Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Explore the relationships between AP courses, majors, and careers based on your choice.
AP Course: AP Environmental Science
Skills You'll Learn
AP can get you on your path
Related Majors and Careers
Aerospace engineering majors learn how to use math and science to design and develop aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also study such topics as aerodynamics, orbits, launch, flight controls, and engines.
For thousands of years, people enviously watched birds coast through the skies and wondered how they did it. But in the last one hundred years, flying on this earth has become as unremarkable as walking, and space travel is no longer the stuff of science fiction.
As an aerospace engineering major, you’ll learn the basics that helped the Wright brothers and others conquer the age-old problem of flight. You’ll learn how to apply these ideas to developing new types of air- and spacecraft that are better, safer, and stronger. You’ll find out how space flight works and dream up new ways of exploring galaxies unknown.
As an agricultural engineering major, you’ll learn how to use science to improve the production, processing, storage, and distribution of food, timber, fiber, and renewable energy sources while protecting the environment.
Could the earth run out of earth? It doesn’t seem possible, but it takes thousands of years for soil to develop. This means that soil is practically a nonrenewable resource. Meanwhile, soil is being worn out by farming, polluted by chemicals, and eroded by wind and water.
If this concerns you, you’re not alone. Some agricultural engineers come up with farming practices that use soil more efficiently. Others help farmers by designing power systems, tools, and storage space. Still others look for ways to ensure food safety during processing. Thanks to agricultural engineering, farmers are getting better at producing safe food more efficiently while protecting the environment and using natural resources wisely.
Agriculture students learn how to use general principles of agricultural research and production to approach practical agricultural problems. These problems range from soil conservation and animal husbandry to plant cultivation and business management.
The essence of agriculture is providing food, whether you grow soybeans, herd cows, or develop a new hybrid tomato. But the basic task of keeping humans fed is complicated by environmental, scientific, economic, political, and legal questions.
How can local government agencies help keep farmers from having to sell their land to developers? What pesticides are effective yet have the least impact on the environment? How can water sources be managed so that they last? How will a surplus in Chinese apples affect international trade? Agricultural students learn how to answer all of these questions and more.
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.
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
Meteorology students study the atmosphere (the gases that surround the earth), focusing on the weather and how to forecast it. Areas of study include the climate, the physics of the atmosphere, and chemistry.
You’ve got your bathing suit on and your sun block packed, but by the time you get to the beach, it’s pouring rain. What happened to that sunny day you expected? Why is the weather so changeable, so uncertain?
Meteorology is the field of science that seeks to understand and predict short-term weather as well as long-term climate processes.
Botany majors study not only plants but also one-celled organisms related to plants and the environments and ecosystems in which plants live.
It’s easy to think that humans rule the world. We have built vast cities, created advanced technology, and populated most areas of the planet. And of course, we’ve domesticated both plants and animals.
In reality, though, it’s the plants that are in control. Plants convert sunlight into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. Animals in turn eat the plants (or other animals that have eaten the plants) to get energy. Without plants, animals, including us humans, would be unable to live. Botany is the study of these powerful organisms in all their shapes and forms.
Chemical engineering majors learn how to put chemicals to work. Classes cover such topics as improving the way factories use chemicals to make products and solving problems such as rust and pollution.
Suppose you have this great recipe for chocolate ice cream. You like to make it at home for your family and friends. You make it in a little one-gallon machine that goes into your freezer. But what if you sell your recipe to a big food company? Now they have to be able to make thousands of gallons a day. Each gallon of ice cream needs to taste exactly the same and look exactly the same.
What kind of equipment could they use? How would the recipe change? How can the factory make the ice cream at low cost? These are all questions for the chemical engineer.
Chemistry majors use math, theory, and experimentation to study matter (physical substance). They look at what it’s made of and how it behaves, down to the atomic level.
Lightning crackles in the sky as the camera pans over a dark castle. Down in the laboratory, a mad scientist stands among his many vials, test tubes, and beakers, mixing liquids to produce a bubbling, smoking potion.
The popular B movie villain, haphazardly mixing chemicals for evil purposes, is a far cry from the professional chemist. In reality, chemists work in controlled environments, using the scientific method to make valuable contributions in a range of fields, including medicine, biology, psychology, and geology. As a chemistry major, you’ll explore many different topics, from the chemical basis for life to the environmental problems caused by chemicals.
City, Community, and Regional Planning
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.
Civil engineering majors learn how to use math and science to design big construction projects. Topics covered include the calculation of how much weight a structure will hold and the environmental issues that surround construction.
The first Homo sapiens who put a bunch of sticks together to get a roof over their heads were, in a way, civil engineers. Today’s civil engineers have more responsibility than ever. They build skyscrapers that reach thousands of feet in the air. They hang suspension bridges that support tons of cars and trucks each day. They create water systems that support millions of city dwellers. If you study civil engineering, you’ll learn what you need to know to work on the projects that make modern life possible.
Ecology majors study the web of living and nonliving things in an environment to understand how the whole system works.
If you’ve ever gotten so caught up in details that you’ve lost sight of the big picture, then you know what people mean when they say you can’t see the forest for the trees.
But when ecologists get to work, they not only look at the trees, they look at the animals, the rocks, the soil, and the air. In short, they look at the forest -- the whole picture of a given area.
As an electrical engineering major, you’ll study electricity: how it works, how it’s generated, and how it’s used to power everything from lightbulbs and radios to cell phones and robots. You’ll also learn how to design your own electric-powered projects.
Imagine a blackout. You’re in the dark and without the gadgets you normally take for granted. There’s no better time to appreciate electricity.
