, radio stations, nightclubs, and even theme parks.
Adult educators teach a variety of subjects to adults in places such as community colleges, adult high schools, university extension programs, and prisons.
Sometimes adults go to school because they have to. They may need to improve their English skills or computer skills or earn a high school diploma to get a better job. Other times, adults attend classes for fun. They might want to learn how to bake mouth-watering desserts or draw funny cartoons.
Whether they're in class out of necessity or for pleasure, adults are usually motivated to get the most out of class time. Their eagerness to learn makes teaching them a deeply rewarding experience.
Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers use market research and employ various strategies to develop, promote, and sell their clients' products and services.
There’s a game plan behind every product that is sold -- even if that product is a person. Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers are the brains behind those strategies.
Marketing managers draw on market research to target the right audience; advertising managers are in charge of creating and placing ads; and public relations managers use subtler methods to get the word out. Of course, the roles of these professionals overlap, and their goal is the same: to earn bigger profits. With tools such as advertisements, brochures, and websites, they can make the difference between a success and a flop.
Announcers talk on radio or TV programs that inform and entertain. Some announcers also provide information to the audience at sporting or performing arts events.
Think of your favorite radio station or local news program and you can probably name a DJ or news reporter. These announcers are the faces and voices of broadcasting. Announcers on radio and TV read the news and weather reports, open and close programs, announce song titles and artists, introduce or read commercials, and interview guests.
Anthropologists study people and primates (such as chimps), researching their cultural, physical, and social development over time. Archaeologists investigate history by finding and studying the remains and objects a society leaves behind.
Why did new English words start popping up among the British colonists in North America? How were class distinctions in the New World different from those in the Old World? What can we learn about our ancestors from ancient skeletons and pottery fragments?
If you’re fascinated by questions like these, consider a career as an anthropologist or archaeologist. While some of these professionals are involved in research for its own sake, others use their skills in the world of business or government.
Architects design buildings and oversee their construction.
Before any building is constructed, it exists in the mind’s eye of an architect. Architects design buildings in which people work, worship, play, and conduct the countless other activities of their lives.
Consider the building you’re in right now. Where are the windows placed? What materials were used to construct the building? How does the structure sit on the site it occupies? What style of architecture is used? And how do people use the building? The building’s architect once considered all these same questions.
Archivists care for permanent records and historically valuable documents. They may also participate in research activities based on archival materials.
Archivists may take care of papers, letters, diaries, clippings, legal documents, maps, films, videos, sound recordings, and other records. These professionals combine technical expertise in the preservation of documents with knowledge of information-management systems.
The tasks of archivists vary according to the type of collection they work with, be it historic manuscripts or living plants and animals. At a cultural-history museum, an archivist might research and document the return of artifacts to American Indian tribes. At a zoo, an archivist might keep records on the veterinary care of animals.
Art directors come up with the visual concepts for everything from billboard advertisements to magazine layouts to videos and websites. Not all work in advertising; some create the look of editorial publications, such as newspapers.
Have you ever wondered who came up with the look for those great jeans ads or that cool CD jacket? Behind every advertisement, magazine cover, video, or website is a big-picture person: the art director.
If you’d rather call the shots than carry them out, art directing just might be your thing -- as long as you’re ready to be a fountain of new ideas.
Arts administrators run arts programs that cover the gamut -- from finger-painting to photography; from ballet to belly dance; and from hip-hop to opera.
As an audience member at dance, music, or theater events, you've probably enjoyed watching others shine in the limelight. If you've ever performed onstage or seen your artistic efforts displayed in a newsletter or website (or even posted in the school hallway), you know the thrill of putting your best creative foot forward.
But for every artistic event, much of the work remains hidden. Arts administrators work behind the scenes to make sure artists keep creating and the public keeps appreciating art of every kind.
Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent and treat injuries. They also play a key role in rehabilitation.
The year: 1996. The place: Atlanta. In her first vault, gymnast Kerri Strug falls and injures her ankle, badly. Should she go on to do her second vault? The team’s depending on her, but is it safe? As an athletic trainer, you’ll find yourself facing similar dilemmas, though you’ll more likely be at a high school basketball game than the Olympics.
