Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Explore the relationships between AP courses, majors, and careers based on your choice.
AP Course: AP Chemistry
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Related Majors and Careers
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.
Animal sciences majors learn about the nutrition, breeding, behavior, and management of food animals. Topics covered include dairy science, poultry science, livestock production, and aquaculture (fish production).
Ever wonder how the shrink-wrapped steak at the supermarket made it to the shelf?
Students of animal sciences know where your food comes from. They learn how to make sure that the nation’s supply of cows, chickens, pigs, and other food animals is as healthy and productive as possible. Among the challenges of animal science: discovering which breeds of cow produce the best milk and coming up with new ways to protect against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease.
Astronomy students study space, the history and future of the universe, and the objects within, such as planets, stars, and galaxies. Subjects of study include the evolution of stars, how the stars and planets move through space, chemistry, and advanced math.
When you look up at the night sky, what do you see? There are patterns of stars, planets, the moon, and some sights that you may not be able to explain. Astronomy is the study of those objects in space — how stars, planets, and galaxies form and behave — and the universe itself.
If you want to understand the mysteries of the night sky, this could be the major for you.
Students of biochemistry learn about the chemistry, molecules, and chemical processes necessary for life to exist. You’ll learn about substances like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and the nucleic acids that make up the genetic code.
When you look at a plant or an animal, be it a majestic redwood, your golden retriever, or even another person, you see the entire organism, a smoothly functioning whole.
But beneath the surface is a living machine. At scales much too small for us to see with the naked eye, there are chemical reactions going on that enable organisms to live. For example, when you eat, proteins called enzymes help speed up the chemical reactions that break down food so that you can get the energy you need to live. If you major in biochemistry, you’ll examine these and other chemical reactions.
Students of biology undertake a general program in which they study living organisms and the systems and processes that permit life. Courses include subjects like cell biology, evolutionary biology, marine biology, and plant biology.
When you think of life on earth, your first thoughts are probably about familiar animals, your pet dog or cat, the bird you see in the tree outside your window. But that is really only a small sample of all the types of life on our planet, which include plants, bacteria, fungi, and animals in a vast array of body forms and types.
Biology is the study of life, individual organisms, their communities, and the systems, cells, and processes that make up living matter.
Biomedical engineering majors learn how to use engineering to solve health and medical problems.
People often compare the human body to a machine, made up of systems that work together to keep itself running. Like machines, though, pieces of the body can break down. This is where the exciting world of biomedical engineering comes in.
As a biomedical engineering major, you’ll build a foundation for a future that could take many directions. You might look for the chemical signals in the body that warn of cancer. You might invent a new and improved type of prosthetic (artificial) hand. You might refine the robots that doctors are just beginning to use in some surgery.
Biotechnology majors study engineering and the life sciences, learning how to engineer new products.
Some people like to tinker with gadgets. They take apart and repair watches or spend all day in the garage working on cars.
Biotechnologists tinker with living organisms. They use biochemistry and genetics to create new products for the agricultural, industrial, and environmental industries. These products include vaccines, medicines, growth hormones for plants, and food additives.
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.
Computer Software Engineering
As a software engineering major, you’ll study the scientific and mathematical basis of computer software. You’ll learn a variety of programming languages and how to design, analyze and maintain software.
If you’re considering a major as a computer software engineer, be prepared for a cutting edge and continuously evolving career. Jobs will advance rapidly and new jobs will be created often to meet ever-changing technological needs. Just think about how much computers and the software they use have evolved over the past four years.
The scientific and mathematical foundation you build in this major will always be fundamental to your work. But like other computer majors, you’ll face a lifetime of learning as you strive to stay on the forefront of innovation.
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.
Engineering and Industrial Management
Students of engineering and industrial management learn how to plan and manage engineering and industrial projects.
From estimating the costs of materials to ensuring that a site is safe for workers, industrial managers make sure that engineering projects are completed safely, on time, and within budget.
Majors in engineering and industrial management prepare for this role. They learn how to manage finances by mastering mathematical methods and studying economic theories as well as looking at real examples from the business world. Students also gain hands-on experience in factories and other job sites.
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.
Food science majors combine studies in biology, chemistry, and other sciences to learn what it takes to bring affordable, safe food to supermarket shelves.
