Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Explore the relationships between AP courses, majors, and careers based on your choice.
AP Course: AP Microeconomics
Skills You'll Learn
AP can get you on your path
Related Majors and Careers
Accounting majors learn how to gather, record, analyze, interpret, and communicate information about an individual’s or organization’s financial performance and risks.
If you're a big baseball fan, you know that keeping track of how well your favorite team plays and predicting how it will do in the future is part of the fun. In businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits, accountants often engage in very similar activity.
Not simply bean counters, accountants analyze financial information and consult with upper management about important business decisions. Of course, some accountants also keep the books, recording every financial transaction.
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.
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.
Aviation management and operations majors learn the business and management skills they’ll need to run the complex activities of the aviation industry.
Airports are often compared to beehives because they’re so busy. Aviation management majors learn management principles that keep these active places, as well as airlines, running safely and smoothly. They study everything from hiring employees to meeting government security regulations to making sure passenger luggage gets to the right place.
Business Administration and Management
This program prepares students to plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities.
With the creation of large factories in the late 1800s came the need to manage large groups of workers. In his 1911 book The Principles of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor addressed that need. He suggested that each worker be trained to do a single task with no wasted effort. His philosophy made such a big impact on the business world that it was nicknamed Taylorism and is still studied today.
Of course, there’s a lot of disagreement about Taylorism: some people argue that it's inhumane, while others celebrate the increased productivity it has led to. As a student in business management, you’ll add your voice to this debate and others like it.
Business majors study the buying, selling, and producing of goods, as well as business organization and accounting. They learn how to use the basic principles and techniques of business in a variety of workplaces.
Handheld computers and cell phones make business dealings easier and faster. But there's a downside. Because these devices are easily lost, there's a risk that private information will fall into the wrong hands. Executives using cell phones in airports or other public places may forget to avoid discussing confidential topics. To make matters worse, competitors could also use technology to listen in.
How can we ensure that the cons of new technology don’t outweigh the pros? If you major in business, you’ll learn a wide range of business skills and study the issues affecting today's business climate.
Economics majors learn about economic theory, economic systems such as capitalism, and mathematical methods. They use their knowledge to analyze how limited resources are made, traded, and used.
As the old song says, money makes the world go 'round. However, without the proper knowledge, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how.
Economics majors learn to decode the systems behind what can often appear impossible to understand. They study economic models and theories to analyze how the seemingly simple acts of buying and selling can be complicated by factors such as taxes, interest rates, inflation, labor disagreements, and even the weather.
Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. Classes cover such topics as educational psychology, school health and safety issues, and the planning of classroom activities.
Do you find yourself reading stories to younger kids or organizing games for your cousins at the family picnic? Do you feel proud when you've explained a difficult math problem to a friend and his face lights up with understanding?
If you major in education, you’ll develop your talents into the skills every teacher needs. You’ll find out how to set up and manage a classroom, design and teach inspiring lessons, and help students succeed no matter what their age, background, or learning style.
Entrepreneurship majors learn how to build, promote, and manage their own businesses. They also learn how to apply their creativity and energy to make existing businesses more productive.
Have you ever said to yourself, “You know, I can think of a better way to do that” -- and then actually done something about it? If so, you already have the basic ingredients for success as an entrepreneur.
These businesspeople do whatever it takes to bring the world the latest products and services -- whether it's the next best computer software or ballpoint pen. Becoming an entrepreneur is one way to improve people’s lives.
Finance majors learn how to make financial decisions for organizations. Course work covers such topics as planning, raising funds, making wise investments, and controlling costs.
The field of finance is largely about helping businesses and other organizations make money. But there's more to that task than meets the eye. As a finance major, you'll learn how to plan for the long term. It’s not enough for a company to be ahead of the pack today -- it has to be successful five, ten, even twenty years down the line.
Managing finances with the future in mind means answering tough questions like these: Can we afford to give employees a raise? Can we spend less on raw materials this year? Is it better to rent or buy office space?
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?”
Hotel and Motel Management
Students in this major learn how to manage hotels, motels, and other lodging businesses such as resorts. Course work covers hospitality law, employee management, financial management, and more.
With the right management, hotels can be a lot more than just a place to sleep. In fact, some become a part of history. The Algonquin in New York City is one such hotel. The great singer Marion Anderson slept there. So did authors Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, and William Faulkner.
But the Algonquin is most famous for the group of writers who lunched there daily for a decade beginning in 1919, dishing out sharp-tongued opinions about the world around them. While others called them the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle.
