Connect AP to Majors and Careers
Explore the relationships between AP courses, majors, and careers based on your choice.
AP Course: AP Statistics
Skills You'll Learn
AP can get you on your path
Related Majors and Careers
Aerospace engineering majors learn how to use math and science to design and develop aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also study such topics as aerodynamics, orbits, launch, flight controls, and engines.
For thousands of years, people enviously watched birds coast through the skies and wondered how they did it. But in the last one hundred years, flying on this earth has become as unremarkable as walking, and space travel is no longer the stuff of science fiction.
As an aerospace engineering major, you’ll learn the basics that helped the Wright brothers and others conquer the age-old problem of flight. You’ll learn how to apply these ideas to developing new types of air- and spacecraft that are better, safer, and stronger. You’ll find out how space flight works and dream up new ways of exploring galaxies unknown.
As an agricultural engineering major, you’ll learn how to use science to improve the production, processing, storage, and distribution of food, timber, fiber, and renewable energy sources while protecting the environment.
Could the earth run out of earth? It doesn’t seem possible, but it takes thousands of years for soil to develop. This means that soil is practically a nonrenewable resource. Meanwhile, soil is being worn out by farming, polluted by chemicals, and eroded by wind and water.
If this concerns you, you’re not alone. Some agricultural engineers come up with farming practices that use soil more efficiently. Others help farmers by designing power systems, tools, and storage space. Still others look for ways to ensure food safety during processing. Thanks to agricultural engineering, farmers are getting better at producing safe food more efficiently while protecting the environment and using natural resources wisely.
Air transportation majors study aviation as well as the technical and business sides of the aviation industry.
Love to fly? Fascinated by planes? If so, consider a major in air transportation. It will give you a foundation in all aspects of aviation, from the physics of flight to the art of piloting to the science of management. Air transportation majors often go on to careers as pilots, air traffic controllers, flight instructors, airport and airline managers, and government administrators.
Students of applied math learn how to use math and statistics to solve problems in the applied sciences and engineering. Subjects of study include numerical analysis (approximation methods) and optimization theory (a decision-making technique).
Many a math student has asked the question, “Will I ever need this stuff in the real world?” Working on a complicated algebra problem or calculus equation may seem like a pointless exercise, but in fact there are a lot of careers that rely on this sort of math.
If you major in applied math, you’ll indulge your love of equations and proofs while preparing for a career in a field such as computer science, engineering, or science.
Astronomy students study space, the history and future of the universe, and the objects within, such as planets, stars, and galaxies. Subjects of study include the evolution of stars, how the stars and planets move through space, chemistry, and advanced math.
When you look up at the night sky, what do you see? There are patterns of stars, planets, the moon, and some sights that you may not be able to explain. Astronomy is the study of those objects in space — how stars, planets, and galaxies form and behave — and the universe itself.
If you want to understand the mysteries of the night sky, this could be the major for you.
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
Meteorology students study the atmosphere (the gases that surround the earth), focusing on the weather and how to forecast it. Areas of study include the climate, the physics of the atmosphere, and chemistry.
You’ve got your bathing suit on and your sun block packed, but by the time you get to the beach, it’s pouring rain. What happened to that sunny day you expected? Why is the weather so changeable, so uncertain?
Meteorology is the field of science that seeks to understand and predict short-term weather as well as long-term climate processes.
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.
Computer science majors learn about computer systems and the way humans and computers interact from a scientific perspective. Instruction includes programming and the theory and design of software.
In countless old Star Trek episodes, a baffled captain asked the computer for help, and the computer promptly replied with an answer. What was once science fiction is becoming reality, thanks to computer scientists working in voice recognition.
If you study computer science, you may learn how to design computer programs that allow humans and computers to speak to one another. Keep in mind, your work is more likely to help a vision-impaired person than a captain navigating the universe, but you never know.
Computer Software Engineering
As a software engineering major, you’ll study the scientific and mathematical basis of computer software. You’ll learn a variety of programming languages and how to design, analyze and maintain software.
If you’re considering a major as a computer software engineer, be prepared for a cutting edge and continuously evolving career. Jobs will advance rapidly and new jobs will be created often to meet ever-changing technological needs. Just think about how much computers and the software they use have evolved over the past four years.
The scientific and mathematical foundation you build in this major will always be fundamental to your work. But like other computer majors, you’ll face a lifetime of learning as you strive to stay on the forefront of innovation.
Students in criminal justice explore every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system.
How is the threat of terrorism affecting city life? Should drug abusers be rehabilitated in prison or drug treatment programs? What punishments are “cruel and unusual”? These are just a few of the questions you’ll confront as a student in criminal justice. You’ll also study the law backward and forward, learn how the judicial system works, and learn the ins and outs of police departments and other law enforcement agencies.
Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major, so get ready to study everything: law, psychology, sociology, public administration, and more.
Students of criminology study the nature and causes of crime, the behavior of criminals, and the criminal-justice system.
Our obsession with crime and punishment is reflected in fact and fiction television programs about on-the-lam killers, petty criminals, and white-collar crime. Today, as much as ever, we are fascinated by questions about crime: Why do people commit crimes? Is there such a thing as a born killer? Is a completely crime-free society possible?
Criminology is the search for answers to questions like these. Our understanding of who commits crimes and why has a direct influence on the criminal-justice system. As a criminology student, you may come up with new theories that lead to better responses to crime and its causes.
Economics majors learn about economic theory, economic systems such as capitalism, and mathematical methods. They use their knowledge to analyze how limited resources are made, traded, and used.
As the old song says, money makes the world go 'round. However, without the proper knowledge, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how.
Economics majors learn to decode the systems behind what can often appear impossible to understand. They study economic models and theories to analyze how the seemingly simple acts of buying and selling can be complicated by factors such as taxes, interest rates, inflation, labor disagreements, and even the weather.
Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. Classes cover such topics as educational psychology, school health and safety issues, and the planning of classroom activities.
Do you find yourself reading stories to younger kids or organizing games for your cousins at the family picnic? Do you feel proud when you've explained a difficult math problem to a friend and his face lights up with understanding?
If you major in education, you’ll develop your talents into the skills every teacher needs. You’ll find out how to set up and manage a classroom, design and teach inspiring lessons, and help students succeed no matter what their age, background, or learning style.
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.