As an electrical engineering major, you’ll go far beyond an appreciation of the awesome powers of the electron. You’ll learn how to harness that power and use it to perform a few miracles of your own invention.
Emergency Management/Homeland Security
Students in this major learn the techniques and develop the leadership skills they need to protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
New York’s firefighters were hailed for their heroic efforts on 9/11. But all levels of government -- from the White House to the mayor of New Orleans -- were attacked when Hurricane Katrina hit. Why didn’t the government respond faster? Why wasn’t the area better protected against floods? Why were so many left stranded? These are the kinds of questions you’ll consider if you choose this major.
Students in environmental engineering learn to design, develop, and evaluate structures, equipment, and systems that protect the environment from the effects of human activity and that improve public health and well-being.
We humans have a long history of polluting our air, water, and soil. This contamination not only hurts nature, but is dangerous to people. Luckily, environmental engineers are on the job. They use math and science to clean up the messes we've made and prevent new ones from happening. For example, they might figure out how to clean up toxic material that has seeped into the ground at an old gas station or design an effective way to treat wastewater.
If you choose this major, you’ll study a wide range of subjects. Besides learning the basics of engineering, you’ll also take courses in the life and social sciences so you can understand environmental problems in all their complexity.
Students of environmental science learn how the physical and biological processes that shape the natural world interact. They also look at how we affect nature and come up with solutions to environmental problems.
When coal and oil are burned, they form acids that fall to the earth as rain. Acid rain can do a lot of damage, such as killing off living things in lakes. Scientists figured out, however, that lakes on limestone rock were less affected than others. Why? Limestone weakens acid. So as a short-term solution, scientists added lime to lakes where it doesn't occur naturally.
No single science was enough to come up with this solution -- it took experts in biology, chemistry, geology, and other sciences. If you major in environmental science, you'll learn to use the ideas and methods of a number of biological and physical sciences to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Students of environmental studies use what they learn in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to understand environmental problems. They look at how we interact with the natural world and come up with ideas for how we can prevent its destruction.
We use cars to get to work, run errands, and visit friends. Most of these cars run on gas, but the oil we use to make gas is running out. What’s more, drilling for oil destroys natural areas, and burning gas creates pollution. Other ways to power cars, such as electricity, ethanol, and biodiesel, already exist. So why isn't everyone using these energy sources?
To answer this and other important environmental questions, you’ll need to draw on the ideas of many fields, such as science, economics, and politics. If you major in environmental studies, you’ll learn how.
Fishing and Fisheries
Students in this major learn about the biology and ecology of fish and shellfish and study the areas where they live. They also examine the ways we produce, manage, and use these animals to ensure their protection.
Almost every species of Pacific salmon is endangered or threatened. One way to make sure that salmon survive is to limit the number of fish that can be caught. However, people depend on fishing for salmon to make a living, and their needs must also be considered. What's more, overfishing is only one piece of the puzzle. Development -- from new highways to power-producing dams -- as well as pollution can disrupt the salmon's life cycle.
If you choose this major, you'll learn to look at the big picture and use methods from the biological, physical, and social sciences to make sure that fish populations, like the Pacific salmon, remain healthy.
Students in this major learn how to manage and develop forests for varied purposes, from the production of wood products to recreation to preserving biodiversity (the variety of living things in an area).
By 2004, there were 200,000 acres in
If you go into forestry, you'll have to balance growing trees for wood products with preserving the variety of living things in an area. To meet challenges like these, you'll have to combine ideas from the life, physical, and social sciences and be a strong communicator.
Geography majors study how space on the earth’s surface is placed and used. Students who concentrate on physical geography focus on the land itself, studying such topics as climate, soil, and water. Cultural, or human, geography explores the relationship between people and the land.
If you think geography is all about staring at maps and memorizing state capitols, you couldn’t be more wrong. As a geography major, you’ll study a wide variety of subjects: deserts in the making, the causes of racially segregated housing, the paths of tornados, and the way international trade agreements affect business in a small town.
As one senior geography major put it, “What we study is how the world works. Is there anything more important or more engaging than that?”
Geology students look at the earth and the forces acting upon it, including the solids, liquids, and gasses that make it up. Study includes such topics as historical geology, rock and soil chemistry, and the use of minerals in industry.
If you study geology, you’ll learn about the Earth's treasures, such as fossils and gems, as well as its dangers, such as volcanoes and earthquakes.
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.
Marine biology majors study the creatures that live in the oceans. They also look at the habitats and ecological environments in which these organisms live.
Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface. And while their surfaces often look smooth, the oceans are teeming with life. Oceans provide animal habitat all the way down to the ocean floor. Since oceans are, on average, over 2.5 miles deep, this means that they contain 99.5 percent of our planet's livable habitat. Within that vast space, the oceans are filled with a huge range of microscopic organisms, animals, and plant life.
If you major in marine biology, you’ll learn how this life thrives in the oceans. You’ll study such subjects as the chemical makeup of water, the ocean’s geology, marine mammals, fish, plants, and biological habitats.
Students of marine sciences study all aspects of the ocean, making use of both the biological and the physical sciences.
How do oceans affect global climate patterns? Why have coral reef diseases begun to multiply? And why are more sea lions having miscarriages? As a student of marine sciences, you'll examine questions like these. Although your focus in this interdisciplinary major will be the ocean, you'll also study its complex relationship with life on land.
As a materials engineering major, you’ll use math and science to study ceramics, metals, polymers (such as glass, rubber, and plastic), and other materials. You’ll learn how to invent and manufacture new materials.
In 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of
High-tech gear like that wouldn’t be possible without modern materials. Everything is made out of something, whether cotton, titanium, or GORE-TEX -- materials engineering majors study that something.