Barbers and cosmetologists (also called hairdressers and hairstylists) cut, color, and style people's hair. Cosmetologists may also provide other services such as facial treatments.
Humans have always found ways to beautify themselves. Cleopatra wore eyeliner. And in ancient Asia and Greece, people used pumice to exfoliate (remove dead layers from) their skin. Some ideas about beauty change or cross cultural boundaries. For example, tattooing, a recent fad among Westerners, is a long-held tradition in other parts of the world.
As a personal-appearance worker, you'll keep an eye on changing trends, helping people keep up with the times and look their best.
Buyers and purchasers look for the highest-quality products at the lowest cost.
Everyone has a favorite store. Maybe yours is the sports store at the mall. Whichever it is, you shop there for a reason, maybe because it sells the best products for the lowest prices. If so, they have top-notch buyers. These pros stalk the wholesale marketplace -- scouring catalogs, visiting manufacturers, going to fashion shows and trade shows -- looking for products that fly off the shelves. That's why loyal customers like you keep coming back for more.
Buyers look for products to resell to the public or to retailers. Purchasers, on the other hand, buy supplies and services for use by the organizations they work for. Working for organizations as different as private corporations and the U.S. military, purchasers order everything from paper clips to tanks.
Camera operators film TV programs and commercials, videos, and movies. Film and video editors choose images from those that camera operators capture to create a final product.
Whether capturing a political protest for the local news, putting together a weekly cable TV program, or creating a scene for a new action movie, the decisions you make as a camera operator or film and video editor will require a combination of creative and technical skills. You'll need a good eye and a steady hand to choose interesting material, decide how to present it, and pick the right equipment or software to use.
Child, family, and school social workers help children and families cope with social and psychological problems that may arise at school, at home, at work, or in the larger community.
In an ideal world, every family would be stable and supportive. Every child would be happy at home and at school.
Yet in reality, many children and families face daunting challenges. For example, single parents struggle to raise kids while working. Children are exposed to violence. Teens may become parents before they're ready. Child, family, and school social workers help kids and families get back on track so they can lead healthy, happy lives.
Choreographers create new dance routines and develop their own interpretations of existing dances for ballets, musicals, and other forms of entertainment. At rehearsals, choreographers instruct and lead dancers to achieve their vision.
Do you want to form your own modern dance company? Create the dance moves for music videos? Whatever your choreography aim, you’ll need to know a lot about people as well as dance. After all, choreographers work with all kinds of people, from dancers to directors.
Most choreographers get their start as dancers, but some come from related fields, such as performance art or theatrical directing. As a choreographer, you may work on a freelance basis or as an artist in residence for a dance or opera company. You could also work in film or TV or at a private dance school, college, or university.
Community organizers and activists work on the local level to create positive social change. They help communities come together to solve problems.
Cesar Chavez (1927–1993) was only a child when his parents lost their farm and had to become migrant workers, moving from farm to farm. By the time he left school after eighth grade to work full-time, he'd already attended thirty different schools.
In 1962, with activist Dolores Huerta, Chavez created the United Farm Workers, a union dedicated to defending the rights of farm workers. He led many successful strikes and boycotts, inspiring millions to join his cause. Fifty thousand people attended his funeral.
Composers write music -- from classical to show tunes to rock. They create written compositions, called scores, to be performed by musicians and singers. The term "composer" includes singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan.
It's easy to think of composers as dead European guys who wore frock coats and knickerbockers and wrote music for royalty. Yet music composition is alive and well. From Stephen Sondheim to Quincy Jones to Yoko Ono, composers today represent every segment of society -- including teens. And the music written is just as varied, reflecting the bounty of musical styles our world has to offer.
Conservators care for and repair art objects and artifacts.
Conservators strive to protect precious objects -- everything from medieval tapestries, Chinese porcelain, and Mexican murals to classic comic books -- and to restore them to their former glory.
Conservators know a lot about art history and chemistry. They also work with a wide range of professionals, including archaeologists, art dealers, interior designers, architectural preservationists, and even nuclear physicists.
