Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Explore the relationships between AP courses, majors, and careers based on your choice.
AP Course: AP English Language and Composition
Skills You'll Learn
AP can get you on your path
Related Majors and Careers
Acting students learn how to portray dramatic characters and their thoughts, moods, and feelings. Classes include instruction in voice for the actor, movement, improvisation, theater history, and actor coaching.
If starring in high school productions of such stage classics as Antigone, The Crucible, or Grease has given you the acting bug, you may want to study acting at the college level. What skills will you need to play your characters more convincingly? What is the subtext of a play? How do actors make stage combat look real? You’ll find the more you study acting, the more you learn about the preparation it takes to bring a character to life on stage or on screen.
Advertising majors learn how to create and spread messages used to promote and sell products and services.
Do Internet pop-up ads really sell products, or do they just annoy people? Why do some TV commercials pull us in while others turn us off? What are the psychological effects of various colors?
These are just a few of the questions you’ll explore as an advertising major. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing clever ad copy, planning a media campaign, or selling advertising space, this may be the major for you.
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.
Area studies majors study the histories, politics, economics, and cultures of various areas of the world. They usually focus on a specific area, but sometimes compare two or more areas.
If the magical realist novels of Latin America capture your imagination, you might major in comparative literature or Spanish. Or if it’s the history of colonialism in African countries that fires your brain, you might major in history. But if you want to know Latin America or Africa inside out, then major in area studies. You’ll not only study everything from an area’s history to its present-day economy and art, you’ll also bring greater understanding to specific topics, from magical realism to colonialism.
While only a few schools have departments called area studies, many more have programs dedicated to specific regions. Some schools offer programs in comparative area studies. At others, you’ll have to design your own area studies major.
Students in broadcast journalism learn to report, produce, and deliver the news for radio, TV, and other broadcast media.
With a degree in broadcast journalism, you’ll be ready to bring all kinds of news to the public. You could find yourself on the local news pressing mayoral candidates to find out what they really think or chatting up celebrities on a music-video channel. You might become a sports announcer on a local radio station or deliver the news as a talking head on TV.
But this major is also for people who’d rather be behind the camera. You’ll learn how to operate microphones, recording equipment, and other devices, and could go on to edit, produce, or direct the news.
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.
Classics majors study the languages, literatures, and civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome and the places under their control.
Ancient Greek and Roman literature continues to be reinterpreted in every way possible, turning up in forms as different as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Wonder Woman comic books. Yet you may be surprised by how different from us the founders of Western civilization were after all. For instance, the Athenians regarded their women practically as slaves.
There is still a lot we don’t know about the way the ancients lived. Classics majors delight in finding out. Whether researching the ethnic diversity of ancient
Communication and Rhetoric
Communication and rhetoric majors study and practice the exchange of messages in all their variety.
Do you love nothing more than a good debate? Have you made a sport of picking apart everything from presidential speeches to class lectures? If you’ve answered yes, you may want to consider majoring in communication and rhetoric.
You’ll learn much more than how to be a powerful, persuasive speaker. You’ll study the complex ways in which we communicate with each other, through the media and face-to-face, with words and without, at work and at play.
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Students of communication sciences and disorders study the science behind communication problems and their development. They also learn how to treat children and adults and use what they learn to come up with new strategies and technologies for diagnosis and rehabilitation.
Imagine a birthday party for a three-year-old child. The room is full of chatter: children asking for more ice cream or complaining that another child took their toy. But one child, who appears to be as healthy as his peers, is silent. He is not playing with others, and his face shows an absence of emotion.
If you study communication sciences and disorders, you’ll learn the cause of this child’s behavior. You’ll also learn how to help him interact with others and break his silence.
Community Organization and Advocacy
This major prepares students to organize communities for social action. Students learn how to serve as links between community groups and public agencies, and how to give information, instruction, and help to community members.
The history of community organizing as we know it today began in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. That's when college-educated young people set up settlement houses in midwestern and East Coast cities.
Settlement houses provided services, such as child care and English language classes, to the great numbers of people who needed them urgently. They were mostly immigrants working in low-wage jobs such as meat packing and garment making. Some settlement-house organizations also advocated for workers, urging government to take action and improve housing or create child labor laws, for example.
Students of comparative literature learn about the literature and literary traditions of two or more different countries, cultures, or languages.
Try to imagine King Lear translated into Chinese and you will have an idea of the difference it makes to read a literary masterpiece in its original language. As a comparative literature major, you will study literature and literary movements across national and cultural boundaries. You may trace the influence of Chinese poetry on American poetry, or compare early Japanese novels to more contemporary French ones. Whatever you read, you will learn to see life from a variety of perspectives.