Natural Resources and Conservation
Natural resources majors learn how to save natural areas and the plants and animals that live in them. They study how to use natural resources, such as trees, in ways that won’t harm the environment.
What does wood for building homes have in common with water for drinking? They both are natural resources, and they both must be managed wisely to protect nature and to ensure the well being of future generations. Animals and plants are also natural resources that must be preserved to keep the planet healthy.
If you choose this major, you’ll learn what it takes to keep a natural area functioning. You’ll also explore smart ways to use nature for recreation and for producing goods. You'll use everything from biology to economics to confront some of the most world’s toughest problems.
Natural Resources Management and Policy
Students in this major learn to plan, develop, manage, and choose between programs that protect natural areas and natural resources, such as trees and water.
As suburbs expand, they often hit the border of natural areas. And if a wildfire breaks out, disaster may follow. How can we preserve nature and protect people? Setting controlled fires to clear out dead brush and prevent bigger fires is one solution. Others feel that cutting down some trees and thinning forests is the way to go. Planning communities more carefully is another solution. Which policy would you choose?
In this major, you'll use what you learn in the life, physical, and social sciences to come up with policies that both preserve the environment and help people.
Nuclear engineering majors study radioactive materials and radiation and learn how to use them in areas such as power, nuclear medicine, and industry.
It wasn’t long ago that scientists first began to split the atom, releasing nuclear energy in a process called fission. Now nuclear energy is used to supply electricity to homes all over the world and may someday be used to power rockets twice as fast as a space shuttle. And in medicine, radiation plays a big role, making possible everything from x-rays to treatments that destroy cancer cells.
Of course, nuclear energy also creates problems, such as the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. As a nuclear engineering major, your studies will go beyond the basics of fission and the benefits of nuclear energy to include its challenges.
Majors in public administration study how administrators enact policy at the local, state, and federal levels.
Whether developing education programs for inner-city youth or working with residents to create a crime-fighting neighborhood watch, public administrators breathe life into public policies.
If you major in public administration, you’ll learn how they do it. You’ll build the skills it takes to bring together diverse groups -- from neighborhood associations to private businesses -- and change communities for the better.
Students of public health prepare for careers evaluating and managing programs that address widespread health threats.
As medicine continues to advance, so do disease and poverty. In recent years we’ve seen the devastating effects worldwide of infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.
If you study public health, you’ll learn how government actions; access (and lack of access) to health care; communication and education; and funding all factor into the spread, treatment, and prevention of disease. Your course work will cover epidemiology (the science concerned with the spread and control of disease), preventive medicine, health economics, and health ethics.
Students of sustainable agriculture learn the concepts and techniques they need to practice and promote farming that is environmentally sound as well as profitable.
If you like your produce organic, you're not alone. There's a healthy market for products grown without the aid of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides. But how can farmers deliver top-quality food without these tools?
As a student of sustainable agriculture, you'll learn to see agriculture as a partnership with nature. You’ll study earth-friendly techniques like crop rotation -- planting different crops in the same field during different growing seasons. The right combination of crops can have all sorts of benefits. For example, crop rotation can increase soil fertility, prevent erosion, limit disease, interrupt pest growth, and, ultimately, result in a larger harvest.
Urban studies majors use the tools of sociology, economics, and other social sciences to study city life, government, and services. If you choose this major you’ll learn how city dwellers live and behave. You’ll also study the problems they face.
Cities are loud, crowded, concrete jungles, right? But they’re also places full of energy, where great thinkers, artists, and leaders come together and give birth to new and exciting creative movements and ideas.
Urban studies majors learn what makes city culture unique and how urban areas respond to problems and events. You’ll ask yourself many questions as an urban studies major. For example: How do different neighborhoods develop their own identities? How do the buildings and the layout of a city affect its people? What happens when the need for growth clashes with the need to preserve history? How does living close together affect the way city dwellers interact?
Wildlife, Fish, and Wildlands Science and Management
Students in this major learn to use the physical, life, and social sciences to manage animals, plants, and their habitats (the areas where they live) for recreation, business, and preservation.
Elk go to wildlife refuges to find food each fall. If a refuge gets overcrowded, disease can spread among them and plants may get damaged. Is the answer to bring in extra food for the elk? To lower their numbers by allowing hunting? To open a refuge in another location?
If you go into this field, you'll have to make decisions about how to best preserve natural areas and the animals and plants that live in them. This can be tough when the needs of two species conflict and when your choices can determine whether a species survives or dies out.
Zoology majors study animals, their internal workings, and their activities.
Some biologists study plants, others study microbes, and some study fungi, such as mushrooms. But if you want to study living things that move a bit faster, then major in zoology. Zoologists study animals with and without backbones, from worms, insects, and mollusks to fish, birds, and, of course, mammals.
If you choose this major, you’ll study the whole organism. But you’ll also look at its parts, from the chemical makeup of its body to its cells and organs. In addition, you’ll study whole populations of species and the ways animals adapt to their environments.
Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Managers
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.
Aerospace engineers design all kinds of manned and unmanned aircraft and spacecraft, from small airplanes to satellites. They test and build new designs and work to improve existing machines.
In 1903, the Wright brothers’ first plane flew for twelve seconds and went only 120 feet. Today, aerospace engineers are working on supersonic ramjets. These scramjets, as they’re called, will take you from New York to Tokyo in only two hours. That’s a lot of progress for one century.
As an aerospace engineer, you could build satellites or defense systems. You could make airplanes faster and safer. You could design a spacecraft, a space station, or an explorer robot like the Mars-roving Spirit. If looking up at the sky starts you thinking about how to get there, you could be one of tomorrow’s aerospace engineers.