Construction managers plan and coordinate construction projects, including residential, commercial, and civil (or public works) building.
Large construction projects may take years or even decades to complete -- think of a high-rise office building or a subway system. On projects this complicated, teams of construction managers handle different steps. One team might be responsible for estimating costs. Another team might schedule the activities of the various subcontractors. And yet another team might work on-site supervising the construction work in progress.
On smaller projects, one team may tackle several, or even all, of these functions. Regardless of the size of a job, it takes a group of dedicated construction managers to keep the project running on schedule and within budget.
Craft artists create works of art that have a practical as well as an artistic purpose, including ceramics, jewelry, art glass, quilts, furniture, welding, and weavings.
If making useful art is not just a hobby but your passion, you might consider pursuing a career as a craft artist. Whether you’re into throwing pots, blowing glass, welding sculpture, carving wood, embroidering linen, or weaving rugs, the objects you create are becoming increasingly popular in the marketplace. They can be found in a huge number of private homes and public collections around the world. Maybe your creations will become the next hot collectible.
Curators run the educational, research, and public service activities of museums, zoos, and other institutions.
Curators do much more than handle artwork or artifacts and design museum and zoo exhibits. The job of managing a collection is broad-based. It involves working with people as much as, if not more than, the pieces in the collection.
Curators work with museum educators, zookeepers, publicists, and publishers to produce exhibits complete with special events and publications. And they work closely with other curators, museum directors, and board members to grow the museum, gallery, or zoo collection -- whether dealing with artwork, plants, or living animals.
Dancers express ideas and emotions through dance forms such as ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic, and folk dance. In this demanding and competitive field, dancers challenge their bodies and their minds.
While you may dream about becoming a principal with the American Ballet Theatre, there are many different options in the wide world of professional dance. You may dance with smaller classical companies, modern troupes, or folkloric and ethnic dance groups. You could dance in musicals, pop music videos, and commercial TV productions.
However, finding steady work in the fiercely competitive world of professional dance is never easy. It takes both passion and patience to pursue a career in this demanding field.
Directors work closely with actors, designers, choreographers, and playwrights to manage the planning and production of theatrical works, including plays, films, musicals, and TV programs.
Directors make many of the creative decisions that bring a dramatic production to life. They have a part in almost every aspect of producing a play, film, or TV program. They must be creative artists as well as knowledgeable technicians. Active onstage and behind the scenes, they interpret scripts, communicate their vision to set and costume designers, audition and select cast members, manage rehearsals, and coach actors.
Economists study the buying and selling of products and services, and analyze the factors that influence these transactions.
Today’s global economy bears little resemblance to the simple local barter-and-trade systems of yesterday. It is a vast and intricate system in which a hurricane that affects oil production in the Gulf of Mexico can send ripples through the economies of every nation on earth.
Economists seek to understand this system and use their knowledge to make predictions and decisions.
Editors review writers' work and make suggestions or changes to make the text stronger.
Behind every great writer is a fabulous editor. Magazines, newspapers, and websites, just to name a few publications, all employ editors to guide and encourage writers. Editors work in all kinds of settings, from busy newsrooms to corporate offices, to ensure that organizations get their messages to the public.
The titles and duties of editors vary a great deal, depending on where they work and exactly what they do. For example, developmental editors work with authors on novels and other long pieces to make sure the text is clear and meets the publisher's expectations. At newspapers, assignment editors match reporters to stories while executive editors make decisions about what news to cover and how to approach it.
Elementary, middle, and high school teachers work in public or private schools, preparing children for the work world or college. They also try to inspire a lifelong love of learning in their students.
If you want to become a teacher, it's probably because of your experiences in the classroom. Maybe you find inspiration in great teachers or simply your own love of learning. With a career in school teaching, you'll be able to share that love and pass along the skills and knowledge kids need to get a start in life.
Exhibit designers and museum technicians plan, design, and put together exhibits and displays in museums, galleries, zoos, and other cultural institutions.
Visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. There you can step onto a 1950s-era bus and hear the driver tell you to move to the back. A statue of Rosa Parks sits at the front with her head held high. In the Maritime Museum in Barcelona, Spain, you can climb aboard a full-scale reproduction of a sixteenth-century ship and watch projected images of the crew at their oars.