Students of creative writing focus on the construction of poetry and prose. They read and analyze the work of established writers and write original creative work.
When you read a good poem, do you wonder how the writer managed to form such interesting images? When you read a novel, do you think about how the author created characters you can relate to?
If you study creative writing, you’ll try to answer questions like these, analyzing poetry and fiction to learn how writers create successful work. And, of course, you’ll try your hand at creating your own work, which you’ll share with professors and classmates. Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll make a living from writing poetry or fiction, you will gain the skills needed to work in fields such as editing, publishing, journalism, and advertising.
Early Childhood Education
Students in early childhood education learn how to teach children who may range from infants to third graders, according to the school system.
Are you the babysitter whom kids call fun and parents call responsible? Are you the person to whom children sidle up at the park or potluck, sensing they've found a friend? Are you the kid who used to take on the role of teacher when you played school with your friends?
If you answered yes, you share a lot in common with people who work with children as a profession. You might consider majoring in early childhood education. You’ll learn how to create and manage a nurturing, safe classroom where every child thrives.
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.
Elementary School Teaching
This major focuses on the teaching of elementary grades, which can range from kindergarten through eighth grade, depending on the school system.
Science fiction author Ray Bradbury has penned more than fifty books, including the ever-popular Fahrenheit 451. You'd think a famous futurist would spend all his time dreaming up new electronic devices or planning trips to the moon. Not Bradbury. One of his favorite topics is the importance of, in his words, "teaching kids to read and write and think." For Bradbury, giving children a solid education prepares our whole society to better meet the future.
Maybe you share Bradbury's vision -- or maybe you just like kids. Either way, you might enjoy working as an elementary school teacher. Courses in this major will prepare you to teach all elementary subjects, from reading to 'rithmetic.
English majors read, discuss, and write about the literature and culture of English-speaking people. They also learn about the history, structure, and use of the English language.
If you love to curl up with a good book, then majoring in English might be for you. But there's a lot more to studying English than just reading novels, short stories, plays, and poetry by English-speaking writers. You'll have to examine what you read and come up with opinions about it. For example, you might have to explain a book's main theme or show what it reveals about cultural stereotypes. You'll then have to share your views in class discussions and in papers.
One of the great things about majoring in English is that you can bring your personal interests into your studies. For instance, you can focus on the literature of a certain time period, location, or author.
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.
As a film studies major, you’ll study film history, theory, and criticism, as well as the basics of film production. You’ll also examine related arts such as television and video.
Think of your favorite movie. Was it the story you liked? Or the characters? The action? How about the look of it? Digging deep into your gut feelings about movies is just the beginning of film studies.
If movies mean more to you than just an evening out with your friends, this could be the major for you. You’ll learn how to discuss and write about films critically. You’ll also learn about the connections movies have to history and national identities. You’ll even learn what all those people listed in the credits actually do. P.S. A gaffer is a lighting technician.
High School Teaching
This major prepares students to teach high school (also called secondary school). High school usually includes grades nine through twelve.
Think about the best teacher you've ever had. What stands out? A great sense of humor? The ability to guide you through a tough math lesson or stay calm in the midst of chaos? An attitude of concern for each and every student? Many high school educators went into teaching because of a teacher they loved. Do you have such a teacher, one who inspires you to walk in his or her footsteps?
If you choose this major, your studies will cover everything from classroom management to teaching methods to specific subjects, such as history. You’ll also learn how to meet the needs of students who learn in different ways.
History majors learn how to interpret objects and written documents from the past. They also read the works of published historians and evaluate their ideas.
You’ve probably heard older people talk about the “good old days.” But were they really all that good? Were people and ideas all that different? How did the good old days become today?
To answer questions like these, you’ll need to look for clues -- and not only in textbooks filled with dates and biographies. As a history major, you’ll find history in everything from a 1956 Elvis Presley poster to a 1934 ticket stub showing the price of a movie. You’ll even find it in last summer’s playlist of your favorite songs.
By the time you graduate, you’ll know how to decide for yourself what to think about the old days -- good or bad. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll learn what those days can teach us about today and tomorrow.
Hospitality Administration and Management
Hospitality majors learn to run hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and other businesses that serve business travelers and vacationers.
As a train traveler headed out West in 1875, you would have had trouble finding a decent meal or a place to rest your head. But Fred Harvey changed all that. He started a chain of restaurants and hotels where clean and polite waitresses served tired travelers everything from oysters to duck and olives to ice cream.
You might say that Harvey tamed the Wild West, making it more hospitable (welcoming and pleasant) to travelers. If you study hospitality management, you'll prepare to follow in his footsteps.
Journalism majors learn to report, write, and edit articles for publication or broadcast.