Yum. That leftover pepperoni pizza sure looks good -- but it’s been in the refrigerator for a week. Is it safe to eat?
As a food science major, you’ll study questions like this as well as the basics of food harvesting, transporting, preparation, and more. By getting a solid grounding in science and learning to apply it to real-world issues, food science majors can prepare for jobs that help to keep our food supply wholesome.
Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies
Students of foods, nutrition, and wellness learn about food and its effect on our health. Their studies include food preparation and safety, nutritional education, and more.
Is a low-carb diet really the healthiest way to eat? Why do we get cranky when we don’t get enough B vitamins? How can vegetarians pump up the protein in their diet?
If these questions intrigue you, you may want to major in foods, nutrition, and wellness studies. Whether you see yourself developing recipes in a test kitchen, counseling clients on nutrition, or inspecting foods for a government agency, a smorgasbord of options awaits you in this diverse and growing field.
Forensic chemistry majors learn how to apply the concepts and techniques of chemistry to the testing of evidence from crime scenes and victims. They also learn how to write reports on their findings and present them in court.
The difference between .07 and .08 may not sound like much. But to the suspect arrested for drunk driving, it could mean the difference between conviction and acquittal.
As a forensic chemistry major, you'll not only learn how to measure a suspect's blood-alcohol level and run other lab tests. You'll also study the theory behind the tests. Preserving the chain of evidence and defending your findings in court are two other important skills that you'll pick up.
Forensic science majors study science and criminal justice. They learn how to analyze blood, DNA, and other evidence and to use it in a court of law.
“DNA test confirms suspect’s innocence.” Does that sentence make you sit up and take notice? Have you ever wondered how tire marks can prove the cause of an accident? If so, you may want to consider majoring in forensic science. You’ll learn how to collect evidence at the scene of the crime and how to test it in the lab. You’ll also learn how to write reports, interview witnesses, and prepare for trial.
With today’s advanced technology, forensic scientists are solving more crimes than ever before -- and that’s just one reason why the field is growing.
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.
Genetics is the study of how DNA is passed down from one generation to the next.
You may have heard of Gregor Johann Mendel. He was the monk whose research on peas led to the understanding of how organisms inherit traits from their parents. Mendel studied how certain physical traits were passed from one generation of peas to the next. This research lead to the modern scientific field of genetics.
Since his pioneering research, scientists have discovered how DNA, the genetic code that tells an organism how to work and grow, is copied from one generation and then rewritten and recombined for the next generation. If you major in genetics, you’ll look at inheritance (including hereditary diseases) and the genetic path of evolution.
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.
Industrial engineering majors learn how to improve the way factories, hospitals, and other organizations run. They learn to take all factors into account -- from equipment and materials to people.
How many copies of the first Harry Potter book should the corner bookstore keep on its shelf? How many people need to work the night shift at a cupcake factory in order to supply the local chain of grocery stores? Will technology stocks rise or fall over the next three months?
As an industrial engineering major, you’ll draw on math, science, business, and psychology to answer questions like these. You’ll learn how to create factory schedules, determine delivery routes, set up customer service systems, and much more.
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.
As a mechanical engineering major, you’ll learn the science behind machines and the energy that makes them work. You’ll also apply what you learn by creating your own machines.
Machines may not have taken over the world as imagined in some science fiction, but they are certainly a big part of life today.
Students of mechanical engineering learn about the machines that bring convenience and excitement to our lives. They study the physics that make roller coasters loop and planes fly. They learn about the properties of materials that can withstand the heat of the sun and the cold of outer space. And they discover the secrets behind control systems such as the cruise control in the family car.
Molecular biology majors explore cells, their characteristics, parts, and chemical processes. You’ll pay special attention to how molecules control a cell’s activities and growth.
There’s a range of complexity in life on earth. You can see an amoeba, a complete organism that consists of just one cell, under a microscope. Or you can look in a mirror and see a human being, made up of trillions of cells working together.
In both the amoeba and the human, the cell is a complex, functioning structure, with parts and chemical processes that define what the organism is and does. In molecular biology, you’ll study the cell and gain an understanding of how it works.
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.
Neuroscience majors study a combination of subjects, including psychology and chemistry, to deepen their understanding of the brain and the nervous system.