Ethnic Studies, General
Ethnic studies majors examine race and ethnicity, focusing on a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of minorities in the United States.
What do we mean when we say race? What about ethnicity? How has the immigrant experience changed in the last hundred years? How does a history that includes the enslavement, displacement, and exclusion of people of color shape the United States today? And how can we begin to overcome this legacy? These are some of the many questions you'll explore as an ethnic studies major.
You'll study ethnic groups from every angle to arrive at a greater understanding of our diverse world. To do so, you'll take classes in disciplines that range from history, political science, economics, and sociology to literature, music, and art history.
Exercise science majors study the science of the human movement. They also learn how to help people live healthier lives through exercise, rehabilitation, and nutrition.
Do you get a rush from organized sports? Do you feel proud when you work out with teammates and help one another succeed? Is eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle a priority to you?
If so, maybe you should go for gold and study the field of exercise science. You’ll learn the science behind everything from jogging to low-carb diets.
Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies
Students of foods, nutrition, and wellness learn about food and its effect on our health. Their studies include food preparation and safety, nutritional education, and more.
Is a low-carb diet really the healthiest way to eat? Why do we get cranky when we don’t get enough B vitamins? How can vegetarians pump up the protein in their diet?
If these questions intrigue you, you may want to major in foods, nutrition, and wellness studies. Whether you see yourself developing recipes in a test kitchen, counseling clients on nutrition, or inspecting foods for a government agency, a smorgasbord of options awaits you in this diverse and growing field.
Geography majors study how space on the earth’s surface is placed and used. Students who concentrate on physical geography focus on the land itself, studying such topics as climate, soil, and water. Cultural, or human, geography explores the relationship between people and the land.
If you think geography is all about staring at maps and memorizing state capitols, you couldn’t be more wrong. As a geography major, you’ll study a wide variety of subjects: deserts in the making, the causes of racially segregated housing, the paths of tornados, and the way international trade agreements affect business in a small town.
As one senior geography major put it, “What we study is how the world works. Is there anything more important or more engaging than that?”
Industrial engineering majors learn how to improve the way factories, hospitals, and other organizations run. They learn to take all factors into account -- from equipment and materials to people.
How many copies of the first Harry Potter book should the corner bookstore keep on its shelf? How many people need to work the night shift at a cupcake factory in order to supply the local chain of grocery stores? Will technology stocks rise or fall over the next three months?
As an industrial engineering major, you’ll draw on math, science, business, and psychology to answer questions like these. You’ll learn how to create factory schedules, determine delivery routes, set up customer service systems, and much more.
Information science majors learn how to create systems for finding and storing data. Students look at the big picture of information exchange and learn how people interact with, use, and sell information.
Students of information science learn about computers, but they also study people. Most importantly, they explore the way people and computers come together.
If you major in information science, you’ll examine the many challenges we face when it comes to technology: How can we build websites that are easy to use? How can we use computers to open new worlds to children without endangering them? How can we bridge the “digital divide” between the haves and the have-nots?
This program prepares students to provide insurance and risk management services to people, businesses, and other organizations.
Let's say a car company employee hurts her hand on the assembly line. Insurance helps pay for the costs of her lost wages, hospital bills, and so forth. But insurance companies and other businesses want to keep costs down by preventing such accidents in the first place.
This prevention is called risk management -- it’s another way that insurance companies protect against loss and harm. If you major in insurance, you'll learn about helping companies create safe working conditions as well as other aspects of risk management. Classes cover everything from health insurance to pension planning.
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.
Students of management science learn how to use math and science to design systems, make decisions, and solve problems for businesses. They take courses in high-level math, statistics, computer science, and business.
When most of us go to the airport, we're busy -- saying goodbye to mom and dad, or buying a last-minute box of candy to take to the aunt in Arizona. Most of us don't pause to think about who planned all the systems we're passing through. Who decided when our flight would leave, from which gate, and what route it would travel? Who figured out which pilot and flight crew would be assigned to our airplane? Who set up the security checkpoints?
Management science majors learn the skills and techniques they’ll need to help businesses such as airlines solve complex problems.
Math majors study quantities, forms, and symbolic logic in such subjects as algebra, geometry, calculus, logic, topology, and number theory.
Most of us are comfortable using everyday math -- when we go shopping, for example. But higher level math, such as calculus, may seem mysterious, a completely unfamiliar language. As a math major, you’ll study this language and learn how to use it to describe the world. You’ll explore calculus, modern algebra, and other high-level math in the purest light.
If you love to solve math problems just to know the answer and enjoy using abstract concepts to discover whether something is true or false, this could be the major for you.
Physician assistance majors train to practice medicine as part of a team supervised by doctors.
Are you interested in health and medicine? Do biology, chemistry, and psychology rank among your favorite courses? Can you imagine working with physicians and patients in a busy city hospital? Or what about working with a physician in a small rural community? If you answered yes to these questions, a major in physician assistance may be the right choice for you.
Since physician assistants are often the first person to assess a patient’s health, you’ll learn how to recognize and treat everything from the common cold to life-threatening diseases. Your studies will range from basic medical and clinical sciences to specialized fields such as pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry.
Physics is the scientific study of matter and energy. Topics covered include classical and modern theories, electricity and magnetism, and relativity.
How does the universe work? What are atoms made of? While the first question is about the biggest of things, the second asks about the unimaginably small. Yet both questions fall under the scope of physics.
Physics majors seek to understand the laws that govern the universe. From gigantic stars trillions of miles away to the subatomic particles within our own bodies, physics takes on matter and energy in all its forms.
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 Policy Analysis
Students of public policy analysis learn various methods for studying proposed solutions to public problems.
Should people be allowed to smoke in bars? This is just one public policy debate taking place across the globe. Legislators and other public officials must decide whether the health benefits of a smoking ban outweigh the money that bars -- and even whole cities -- could lose if smokers take their business elsewhere.
Public policy refers to all of the laws, regulations, and other programs developed by governments to solve problems. And if you major in public policy analysis, you’ll make problem solving your specialty. Along the way, you’ll grapple with some of society’s most urgent issues, such as crime, health care, and the quality of the air we breathe.
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.
Statistics students study probability theory and sampling theory. They also learn to use techniques based on these theories to study the relationships between groups of measurements.