Are you someone who can’t get enough of the latest headlines? Do you love the thrill of the chase? If so, you may want to consider majoring in journalism. With this degree, you could find yourself covering world events for a major newspaper or TV network, reporting on sports for a local radio station, or writing about entertainment on the Internet.
As a journalism major, you’ll not only master the art of reporting and writing, but you'll also learn about libel and other legal issues that affect the media. And you'll learn what it takes to survive in a tough, but often rewarding, business.
Library and Information Science
Students of library and information science learn the skills they need to work as librarians or information consultants. Classes cover developing, storing, finding, organizing, and using information -- whether it's written in a book, posted on a website, recorded on a video or CD, or captured on a slide.
Many of us picture librarians as old-fashioned bookworms. Yet here's how one student describes today's librarians: “[They] help people find jobs [and] search the Internet. They help kids and parents find homework resources. They introduce people to the joys of reading … and they protect our rights to freedom of speech."
Most librarians study library science at the graduate level only. If becoming a professional librarian is your goal, you may want to major in another area of interest as an undergraduate. For example, a bachelor’s degree in science will come in handy if you hope to work as a science librarian someday.
Linguistics deals with the structure of language (including syntax, phonetics, and grammar), the relationships between languages, and the way languages change over time.
The sentence that you are reading right now has a structure that can be taken apart and analyzed, just like sentences written in other languages have structures unique to them. Yet, since all humans are, after all, human, every language also contains universal linguistic elements.
Linguistics majors study how languages like Spanish, French, Korean, Hopi -- and even computer programming languages -- function and how people learn to speak and write in those languages.
Mass communications majors undertake a thorough investigation of mass media, from its institutions, history, and laws to the ways in which it transforms our culture.
Which do you trust more -- the news you see on the tube or the news you read on the Internet? How have TV, newspapers, and other forms of mass media shaped your life? What influence do advertisers have on the choice of music played on the radio?
As a mass communications major, you’ll examine questions like these. You’ll analyze different forms of media, study the impact media has on our culture, and learn about media history and laws. You may also have a chance to test the waters by creating media projects of your own.
Middle School Teaching
Students in this major learn to teach middle school (also known as intermediate school or junior high). Middle school can range from grade four through grade nine, depending on the school system.
The middle school years are a thrilling stage in the life cycle. People at this age can master all kinds of physical and mental challenges, doing amazing skateboard tricks, writing inspired essays, and acing math quizzes. Yet, in many ways, they're just beginning to live -- so many experiences lie ahead of them.
Middle school teachers choose to be a part of this exciting turning point. Where some adults see "attitude," gifted teachers see energy and curiosity. They want to help students shape all that potential in ways that will make a positive difference in the world.
This major prepares students to become ordained Christian ministers or priests. Courses include such topics as church history, Christian ethics, church organization and management, evangelism, and homiletics (preaching).
There's a minister so famous he has a day of the year named after him: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King became a minister at the green age of nineteen and continued to preach until his tragic death at age thirty-nine. His sermons were so eloquent and inspired we still listen to them. Drawing on Christ's example, he fought for the rights not only of African Americans but of all poor people. He was willing to put his life on the line for his religious beliefs.
If you feel you could inspire others to walk in Christ's footsteps, consider majoring in ministry.
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.
This program prepares students to supervise and manage people and operations in business offices. Classes cover such topics as employee supervision, records management, budgeting, scheduling, and public relations.
In Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville's strange, riveting tale, a solemn young Bartleby one day refuses to do his work. His reason? "I would prefer not to." Although Bartleby stops working, he keeps showing up, to the distress of the other employees.
Scholars find a wide range of meanings in Melville’s story. But whatever their interpretation, one thing’s certain: Bartleby creates a difficult workplace situation. If you major in office management, you’ll learn to handle such challenges professionally.
This major prepares students to work under the supervision of a lawyer or court, completing research, conducting investigations, and keeping records. Courses cover legal research and writing.
Much of what paralegals do (researching legal questions and writing legal documents, for example) is the same work that attorneys do. So why not become an attorney instead -- especially since attorneys make more money?
Some people choose the paralegal route because they don't want to go through three years of law school in addition to receiving a bachelor's degree. Others want a meaningful way of participating in the legal process without the demanding schedules that attorneys face.
Of course, there's no reason you can't do both. Some people start out by getting paralegal training and working as a paralegal for a time, and then go to law school.
Philosophy majors examine basic questions about such topics as the nature of existence and knowledge. They also study the history of philosophy, learn how to use logic and argue their ideas, and use philosophy to better understand other fields.