Agricultural and Food Scientists
Agricultural scientists study farm crops and animals to improve their quality and yield. Food scientists research foods and develop new ways to preserve and package them.
In the old days, you sprinkled a lot of salt on your meat, hung it in your attic, and hoped for the best.
Today, thanks to agricultural and food scientists, we find an incredible range of choices on supermarket shelves. Even during the coldest months, we enjoy fruits and vegetables kept fresh by food preservation techniques, such as special plastic bags. And when we eat ice cream, we know exactly how much fat we’re digesting.
Agricultural engineers use science and math to meet agricultural challenges. They help farms grow better and more food, look for ways to conserve soil and water, and design tools and equipment.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it took four farmers to grow enough food for ten people. By the end of the century, one farmer could feed one hundred.
Agricultural engineers have contributed to this dramatic improvement. They’ve invented machinery, improved production systems, and found ways to grow healthier and stronger plants.
Air Traffic Controllers
Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic, making sure that planes stay a safe distance apart during takeoff, in the air, and during landing.
While pilots might have the most glamorous job in the sky, it’s certainly not the only important one. Air traffic controllers are the men and women who sit above the tarmac in the control tower, managing traffic that no simple stoplight can handle.
They’re responsible for keeping order on busy runways and preventing crashes in the air. Some controllers direct traffic at the airport, while others direct traffic between airports.
Aircraft and Avionics Technicians
Aircraft and avionics technicians inspect and repair airplanes and helicopters.
The pilot is not the only person who keeps you safe during a flight. Aircraft and avionics technicians maintain and repair everything from radar to landing gear.
Avionics technicians specialize in navigation, radio, radar systems, and other electronic and computer instruments and controls. Aircraft technicians check for wear and tear, using x-ray or magnetic equipment to look for cracks and punctures invisible to the human eye.
Aircraft pilots fly for commercial airlines, but they also deliver cargo, dust crops, spread seed for reforestation, give skydivers a lift, and pull advertising streamers. They might also test aircraft, direct fire-fighting efforts, monitor traffic, or even track criminals.
Imagine a job where, on any given day, you could find yourself in Paris, Tokyo, or New Delhi. Now imagine yourself in command of one top-notch, state-of-the-art piece of machinery -- a 747, for example, which can cruise through the clouds at 570 miles per hour.
Of course, sitting in the cockpit isn’t all fun and games. It’s serious stuff. Pilots are responsible for taking people from point A to point B -- safely. That’s why piloting is a profession requiring exceptional skill and lots of training.
Animal caretakers make sure that animals are clean, healthy, and happy.
Do you enjoy taking care of your pets? Have you always felt a special bond with animals? Becoming an animal caretaker is one way you can turn your interest in animals into a career.
The job might involve long hours and tough physical labor, but it’s important work: if an animal gets sick, the caretaker is often the first to know. And the close relationships you develop with the animals under your care can make that work deeply satisfying.
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 and Archaeologists
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.
Aquaculturists raise fish and shellfish for commercial purposes, such as food and recreational fishing.
The demand for seafood is growing. However, overfishing has caused a decline in many species of fish and shellfish. That's why aquaculturists raise fish and shellfish for food and sport fishing in fisheries, such as ponds and floating pens. These agricultural specialists make sure that fish are healthy and safe for eating.
Some aquaculturists work in natural environments, like coastal areas, to ensure these sites are fished in responsibly. That way, they'll continue to produce fish and shellfish in the future.
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.
Biological scientists study living organisms like animals, plants, and microbes. They also examine their relationships to the environment and other living things.
We have always been interested in the living world around us. To survive, we had to understand which animals and plants were dangerous to us and which were good to eat.
Today’s biologists still study living organisms, but they do so using the modern methods of science. These scientists of life look not only at plants and animals but also at microbes, microscopic organisms invisible to the naked eye. Biologists work in such fields as biochemistry, aquatic biology, botany, microbiology, zoology, and ecology.
Biomedical engineers design and develop devices and systems -- from artificial organs to medical equipment -- that solve health problems.
In 2001, a doctor in the U.S. performed gall bladder surgery on a woman in France. Strange, but true. The surgeon used a remote to control a robotic arm that performed the actual work on the patient.
The surgical robotic arm is an exciting biomedical engineering achievement. But it’s far from the only one. Biomedical engineers work to make prostheses (artificial body parts) better, diagnostic procedures more accurate, and drugs easier to take. Thanks to biomedical engineers, becoming healthy and staying that way is getting easier every day.
Chemical engineers use chemistry to bridge the gap between scientific invention and manufactured goods.
Chemical engineers know that there’s more to creating a great product than coming up with a new idea. They figure out how to turn new ideas into products that can be mass-produced.
Whether they’re making perfume with a fragrance that lasts or cookies that taste homemade or tape that sticks in the rain, chemical engineers are using their understanding of chemicals and chemical reactions.
Chemists and Materials Scientists
Chemists research chemicals -- the building blocks of all materials. Materials scientists conduct research on the structures and compositions of materials.
You may not realize it, but the products of chemistry play a big role in our daily lives. Chemists and materials scientists create the building blocks for medicines like Prozac or products such as plastic bags. Even the chocolate, marshmallow, and banana flavors of the processed food you eat were created in a lab by food chemists.
Chemists and materials scientists working in applied research come up with new products for industrial, commercial, and medical use.
Child, Family, and School Social Workers
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.