Everyone gets stressed out now and then, and some stress is healthy. Say a dad sees his toddler toppling off a play structure. His brain releases chemicals that trigger other reactions in his body, giving him a burst of energy to dash to his daughter before she hits the pavement.
But neuroscientists have found that too much stress can hurt a part the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory. Neuroscientists are working on treatments for stress -- but the best remedy may be to just mellow out. If you major in neuroscience, you’ll study stress, memory, and other mysteries of the brain and nervous system.
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.
Nursing majors train to care for sick and disabled patients and to promote better health.
It’s a typical morning at a city hospital. A woman arrives complaining of severe stomach pain. A nurse asks her a series of direct questions about her symptoms and learns what may be causing the pain. The nurse alerts a doctor, and they work together to order tests and begin treatment. Upstairs, a second nurse administers chemotherapy drugs to a patient who suffers from cancer. On another floor, a third nurse helps to deliver a baby.
If you study nursing, you may train in a hospital like this where nurses care for, educate, and enhance the lives of patients every day. You’ll learn about everything from examining patients and treating their immediate needs to keeping up the health of people with long-term conditions.
Nutrition sciences majors research the complex relationship between the body, nutrients, and health.
In terms of health, we are what we eat. Nutrition science majors study how our bodies transform everything from hot dogs to salads into energy we can use. They also study how changes like aging, illness, exercise, and pregnancy affect our digestion.
As a student of nutrition sciences, you'll explore the latest research in, for example, the benefits and possible dangers of antioxidants.
Pharmaceutical sciences majors apply chemistry, biology, and related sciences to the study of drugs. After graduation, they go to graduate school in pursuit of higher-level research positions or take jobs in pharmaceutical research, administration, marketing, sales, or regulatory affairs. This major does not prepare students to work as pharmacists.
In the early 1940s, tuberculosis was still a killer with no effective treatment; hundreds of thousands died in 1942 alone. But that changed when Selman Waksman and his colleagues, working with soil, isolated streptomycin, a new type of antibiotic. Although it was later found that it takes a combination of drugs to cure tuberculosis, streptomycin was the first to fight the disease. Waksman earned a Nobel Prize for his work.
Such breakthroughs don’t happen every day. But if you’d like to be involved in the research, testing, and manufacture of new drugs, a pharmaceutical sciences major will give you the knowledge and skills you need. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be on another history-making team.
Physician assistance majors train to practice medicine as part of a team supervised by doctors.
Are you interested in health and medicine? Do biology, chemistry, and psychology rank among your favorite courses? Can you imagine working with physicians and patients in a busy city hospital? Or what about working with a physician in a small rural community? If you answered yes to these questions, a major in physician assistance may be the right choice for you.
Since physician assistants are often the first person to assess a patient’s health, you’ll learn how to recognize and treat everything from the common cold to life-threatening diseases. Your studies will range from basic medical and clinical sciences to specialized fields such as pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry.
Pre-physical therapy programs provide guidance to students as they prepare for graduate study in physical therapy. They are often concentrations within other majors, such as biology, health sciences, and physical education.
Physical therapy is a relatively young profession, owing its start to the polio epidemics and world wars in the first half of the last century. Physical therapists stepped in to help the large numbers of young people who suffered from movement challenges.
You'll need a thorough grasp of the science of movement to get results as a physical therapist. And you'll start building that knowledge in high school biology and continue to perfect it through graduate school. As an undergrad, you can sign up for a pre-physical therapy program. This is usually not a major, but a program that includes the courses admission officers will look for when you apply to grad school.
Predentistry programs guide students as they prepare for admission into dental school.
"I thrill when I drill a bicuspid," sings Orin Scrivello, the leather-wearing dentist in the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Fortunately, real dentists don't share Orin's taste for causing pain. In fact, some dentists are starting to use painless lasers to root out tooth decay.
If you want to join the legions of professionals who protect teeth and gums from disease -- and keep our smiles bright -- you can start by signing up for a predentistry program.
Premedicine programs provide guidance to students as they prepare for medical school, osteopathic medical training, and podiatric medical training.
If medical school is your holy grail, undergraduate programs are available to guide you on your quest for admission. But it’s not a major -- what you choose to major in is up to you.
Students often choose majors in chemistry or biology because they must take several classes in these fields. However, medical schools are also impressed by students with diverse interests. For example, if you have a passion for music, you may want to indulge it before concentrating on your medical studies. As long as you fulfill all of the prerequisite courses for med school, feel free to choose a non-science major.