Philosophy dates back to ancient times when Confucius and Plato walked the earth. Yet it is very much alive today in such questions as whether or not computers think. Philosophers question issues that others either take for granted or find too difficult to ponder. If you choose this major, you'll find yourself asking everything from why we should be good to how we know what we know. You'll even question your own questions.
Some philosophy undergrads become philosophers. But most by far build careers in other areas, such as law. And thanks to all that pondering, all develop great skills in logic, problem solving, and creative thinking that pay off in any field.
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.
Almost never offered as a major, a prelaw advising program will help you stay on track as you prepare for law school.
In the movie The Paper Chase, law professor Kingsfield strikes terror into students' hearts. Like many law professors who use the Socratic method, named after the philosopher, Kingsfield asks questions rather than lecturing. And when students answer his questions poorly, he's not above insulting them. But over time viewers realize that Kingsfield's goal is to sharpen his students' ability to reason.
That’s a skill they'll need to succeed as lawyers -- and a skill that law schools look for in applicants. In fact it’s not any specific major that will get you into a top school; it’s sharp thinking, reading, and communication skills that make the difference.
Professional, Technical, Business, and Scientific Writing
Students in this major focus on the theory, methods, and skills needed to write and edit scientific, technical, and business materials.
From computers to cell phones to stereos, technology is ingrained in our lives. That's why technical writers are so important. They create a range of materials, from instruction manuals and training guides to business reports.
If you choose this major, you’ll learn how to translate difficult material into text that's easy for everyone to understand. You’ll learn how important it is to consider the needs of specific audiences and how to use images to get your message across. If you're into both writing and technology and like working with different types of people, from editors to engineers, this could be the major for you.
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?
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 relations majors learn how to create and promote the images of individuals as well as businesses and other organizations.
Images don’t happen by themselves. Before celebrities step out on the red carpet at Academy Awards time, every detail -- clothes, accessories, makeup, and hair -- is carefully crafted. But image management isn’t reserved for Hollywood stars. It’s a tool used by every political figure, government agency, or business you can think of.
If you’d like to be the person pulling the strings behind the scenes, a major in public relations (PR) may be just the ticket.
Religious studies majors learn about the nature of religious belief and traditions. Courses focus on specific religions such as Hinduism, academic fields used to study religion such as anthropology, and religious history and politics.
How can religion lead both to the activism of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to cult suicides? How was the universe created? Do we have souls? Religious studies majors explore such questions -- but they don't settle for simple answers. Instead, they seek rich insights through research, reading, writing, and discussion.
Whatever their differences, most religious studies majors agree that, as one student put it, "we are really one people; we just have different ways of expressing truth." If you are fascinated by religious questions and traditions, and enjoy exploring many points of view, consider this major.
Social work majors learn to practice social work in various settings such as hospitals, child welfare agencies, and the criminal justice system.
Social worker Whitney M. Young, Jr. was a key civil rights activist of the 1960s. Yet most people have never heard of him. That's because while others were protesting in the streets, Young spent much of his time meeting with top businesspeople. Young was skilled at encouraging wealthy white Americans to give money to the movement.
As a social work major, you’ll learn that there are many ways to go about making the world a better place. Some social workers counsel people and help them get services such as subsidized housing and food stamps. Others, like Young, guide social movements, research social issues, or design and set up policy programs such as Social Security.
Sociology majors learn how to study people and the roles they play in society, both as individuals and in groups. Course work covers such topics as families, TV and other mass media, and criminology.
Picture your high school cafeteria for a moment. It’s not just one giant group of students hanging out together, is it? There are probably more than a few cliques.
Have you ever wondered how these cliques form? Or why some kids are more popular than others? Or why people act one way at home and a completely different way at school? If you want to explore questions like these, consider majoring in sociology.
This major prepares students to teach children or adults with special learning needs or disabilities. Courses cover topics such as diagnosing learning disabilities and creating plans to meet the special needs of each student.
Nancy, a fifth grader, has trouble hearing. But thanks to a special headset that her teacher wears, Nancy is able to hear his voice. She raises her hand often during discussions, her eyes bright with curiosity.
Alan, a second grader, avoids the writing lesson, instead talking loudly to his aide. Alan has Asperger's syndrome, which makes it hard for him to socialize. After several weeks, with skilled help from his teacher and instructional assistant, Alan is able to write alongside his classmates.
If you like the idea of helping children with special needs such as these, consider becoming a special education teacher.
Students of sports communication, also called sports media and sports journalism, prepare for careers as sports journalists or public relations professionals specializing in sports.
The Super Bowl, the World Cup, the U.S. Open. Start with a major in sports communication and you could find yourself where the action is, covering or promoting big-time sports events. It's not all glamour, though. You might pay your dues covering high school sports for the local paper.