In a retrospective traveling from one museum to another, you can view the work of a single artist. As you pass before her paintings, you watch her mature through the decades and read about her influences. In zoos all over the world, you can view animals ranging from primates to panthers in exhibits re-creating their natural habitats.
Fashion designers use flair and know-how to create everything from hospital uniforms to the eye-popping outfits worn by rock stars and models.
If you spend endless hours poring through fashion magazines or putting together your own new looks, you may want to consider a career in fashion design. Using their flair for color and style, designers create trendy new fashions as well as practical garments, such as sportswear. Fashion design is also a labor of love, requiring long hours and little chance of superstardom -- but for many, the work itself is the reward.
Fine artists create visual art, usually specializing in a specific type, such as painting or sculpture. Their goals may be many: to create something of beauty, to trigger emotion, and to make people think.
Imagine a world without art -- no paintings, no sketches, no statues in the parks. A world without art would be pretty empty, dull, and cold. So even though people may try to tell you otherwise, and even though you probably won’t make your living at it, art does matter.
But even if you do become one of the lucky few who can pay the bills with art, you’ll need to let go of any romantic visions you have of working day and night to create a masterpiece. Trade them for the more realistic picture of a small businessperson balancing creative work with bookkeeping and marketing efforts.
Foreign Service officers promote American political and business interests, provide information and advice about their host countries to U.S. policymakers, arrange cultural exchanges, and help Americans traveling abroad.
In September 2004, five Americans took jobs teaching English at Islamic schools in
Foreign Service officers, also called diplomats, work at over 265 locations around the world. They help build bridges between the
Forensic scientists, sometimes called crime laboratory analysts, provide scientific information and expert opinions to judges, juries, and lawyers.
Forensic science is more complex than TV might lead you to believe. In 1991, a postal worker in
Years later, other forensic scientists conducted DNA testing of saliva found on the victim's clothing. The testing revealed that the postal worker was innocent and identified the true murderer. Forensic science helped condemn an innocent man -- and then it redeemed him. It is a field constantly growing and changing.
Geoscientists study the earth's structure and composition. They study its history and evolution, rocks, internal structure and core, oceans, and resources like gas and oil.
Rarely do we consider the earth as something active -- we usually think of it as a solid piece of rock. But in fact, it’s a dynamic system with a lot going on. That’s easy to see when there’s an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Geoscientists study our constantly changing planet. They pay special attention to the earth’s physics and the chemical relationship between the core, crust, and atmosphere.
Geoscientists specialize in specific areas. Oceanographers, for instance, study the geology, biology, and chemistry of the oceans. Hydrologists study the way water circulates both on the earth’s surface and underground. Seismologists study earthquakes and earthquake faults.
Government executives and legislators work at the federal, state, and local levels to direct government activities and pass laws. These officials include the president and vice president of the United States, members of Congress, governors, and city council members.
Public officials tackle tough problems from homelessness to terrorism. They respond to various groups who each argue that their issue, whether it's lower taxes or a better recycling program, demands top priority.
Given all that public officials face, it's hard to imagine the perfect way to prepare for the job. Maybe that's why there isn't one. While most have been to law school, their backgrounds vary and depend in part on their interests. As one elected official said, "You can't run for office just because you want to be an elected official. You need to decide what your interests are and follow them. If they lead you to elected office, great."
Government lawyers work for state attorneys general, public defenders, district attorneys, and the courts. At the federal level, they investigate cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies.
One type of government lawyer, the public defender, works on behalf of underprivileged people convicted of crimes.
Will Maas, a lawyer with the Office of the Public Defender in San Francisco, is a shining example. This Vietnam vet, once profiled by PBS, feels driven to defend his clients as a way to heal from having killed during the war. Maas sums up his hard-earned compassion for humanity in this way: "All of us have been mad enough to murder."
Graphic designers work with type and images to create the look for CD inserts, books, magazines, posters, catalogs, and other products. Some also design websites.