This program prepares students to provide insurance and risk management services to people, businesses, and other organizations.
Let's say a car company employee hurts her hand on the assembly line. Insurance helps pay for the costs of her lost wages, hospital bills, and so forth. But insurance companies and other businesses want to keep costs down by preventing such accidents in the first place.
This prevention is called risk management -- it’s another way that insurance companies protect against loss and harm. If you major in insurance, you'll learn about helping companies create safe working conditions as well as other aspects of risk management. Classes cover everything from health insurance to pension planning.
International business majors learn how to think globally about the business world. They also learn how to manage multinational businesses and turn local and national companies into international success stories.
Do you want to travel and explore other countries? Are you fascinated by foreign cultures? Maybe you’ve got an idea for a T-shirt that would sell great in China. Or maybe you know of a Swedish recipe that restaurant diners in your hometown would gobble up.
Thinking globally -- and understanding how to bring different cultures together -- is the first step in understanding international business.
Labor and Industrial Relations
Students of labor and industrial relations explore the history, contributions, and problems of working people as well as their relations with employers. Instruction also covers management theory and practice.
It’s no secret that a downturn in the economy affects employees all over the country. But what legal rights do employees have during a recession? Are they still entitled to health care benefits and unemployment insurance? What about worker’s compensation?
Students of labor and industrial relations study employment issues like these so that they’ll be ready to manage personnel issues for a business, union, or other organization. Their studies are interdisciplinary, including courses in everything from psychology to economics.
Marketing majors learn how to create and sell new products and services in ways that will build a large and loyal group of customers.
When Barbie first came onto the scene in 1958, she was unique. Unlike the other dolls on store shelves, Barbie was no child. And playing with her, young girls for generations have acted out visions of their future. Barbie is more than just a plastic doll; she's a fantasy.
As Barbie shows, when people make a purchase, they buy more than a product or service. They also buy something that's harder to put your finger on. Marketing majors learn how to discover the special something that people want and how to convince them that their product has it.
Math majors study quantities, forms, and symbolic logic in such subjects as algebra, geometry, calculus, logic, topology, and number theory.
Most of us are comfortable using everyday math -- when we go shopping, for example. But higher level math, such as calculus, may seem mysterious, a completely unfamiliar language. As a math major, you’ll study this language and learn how to use it to describe the world. You’ll explore calculus, modern algebra, and other high-level math in the purest light.
If you love to solve math problems just to know the answer and enjoy using abstract concepts to discover whether something is true or false, this could be the major for you.
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.
Operations management majors learn how to manage the development, production, and manufacturing of products and services. Topics of study include factory management, labor relations, and quality control.
Hamburgers didn’t become one of the world’s most popular foods just because they taste good -- although that didn’t hurt. Fast food got a big boost in 1954, when Ray Kroc franchised the McDonald brothers’ restaurants. He came up with the idea of using assembly lines to turn out cheap, identical burgers.
Operations management majors learn from success stories like Kroc’s. Their goal? To become experts on getting the best products and services to consumers as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Political Science and Government
Political science and government majors study the systems people set up to organize their societies, from neighborhoods to nations.
Politics affects the air we breathe, the schools we attend, the jobs we do, the communities we live in, and the taxes we pay. If you choose this major, you’ll learn the principles at work behind the decisions that affect every aspect of our lives.
Whether they're conservative or liberal, cynical or idealistic, one common characteristic among political science and government majors is their addiction to politics. If active engagement in the political system is for you, a political science major is a great way to get started.
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.
Public Policy Analysis
Students of public policy analysis learn various methods for studying proposed solutions to public problems.
Should people be allowed to smoke in bars? This is just one public policy debate taking place across the globe. Legislators and other public officials must decide whether the health benefits of a smoking ban outweigh the money that bars -- and even whole cities -- could lose if smokers take their business elsewhere.
Public policy refers to all of the laws, regulations, and other programs developed by governments to solve problems. And if you major in public policy analysis, you’ll make problem solving your specialty. Along the way, you’ll grapple with some of society’s most urgent issues, such as crime, health care, and the quality of the air we breathe.
Real estate majors learn how to develop, appraise, purchase, and sell land, houses, and buildings.
When you and your friends have game night, do you always want to play Monopoly? And once you’ve snatched up Park Place and Broadway, are you the type of player who will wheel and deal until you’ve built hotels everywhere? If so, you may want to study real estate.