Keep in mind that sports reporting today is about much more than covering games and profiling athletes. Some investigators dig deep into steroid use, racism, and other tough topics.
Theater majors study plays and other dramatic works and their production. Classes cover such topics as theater history, playwriting, acting, and directing, as well as lighting, scenery, and costume design.
If you’ve ever acted in a play, you know how much work it takes to put a production together. A theater major is your ticket to every corner of the theater world.
Whether you specialize in acting or design, you’ll learn in class, backstage, and onstage. You’ll read, discuss, and write about all kinds of theatrical works. You’ll also get your hands dirty applying what you learn in class as you build sets, design costumes, direct, or act in department productions.
Tourism and Travel Management
Tourism and travel majors learn to manage tourism- and travel-related businesses. Course work includes such topics as travel-agency management, tour planning, convention and event planning, and travel industry law.
Until the 1820s, oceangoing ships carried mostly goods and mail -- not passengers. In 1840, the ship Britannia made history when it introduced an onboard cow for fresh milk. This event signaled the shipping industry's new interest in passenger comfort.
Much later, the cruise industry struggled to stay afloat once air travel across the Atlantic became common. But by the 1960s, it bounced back with Caribbean vacation cruises still popular today.
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?
Actors play characters in theater, film, TV, radio, and other media. Actors interpret scripts and perform roles that entertain, inform, or teach an audience.
Pursuing an acting career takes passion, dedication, and the willingness to share the spotlight. You might live in New York City or Los Angeles and wait tables while you attend countless cattle calls (mass auditions) just to be considered for a small walk-on role.
While most big-name stars and aspiring actors alike do live and work in New York City or Los Angeles, many actors can find work outside these hubs. Opportunities exist with regional theater companies, TV studios, radio stations, nightclubs, and even theme parks.
Adult educators teach a variety of subjects to adults in places such as community colleges, adult high schools, university extension programs, and prisons.
Sometimes adults go to school because they have to. They may need to improve their English skills or computer skills or earn a high school diploma to get a better job. Other times, adults attend classes for fun. They might want to learn how to bake mouth-watering desserts or draw funny cartoons.
Whether they're in class out of necessity or for pleasure, adults are usually motivated to get the most out of class time. Their eagerness to learn makes teaching them a deeply rewarding experience.
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 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.
Announcers talk on radio or TV programs that inform and entertain. Some announcers also provide information to the audience at sporting or performing arts events.
Think of your favorite radio station or local news program and you can probably name a DJ or news reporter. These announcers are the faces and voices of broadcasting. Announcers on radio and TV read the news and weather reports, open and close programs, announce song titles and artists, introduce or read commercials, and interview guests.
Anthropologists and Archaeologists
Anthropologists study people and primates (such as chimps), researching their cultural, physical, and social development over time. Archaeologists investigate history by finding and studying the remains and objects a society leaves behind.
Why did new English words start popping up among the British colonists in North America? How were class distinctions in the New World different from those in the Old World? What can we learn about our ancestors from ancient skeletons and pottery fragments?
If you’re fascinated by questions like these, consider a career as an anthropologist or archaeologist. While some of these professionals are involved in research for its own sake, others use their skills in the world of business or government.
Archivists care for permanent records and historically valuable documents. They may also participate in research activities based on archival materials.
Archivists may take care of papers, letters, diaries, clippings, legal documents, maps, films, videos, sound recordings, and other records. These professionals combine technical expertise in the preservation of documents with knowledge of information-management systems.
The tasks of archivists vary according to the type of collection they work with, be it historic manuscripts or living plants and animals. At a cultural-history museum, an archivist might research and document the return of artifacts to American Indian tribes. At a zoo, an archivist might keep records on the veterinary care of animals.
Arts administrators run arts programs that cover the gamut -- from finger-painting to photography; from ballet to belly dance; and from hip-hop to opera.
As an audience member at dance, music, or theater events, you've probably enjoyed watching others shine in the limelight. If you've ever performed onstage or seen your artistic efforts displayed in a newsletter or website (or even posted in the school hallway), you know the thrill of putting your best creative foot forward.
But for every artistic event, much of the work remains hidden. Arts administrators work behind the scenes to make sure artists keep creating and the public keeps appreciating art of every kind.
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.
Camera Operators and Film and Video Editors
Camera operators film TV programs and commercials, videos, and movies. Film and video editors choose images from those that camera operators capture to create a final product.
Whether capturing a political protest for the local news, putting together a weekly cable TV program, or creating a scene for a new action movie, the decisions you make as a camera operator or film and video editor will require a combination of creative and technical skills. You'll need a good eye and a steady hand to choose interesting material, decide how to present it, and pick the right equipment or software to use.
Child 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.