If you’re fascinated by the differences between the fonts Times New Roman and Geneva -- or simply enjoy arranging photos on a page -- you may have a future in graphic design. One of the most practical paths for artsy people, graphic design requires not only a good eye but an ability to use the computer as a tool for achieving your vision.
Health educators study the latest health information and design programs to encourage healthier behavior and practices in their communities.
Did you know that one in every three children in the United States is overweight or close to it? Why? The reason has a lot to do with overeating and lack of exercise. If you become a health educator, you may help unhealthy children grow into healthy adults.
As a health educator, you’ll promote and improve the health of your community. Whether you work in schools, senior centers, or public health institutions, you’ll find creative ways to educate people about healthy lifestyles.
Historians collect and interpret material from the past.
Historians look for the clues that tell us about the past. More important, they help us make sense out of it all. They may start by telling us the facts of everything from the travels of Lewis and Clark to the first moon landing, but they don’t stop there.
Historians go on to answer questions about the importance of these events, their causes, and their effects. They make connections between the world as it was and the world as it is.
Illustrators create images for everything from books to greeting cards to advertisements. Many specialize, working mostly on children's books or medical illustrations, for example.
If drawing is your thing, take note: there are all kinds of avenues for illustrators. Whether used in medical textbooks, magazines, or children’s books, illustrations inform, educate, amuse, and, sometimes, just make the world a prettier place. Talent alone is not enough in this highly competitive field, but if you’re willing to work hard and apply your talents where they’re needed, you may not be a starving artist for long.
Imams are Muslim clergy (religious leaders) in mosques (Islamic places of worship) and in Muslim communities. They lead prayers, deliver sermons, and provide religious education and counseling.
Muslims, like Christians and Jews, trace their religion to the ancient figure of Abraham. The word "imam" in the Koran (the Muslim sacred text) refers to Abraham and other leaders.
Though anyone leading a Muslim prayer may be called an imam, in practice imams are revered leaders with years of study behind them. One of their many challenges is staying informed about Islamic interpretations of modern-day advancements, such as organ transplants, so they can help believers make wise decisions while remaining true to Islam.
Industrial designers work with engineers to design everyday goods, most of them mass produced.
Calvin Klein may have designed your jeans, but who designed the chair you’re sitting on? Industrial designers work behind the scenes to shape everyday products, from food packaging and appliances to toys and cars.
While their work may not seem glamorous, they serve a very vital function -- and they make better money than most other types of designers, too.
Interior designers design and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings.
Good interior designers are able to create indoor spaces that not only look good but also work well. That is, their designs suit the intended purpose of the room -- whether it’s an office, a reception area, a child’s playroom, or a beauty salon. Each of these spaces has its own purpose, from raising workers’ productivity to providing a safe place for children to play, and therefore, its own design requirements.
Interpreters help individuals or groups communicate with each other by orally translating from one language to another.
From courtrooms to boardrooms, interpreters help people who speak different languages understand each other. They work in a range of situations, from business meetings to criminal trials to medical emergencies. Those who know American Sign Language interpret spoken language to sign language and vice versa. Since interpreters work on the spot and can’t go back to correct any mistakes they make, they need intense concentration.
Landscape architects design and create outdoor spaces using plants, trees, structures, and other natural and human-made elements.
Landscape architects create outdoor areas that beautify and accent the buildings they surround. But they do more than design around buildings. They also create large open spaces, such as parks and golf courses, and help conserve and restore natural resources, such as forests.
Landscape architects make these outdoor spaces user-friendly, sustainable, and pleasing to the senses. To do so, they draw on their knowledge of design, construction, ecology, botany, horticulture (the study and practice of growing plants), and soil science.
Librarians help people find information in sources such as books, magazines, and the Internet. They collect, catalog, and organize information. Increasingly, they use computers to do these tasks.
In our era of the "information explosion," it seems that just about anything you want to know is a mouse click away. But do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the data on the Internet? Have you ever worried about whether the source you found for your research paper is accurate?
If so, go to the pros -- or consider becoming one. Today's librarians are experts in using technology to help others find all types of information.