Who will win the next presidential election? To find out, you might ask each and every registered voter how they plan to vote. But a more practical way to get your answer is to conduct an opinion poll, questioning only a small sample of registered voters. But how can you use the answers of a small group of people to make a prediction that involves many millions of people nationwide?
That’s where statistics comes into play. Statistics is a field of applied mathematics that relies heavily on computers. Using statistics, pollsters can decide who to interview and how to weigh the information they collect to make accurate predictions.
Urban studies majors use the tools of sociology, economics, and other social sciences to study city life, government, and services. If you choose this major you’ll learn how city dwellers live and behave. You’ll also study the problems they face.
Cities are loud, crowded, concrete jungles, right? But they’re also places full of energy, where great thinkers, artists, and leaders come together and give birth to new and exciting creative movements and ideas.
Urban studies majors learn what makes city culture unique and how urban areas respond to problems and events. You’ll ask yourself many questions as an urban studies major. For example: How do different neighborhoods develop their own identities? How do the buildings and the layout of a city affect its people? What happens when the need for growth clashes with the need to preserve history? How does living close together affect the way city dwellers interact?
Actuaries decide how likely it is that various events will happen. Using their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, they help create insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial plans.
To be alive is to face risks. Some are avoidable. For example, if you want to avoid earthquakes, don't move to California. But some risks are harder to control. People can get sick without warning or wind up in an auto accident. And some hardships are inevitable. Much as we hate to think about it, we all die.
Do you find these facts fascinating, if gruesome? If so, consider a career as an actuary. Actuaries make a profession of studying risk.
Adult educators teach a variety of subjects to adults in places such as community colleges, adult high schools, university extension programs, and prisons.
Sometimes adults go to school because they have to. They may need to improve their English skills or computer skills or earn a high school diploma to get a better job. Other times, adults attend classes for fun. They might want to learn how to bake mouth-watering desserts or draw funny cartoons.
Whether they're in class out of necessity or for pleasure, adults are usually motivated to get the most out of class time. Their eagerness to learn makes teaching them a deeply rewarding experience.
Advertising Sales Agents
Advertising sales agents sell advertising to businesses and other organizations. They sell ad space in newspapers, magazines, direct mail circulars, and telephone directories and on TV, radio, websites, and billboards.
Advertising sales agents hold a wide range of jobs. Local sales agents work for specific media companies, such as newspapers and radio stations, selling ad space or airtime to local businesses. Other agents work in the advertising industry for companies that specialize in selling advertising and work on national ad campaigns. They act as go-betweens, bringing together businesses that need to advertise with media companies that have advertising to sell.
Instead of selling just one kind of advertising, sales agents often sell groups of ads that take advantage of a mix of media. These so-called integrated packages are a growing trend in the ad biz. A single package might include space in a magazine and on a website, along with TV airtime.
Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Managers
Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers use market research and employ various strategies to develop, promote, and sell their clients' products and services.
There’s a game plan behind every product that is sold -- even if that product is a person. Advertising, marketing, and public relations managers are the brains behind those strategies.
Marketing managers draw on market research to target the right audience; advertising managers are in charge of creating and placing ads; and public relations managers use subtler methods to get the word out. Of course, the roles of these professionals overlap, and their goal is the same: to earn bigger profits. With tools such as advertisements, brochures, and websites, they can make the difference between a success and a flop.
Aerospace engineers design all kinds of manned and unmanned aircraft and spacecraft, from small airplanes to satellites. They test and build new designs and work to improve existing machines.
In 1903, the Wright brothers’ first plane flew for twelve seconds and went only 120 feet. Today, aerospace engineers are working on supersonic ramjets. These scramjets, as they’re called, will take you from New York to Tokyo in only two hours. That’s a lot of progress for one century.
As an aerospace engineer, you could build satellites or defense systems. You could make airplanes faster and safer. You could design a spacecraft, a space station, or an explorer robot like the Mars-roving Spirit. If looking up at the sky starts you thinking about how to get there, you could be one of tomorrow’s aerospace engineers.
Agricultural and Food Scientists
Agricultural scientists study farm crops and animals to improve their quality and yield. Food scientists research foods and develop new ways to preserve and package them.
In the old days, you sprinkled a lot of salt on your meat, hung it in your attic, and hoped for the best.
Today, thanks to agricultural and food scientists, we find an incredible range of choices on supermarket shelves. Even during the coldest months, we enjoy fruits and vegetables kept fresh by food preservation techniques, such as special plastic bags. And when we eat ice cream, we know exactly how much fat we’re digesting.
Agricultural engineers use science and math to meet agricultural challenges. They help farms grow better and more food, look for ways to conserve soil and water, and design tools and equipment.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it took four farmers to grow enough food for ten people. By the end of the century, one farmer could feed one hundred.
Agricultural engineers have contributed to this dramatic improvement. They’ve invented machinery, improved production systems, and found ways to grow healthier and stronger plants.
Air Traffic Controllers
Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic, making sure that planes stay a safe distance apart during takeoff, in the air, and during landing.
While pilots might have the most glamorous job in the sky, it’s certainly not the only important one. Air traffic controllers are the men and women who sit above the tarmac in the control tower, managing traffic that no simple stoplight can handle.
They’re responsible for keeping order on busy runways and preventing crashes in the air. Some controllers direct traffic at the airport, while others direct traffic between airports.
Aircraft and Avionics Technicians
Aircraft and avionics technicians inspect and repair airplanes and helicopters.
The pilot is not the only person who keeps you safe during a flight. Aircraft and avionics technicians maintain and repair everything from radar to landing gear.
Avionics technicians specialize in navigation, radio, radar systems, and other electronic and computer instruments and controls. Aircraft technicians check for wear and tear, using x-ray or magnetic equipment to look for cracks and punctures invisible to the human eye.
Aircraft pilots fly for commercial airlines, but they also deliver cargo, dust crops, spread seed for reforestation, give skydivers a lift, and pull advertising streamers. They might also test aircraft, direct fire-fighting efforts, monitor traffic, or even track criminals.
Imagine a job where, on any given day, you could find yourself in Paris, Tokyo, or New Delhi. Now imagine yourself in command of one top-notch, state-of-the-art piece of machinery -- a 747, for example, which can cruise through the clouds at 570 miles per hour.
Of course, sitting in the cockpit isn’t all fun and games. It’s serious stuff. Pilots are responsible for taking people from point A to point B -- safely. That’s why piloting is a profession requiring exceptional skill and lots of training.