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 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.
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts create new computer systems and improve existing technology and business processes.
A new website for learning foreign languages is about to start up. A team of experts is ready to get to work -- from the people who create the content to the people who write the computer programs that drive the site. But before the programmers can start, a systems analyst must design the best way for customers to interact with the site. She has to decide everything from how they’ll sign up and pay to how they’ll use the site to master new vocabulary throughout the online learning process.
Computer systems analysts create technology solutions for large and small businesses and other organizations. They start by deciding what hardware and software will be needed. They then develop or adapt software to meet those needs.
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.
Copy editors review text to make sure that it is free of errors and is clearly written. They also ensure that writing follows the publisher's style and editorial policy.
"Twenty-five" or "25"? "PhD" or "Ph.D."? Being a copy editor means paying close attention to differences like these. Copy editors review text to ensure it is easy to understand and follows the publisher's style. And they make sure that the tone of the writing suits the publication’s audience, whether it's teens, scientists, or art lovers.
Copy editors also rewrite text or suggest changes, such as reordering paragraphs, to make the writing stronger. On top of all that, they correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Copywriters use the written word to entice consumers to buy products.
Just do it. Think different. Got milk? If topping slogans like these is a challenge that gets your adrenaline going, you could be a copywriter in the making. Just as songwriters use catchy hooks to write hit songs, copywriters use clever wordplay to write ads that people don’t forget. Whether it’s a print ad, radio script, billboard, or promotional flyer, it’s the copywriter’s job to lure the consumer through the written word.
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.
Database administrators organize, track, and store information for businesses and other organizations. They also design and coordinate database security systems.
When you created a My Organizer account on this website, you answered questions about yourself and came up with a password. But where does all that information go? How is it stored and then promptly retrieved each time you log in?
Just ask our database administrators. Thanks to their efforts, your data and the data of thousands of other users remains secure and accessible.
Directors work closely with actors, designers, choreographers, and playwrights to manage the planning and production of theatrical works, including plays, films, musicals, and TV programs.
Directors make many of the creative decisions that bring a dramatic production to life. They have a part in almost every aspect of producing a play, film, or TV program. They must be creative artists as well as knowledgeable technicians. Active onstage and behind the scenes, they interpret scripts, communicate their vision to set and costume designers, audition and select cast members, manage rehearsals, and coach actors.
Economists study the buying and selling of products and services, and analyze the factors that influence these transactions.
Today’s global economy bears little resemblance to the simple local barter-and-trade systems of yesterday. It is a vast and intricate system in which a hurricane that affects oil production in the Gulf of Mexico can send ripples through the economies of every nation on earth.
Economists seek to understand this system and use their knowledge to make predictions and decisions.
Editors review writers' work and make suggestions or changes to make the text stronger.
Behind every great writer is a fabulous editor. Magazines, newspapers, and websites, just to name a few publications, all employ editors to guide and encourage writers. Editors work in all kinds of settings, from busy newsrooms to corporate offices, to ensure that organizations get their messages to the public.
The titles and duties of editors vary a great deal, depending on where they work and exactly what they do. For example, developmental editors work with authors on novels and other long pieces to make sure the text is clear and meets the publisher's expectations. At newspapers, assignment editors match reporters to stories while executive editors make decisions about what news to cover and how to approach it.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
Health educators study the latest health information and design programs to encourage healthier behavior and practices in their communities.
Did you know that one in every three children in the United States is overweight or close to it? Why? The reason has a lot to do with overeating and lack of exercise. If you become a health educator, you may help unhealthy children grow into healthy adults.
As a health educator, you’ll promote and improve the health of your community. Whether you work in schools, senior centers, or public health institutions, you’ll find creative ways to educate people about healthy lifestyles.
Historians collect and interpret material from the past.
Historians look for the clues that tell us about the past. More important, they help us make sense out of it all. They may start by telling us the facts of everything from the travels of Lewis and Clark to the first moon landing, but they don’t stop there.
Historians go on to answer questions about the importance of these events, their causes, and their effects. They make connections between the world as it was and the world as it is.
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.
Human-service assistant is a general term covering a large number of job titles, including mental health aide, life-skill counselor, and gerontology aide.
Think of all the people who need special help: the elderly, homeless families, pregnant teens, people with addiction problems. The list goes on. And some of these groups are growing.
Agencies need to provide for all of these people, yet they face tight budgets. Human-service assistants -- who receive less training and therefore less pay than social workers -- are stepping in and doing more of the work that used to be done by social workers. The responsibilities of human-service assistants vary greatly. They range from helping people with the chores of daily life to coaching disabled adults as they adjust to new jobs.