Lodging managers oversee the day-to-day workings of hotels and motels. They supervise such departments as front-desk operations, housekeeping, and food services.
People on vacation enjoy being pampered. They want extra pillows, plush towels, and delicious chocolates to appear like magic. Others travel for business. They need basic office services, such as Internet access, fax machines, and conference rooms, so they can get their work done efficiently.
Lodging managers work hard to make sure their hotels provide the experience their guests expect -- so those guests will return year after year.
Mathematicians use mathematical theory, algorithms, and computers to solve problems in economics, science, engineering, and other fields.
When you think of a mathematician, you may imagine a gray-haired man standing in front of a chalkboard covered end to end with formulas. In fact, mathematicians come in all shapes and sizes. And they work with the latest computer technologies in fields as varied as business and physics.
There are two main groups of mathematicians. Theoretical mathematicians come up with new ways of thinking about quantities -- you can thank them for adding to the formulas and principles you learn in math class. Applied mathematicians, on the other hand, use math to solve practical problems in fields like computer science. The line that divides these two groups, however, often blurs.
Mental health counselors treat people with mental and emotional problems. They help people work through everything from job stress to marriage conflicts to suicidal impulses.
A mental health counselor meets with a small group of people with severe mental problems. At first, the counselor is very active. He asks members questions about the history of their illnesses, how they cope, and what it's like to interact with others.
Over time, the counselor says less and less, encouraging group members to ask the questions and provide support. After the sessions end, they report that their lives have improved: they have more confidence, more friends, and more fun.
Multimedia artists and animators create images and special effects for movies, TV shows, cartoons, computer games, and more.
In the old days, artists drew everything by hand. Some still do. But many of the animated images and special effects you see today are computer-generated. That means there’s a whole new breed of artist -- and a whole new career path to consider. With creativity and imagination, multimedia artists bring dazzling images and new sophistication to everything from cartoons to commercials.
Musicians and singers play musical instruments or sing as part of a group or solo. Many musicians and singers perform for live audiences, though others play only for recording or production studios.
What's your dream? To become a hip-hop artist in Los Angeles? A bluegrass fiddle player in Nashville? Or a star soprano with the Metropolitan Opera in New York? Whatever your goal, you'll need top technical skills, talent, stage presence, and a thick skin to put up with the intense competition. While many musicians hope to win a big solo contract with a recording studio or one of the larger record labels, the majority spend most of their time working in ensembles, rehearsing, and performing live.
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information and prepare stories for broadcast (TV and radio), print (newspapers and magazines), and online media.
If you’re a news junkie -- or just someone with insatiable curiosity -- a media job may be your calling. But be ready to fly by the seat of your pants, because some days you’ll feel like you’re part of a three-ring circus.
News analysts, also called newscasters, interpret news from outside sources and broadcast it on radio or TV. Reporters gather the facts themselves, writing stories for print or broadcast. Correspondents serve a similar function, but are stationed in specific cities. Whatever your role, you’ll sweat bullets to gather the facts and deliver on deadline. But if you love the thrill of the chase and have strong communication skills, you may be made for this line of work.
Photographers use their artistic eye and technical know-how to capture the moment digitally or on film.
Photography careers come in as many shapes and sizes as photographs. Staff photographers work in settings that range from the newsroom to the portrait studio. Other photographers, such as those who work at weddings, run their own businesses.
There’s a lot more to photography than pointing and shooting. You’ll have to learn the technical ropes and develop an eye for the perfect picture. Competition for artsy careers like this one is always stiff, but if you don’t mind putting in the hours, it might be worth a shot.
PTs prevent and treat conditions that limit a person's ability to move and function.
Seniors recovering from hip-replacement surgery, newborns with birth defects, athletes with injuries, young adults with brain disorders: All of these people have trouble using their muscles. And they can all improve with the help of physical therapists (PTs).
These health professionals use exercises, heat, cold, and other techniques to get their patients moving again. They also teach them how to get around using crutches, wheelchairs, and other devices. As a PT, you’ll do more than devise a treatment plan -- you’ll serve as teacher, coach, and confidant, too.
Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide range of academic and career-oriented subjects beyond the high school level. Such teachers include college and university professors, career and technical education instructors, and graduate teaching assistants.