Civil engineers design, plan, and run large building projects, such as bridges, buildings, roads, dams, and water-supply systems.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing. And it does make people wonder: How did the Egyptians, working over forty-five hundred years ago, ever manage to build it? With a base that spreads over 13.1 acres and a height of 481 feet, it would be quite a project even today. Yet the Egyptians engineered ways to meet the huge challenges they faced. And they did it all without power tools, computers, trucks, or even pulleys.
Today’s civil engineers have it a lot easier, but their projects are no less fascinating. They help construct the wonders of the modern world.
Community Organizers and Activists
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.
Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer hardware engineers design and develop computer hardware, such as computer chips, circuit boards, modems, and printers. They also test hardware and supervise its installation.
In the 1940s, high tech meant the ENIAC computer. What did the room-sized machine do? It could do five thousand additions and subtractions per second. It solved equations. And that’s all it did. In other words, ENIAC was a gigantic calculator.
If you’re using a typical computer today, you could be doing research, writing a report, instant-messaging a friend, and listening to music -- all at the same time. Thanks to computer hardware engineers, computers can do a lot more than they used to. And they’ve gotten smaller and faster, too.
Computer scientists come up with new ways of improving computers. They often work on a more abstract level than other computer professionals.
Imagine a time when computers didn’t impact our daily lives. Now imagine new ways that computers will influence our lives in the future. How can they make your life easier, safer, healthier, and richer? Computer scientists are searching for the answers.
Computer scientists are thinkers, designers, architects, and innovators. In a world where success is measured by speed, efficiency, and access, computer scientists are inventing new languages, tools, and methods so that computers will continue to enhance our lives in new ways.
Conservation scientists manage natural resources, such as rangeland and water. They develop programs that both make resources productive and protect them.
How do you manage a ranch so that it supports the most cattle while maintaining the land so wildlife can live there? Solving this type of issue is the job of a range manager. A soil conservationist, on the other hand, might figure out how to restore farmland where the soil has been worn away. A water conservationist may look at how to assure a clean water supply for a growing town.
All of these scientists make complex decisions to come up with plans that balance economic goals with environmental impact -- and meet government regulations.
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 and Building Inspectors
Construction and building inspectors examine new and old structures to make sure that they are built soundly and follow building codes and other laws.
As a construction or building inspector, you’ll carry a lot of responsibility. You will inspect the construction sites of homes, office buildings, bridges, and other structures to decide if the builders are following the building code and if the structure is safe. Specialists called home inspectors look closely at homes that people hope to buy. Their verdict on a home’s foundation, electrical system, or overall safety can make or break a sale.
You have to know a lot about construction materials and methods, electrical and mechanical systems, and building code to work as an inspector. And you won’t learn everything at school; you’ll need several years’ experience in construction before you begin this career.
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.
Crop farmers till, plant, fertilize, cultivate, harvest, and sell a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and cotton.
You might grow heirloom tomatoes in Pennsylvania or acres of wheat in Kansas. Either way, you’ll have to know what your plants need, from water to fertilizer. And that’s not all. You’ll also need to know how to run a business, finding buyers and hiring workers.
Farming involves a thousand different tasks, but there’s satisfaction in making things grow and knowing that you’re helping to feed the people of the world.
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.
Dairy farmers breed, care for, and milk dairy cows. They also process the milk for drinking or for use in other dairy products.
Got milk? Dairy farmers do -- with the help of a herd of milk-producing cows, that is. Some dairy farmers sell milk only, but others process their milk into groceries like cheese, ice cream, and butter.
While in movies dairy farmers may squeeze milk from teats by hand, in real life the process is high-tech. Thanks to health and sanitary regulations, dairy farmers now use special equipment that protects milk from germs.
Dentists prevent, diagnose, and treat health problems of the mouth. Most dentists are general practitioners, but some specialize in areas such as orthodontics (straightening teeth with braces) and endodontics (providing root canal treatment).
Dentists search for the culprits behind pain and disease. They delve into countless mouths to remove tooth decay, fill cavities, and repair fractured teeth. They also perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones. And among their less serious but more popular tasks is the whitening and reshaping of teeth to enhance their patients' smiles.
Like other health care professionals, dentists also work to prevent disease. They inspire their patients to do so as well, encouraging healthy diets and good oral hygiene.
Drafters create technical drawings and plans that are used in construction, architecture, and engineering. Their drawings show details and dimensions, explain procedures, and list materials.
You’ve probably heard of Leonardo da Vinci as the artist who painted the Mona Lisa. But did you know that he was also a highly skilled draftsman? An engineer, scientist, and architect, da Vinci produced many more drafts of his scientific ideas than actual paintings. His notebooks contain designs for mechanical weapons, diving suits, seacraft, and a flying machine.
Today’s drafters have it a lot easier than da Vinci did in the fifteenth century. Computers allow drafters to change their drawings, make copies, and fill in details in seconds. They can make 3-D models and preview the whole construction process. That’s a big help when you’re making plans for everything from bridges and skyscrapers to toys and toasters.
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.
Electrical engineers develop and oversee electrical systems and equipment. They work with everything from power grids to computers and telephones to cars.
Turn on a light. Turn on a computer. Turn on a TV. Rev your engine, if you have one. Do you wonder why it works? Do you ever take apart a new gadget when you get it? Or look at something and think, “Hey, I can make that do more”?
If you’re intrigued by the machines around you and the power that makes them run, you have a lot in common with electrical engineers.
Electronics technicians install, care for, and repair electronic equipment.
As an electronics technician, you might service the industrial controls on a factory floor. Or you might repair missile control systems for the government. Or you could specialize in cars and trucks, installing and repairing sound and alarm systems.