Imams are Muslim clergy (religious leaders) in mosques (Islamic places of worship) and in Muslim communities. They lead prayers, deliver sermons, and provide religious education and counseling.
Muslims, like Christians and Jews, trace their religion to the ancient figure of Abraham. The word "imam" in the Koran (the Muslim sacred text) refers to Abraham and other leaders.
Though anyone leading a Muslim prayer may be called an imam, in practice imams are revered leaders with years of study behind them. One of their many challenges is staying informed about Islamic interpretations of modern-day advancements, such as organ transplants, so they can help believers make wise decisions while remaining true to Islam.
Industrial 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 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.
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.
Interpreters help individuals or groups communicate with each other by orally translating from one language to another.
From courtrooms to boardrooms, interpreters help people who speak different languages understand each other. They work in a range of situations, from business meetings to criminal trials to medical emergencies. Those who know American Sign Language interpret spoken language to sign language and vice versa. Since interpreters work on the spot and can’t go back to correct any mistakes they make, they need intense concentration.
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.
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.
Lodging managers oversee the day-to-day workings of hotels and motels. They supervise such departments as front-desk operations, housekeeping, and food services.
People on vacation enjoy being pampered. They want extra pillows, plush towels, and delicious chocolates to appear like magic. Others travel for business. They need basic office services, such as Internet access, fax machines, and conference rooms, so they can get their work done efficiently.
Lodging managers work hard to make sure their hotels provide the experience their guests expect -- so those guests will return year after year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors treat people with mental and emotional problems. They help people work through everything from job stress to marriage conflicts to suicidal impulses.
A mental health counselor meets with a small group of people with severe mental problems. At first, the counselor is very active. He asks members questions about the history of their illnesses, how they cope, and what it's like to interact with others.
Over time, the counselor says less and less, encouraging group members to ask the questions and provide support. After the sessions end, they report that their lives have improved: they have more confidence, more friends, and more fun.
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.
Occupational therapists help people who have learning disabilities, physical handicaps, illnesses, and other conditions master everyday tasks, from shopping for groceries to walking with crutches.
It takes enormous patience to work with the physically handicapped, the mentally ill, or anyone struggling with the tasks of daily life. But as an occupational therapist (OT), you can find great satisfaction in helping them live more independently.
Whether you’re teaching a stroke survivor to use a walker, modifying school equipment for a disabled child, or helping the victim of a car accident to get behind the wheel again, one thing is certain: you’ll make a difference.
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.
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.
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.
Priests are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican religious leaders who have been ordained (officially appointed) by their churches.
Although you might see priests only on Sunday mornings in church, they actually lead very busy lives. They might be up at dawn to lead morning mass. At lunchtime, they might be leading discussions at schools about the challenges of faith. And rather than relaxing in front of an evening TV show, they may be visiting the homes of church members.
Priests believe deeply in God and feel that serving other people is the best way to serve God.
Private-practice lawyers work in law firms or are self-employed. Transactional lawyers work to avoid legal problems, for example, by writing contracts. Litigators, or trial lawyers, deal with problems, such as broken contracts, once they've occurred.
"Lizzie Borden took an axe / And gave her mother forty whacks. / When she saw what she had done, / She gave her father forty-one." Although this ditty sounds certain, Borden’s defense attorney was good enough to prove reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors in the famous 1893 trial introduced evidence that included powerful details. For example, Borden burned the dress she wore the day of the deed, and prosecutors argued that she did so because it was stained with blood. But the defense team -- using for the most part the prosecution's own witnesses -- shot down every attempt to pin the dastardly deed on Borden. In the end, she walked free.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
Probation officers supervise convicted criminals who have been given probation (the chance to live in the community) instead of or in addition to a prison or jail sentence. Correctional treatment specialists work in jails or prisons, helping inmates prepare for life after they're released.
According to Gallup polls in recent years, there's a growing perception in the United States that criminal activity is rising. That's despite government reports that violent and property crime rates have remained low. However, one fact most of us know is that a larger percentage of people in the United States are being locked up than ever before.
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists play a vital role in helping decide who stays behind bars and who goes free.
Program directors choose the content of radio and television shows to meet their audience's needs.
Teenagers generally don’t watch the same television shows as Wall Street executives, and most kids don’t listen to the same radio stations as their parents. No one knows this better than program directors, whose job it is to analyze the media market and plan their programs accordingly. By knowing their audiences inside and out, program directors decide which songs to play or which television shows to air -- and when to do it. An MTV reality show does better at 9 p.m. than at 9 a.m., for example.
Protestant ministers are religious leaders who have been ordained (officially appointed) by the Protestant denomination (subgroup) to which they belong.