Real estate professionals are the masters of buying and building property all over the world. These business people know how to make investments pay off, and once you graduate you’ll be ready to join them.
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?
Actuaries decide how likely it is that various events will happen. Using their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, they help create insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial plans.
To be alive is to face risks. Some are avoidable. For example, if you want to avoid earthquakes, don't move to California. But some risks are harder to control. People can get sick without warning or wind up in an auto accident. And some hardships are inevitable. Much as we hate to think about it, we all die.
Do you find these facts fascinating, if gruesome? If so, consider a career as an actuary. Actuaries make a profession of studying risk.
Administrative Assistants and Secretaries
Administrative assistants and secretaries provide various office support services.
Administrative assistants and secretaries are talented, versatile people. If you have any doubt, stop by the school office and watch the secretary at work. You'll see him or her juggle a dozen tasks -- signing in a late student, answering the phone, sorting the mail -- all without batting an eye.
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 Sales Agents
Advertising sales agents sell advertising to businesses and other organizations. They sell ad space in newspapers, magazines, direct mail circulars, and telephone directories and on TV, radio, websites, and billboards.
Advertising sales agents hold a wide range of jobs. Local sales agents work for specific media companies, such as newspapers and radio stations, selling ad space or airtime to local businesses. Other agents work in the advertising industry for companies that specialize in selling advertising and work on national ad campaigns. They act as go-betweens, bringing together businesses that need to advertise with media companies that have advertising to sell.
Instead of selling just one kind of advertising, sales agents often sell groups of ads that take advantage of a mix of media. These so-called integrated packages are a growing trend in the ad biz. A single package might include space in a magazine and on a website, along with TV airtime.
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.
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.
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.
Barbers and Hairstylists
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.
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.
Buyers and Purchasers
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.
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 Care Workers
Child care workers care for infants and children in their own homes, in the children's homes, in day care centers, or in preschool programs. They attend to infants' and children's basic needs and organize activities for them to participate in.
At the most basic level, child care workers look after children while parents are at work. They take care of kids' needs for things like food, play, and safety.
While the pay in this field isn’t high, the work offers many other rewards. Child care workers can have a profound and lifelong impact on children, helping them learn how to handle feelings, express themselves, cooperate, and much more. Many children love their child care workers with an intensity usually reserved for family members. And they remember these key adults with respect and appreciation for the rest of their lives.
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 and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers supervise computer professionals as well as technology projects big and small.
How are worms different from viruses, and how can we protect our computer networks against them? Is the latest technology worth paying top dollar for? What’s the best way to sell products online? The computer questions facing businesses are many -- that’s no surprise. But it may surprise you to know that it takes more than computer genius to answer them.
Computer and information systems managers coordinate the work of computer professionals and help top managers make crucial business decisions. And, in some cases, they are top managers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Education administrators provide direction and day-to-day management of day care centers, preschools, schools, and colleges and universities. They also oversee educational programs for other institutions such as museums, businesses, and job-training organizations.
"If you don't settle down, I'll send you to the principal's office!" For eons, it seems, teachers have used this threat to keep order in the classroom. It's not the best advertisement for the job of principal, to say the least.
But in reality, principals -- as well as other education administrators such as assistant principals, school district administrators, and college and university deans -- have highly rewarding and challenging jobs. They aren't simply disciplinarians -- they are the leaders of entire communities of learners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Financial analysts help businesses and other organizations come up with investment strategies to meet their financial goals.
Do you get psyched about stocks and bonds? Is the business section the first place you flip to in the Sunday paper? If so, then you should think about becoming a financial analyst.
If you do, your main responsibility will be spotting stock market trends and keeping tabs on up-and-coming companies. You’ll also make predictions about the economic health of various industries. Why? So you can help businesses make good investment decisions.
Financial managers oversee the monetary concerns of businesses and other organizations.
Is it better to spend the last of the money for senior prom on decorations or food? Is it better to spend more money on the class trip and go to an amusement park or save money and visit a museum?
These are challenging decisions, but if they’re challenges you’d enjoy meeting, then consider becoming a financial manager. In this career, you’ll have to make risky financial decisions -- and convince others that you’re right.
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
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.
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."
Human Resources Managers
Human resources managers help maintain working relationships between employers and employees. They oversee hiring, benefits, salaries, training, and more.