Prenursing studies programs prepare students for admission into professional nursing programs.
Do you like the thought of helping people young and old battle everything from common colds to life-threatening illnesses? Do you want help making sure that you'll qualify for a bachelor's degree program in nursing?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, a prenursing program might be a good fit for you. You’ll take a variety of science and math courses that will help you get into a nursing major. You’ll also enroll in liberal arts courses to get a broad education while making sure that you really do want to become a nurse.
Psychology majors study the way humans and animals act, feel, think, and learn.
If psychology interests you, you have something in common with the ancient Greek philosophers. They asked questions about the life of the mind: What is the relationship between mind and body? How can we tell if the world is really the way we think it is?
Today's psychologists study all sorts of fascinating questions, such as the following: Why is learning a language as an infant easier than as a teenager? What are the roots of violence? What is the best way to help someone with an eating disorder like anorexia?
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.
Soil science majors learn about the chemistry, biology, use, management, and conservation of different kinds of soil.
When he said that an army marches on its stomach, Napoleon captured in a few words the importance of food. However, food is only as good as the soil from which it grows.
Majors in soil science learn the answers to questions like these: Which fertilizers work best for different fruits and vegetables? What types of soils do wheat and corn prefer? And which methods best control weeds? The answers can make or break farmers, and agronomists find great satisfaction doing their part in feeding the world.
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.
Advanced-practice nurses diagnose and treat illnesses and provide health care. Most are also certified to prescribe medication.
You wake up one morning with awful flu symptoms and call your doctor. Unfortunately, she’s out of town, but the nurse practitioner (NP) is available instead. The NP examines you, cultures your throat, writes a prescription, and sends you on your way to recovery.
Today’s advanced-practice nurses (including NPs) perform tasks once reserved for medical doctors. They assist other medical professionals and manage patient care. And some specialize in fields such as pediatrics (working with children and teens) and oncology (working with cancer patients).
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.
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.
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.
Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent and treat injuries. They also play a key role in rehabilitation.
The year: 1996. The place: Atlanta. In her first vault, gymnast Kerri Strug falls and injures her ankle, badly. Should she go on to do her second vault? The team’s depending on her, but is it safe? As an athletic trainer, you’ll find yourself facing similar dilemmas, though you’ll more likely be at a high school basketball game than the Olympics.
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.
Chefs plan menus and create meals in a variety of settings, from cafeterias to upscale restaurants. There are many levels of chefs, from prep chefs to executive.
If your vision of a chef is someone in a puffy white hat who races around the kitchen making sure each order is filled, you’re only partly right. True, a chef’s job revolves around creating meals that taste and look great. But there are all kinds of chefs: while cuisine, sous (assistant), and pastry chefs take care of the cooking, executive chefs spend most of their time planning menus and supervising others.
The hours are long, and the stress runs high, but if the idea of choosing between paprika and red pepper flakes makes your pulse race, this career may be just your cup of tea.
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.
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.
Clinical Laboratory Technologists
Clinical laboratory technologists examine body fluids and tissues for signs of disease. They conduct and supervise complex tests and manage labs for hospitals, doctors, diagnostic-services companies, blood banks, clinics, and more.
With a latex-gloved hand, you place a glass slide under your microscope and adjust the magnification. This specimen contains cells from a patient with a bad sore throat. Your job is to find out if the patient has strep throat. The doctor needs to know because a Streptococcus infection can lead to serious diseases such as pneumonia.
Looking through the eyepiece, you spot the classic shape of Streptococcus pyogenes. Without tests like this one, today’s high-quality health care would be impossible.
Clinical psychologists help people with mental or emotional problems adjust to life. Some help people cope with physical illnesses or injuries. Others help people facing crises such as divorce or the loss of a loved one.
Have you ever heard the term "stream of consciousness"? We use it to describe words that flow nonstop, following a person's thoughts as they move freely from one topic to the next. The term was created by William James, who is considered one of the fathers of psychology.
With gentle guidance from skilled clinical psychologists, people can ride their stream of consciousness to surprising memories and insights. These memories and insights often play a key role in healing.
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.
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.
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Dietitians and nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy, plan food and nutrition programs, and oversee food preparation.