A professor stands in a darkened auditorium before 150 scribbling students and projects images of paintings on a screen, commenting on each. In a small room on the other side of campus, a graduate student writes an equation on a chalkboard, asking for questions. Across town, a teacher surrounded by a gaggle of adults lifts the hood of a car to describe the engine. These scenes may differ, but the instructors share the same career: they're all postsecondary teachers.
Priests are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican religious leaders who have been ordained (officially appointed) by their churches.
Although you might see priests only on Sunday mornings in church, they actually lead very busy lives. They might be up at dawn to lead morning mass. At lunchtime, they might be leading discussions at schools about the challenges of faith. And rather than relaxing in front of an evening TV show, they may be visiting the homes of church members.
Priests believe deeply in God and feel that serving other people is the best way to serve God.
Private-practice lawyers work in law firms or are self-employed. Transactional lawyers work to avoid legal problems, for example, by writing contracts. Litigators, or trial lawyers, deal with problems, such as broken contracts, once they've occurred.
"Lizzie Borden took an axe / And gave her mother forty whacks. / When she saw what she had done, / She gave her father forty-one." Although this ditty sounds certain, Borden’s defense attorney was good enough to prove reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors in the famous 1893 trial introduced evidence that included powerful details. For example, Borden burned the dress she wore the day of the deed, and prosecutors argued that she did so because it was stained with blood. But the defense team -- using for the most part the prosecution's own witnesses -- shot down every attempt to pin the dastardly deed on Borden. In the end, she walked free.
Program directors choose the content of radio and television shows to meet their audience's needs.
Teenagers generally don’t watch the same television shows as Wall Street executives, and most kids don’t listen to the same radio stations as their parents. No one knows this better than program directors, whose job it is to analyze the media market and plan their programs accordingly. By knowing their audiences inside and out, program directors decide which songs to play or which television shows to air -- and when to do it. An MTV reality show does better at 9 p.m. than at 9 a.m., for example.
Protestant ministers are religious leaders who have been ordained (officially appointed) by the Protestant denomination (subgroup) to which they belong.
In 1517, in what is now Germany, Roman Catholic priest Martin Luther got so mad at what he saw as weaknesses in Catholicism that he nailed a list of complaints called the "95 Theses" onto a church door.
Luther didn't want to break away from Catholicism; he just wanted to improve it. But his action set off a chain of events that eventually led to a new form of Christianity called Protestantism. This belief system spread around the world and is still going strong today.
Public interest advocates work to affect government policies and raise public awareness concerning issues that they believe are in the public interest.
How do voters decide what to vote for? How do legislators decide what to sign into law?
If you choose to become a public interest advocate, you'll get to affect both groups. You'll work for an organization that represents a cause you believe in, such as abortion rights or gun control. You'll research your issue. Then, armed with facts, you'll work to get voters and legislators to support your position.
Public interest lawyers bring lawsuits that work to get positive results for a large class, or group, of people. They work for organizations such as Environmental Defense and the National Center for Youth Law.
American schools, like much of society, used to be segregated. Children of color couldn't attend schools for whites. And schools for kids of color usually had fewer resources than white schools.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organized some legal cases to challenge this policy. These cases were eventually combined into one case, Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the NAACP won -- inspiring struggles for justice around the country and the world.
PR specialists promote people and organizations. They work in a variety of settings, from corporations to government agencies. Many serve private clients.
When celebrities go into drug rehab or when businesses are guilty of fraud, there’s only one thing to do: hire a public relations (PR) specialist. PR specialists do more than put a positive spin on their client’s less-than-admirable activities. They also spread the word when they’ve done something good, like winning an Academy Award or donating money to a charity.
And how do PR specialists get the word out? They spend much of their time writing press releases and pitching story ideas to reporters.
Rabbis are clergy (religious leaders) who have been ordained (officially appointed) by the Jewish denomination to which they belong.
Jewish religious services differ radically depending on the denomination, or subgroup.