Wherever your future takes you, you’ll be working with computer programs, automated systems, and, of course, electricity. Many industries today, from manufacturing to telecommunications, depend on electrical equipment -- as well as the people who keep that equipment running safely and efficiently.
Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers
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.
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Under the supervision of a doctor, EMTs and paramedics manage medical emergencies outside of a hospital. EMTs are classified as either first responders, basic, intermediate, or paramedics, depending on their level of training and experience.
Your day -- or night -- of work might include helping a homeless person, stabilizing an asthma attack, and responding to possible domestic violence. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are a special breed: they think on their feet, stay calm, and assess health risks in an emergency.
Paramedics are the most highly trained EMTs. They give drugs intravenously (through the veins), operate defibrillators and other specialized equipment, and can be involved in a patient’s move from ambulance to emergency room.
Engineering and Science Managers
Engineering managers oversee engineers, scientists, and technicians who design and develop machinery, products, and systems. Science managers direct the research and development projects of life and physical scientists.
Whether checking the work done by an engineer or directing a team of medical scientists on a biomedical project, engineering and science managers work on two levels at once.
Understanding complex science and math concepts is only the beginning. They also need to know how to translate those concepts to customers. And they use management skills to help the engineers and scientists they work with meet deadlines and complete projects.
Engineering technicians use math, science, and engineering skills to work on a variety of projects in a wide range of fields. They have less responsibility than engineers and their work is more hands-on.
Engineering technicians help turn ideas into reality. Assisting engineers or scientists, or working on their own, they use their technical skills to come up with practical solutions to a variety of problems.
Depending on their specialty and work setting, their duties include everything from setting up and maintaining equipment in a research lab to drafting plans for new designs on a computer to inspecting an assembly line.
Environmental educators develop and teach programs about nature for people of all ages.
Are you passionate about nature and eager to pass that love on to others? Environmental educators, also known as naturalists and interpreters, teach students about natural resources.
Environmental educators might do their teaching outside, while hiking, canoeing, or sitting around a campfire, for example. They often work for the government, schools, and nonprofit organizations in camps, parks, nature centers, environmental programs, and museums. Being in beautiful settings and participating in outdoor activities are two of the bonuses of this job. However, most opportunities are part-time, short-term, and low paying.
Environmental engineers use math and science to address environmental challenges such as hazardous waste and pollution. They also study the impact on the environment of proposed construction projects.
Back in 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt stressed the importance of treating our natural resources well. He said that we must pass them on to the next generation improved -- not impaired.
Environmental engineers work toward that goal. They help cities and construction companies find ways to build that don’t damage the environment. They help to clean up environmental problems from the past. They work with factories so they pollute less. Environmental engineers do their part to make sure that the earth will be in good condition for those who live here tomorrow.
Environmental scientists use ideas from the life and physical sciences to protect natural resources, such as forests and water.
Environmental scientists use their expertise to protect natural resources. If you're interested in chemistry, you might examine how certain chemicals affect plants, animals, and people. If you're interested in ecology, you might research the way rainfall, temperature, pollutants, and human activity affect an area.
As our population grows, we will need environmental scientists to preserve water, give advice on land-use and building projects, study and design sites for waste disposal, control pollution, and repair damaged natural areas. Whatever your focus, you'll work to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world today.
Exhibit Designers and Museum Technicians
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.
Federal law enforcement agents work to stop violations of federal law, from bank robbery to drug trafficking and terrorist activity.
With September 11, 2001, behind us and the constant threat of terrorism ahead, the FBI reports a “critical need” for more special agents -- and that’s just one of many roles you could play in this profession. As a federal agent, you could investigate corporate scandals, work to stop drug smuggling, search luggage for bombs, and much more. And you’ll have to be good at keeping secrets: the job requires confidentiality at all costs.
Foreign Service Officers
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.
Foresters and Forestry Technicians
Foresters develop, manage, use, and protect woodlands and other natural resources, such as water. Forestry technicians help foresters, mostly doing hands-on work outdoors, such as fighting fires or caring for trees in a nursery.
How do you manage a forest so that people can enjoy it for recreation while the needs of the wildlife in the area are also met? How do you protect a forest's water supply while ensuring that it produces a good harvest of trees for a timber company? Foresters often have to make tough decisions to come up with plans that balance economic goals with environmental impact -- all while meeting government regulations.
Geographers analyze the use of space on the earth's surface and the effects of that use. They specialize in many areas, including economic geography, cultural geography, and physical geography.
The next time you take a trip, volunteer as navigator and try using a map to figure out the best way to get there from here. The next time you walk by a construction site, ask yourself questions like these: Why is this spot right for this building? Are there physical factors, such as the presence of a hill? How about economic and political reasons, such as a lack of low-income housing in the area?
If you're interested in such questions and activities, you might enjoy working as a geographer. Geographers tackle a wide variety of tasks, from research to mapmaking to advising cities on how best to use land. As a geographer, your work will reach beyond the land to include the people who use it.
Surveyors use measurements to determine land, air, and water boundaries. Surveying technicians help them by making measurements out in the field. Cartographers make maps using physical, social, and historical information. Photogrammetrists use aerial photos to fill in details on maps.
How high is Mount Everest? To find out, you need only turn to the nearest encyclopedia or computer. But the answer wasn’t always so easy to come by. It wasn’t until 1852, during the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, that the mountain was recognized as the world’s highest peak. As you can guess from the survey’s name, math played a key role in the work of the surveyors.
Geographic specialists (including surveyors, cartographers, surveying technicians, and photogrammetrists) use math as well as computers, aerial photography, and even satellites to measure and map the globe. They also help construction teams and property owners find the best places to build.
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
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."
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.
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.