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.
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.
Athletic trainers work with athletes to prevent and treat injuries. They also play a key role in rehabilitation.
The year: 1996. The place: Atlanta. In her first vault, gymnast Kerri Strug falls and injures her ankle, badly. Should she go on to do her second vault? The team’s depending on her, but is it safe? As an athletic trainer, you’ll find yourself facing similar dilemmas, though you’ll more likely be at a high school basketball game than the Olympics.
Biological scientists study living organisms like animals, plants, and microbes. They also examine their relationships to the environment and other living things.
We have always been interested in the living world around us. To survive, we had to understand which animals and plants were dangerous to us and which were good to eat.
Today’s biologists still study living organisms, but they do so using the modern methods of science. These scientists of life look not only at plants and animals but also at microbes, microscopic organisms invisible to the naked eye. Biologists work in such fields as biochemistry, aquatic biology, botany, microbiology, zoology, and ecology.
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.
Chefs plan menus and create meals in a variety of settings, from cafeterias to upscale restaurants. There are many levels of chefs, from prep chefs to executive.
If your vision of a chef is someone in a puffy white hat who races around the kitchen making sure each order is filled, you’re only partly right. True, a chef’s job revolves around creating meals that taste and look great. But there are all kinds of chefs: while cuisine, sous (assistant), and pastry chefs take care of the cooking, executive chefs spend most of their time planning menus and supervising others.
The hours are long, and the stress runs high, but if the idea of choosing between paprika and red pepper flakes makes your pulse race, this career may be just your cup of tea.
Chemical engineers use chemistry to bridge the gap between scientific invention and manufactured goods.
Chemical engineers know that there’s more to creating a great product than coming up with a new idea. They figure out how to turn new ideas into products that can be mass-produced.
Whether they’re making perfume with a fragrance that lasts or cookies that taste homemade or tape that sticks in the rain, chemical engineers are using their understanding of chemicals and chemical reactions.
Chemists and Materials Scientists
Chemists research chemicals -- the building blocks of all materials. Materials scientists conduct research on the structures and compositions of materials.
You may not realize it, but the products of chemistry play a big role in our daily lives. Chemists and materials scientists create the building blocks for medicines like Prozac or products such as plastic bags. Even the chocolate, marshmallow, and banana flavors of the processed food you eat were created in a lab by food chemists.
Chemists and materials scientists working in applied research come up with new products for industrial, commercial, and medical use.
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.
Chiropractors assess the total health of their patients and use nonsurgical, drug-free treatment methods that include manipulating the spinal column.
Athletes. Dancers. Office workers who sit for long hours each day. Movers who lift and carry heavy furniture. These are just some of the people who suffer from back- and spine-related injuries. Some consult with medical doctors, but others prefer the expertise of chiropractors because of their overall approach to health.
Chiropractors evaluate and treat a patient’s muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems. They also explore how diet, exercise, environment, and heredity contribute to a patient's pain and injuries.
Civil engineers design, plan, and run large building projects, such as bridges, buildings, roads, dams, and water-supply systems.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing. And it does make people wonder: How did the Egyptians, working over forty-five hundred years ago, ever manage to build it? With a base that spreads over 13.1 acres and a height of 481 feet, it would be quite a project even today. Yet the Egyptians engineered ways to meet the huge challenges they faced. And they did it all without power tools, computers, trucks, or even pulleys.
Today’s civil engineers have it a lot easier, but their projects are no less fascinating. They help construct the wonders of the modern world.
Clinical 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.
Coaches and Scouts
Coaches are responsible for the training and development of athletes and sports teams. Scouts, who at the college level might also work as coaches, search for talented players who would contribute to team success.
Most athletes are highly goal oriented, but when the going gets tough, their determination may flag.
As a coach, you’ll need to work hard to keep up their spirits and their motivation -- even when your athletes are stuck in a losing streak or can’t seem to beat their own best times. You’ll also evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to help them improve their game.
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 programmers write, test, and maintain the instructions that computers must follow to land airplanes, sell products online, build machines, share information, and so much more.
If you picture yourself as a computer programmer, you may already know a computer language. Once you know multiple computer languages, you’ll be able to communicate throughout the world.
In addition to mastering programming languages like C++ and Java, you’ll also need to communicate easily with people. After all, you’ll often work with a team and sometimes with the users of the products you develop. At the end of the day, the key to programming is language.
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 Support Specialists
Computer support specialists, also known as help-desk technicians, provide technical assistance to customers by identifying and solving their hardware and software problems.
Are you the person friends and family call when they can’t figure out what’s wrong with their computer? Do you enjoy solving what others think of as insurmountable tasks and watching them breathe a sigh of relief as you rescue their lost document or rid their computer of a virus? Do you read the latest computer magazines and keep up with the best new hardware and software products?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, a career as a computer support specialist may be for you.
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.
Conservation scientists manage natural resources, such as rangeland and water. They develop programs that both make resources productive and protect them.
How do you manage a ranch so that it supports the most cattle while maintaining the land so wildlife can live there? Solving this type of issue is the job of a range manager. A soil conservationist, on the other hand, might figure out how to restore farmland where the soil has been worn away. A water conservationist may look at how to assure a clean water supply for a growing town.
All of these scientists make complex decisions to come up with plans that balance economic goals with environmental impact -- and meet government regulations.
Construction managers plan and coordinate construction projects, including residential, commercial, and civil (or public works) building.
Large construction projects may take years or even decades to complete -- think of a high-rise office building or a subway system. On projects this complicated, teams of construction managers handle different steps. One team might be responsible for estimating costs. Another team might schedule the activities of the various subcontractors. And yet another team might work on-site supervising the construction work in progress.
On smaller projects, one team may tackle several, or even all, of these functions. Regardless of the size of a job, it takes a group of dedicated construction managers to keep the project running on schedule and within budget.
Curators run the educational, research, and public service activities of museums, zoos, and other institutions.
Curators do much more than handle artwork or artifacts and design museum and zoo exhibits. The job of managing a collection is broad-based. It involves working with people as much as, if not more than, the pieces in the collection.
Curators work with museum educators, zookeepers, publicists, and publishers to produce exhibits complete with special events and publications. And they work closely with other curators, museum directors, and board members to grow the museum, gallery, or zoo collection -- whether dealing with artwork, plants, or living animals.