In Orthodox synagogues, for example, men and women sit in separate sections, heads covered. They chant the same Hebrew prayers that Jews chanted more than two thousand years ago. In Reform services, everyone sits together, most heads are bare, and most of the service is in English.
Whatever the denomination, there's usually a rabbi present, guiding members in worship.
Recreational therapists provide treatment via recreation activities to people with disabilities or illnesses. Using activities that range from arts and crafts, movement, and games to interaction with animals, they help people improve their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
James, who has advanced cancer, lives in a hospice (a home for people with fatal illnesses). His hair has fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. James is always sullen when he shows up for art therapy sessions.
One day he paints an unusual picture of a featherless bird. When the therapist gently comments on the similarity with James's appearance, he breaks down in tears. From that moment, James begins to open up and face the terrifying prospect of death, inspiring those around him with his courage.
Set designers plan, design, and oversee the construction of sets for theatrical, motion picture, and TV productions.
Gritty city street or lush green countryside. Lively medieval marketplace or sleek suburban shopping mall. If you’ve ever been amazed at the look of a movie or play, you’ve been under the spell of a talented designer.
Set designers establish the physical worlds of plays, movies, and TV shows, setting the mood, time, and place of the story. They work with directors, other designers, and technicians to make a strong visual impact.
Sociologists study people and the behavior within the social groups that they form. They also study social institutions such as religion and law.
Socio- comes from the Latin word socius, which means “companion.” As a sociologist, you’ll study people as companions, the ways in which they live, work, and play together.
You’ll also examine the problems, from family arguments at the dinner table to violent crime, that occur within groups. Your research might be used by governments and organizations that help people live and work together better.
Theater, film, and TV technicians are craftspeople who work in stage, film, and TV productions building and decorating sets, setting up lighting and sound, and making costumes.
Maybe you got your first taste of the theater as a stagehand in a high school production of Oklahoma! Or maybe it’s the sparkle of Hollywood that’s grabbed your attention. If you love being part of a spirited, hardworking team and want to work on projects you can see and touch, this could be the career for you.
While technicians often specialize in particular areas, it takes a lot of flexibility to build a career. The more you can do, from wiring lights to building flats, the more work you’ll find -- especially early on in your career.
Translators read written materials, which can range from poetry to technical manuals, in one language and write them in another.
Translators often describe their work as a labor of love and it’s true that translating a great novel into another language can be almost as satisfying as though you had written it yourself. However, translators also do the necessary work of translating technical manuals, business memos, news stories, and government documents, without which the global economy would probably grind to a halt. Whether you translate poetry or scientific reports, translating requires creative thinking, research, and determination.
Urban and regional planners help communities decide on the best use of land. They find places to build homes and businesses, deal with transportation issues, and study the environmental effects of possible projects.
It’s a hot day, and you wish your town would hurry up and build that pool everyone keeps talking about. But where should it be built? What land is available? How will people get there? How would building it affect the local wildlife? What do you say to neighbors who worry about noise and traffic? As an urban or regional planner, it would be your job to help the town answer all of these questions -- and many more.
As the nation’s population grows, so do our cities and suburbs. Planners play a key role in managing that growth. They help keep communities safe, livable places and work to improve them.
Web designers combine art skills with business savvy to create the look and feel, as well as structure, of websites that are both eye-pleasing and user-friendly.
Do you prefer Google or Yahoo? The websites in your “favorites” list are there for a reason -- probably a combination of visual appeal and usability. Creating that perfect combination is what Web designers do for a living. By using type (lettering), images, and other visual devices, Web designers create a digital playground where consumers can find the information they need while enjoying the ride.
Writers develop text for publications, such as books, magazines, websites, and newsletters. They also create material for radio and TV broadcasts, movies, and plays.
Writers work in many places, from magazines to corporations to home offices. They create articles and nonfiction books, newsletters for nonprofits, annual reports for big companies, and scripts for TV and radio shows, just to name a few possibilities.
If you dream of writing a story, poem, or play that will live on long after you do, you may have to do so just for the joy of it -- and find a day job to make ends meet. If you’re also interested in writing nonfiction and develop a specialty in, for example, business, fashion, or sports, you may find that getting paid to write is an easier goal to reach.