In 1517, in what is now Germany, Roman Catholic priest Martin Luther got so mad at what he saw as weaknesses in Catholicism that he nailed a list of complaints called the "95 Theses" onto a church door.
Luther didn't want to break away from Catholicism; he just wanted to improve it. But his action set off a chain of events that eventually led to a new form of Christianity called Protestantism. This belief system spread around the world and is still going strong today.
Public 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.
Rabbis are clergy (religious leaders) who have been ordained (officially appointed) by the Jewish denomination to which they belong.
Jewish religious services differ radically depending on the denomination, or subgroup.
In Orthodox synagogues, for example, men and women sit in separate sections, heads covered. They chant the same Hebrew prayers that Jews chanted more than two thousand years ago. In Reform services, everyone sits together, most heads are bare, and most of the service is in English.
Whatever the denomination, there's usually a rabbi present, guiding members in worship.
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.
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 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.
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.
Set designers plan, design, and oversee the construction of sets for theatrical, motion picture, and TV productions.
Gritty city street or lush green countryside. Lively medieval marketplace or sleek suburban shopping mall. If you’ve ever been amazed at the look of a movie or play, you’ve been under the spell of a talented designer.
Set designers establish the physical worlds of plays, movies, and TV shows, setting the mood, time, and place of the story. They work with directors, other designers, and technicians to make a strong visual impact.
Sociologists study people and the behavior within the social groups that they form. They also study social institutions such as religion and law.
Socio- comes from the Latin word socius, which means “companion.” As a sociologist, you’ll study people as companions, the ways in which they live, work, and play together.
You’ll also examine the problems, from family arguments at the dinner table to violent crime, that occur within groups. Your research might be used by governments and organizations that help people live and work together better.
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.
Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent speech and hearing problems caused by accidents, diseases, and genetic disorders.
A three-year-old boy, diagnosed with autism, has never uttered a word. A sixty-year-old woman is recovering from a severe stroke and must learn to speak again. Although you relate to them differently, you'll teach both language skills using many of the same techniques.
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists work not only with a variety of clients but also in a wide range of settings, including schools, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. Some even choose to conduct research into speech and hearing.
Speech-Language Pathology Assistants
Speech-language pathology assistants help people with a range of speech problems.
You may find the stuttering cartoon character Porky Pig amusing, but to many children and adults who stutter, he’s no joke. Speech-language pathology assistants work under the supervision of speech-language pathologists to help people control their stuttering or other speech problems. They work in settings that range from hospitals to schools, guiding clients through documented treatment plans.
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.
Theater, Film, and TV Technicians
Theater, film, and TV technicians are craftspeople who work in stage, film, and TV productions building and decorating sets, setting up lighting and sound, and making costumes.
Maybe you got your first taste of the theater as a stagehand in a high school production of Oklahoma! Or maybe it’s the sparkle of Hollywood that’s grabbed your attention. If you love being part of a spirited, hardworking team and want to work on projects you can see and touch, this could be the career for you.
While technicians often specialize in particular areas, it takes a lot of flexibility to build a career. The more you can do, from wiring lights to building flats, the more work you’ll find -- especially early on in your career.
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.
Translators read written materials, which can range from poetry to technical manuals, in one language and write them in another.
Translators often describe their work as a labor of love and it’s true that translating a great novel into another language can be almost as satisfying as though you had written it yourself. However, translators also do the necessary work of translating technical manuals, business memos, news stories, and government documents, without which the global economy would probably grind to a halt. Whether you translate poetry or scientific reports, translating requires creative thinking, research, and determination.
Urban and Regional Planners
Urban and regional planners help communities decide on the best use of land. They find places to build homes and businesses, deal with transportation issues, and study the environmental effects of possible projects.
It’s a hot day, and you wish your town would hurry up and build that pool everyone keeps talking about. But where should it be built? What land is available? How will people get there? How would building it affect the local wildlife? What do you say to neighbors who worry about noise and traffic? As an urban or regional planner, it would be your job to help the town answer all of these questions -- and many more.
As the nation’s population grows, so do our cities and suburbs. Planners play a key role in managing that growth. They help keep communities safe, livable places and work to improve them.
Writers develop text for publications, such as books, magazines, websites, and newsletters. They also create material for radio and TV broadcasts, movies, and plays.
Writers work in many places, from magazines to corporations to home offices. They create articles and nonfiction books, newsletters for nonprofits, annual reports for big companies, and scripts for TV and radio shows, just to name a few possibilities.
If you dream of writing a story, poem, or play that will live on long after you do, you may have to do so just for the joy of it -- and find a day job to make ends meet. If you’re also interested in writing nonfiction and develop a specialty in, for example, business, fashion, or sports, you may find that getting paid to write is an easier goal to reach.