Eating right is one of the best preventive medicines there is. But people don’t always know what’s good for them. That’s where dietitians and nutritionists come in.
These pros work closely with a wide variety of people, spreading the good word about proper nutrition. Their duties vary, depending on their job. For example, they might develop nutrition programs for hospital patients, advise clients on losing weight, or prepare reports on the benefits of dietary fiber.
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.
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.
Food Service Managers
Food service managers oversee the daily operations of restaurants as well as kitchens and cafeterias in places like schools, hospitals, and hotels.
No one is more involved with the excitement of a kitchen than a food service manager. They make sure that the glasses are clean, the tablecloths are white, and the food is fresh.
Whether filling in for an absent chef or putting out a kitchen fire, managers are responsible for it all. Managers help plan menus, order food, and hire and fire staff. And the very last complaint you’ll hear from them is that their job is dull.
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.
General practitioners, also known as family doctors, are often a patient's main doctor. They perform yearly checkups, treat a variety of conditions, and refer patients to specialists.
Have you ever wondered how general practitioners (GPs) know so much? How they are able to recognize health problems as different as strep throat, pulled muscles, allergic reactions, ulcers, and asthma -- sometimes all before lunch?
GPs are trained to both see the big picture and zoom in on the problem’s cause. And if they can’t fix the problem, it’s their job to refer the patient to a specialist who can.
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.
Health educators study the latest health information and design programs to encourage healthier behavior and practices in their communities.
Did you know that one in every three children in the United States is overweight or close to it? Why? The reason has a lot to do with overeating and lack of exercise. If you become a health educator, you may help unhealthy children grow into healthy adults.
As a health educator, you’ll promote and improve the health of your community. Whether you work in schools, senior centers, or public health institutions, you’ll find creative ways to educate people about healthy lifestyles.
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 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.
Industrial psychologists work for businesses, helping to improve the working conditions and productivity of employees. They help companies hire, train, and manage employees. They also advise companies on ways of getting consumers interested in products and services.
Industrial psychologists have studied how to match the personalities of workers with various jobs. One theory argues that peoples' personalities can be described in terms of five traits, or qualities: outgoing, easygoing, responsible, stable, and open. Research shows that responsible, stable employees are valuable in any job. To succeed in jobs dealing with the public, workers must also be outgoing and easygoing.
Industrial psychologists have researched many other employment issues, from ensuring workplace justice to balancing roles at work and at home.
Licensed Practical Nurses
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) give patients basic bedside care in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices, private homes, and other settings. They keep an eye on the health of patients and report their progress to doctors and registered nurses.
You’re in the hospital recovering from surgery. The surgeon stops by to check on you, and the registered nurse administers postoperative treatments, but it is the licensed practical nurses (LPNs) -- also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) -- who are responsible for your everyday maintenance and care on the road to recovery.
LPNs will take your temperature and change your surgical dressings to prevent infection. They'll make sure you’re comfortable and that your recovery goes according to plan. They'll even help you take your first postoperative bath.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists provide counseling to people in couples and families as well as one-on-one. Even when they work with people one-on-one, they focus on the person's relationship to the larger unit of the couple or family.
Anita and Juan, proud parents of four-year-old Carmen, wear frowns as they enter their therapist's office. They've been fighting a lot and speaking harshly to Carmen.
With the therapist's help, they realize they're starved for downtime. They decide to get a babysitter twice a month and to schedule free time for themselves each week. At the next session, the therapist might help the couple explore how they learned to cope with anger as children. They may identify old habits that could be getting in the way of healthy, happy family life.
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.
Medical scientists conduct research on diseases, and on the viruses and bacteria that cause them, to develop vaccines and medications.
The world’s population has grown exponentially -- from small scatterings of people to giant cities with millions of residents living side by side.
While living in large groups has its advantages, one disadvantage is that it allows diseases to spread more easily. And now, with the entire world connected by airplanes, contagious illnesses can spread across the ocean from one continent to another. Medical scientists do the research needed in the fight against disease.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Mental health and substance abuse social workers assess (evaluate) and treat people with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems.
Ben, a high school junior, has been referred to a social worker. He's been suspended from the swim team, he's barely passing his courses, and he downs a six-pack of beer daily.