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.
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Dietitians and nutritionists provide medical nutrition therapy, plan food and nutrition programs, and oversee food preparation.
Eating right is one of the best preventive medicines there is. But people don’t always know what’s good for them. That’s where dietitians and nutritionists come in.
These pros work closely with a wide variety of people, spreading the good word about proper nutrition. Their duties vary, depending on their job. For example, they might develop nutrition programs for hospital patients, advise clients on losing weight, or prepare reports on the benefits of dietary fiber.
Economists study the buying and selling of products and services, and analyze the factors that influence these transactions.
Today’s global economy bears little resemblance to the simple local barter-and-trade systems of yesterday. It is a vast and intricate system in which a hurricane that affects oil production in the Gulf of Mexico can send ripples through the economies of every nation on earth.
Economists seek to understand this system and use their knowledge to make predictions and decisions.
Education administrators provide direction and day-to-day management of day care centers, preschools, schools, and colleges and universities. They also oversee educational programs for other institutions such as museums, businesses, and job-training organizations.
"If you don't settle down, I'll send you to the principal's office!" For eons, it seems, teachers have used this threat to keep order in the classroom. It's not the best advertisement for the job of principal, to say the least.
But in reality, principals -- as well as other education administrators such as assistant principals, school district administrators, and college and university deans -- have highly rewarding and challenging jobs. They aren't simply disciplinarians -- they are the leaders of entire communities of learners.
Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers
Elementary, middle, and high school teachers work in public or private schools, preparing children for the work world or college. They also try to inspire a lifelong love of learning in their students.
If you want to become a teacher, it's probably because of your experiences in the classroom. Maybe you find inspiration in great teachers or simply your own love of learning. With a career in school teaching, you'll be able to share that love and pass along the skills and knowledge kids need to get a start in life.
Engineering and Science Managers
Engineering managers oversee engineers, scientists, and technicians who design and develop machinery, products, and systems. Science managers direct the research and development projects of life and physical scientists.
Whether checking the work done by an engineer or directing a team of medical scientists on a biomedical project, engineering and science managers work on two levels at once.
Understanding complex science and math concepts is only the beginning. They also need to know how to translate those concepts to customers. And they use management skills to help the engineers and scientists they work with meet deadlines and complete projects.
Environmental educators develop and teach programs about nature for people of all ages.
Are you passionate about nature and eager to pass that love on to others? Environmental educators, also known as naturalists and interpreters, teach students about natural resources.
Environmental educators might do their teaching outside, while hiking, canoeing, or sitting around a campfire, for example. They often work for the government, schools, and nonprofit organizations in camps, parks, nature centers, environmental programs, and museums. Being in beautiful settings and participating in outdoor activities are two of the bonuses of this job. However, most opportunities are part-time, short-term, and low paying.
Environmental engineers use math and science to address environmental challenges such as hazardous waste and pollution. They also study the impact on the environment of proposed construction projects.
Back in 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt stressed the importance of treating our natural resources well. He said that we must pass them on to the next generation improved -- not impaired.
Environmental engineers work toward that goal. They help cities and construction companies find ways to build that don’t damage the environment. They help to clean up environmental problems from the past. They work with factories so they pollute less. Environmental engineers do their part to make sure that the earth will be in good condition for those who live here tomorrow.
Environmental scientists use ideas from the life and physical sciences to protect natural resources, such as forests and water.
Environmental scientists use their expertise to protect natural resources. If you're interested in chemistry, you might examine how certain chemicals affect plants, animals, and people. If you're interested in ecology, you might research the way rainfall, temperature, pollutants, and human activity affect an area.
As our population grows, we will need environmental scientists to preserve water, give advice on land-use and building projects, study and design sites for waste disposal, control pollution, and repair damaged natural areas. Whatever your focus, you'll work to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world today.
Federal law enforcement agents work to stop violations of federal law, from bank robbery to drug trafficking and terrorist activity.
With September 11, 2001, behind us and the constant threat of terrorism ahead, the FBI reports a “critical need” for more special agents -- and that’s just one of many roles you could play in this profession. As a federal agent, you could investigate corporate scandals, work to stop drug smuggling, search luggage for bombs, and much more. And you’ll have to be good at keeping secrets: the job requires confidentiality at all costs.
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.
Food Service Managers
Food service managers oversee the daily operations of restaurants as well as kitchens and cafeterias in places like schools, hospitals, and hotels.
No one is more involved with the excitement of a kitchen than a food service manager. They make sure that the glasses are clean, the tablecloths are white, and the food is fresh.
Whether filling in for an absent chef or putting out a kitchen fire, managers are responsible for it all. Managers help plan menus, order food, and hire and fire staff. And the very last complaint you’ll hear from them is that their job is dull.
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.
Geographers analyze the use of space on the earth's surface and the effects of that use. They specialize in many areas, including economic geography, cultural geography, and physical geography.
The next time you take a trip, volunteer as navigator and try using a map to figure out the best way to get there from here. The next time you walk by a construction site, ask yourself questions like these: Why is this spot right for this building? Are there physical factors, such as the presence of a hill? How about economic and political reasons, such as a lack of low-income housing in the area?
If you're interested in such questions and activities, you might enjoy working as a geographer. Geographers tackle a wide variety of tasks, from research to mapmaking to advising cities on how best to use land. As a geographer, your work will reach beyond the land to include the people who use it.
Surveyors use measurements to determine land, air, and water boundaries. Surveying technicians help them by making measurements out in the field. Cartographers make maps using physical, social, and historical information. Photogrammetrists use aerial photos to fill in details on maps.
How high is Mount Everest? To find out, you need only turn to the nearest encyclopedia or computer. But the answer wasn’t always so easy to come by. It wasn’t until 1852, during the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, that the mountain was recognized as the world’s highest peak. As you can guess from the survey’s name, math played a key role in the work of the surveyors.
Geographic specialists (including surveyors, cartographers, surveying technicians, and photogrammetrists) use math as well as computers, aerial photography, and even satellites to measure and map the globe. They also help construction teams and property owners find the best places to build.
Geoscientists study the earth's structure and composition. They study its history and evolution, rocks, internal structure and core, oceans, and resources like gas and oil.