Industrial engineers consider factors such as location, inventory, and the needs of workers to create systems that help businesses and other organizations run better.
Suppose you had a great idea for a new product. Even better, suppose a lot of people wanted to buy it. First, congratulations! Second, how are you going to make it? How many workers will you need? How many items can they produce? What kind of system will help them make more? What kinds of parts will they need to make it? How much should you keep on hand?
An industrial engineer can help you answer these questions. Or, if answering questions like these sounds like an interesting challenge, you could become one.
Industrial Production Managers
The industrial production manager is in charge of planning, budgeting, and monitoring a plant's production schedule.
Though much of today’s manufacturing is now done by factories overseas, there are still a number of manufacturing plants in the United States. Many of these factories involve complicated systems of machinery, computers, and workers.
The industrial production manager is the person in charge of day-to-day operations, making sure it all works together as quickly and cheaply as possible, while still turning out a quality product.
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.
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.
Materials engineers find ways to use and improve existing materials and then come up with new ones. They work with metals, ceramics and glass, plastics, and other natural and synthetic materials.
Did you ever wonder why rubber bands stretch and string doesn’t? Which would help your golf game more, a club with a graphite shaft or one of steel? What makes something waterproof? Would you build a bridge in a cold climate out of the same material as you would in a hot place?
These are the kinds of questions that materials engineers answer. They find -- or make -- the right materials for the job.
Mechanical engineers develop, build, care for, and improve tools, machines, and systems.
Every day you come in contact with many machines. There’s the clock radio that wakes you up, and the car, bus, or bike you take to school. You use calculators, computers, stereos, and phones throughout the day. Finally, you come home and use the microwave, stove, refrigerator, and electric can opener as you help with dinner.
Our lives are a lot easier today, thanks to the mechanical engineers who imagined and built these tools. In a world where we depend on machines more than ever before, mechanical engineers keep things running.
Medical and Public Health Social Workers
Medical and public health social workers help people cope with serious illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and AIDS.
Our society hates to think about illness and death. We want to imagine that we'll live forever -- young and pain-free.
Medical and public health social workers are among those rare beings willing to look illness and death in the face. Sure, they do all they can to help people get well -- but when illness is terminal (deadly), they turn their attention to helping their clients die peacefully.
Meteorologists are scientists who study the atmosphere. They examine its effects on the environment, predict the weather, or investigate climate trends.
We see them in action every evening as they forecast the future -- or at least tell us how likely it is to rain. They’re meteorologists.
But most people in this profession do not work in front of a camera. The biggest employer of meteorologists is, in fact, a government agency, the National Weather Service. And there are also plenty of businesses that hire meteorologists to help them make decisions based on the weather. Those who don’t forecast the weather conduct research, studying the atmosphere, climatic changes, or environmental problems.
Mining and Geological Engineers
Mining and geological engineers help find deposits of coal, metals, and minerals. They also design mines and mining equipment for bringing these materials to the earth. And they solve safety and environmental problems related to mining.
A lot has changed since the nineteenth century when the forty-niners panned for gold in California. Mining and geological engineers now use satellite photography and variations in the earth’s magnetic field to find new deposits of minerals. They use machines that can remove 10.8 metric tons of coal per minute.
But it’s not just about the tools. Today’s mining pros are also finding ways to mine that are safer for both mine workers and the environment.
News Analysts, Reporters, and Correspondents
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.
Nuclear engineers find ways to use nuclear energy (produced when atoms split or, potentially, when they fuse) and radiation.
No longer the stuff of science fiction, nuclear power provides electricity for much of the world, and scientists are even working on nuclear-powered rockets. What’s more, radiation has many medical uses. It allows us to treat cancer and to see inside the human body without surgery.
Nuclear engineers still face many challenges, however. What should we do with the radioactive waste created by nuclear reactors? How can we prevent accidents at nuclear reactors? If you become a nuclear engineer, you can join in the search for solutions.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Nuclear medicine technologists give patients radiopharmaceuticals and then make images of the drugs as they collect in the inner organs. Physicians use these images to diagnose illness.
Radiation is a fascinating form of energy. Despite its dangers, it is a powerful part of today’s medical efforts. It can reveal tiny parts of the body, such as blood vessels in the kidney or liver, without surgery.
Nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs) use drugs that give off radiation and complex equipment to make images of internal organs. Doctors then look at the images to find out what’s wrong with their patients. The work of NMTs is precise and exacting because lives depend on it.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists promote better health and safety in work environments and prevent harm to workers and the general public. They also enforce air quality and environmental regulations.
As an occupational health and safety specialist, your job will be to make sure that working conditions are as safe as possible. You may inspect and enforce safety standards on assembly lines or protect workers against biohazardous waste in hospitals. You may inspect safety standards at nuclear power plants or within public schools.
The job may also require studying, redesigning, and updating working environments. And if an accident occurs, occupational health and safety specialists help investigate possible causes and recommend corrective action.
Park rangers carry out plans to manage natural resources, enforce rules, and educate the public to ensure the protection of natural resources and cultural and historical monuments.
Park rangers protect natural resources and historical and cultural monuments. They work in places across the country, from Alcatraz and the Grand Canyon to the Everglades and the Statue of Liberty. Most do everything from supervising park staff to teaching the public to value the site’s resources.
After getting experience in the field, a ranger might specialize. With a focus on conserving natural resources, for example, a ranger might replant native grasses on a prairie or test water samples to find the source of pollution. Whatever their duties, rangers need to be able to communicate well with the public.
Petroleum engineers search for oil and gas. They design ways to remove as much as possible from the earth and to turn it into fuel we can use.