Human resources managers are the backbone of every company. They work with employers and employees. They have a wide range of responsibilities, which include answering questions about the company health plan, helping coworkers work out disagreements, and making sure that supervisors treat employees fairly.
You might work for a small company where you cover all areas of human resources or for a large company where you specialize. Either way, you’ll be responsible for making sure that everyone is happy.
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.
Instructional coordinators measure student learning, train teachers, develop and order educational materials, and help teachers learn how to use new technology. They often specialize in a subject such as math.
While you may never have heard of instructional coordinators, they play a vital role in the school community. They help schools meet government standards for what students achieve and how they achieve it. They keep an eye on student and teacher progress and recommend improvements. They seek out the best books and technology for classrooms and help everyone learn how to use them. Simply put, they help teachers teach and learners learn.
Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents help people and companies choose insurance policies that protect their lives, health, and property.
Insurance sales agents may offer various kinds of insurance or specialize in a specific type of policy, such as health and long-term-care, life, or property insurance. People often get some information online about insurance policies, but many still depend on insurance sales agents to advise them on what type of coverage they need and help them choose which policy will best protect them. And insurance companies depend on these salespeople to bring in a steady stream of customers.
Judges apply the law and oversee the legal process in courts according to local, state, and federal laws. They preside over cases concerning everything from traffic offenses to the rights of huge corporations.
Learned Hand (1872–1961) has been called the greatest American judge never to sit on the Supreme Court. Hand served as a federal district judge in Manhattan and as a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
He was known for taking cases that other judges found too complicated. He was also renowned for being open-minded and fair. In his most famous speech, he defined the spirit of liberty as "the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." Hand's legal opinions are still quoted today.
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.
Management consultants think about ways to increase a company's profits and productivity. Their goal is to make a business more successful and competitive.
Do you get a rush from solving a problem no one else can? Do people come to you for help and advice when they get into complicated situations? If so, you might be cut out for a career as a management consultant.
Companies and other organizations hire management consultants to help them solve some of their biggest problems. Whether they need to build a new website, design a new computer system, or launch a new product, they call on management consultants to save the day.
Market and Survey Researchers
Market and survey researchers both collect information about the public. Market researchers also analyze information, including business statistics.
How much do teens spend on video games? What kinds of movies are most popular with college students? How much is too much for a hot cup of coffee? Market researchers and survey researchers uncover the answers to questions like these. Their methods include everything from telephone and Internet surveys to focus groups to studies of past sales.
Once these answers are discovered, they're used to create better products, ad campaigns, promotions, and more. In short, it’s the mission of market and survey researchers to know everything there is to know about customer satisfaction.
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.
Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate the delivery of health care in doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities. Responsibilities range from managing employees to budgeting to purchasing equipment.
The reason for your visit may well be the only thing on your mind when you go to a clinic or hospital. And if the managers at these places are doing their job right, that’s all you’ll need to think about.
Medical and health services managers work to make sure that the people who come through their doors receive the best possible care. But like other management professionals, they must also keep an eye on costs. At a time when health care in the United States is undergoing dramatic changes and health care costs continue to rise, this career presents important challenges.
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.
Meeting and Convention Planners
Meeting and convention planners organize events for businesses and other organizations, making sure they run smoothly and meet goals.
Travel far and wide. Meet fascinating people from all over. As a meeting and convention planner, you might lead an exciting life, but there is a price to pay. You'll shoulder a lot of responsibility and work under extreme pressure.
Some of that pressure comes from juggling the countless details involved in planning an event: Have enough hotel rooms been reserved? Did the brochure make it to the printer on time? Are vegetarian lunch options included? But it's also about the big picture: What does your organization want to accomplish at the event? Will the speakers and activities you've lined up help you meet those goals?
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.
Operations Research Analysts
Operations research analysts use math and computers to develop software and other tools that managers use to make decisions.
Imagine it’s your job to put together this season’s schedule for your favorite Major League Baseball team. Before you decide that’s an easy job, consider these rules: Your team has to play 81 games at home and 81 games on the road. It has to play each of the teams in its division 19 times. And don’t forget travel -- you can’t have your team flying from the East Coast to the West Coast every other day.
Complex problems like this come up all the time. Operations research analysts find ways to solve them. Their work is used by managers in all sorts of industries, whether the goal is to schedule airline pilots to prevent dangerous fatigue or time traffic lights to prevent congestion.
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.
Political scientists study the way people organize their societies, whether neighborhoods, nations, or the world community.