Rarely do we consider the earth as something active -- we usually think of it as a solid piece of rock. But in fact, it’s a dynamic system with a lot going on. That’s easy to see when there’s an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. Geoscientists study our constantly changing planet. They pay special attention to the earth’s physics and the chemical relationship between the core, crust, and atmosphere.
Geoscientists specialize in specific areas. Oceanographers, for instance, study the geology, biology, and chemistry of the oceans. Hydrologists study the way water circulates both on the earth’s surface and underground. Seismologists study earthquakes and earthquake faults.
Government Executives and Legislators
Government executives and legislators work at the federal, state, and local levels to direct government activities and pass laws. These officials include the president and vice president of the United States, members of Congress, governors, and city council members.
Public officials tackle tough problems from homelessness to terrorism. They respond to various groups who each argue that their issue, whether it's lower taxes or a better recycling program, demands top priority.
Given all that public officials face, it's hard to imagine the perfect way to prepare for the job. Maybe that's why there isn't one. While most have been to law school, their backgrounds vary and depend in part on their interests. As one elected official said, "You can't run for office just because you want to be an elected official. You need to decide what your interests are and follow them. If they lead you to elected office, great."
Government lawyers work for state attorneys general, public defenders, district attorneys, and the courts. At the federal level, they investigate cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies.
One type of government lawyer, the public defender, works on behalf of underprivileged people convicted of crimes.
Will Maas, a lawyer with the Office of the Public Defender in San Francisco, is a shining example. This Vietnam vet, once profiled by PBS, feels driven to defend his clients as a way to heal from having killed during the war. Maas sums up his hard-earned compassion for humanity in this way: "All of us have been mad enough to murder."
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.
Industrial designers work with engineers to design everyday goods, most of them mass produced.
Calvin Klein may have designed your jeans, but who designed the chair you’re sitting on? Industrial designers work behind the scenes to shape everyday products, from food packaging and appliances to toys and cars.
While their work may not seem glamorous, they serve a very vital function -- and they make better money than most other types of designers, too.
Industrial engineers consider factors such as location, inventory, and the needs of workers to create systems that help businesses and other organizations run better.
Suppose you had a great idea for a new product. Even better, suppose a lot of people wanted to buy it. First, congratulations! Second, how are you going to make it? How many workers will you need? How many items can they produce? What kind of system will help them make more? What kinds of parts will they need to make it? How much should you keep on hand?
An industrial engineer can help you answer these questions. Or, if answering questions like these sounds like an interesting challenge, you could become one.
Industrial Production Managers
The industrial production manager is in charge of planning, budgeting, and monitoring a plant's production schedule.
Though much of today’s manufacturing is now done by factories overseas, there are still a number of manufacturing plants in the United States. Many of these factories involve complicated systems of machinery, computers, and workers.
The industrial production manager is the person in charge of day-to-day operations, making sure it all works together as quickly and cheaply as possible, while still turning out a quality product.
Industrial psychologists work for businesses, helping to improve the working conditions and productivity of employees. They help companies hire, train, and manage employees. They also advise companies on ways of getting consumers interested in products and services.
Industrial psychologists have studied how to match the personalities of workers with various jobs. One theory argues that peoples' personalities can be described in terms of five traits, or qualities: outgoing, easygoing, responsible, stable, and open. Research shows that responsible, stable employees are valuable in any job. To succeed in jobs dealing with the public, workers must also be outgoing and easygoing.
Industrial psychologists have researched many other employment issues, from ensuring workplace justice to balancing roles at work and at home.
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.
Librarians help people find information in sources such as books, magazines, and the Internet. They collect, catalog, and organize information. Increasingly, they use computers to do these tasks.
In our era of the "information explosion," it seems that just about anything you want to know is a mouse click away. But do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the data on the Internet? Have you ever worried about whether the source you found for your research paper is accurate?
If so, go to the pros -- or consider becoming one. Today's librarians are experts in using technology to help others find all types of information.
Management consultants think about ways to increase a company's profits and productivity. Their goal is to make a business more successful and competitive.
Do you get a rush from solving a problem no one else can? Do people come to you for help and advice when they get into complicated situations? If so, you might be cut out for a career as a management consultant.
Companies and other organizations hire management consultants to help them solve some of their biggest problems. Whether they need to build a new website, design a new computer system, or launch a new product, they call on management consultants to save the day.
Market and Survey Researchers
Market and survey researchers both collect information about the public. Market researchers also analyze information, including business statistics.
How much do teens spend on video games? What kinds of movies are most popular with college students? How much is too much for a hot cup of coffee? Market researchers and survey researchers uncover the answers to questions like these. Their methods include everything from telephone and Internet surveys to focus groups to studies of past sales.
Once these answers are discovered, they're used to create better products, ad campaigns, promotions, and more. In short, it’s the mission of market and survey researchers to know everything there is to know about customer satisfaction.
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.
Massage therapists provide therapeutic massage to clients in a variety of settings, from health clubs to hospitals to private practices.
Ahhh. A massage is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But if you would rather give than receive, consider a career in massage therapy. Be warned, however: Massage know-how is more than skin-deep.
You’ll need a thorough understanding of what lies beneath the skin and what goes on there. And massage isn’t just something you make up as you go along -- you’ll need to train in a variety of techniques such as Swedish massage and shiatsu. You’ll be on your feet a lot, and the work can be demanding. But it’s rewarding to know that you’ve helped to reduce stress, relieve aching muscles, or just make someone feel better.
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.
Mechanical engineers develop, build, care for, and improve tools, machines, and systems.
Every day you come in contact with many machines. There’s the clock radio that wakes you up, and the car, bus, or bike you take to school. You use calculators, computers, stereos, and phones throughout the day. Finally, you come home and use the microwave, stove, refrigerator, and electric can opener as you help with dinner.
Our lives are a lot easier today, thanks to the mechanical engineers who imagined and built these tools. In a world where we depend on machines more than ever before, mechanical engineers keep things running.
Medical and 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.
Meteorologists are scientists who study the atmosphere. They examine its effects on the environment, predict the weather, or investigate climate trends.
We see them in action every evening as they forecast the future -- or at least tell us how likely it is to rain. They’re meteorologists.