The United States gets about 63 percent of its energy from oil and natural gas. That means that there’s a constant race to find new sources of petroleum and natural gas, get them out of the earth, and process them.
Today’s petroleum engineers are using the latest high-tech equipment to do just that. They keep homes heated, cars running, and stoves burning.
Pharmacists prepare and distribute medications prescribed by doctors and other health practitioners. They advise patients on the drugs they take and make sure that they avoid dangerous drug interactions.
When you imagine pharmacists at work, do you see them counting out pills and filling bottles? That’s actually only a small part of a pharmacist’s job.
These professionals play a key role in the treatment of disease. They advise both doctors and patients about the dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. In fact, pharmacists don’t only work at the corner drugstore. You’ll also find them researching new medications for drug companies or monitoring drug therapy at hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health institutions.
Physicists and Astronomers
Physicists study the laws and structures of all that exists in the universe, including gravity and other natural forces. Astronomers use physics to study space and the bodies within it, like planets and stars.
The Milky Way galaxy is a collection of billions of stars, including our planet, our moon, and our sun at its outer edge. Physicists and astronomers use the theories of physics to study the galaxy and everything in it, from the mysterious black holes that may result when giant stars collapse to the movement of electrons.
Of course, no one physicist or astronomer studies everything in the galaxy. If you choose this field, you’ll specialize in an area such as nuclear physics or astrobiology. As an astronomer or physicist, you’ll come up with your own theories and create experiments to see if they’re correct.
Pig and Poultry Farmers
Pig and poultry farmers raise pigs or chickens and other fowl for maximum health and yield, making sure they meet health regulations.
While an egg may be the most beautifully simple design in nature, producing one is no simple task. Laying hens need the right mix of nutrients, lighting, ventilation, and water to produce a good egg. Like poultry farmers, pig farmers must make sure their animals get the food, water, and medicine they need.
Many pig and poultry farmers are finding a new niche, specializing in organic chickens or pigs, offering free-range eggs or hormone-free pork to shoppers.
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.
Preserve managers oversee the care of land set aside to protect natural resources. They also represent preserve owners to the public.
Preserve managers care for land that’s been set aside to protect natural resources, such as trees and animals. They use a wide range of skills, from a grasp of science to a talent for communication.
In this field, you'll oversee people who gather data on plants and animals and restore the land and water on your preserve. You'll write reports on research findings. And you'll deal with administrative duties, such as supervising staff, and write brochures and other materials for the public. You'll also get your hands dirty, repairing equipment, maintaining trails, and removing plants that aren't native to the area.
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.
Public Interest Advocates
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
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.
Ranchers raise cattle for beef, sheep for wool and meat, and other hoofed animals.
The invention of barbed wire in 1874 changed the landscape of the West from open range patrolled by roaming cowboys to the ranches we know today. The life of a rancher has changed, too. Overgrazing has led to more environmental regulations and a growing interest in raising nontraditional animals such as bison.
But it doesn’t matter whether you raise Holstein cattle or llamas. You’ll still be responsible for the health of your animals and the profitability of your business.
Sales engineers use their background in engineering to sell complex products and services. They also help customers choose, customize, and, troubleshoot products.
Suppose you own a toy factory. You have many decisions to make: Which electronic parts will give your toys that added zing? Should you use polystyrene or polyethylene to package them? And just how much RAM do your managers need in their computers?
Don’t worry -- you’ll get plenty of help from sales engineers who, in their efforts to sell products, will advise you on the details of each purchase decision.
Science technicians focus on the practical matters of scientific experimentation and research. They maintain equipment and instruments, record data, and help scientists calculate results and draw conclusions.
When you think of science, do you imagine a complex chemistry experiment complete with test tubes, beakers, and flasks? Or maybe you see a large radio telescope, scanning the sky for signs of alien intelligence.
Science technicians maintain complicated instruments like these and make sure that experiments run smoothly.
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.
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
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.
Veterinarians prevent, diagnose, and treat illness in small animals (such as cats and dogs), large animals (such as horses and cows), or both. They may also research diseases and their cures.
If you’ve ever pulled a thorn from a dog’s paw, you know the satisfaction that comes from making an animal feel better. But if you’ve ever given a cat a pill, you also know that it’s not easy to tell an animal what’s best for it.
As a veterinary student, you’ll learn about more than the health problems of animals. You'll also learn how to diagnose patients who can’t explain their own symptoms.
You may be surprised to learn that people skills are a must for veterinarians. That's because for every animal a vet treats, there's a human standing by. In fact, one of the hardest things vets have to do is tell someone it’s time to let go of a sick pet.
Veterinary technologists and technicians help veterinarians provide medical care to animals and run veterinary practices. Veterinary technologists also work in research laboratories with scientists.
Veterinary technologists and technicians don’t go through the many years of medical and scientific training that veterinarians do, but they work just as closely with animals.
Much like nurses who help doctors during surgeries and make sure that patients are comfortable, veterinary techs assist veterinarians. They do so in a variety of ways, from vaccinating dogs and x-raying cats to sterilizing medical instruments and cleaning cages.
Wildlife technicians perform many duties to gather data on animals and to carry out management plans for wildlife and natural areas.
Wildlife technicians do whatever it takes to help wildlife biologists and conservation scientists. These scientists make management decisions about wild animals and natural resources. Technicians help them gather data and carry out their plans.
As a wildlife technician, you might track, trap, and tag animals or take surveys of them from a small plane. You might plant native grasses to restore a natural area or extract eggs in a fish hatchery. You might travel on snowshoes, work on a boat, or handle an all-terrain vehicle. Whatever tasks you do, you'll help wildlife professionals make smart decisions that will affect the Earth's future.