Ben doesn't think he has a substance problem. The social worker decides to spend a few sessions asking him about his inner struggles and difficulties at home. She hopes this will lead him to notice that he's using beer to avoid his troubles. If that approach doesn't work, she'll confront Ben about his drinking and recommend that he attend a twelve-step program while continuing to see her.
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.
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.
Physician assistants practice medicine under a doctor's supervision, doing almost everything that doctors do.
You won’t have a “Dr.” in front of your name as a physician assistant (PA). But it’s the next best thing to being there. As a PA, you’ll do much of what doctors do, from giving checkups and diagnosing illness to prescribing medication. While technically you’ll be under a doctor’s supervision, you’ll work very independently most of the time.
If you’re passionate about health care and have the personality and desire to be out there on the front lines, becoming a physician assistant may be just the path for you.
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.
Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the physical causes and effects of mental illness. Some focus on talk therapy, helping patients heal through talking about their problems, and others focus on treating illness with medication. Many combine these approaches.
The granddaddy of psychiatry is Sigmund Freud, born in 1856. Freud came up with many concepts that are now a part of psychiatry -- and of popular culture. These include the ego, the unconscious, the slip of the tongue, and repression. Freud invented psychoanalysis ("the talking cure"). And he didn't just talk the talk; he walked the walk, doing self-analysis to test out his ideas.
Although many of his controversial ideas have been rejected by today’s psychiatrists, Freud left behind a body of work that still grips our cultural imagination.
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.
RNs provide patients with direct care and help doctors. They are also health educators, working with individuals and communities to prevent illness and improve health.
TV programs portray nurses as the backbone of a hospital. They pick up the slack when medical students are lost and often go beyond the call of duty to meet patient needs. Nursing may not always be as exciting as it seems on TV, but there’s truth to these dramas.
No less important is the work of registered nurses (RNs) in home care and nursing home settings. Regardless of where they’re employed, RNs play a critical role helping doctors take care of patients.
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.
Research psychologists study how humans feel, think, learn, and act. They also study physical problems with the brain and work to develop treatments for problems such as memory loss.
In 1961-62, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted some disturbing experiments. He asked subjects (participants) to give electric shocks to their partners whenever the partners answered questions incorrectly. As the voltage increased, the partners begged to stop -- but experimenters told the subjects to continue. Sixty-five percent of subjects continued, even when their partners screamed in agony.
The partners were actors who only pretended to receive shocks; they faked their agonized screams -- but the subjects didn’t know that. The experiments were criticized as being unethical. Yet many subjects thanked Milgram for revealing the frailty of human kindness.
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.
School psychologists work in elementary, middle, and high schools or school district offices to solve students' learning and behavior problems.
Fourth-grader Monica rarely seems to listen to her teacher. Instead of doing assignments, she fiddles with her pencil. Yet Monica did great in third grade.
The school psychologist meets with Monica's parents and learns that her older brother has recently developed cancer. The parents, busy with medical appointments, often leave Monica with a babysitter. The psychologist explains the impact of this crisis on Monica. Together, they plan ways for her to get the attention and support she needs. She becomes noticeably more engaged in class.
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.
Surgeons are doctors who treat and correct injuries, diseases, and deformities by operating on patients.
When our brain works properly, when our heart pumps normally, and when our bones and muscles move with ease, we are barely aware of just how remarkable a machine the body is. But when something goes wrong and that machine breaks down, the mechanic you need is often a surgeon. Surgeons mend bone and tissue and repair major organs damaged by disease and injury.
Surgical technologists ensure the safety of patients; sterilize instruments; and handle special equipment, drugs, and supplies during surgery.
Nowhere is teamwork needed more than in the operating room. And the surgical technologist is a key member of the team.
Doctors, nurses, and patients depend on the sterile field that the surgical technologist sets up and enforces. Techs also stock the blood and other surgical supplies. Through all stages of the operation, the tech is there to assist, predicting what will be needed next, while keeping track of the patient's condition.
Technical writers create material, such as instruction manuals, related to science and technology.
Computer software and hardware, cars, stereos, and many other products come with instructions. Technical writers create operating instructions and other informational material, such as maintenance manuals, catalogs, parts lists, and assembly instructions.
This information not only allows consumers to use and maintain products easily and safely, but also protects manufacturers from being sued. If you enjoy writing and are curious about developments in science and technology, this field might be for you.
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.