But most people in this profession do not work in front of a camera. The biggest employer of meteorologists is, in fact, a government agency, the National Weather Service. And there are also plenty of businesses that hire meteorologists to help them make decisions based on the weather. Those who don’t forecast the weather conduct research, studying the atmosphere, climatic changes, or environmental problems.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators install, configure (set up to work in a particular way), support, and repair computer systems for businesses and other organizations.
At every office -- whether business, nonprofit, or government agency -- the story's the same: work can grind to a halt when something goes wrong with the computer system. That's reason enough to keep hundreds of thousands of professionals busy making sure that those systems continue to run at their best. Network and computer system administrators, sometimes called network technicians, monitor networks and adjust their performance as needed.
Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
Network systems and data communications analysts plan, design, build, maintain, and test networks and other data communications systems.
As a network systems and data communications analyst, you'll play a crucial role in the workplace, making it possible for others to do their jobs. Without networks -- and analysts -- computers would be unable to share information. Also called network architects and network engineers, analysts make sure that emails can be sent and received, employees can work together on the same document, and private information is protected from prying eyes.
Smooth day-to-day operations are only the beginning, though. In this job, you'll also strive to predict the future needs of your users and improve the network so that it can meet those needs.
News Analysts, Reporters, and Correspondents
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents gather information and prepare stories for broadcast (TV and radio), print (newspapers and magazines), and online media.
If you’re a news junkie -- or just someone with insatiable curiosity -- a media job may be your calling. But be ready to fly by the seat of your pants, because some days you’ll feel like you’re part of a three-ring circus.
News analysts, also called newscasters, interpret news from outside sources and broadcast it on radio or TV. Reporters gather the facts themselves, writing stories for print or broadcast. Correspondents serve a similar function, but are stationed in specific cities. Whatever your role, you’ll sweat bullets to gather the facts and deliver on deadline. But if you love the thrill of the chase and have strong communication skills, you may be made for this line of work.
Operations Research Analysts
Operations research analysts use math and computers to develop software and other tools that managers use to make decisions.
Imagine it’s your job to put together this season’s schedule for your favorite Major League Baseball team. Before you decide that’s an easy job, consider these rules: Your team has to play 81 games at home and 81 games on the road. It has to play each of the teams in its division 19 times. And don’t forget travel -- you can’t have your team flying from the East Coast to the West Coast every other day.
Complex problems like this come up all the time. Operations research analysts find ways to solve them. Their work is used by managers in all sorts of industries, whether the goal is to schedule airline pilots to prevent dangerous fatigue or time traffic lights to prevent congestion.
Park rangers carry out plans to manage natural resources, enforce rules, and educate the public to ensure the protection of natural resources and cultural and historical monuments.
Park rangers protect natural resources and historical and cultural monuments. They work in places across the country, from Alcatraz and the Grand Canyon to the Everglades and the Statue of Liberty. Most do everything from supervising park staff to teaching the public to value the site’s resources.
After getting experience in the field, a ranger might specialize. With a focus on conserving natural resources, for example, a ranger might replant native grasses on a prairie or test water samples to find the source of pollution. Whatever their duties, rangers need to be able to communicate well with the public.
PTs prevent and treat conditions that limit a person's ability to move and function.
Seniors recovering from hip-replacement surgery, newborns with birth defects, athletes with injuries, young adults with brain disorders: All of these people have trouble using their muscles. And they can all improve with the help of physical therapists (PTs).
These health professionals use exercises, heat, cold, and other techniques to get their patients moving again. They also teach them how to get around using crutches, wheelchairs, and other devices. As a PT, you’ll do more than devise a treatment plan -- you’ll serve as teacher, coach, and confidant, too.
Physicists and Astronomers
Physicists study the laws and structures of all that exists in the universe, including gravity and other natural forces. Astronomers use physics to study space and the bodies within it, like planets and stars.
The Milky Way galaxy is a collection of billions of stars, including our planet, our moon, and our sun at its outer edge. Physicists and astronomers use the theories of physics to study the galaxy and everything in it, from the mysterious black holes that may result when giant stars collapse to the movement of electrons.
Of course, no one physicist or astronomer studies everything in the galaxy. If you choose this field, you’ll specialize in an area such as nuclear physics or astrobiology. As an astronomer or physicist, you’ll come up with your own theories and create experiments to see if they’re correct.
Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide range of academic and career-oriented subjects beyond the high school level. Such teachers include college and university professors, career and technical education instructors, and graduate teaching assistants.
A professor stands in a darkened auditorium before 150 scribbling students and projects images of paintings on a screen, commenting on each. In a small room on the other side of campus, a graduate student writes an equation on a chalkboard, asking for questions. Across town, a teacher surrounded by a gaggle of adults lifts the hood of a car to describe the engine. These scenes may differ, but the instructors share the same career: they're all postsecondary teachers.
Preserve managers oversee the care of land set aside to protect natural resources. They also represent preserve owners to the public.
Preserve managers care for land that’s been set aside to protect natural resources, such as trees and animals. They use a wide range of skills, from a grasp of science to a talent for communication.
In this field, you'll oversee people who gather data on plants and animals and restore the land and water on your preserve. You'll write reports on research findings. And you'll deal with administrative duties, such as supervising staff, and write brochures and other materials for the public. You'll also get your hands dirty, repairing equipment, maintaining trails, and removing plants that aren't native to the area.
Private-practice lawyers work in law firms or are self-employed. Transactional lawyers work to avoid legal problems, for example, by writing contracts. Litigators, or trial lawyers, deal with problems, such as broken contracts, once they've occurred.
"Lizzie Borden took an axe / And gave her mother forty whacks. / When she saw what she had done, / She gave her father forty-one." Although this ditty sounds certain, Borden’s defense attorney was good enough to prove reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors in the famous 1893 trial introduced evidence that included powerful details. For example, Borden burned the dress she wore the day of the deed, and prosecutors argued that she did so because it was stained with blood. But the defense team -- using for the most part the prosecution's own witnesses -- shot down every attempt to pin the dastardly deed on Borden. In the end, she walked free.
Public accountants provide a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services to their clients, who may be corporations, governments, nonprofits, or individuals.
Every business is required by law to file paperwork with the government. That includes the tax statements they turn in to the Internal Revenue Service. As a public accountant, you may create and file such reports.
On the other hand, you can specialize in external audits. In that case, you’ll examine a company's financial statements and reporting procedures to ensure truth and accuracy.