How does the government decide how much pollution industry can release into the air and water? What’s the best way for local mayors to convince voters to reelect them? Why do some people vote and not others? How does democracy differ in countries across the globe?
Political scientists study political systems from every angle, looking into their birth, growth, and operation. While most strive to discover the trends that shape our identity, their interests and jobs vary greatly. For example, some survey the public about their political opinions; others use math to analyze election results.
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 accountants provide a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services to their clients, who may be corporations, governments, nonprofits, or individuals.
Every business is required by law to file paperwork with the government. That includes the tax statements they turn in to the Internal Revenue Service. As a public accountant, you may create and file such reports.
On the other hand, you can specialize in external audits. In that case, you’ll examine a company's financial statements and reporting procedures to ensure truth and accuracy.
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.
Public Relations Specialists
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.
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents are paid to sell other people's properties, from farms to condos. They also help buyers find the properties they're looking for.
Everyone needs a place to live, shop, and work. But who do you call when you need help finding your dream home or the ideal office space? That’s when real estate brokers and agents come in handy.
These professionals spend endless hours scouring cities and towns, studying buildings and neighborhoods, and assessing property values. Why? To find the perfect place for their client.
Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities caused by illnesses, accidents, birth defects, or stress. They provide counseling and help people get needed services, learn skills, find jobs, and live on their own.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression and led the nation through World War II. Yet, because of the disease polio, he couldn't walk on his own. He believed -- probably correctly -- that the nation would not easily accept his disability. So he hid it, leaning on others when he appeared in public.
Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities accept themselves and live full lives that include work. In doing so, they help create a more just world for us all.
Sales Worker Supervisors
A sales worker supervisor heads up the sales team and keeps an eye on inventory.
Whether they run the corner grocery or a gourmet supermarket, a fancy boutique or a discount department store, all retailers try to sell their products and services to customers. Customers, for their part, want their experiences with the sales staff to be positive.
As a sales worker supervisor, you’ll need to do more than make sure that products are sold -- you’ll need to make sure that customers are happy and want to return.
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.
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers teach children who have special learning needs or problems such as trouble speaking. Most teach students in elementary, middle, and high schools, though some work with infants and toddlers.
The fairy-tale author Hans Christian Anderson had dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading difficult. Others who have struggled with dyslexia include Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, and Magic Johnson. If you listed all the people with special learning needs who have made important contributions to society, you'd fill a book.
Do you love to help others? Are you tolerant of people who learn differently and sometimes behave differently? If so, you might consider becoming a special education teacher.
Statisticians use math and computers to collect, study, and report on data.
Whether we know it or not, we rely on statisticians every day. A corporation that processes food, for example, might pay for a survey of families with two working parents to find out what new products they’d like to see in the frozen-food aisle. A drug company, on the other hand, must collect and study data when they test experimental drugs to make sure that they work and that they’re safe. And at a TV network, statisticians can use a technique called sampling to discover what the whole country is watching just by surveying a small group of viewers.
And that’s just in the business world. These masters of data can use their skills in fields as varied as medical research, public health, and economics.
Top executives run businesses and other organizations. Combining knowledge of the field with business skills, they attempt to lead their organizations to success.
What does it take to reach the top? Carly Fiorina knows. She is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard Company. Fiorina majored in medieval history and philosophy in college. She tried law school but hated it. Instead, she went into business and quickly became a rising star.
As Hewlett-Packard's CEO, she helped the company merge with another computer company, Compaq. Many people see this as the most successful high-tech merger in history -- and they see Fiorina as one of the brightest lights in the business world.
Trainers provide a range of educational services to managers and their staff.
As you know from your own experience, people learn in a variety of settings, and some of the best teachers don’t even work in schools. Trainers work for businesses and other organizations, providing people with the tools to be more successful on the job.
As a trainer, you might coach managers on their people skills and help customer-service representatives improve their phone skills -- all on the same day. Or you might specialize, making it your business to introduce employees to new software, the rules of grammar, or the importance of teamwork.
Travel agents help people plan trips all over the world.
The world’s busiest airport is in Atlanta: an average of 2,400 flights come and go each day. England is packed with more than 1,400 castles. And you can sail across the Atlantic Ocean in only six days.
These are the kinds of facts that travel agents are paid to know. Whether they’re finding a fancy hotel or a cheap flight, booking an African safari or a Swedish massage, travel agents are travel gurus. They get paid to guide clients through the maze of the travel industry.
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.