Public Interest Advocates
Public interest advocates work to affect government policies and raise public awareness concerning issues that they believe are in the public interest.
How do voters decide what to vote for? How do legislators decide what to sign into law?
If you choose to become a public interest advocate, you'll get to affect both groups. You'll work for an organization that represents a cause you believe in, such as abortion rights or gun control. You'll research your issue. Then, armed with facts, you'll work to get voters and legislators to support your position.
Public Interest Lawyers
Public interest lawyers bring lawsuits that work to get positive results for a large class, or group, of people. They work for organizations such as Environmental Defense and the National Center for Youth Law.
American schools, like much of society, used to be segregated. Children of color couldn't attend schools for whites. And schools for kids of color usually had fewer resources than white schools.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organized some legal cases to challenge this policy. These cases were eventually combined into one case, Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the NAACP won -- inspiring struggles for justice around the country and the world.
Public Relations Specialists
PR specialists promote people and organizations. They work in a variety of settings, from corporations to government agencies. Many serve private clients.
When celebrities go into drug rehab or when businesses are guilty of fraud, there’s only one thing to do: hire a public relations (PR) specialist. PR specialists do more than put a positive spin on their client’s less-than-admirable activities. They also spread the word when they’ve done something good, like winning an Academy Award or donating money to a charity.
And how do PR specialists get the word out? They spend much of their time writing press releases and pitching story ideas to reporters.
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents
Real estate brokers and sales agents are paid to sell other people's properties, from farms to condos. They also help buyers find the properties they're looking for.
Everyone needs a place to live, shop, and work. But who do you call when you need help finding your dream home or the ideal office space? That’s when real estate brokers and agents come in handy.
These professionals spend endless hours scouring cities and towns, studying buildings and neighborhoods, and assessing property values. Why? To find the perfect place for their client.
Recreation and Fitness Workers
Recreation and fitness workers plan and lead activities. They work in local playgrounds and recreation areas, parks, community centers, health and fitness clubs, religious centers, camps, theme parks, and tourist attractions.
Richard Simmons and the latest supermodel with a workout video may have little in common, but they both get people off the couch and reaching for the sky. Like them, recreation and fitness workers motivate people of all walks of life.
It’s not all about health, though. Whether they’re training runners for a 10K, teaching senior citizens Tai Chi, or taking campers horseback riding, recreation and fitness workers help people meet a wide range of personal goals -- and have fun while they’re at it.
RNs provide patients with direct care and help doctors. They are also health educators, working with individuals and communities to prevent illness and improve health.
TV programs portray nurses as the backbone of a hospital. They pick up the slack when medical students are lost and often go beyond the call of duty to meet patient needs. Nursing may not always be as exciting as it seems on TV, but there’s truth to these dramas.
No less important is the work of registered nurses (RNs) in home care and nursing home settings. Regardless of where they’re employed, RNs play a critical role helping doctors take care of patients.
Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities caused by illnesses, accidents, birth defects, or stress. They provide counseling and help people get needed services, learn skills, find jobs, and live on their own.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression and led the nation through World War II. Yet, because of the disease polio, he couldn't walk on his own. He believed -- probably correctly -- that the nation would not easily accept his disability. So he hid it, leaning on others when he appeared in public.
Rehabilitation counselors help people with disabilities accept themselves and live full lives that include work. In doing so, they help create a more just world for us all.
Research psychologists study how humans feel, think, learn, and act. They also study physical problems with the brain and work to develop treatments for problems such as memory loss.
In 1961-62, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted some disturbing experiments. He asked subjects (participants) to give electric shocks to their partners whenever the partners answered questions incorrectly. As the voltage increased, the partners begged to stop -- but experimenters told the subjects to continue. Sixty-five percent of subjects continued, even when their partners screamed in agony.
The partners were actors who only pretended to receive shocks; they faked their agonized screams -- but the subjects didn’t know that. The experiments were criticized as being unethical. Yet many subjects thanked Milgram for revealing the frailty of human kindness.
Sales engineers use their background in engineering to sell complex products and services. They also help customers choose, customize, and, troubleshoot products.
Suppose you own a toy factory. You have many decisions to make: Which electronic parts will give your toys that added zing? Should you use polystyrene or polyethylene to package them? And just how much RAM do your managers need in their computers?
Don’t worry -- you’ll get plenty of help from sales engineers who, in their efforts to sell products, will advise you on the details of each purchase decision.
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.
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.
Software developers combine their expertise in computer science, engineering, and math to design, develop, and test software for home, school, and business use.
You’re on vacation with your family, and just as you lie down on the beach, it hits you -- you forgot to mail those bills your mom asked you to drop in the mailbox as you ran for the bus the other day. Not to worry, thanks to a software developer (and a nearby Internet cafe), your mom can pay those same bills online and avoid any late fees.
Software developers instruct computers how to perform functions like online bill paying through step-by-step processes of programming and problem solving.
Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers teach children who have special learning needs or problems such as trouble speaking. Most teach students in elementary, middle, and high schools, though some work with infants and toddlers.
The fairy-tale author Hans Christian Anderson had dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading difficult. Others who have struggled with dyslexia include Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, and Magic Johnson. If you listed all the people with special learning needs who have made important contributions to society, you'd fill a book.
Do you love to help others? Are you tolerant of people who learn differently and sometimes behave differently? If so, you might consider becoming a special education teacher.
Statisticians use math and computers to collect, study, and report on data.
Whether we know it or not, we rely on statisticians every day. A corporation that processes food, for example, might pay for a survey of families with two working parents to find out what new products they’d like to see in the frozen-food aisle. A drug company, on the other hand, must collect and study data when they test experimental drugs to make sure that they work and that they’re safe. And at a TV network, statisticians can use a technique called sampling to discover what the whole country is watching just by surveying a small group of viewers.
And that’s just in the business world. These masters of data can use their skills in fields as varied as medical research, public health, and economics.
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.
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.
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.
Web designers combine art skills with business savvy to create the look and feel, as well as structure, of websites that are both eye-pleasing and user-friendly.
Do you prefer Google or Yahoo? The websites in your “favorites” list are there for a reason -- probably a combination of visual appeal and usability. Creating that perfect combination is what Web designers do for a living. By using type (lettering), images, and other visual devices, Web designers create a digital playground where consumers can find the information they need while enjoying the ride.