If you want to have an impact on our future, consider these careers.
Are you looking for a career that will give you the chance to have a major impact on the future? Something that will help save, change, or better lives?
That's a lofty and noble goal. It's also one that might be easier to achieve than you ever imagined. Because believe it or not, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to help shape the way we live.
Just check out these great careers. How much they could influence our future may surprise you.
Career #1: Market Research Analyst
What's so special about this career? These people could very well decide what you want to buy, eat, and drive in the future. How? Two words: Big data, says David Bakke, editor at Money Crashers, a website devoted to career and finance advice.
Why It Will Make an Impact: Big data refers to the stockpiles of digital information that companies have gathered on their customers and the public at large over the past decade, says Bakke. This is information that these companies will continue to collect through public and private networks and social media, according to Bakke. "Companies need market research analysts to extract meaning from it all, which can provide guidance for decision-making, sales forecasts, inventory management, and marketing, among other things," he says.
How to Pursue a Market Research Analyst Career: The U.S. Department of Labor says these professionals usually need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field. However, many major in statistics, math, or computer science, while others have backgrounds in business administration, one of the social sciences, or communications.
Career#2: Software Developer
You could argue - convincingly - that this profession has been changing the world for the past decade or more. And that probably won't slow down anytime soon considering the degree to which all our lives, and big business, have become dependent on technology. But perhaps software developers will have the greatest impact on the way we live - literally - in the area of health care, says Susan Heathfield, a human resources director with her own consulting company who has been an HR expert for About.com since 2000.
Why It Will Make an Impact: "One of the nation's biggest industries is health care, and it is becoming increasingly more reliant on sophisticated machines that require computer software," says Heathfield, who adds, "software developers will be vital to health care in the future because their programs will run the machines that diagnose and treat disease." Other responsibilities of software developers include, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, designing software to meet the needs of a variety of users, creating models to show programmers how to write code, and maintaining and testing software.
How to Pursue a Career as a Software Developer: In addition to strong programming skills, software developers usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field, says the Department of Labor. They also say a degree in mathematics is acceptable.
Career #3: Elementary School Teacher
Surprised? Don't be. Because a good elementary teacher, one who inspires young students to study hard and dream big, could be changing the world one young mind at a time, says Deb Hornell, President of Hornell Partners, Inc., a management consulting firm whose services include working with individual leaders and teams to enable organizations to maximize their human capital.
Why It Will Make an Impact: "There are plenty of studies and evidence that point to the fact that a college education is a person's best chance to earn more money and have more career success. But it all starts in grade school," says Hornell. She says the correlation between success in early grades and college graduation is strong. "So a good elementary school teacher can actually mean the difference between being competitive in the world and struggling to make ends meet."
How to Pursue Elementary School Teaching: Every state requires public elementary school teachers to have a bachelor's degree in elementary education, as well as be licensed by the state in which they teach, says the U.S. Department of Labor. And while private schools don't have the same requirements, the Department of Labor says they typically seek elementary teachers with bachelor's degrees in elementary education.
Career #4: Personal Financial Advisor
This one might not seem so obvious, until you study the trend in pension and retirement planning over the past decade, says Heathfield. In short, the responsibility of ensuring that golden years are really golden has been shifting away from employers and government and onto individuals. That has made personal financial advisors much more valuable, says Heathfield.
Why It Will Make an Impact: The baby boom generation represents a large portion of the population, so we might expect that what affects them in the future will affect all of us in some way. "With baby boomers retiring, there's going to be a huge demand for personal financial advisors. It's also going to be a very different world, as we are already seeing. Company pensions and guaranteed retirement funds will not be the norm, so personal financial advisors will be vital to helping people plan and save for their retirement," says Heathfield.
How to Pursue a Career as a Personal Financial Advisor: The Department of Labor says that a bachelor's degree is usually needed to pursue the role of personal financial advisor. And though the Department says that no specific area is required, a degree in finance, accounting, business, economics, mathematics, or law is good preparation.
Career #5: Police Officer
The last time you got pulled over for speeding, you may have cursed the existence of police officers, but just imagine a world with no law enforcement. Crime could run rampant. Yes, as long as there are bad people in the world, we will need police officers.
Why It Will Make an Impact: "Police officers help enforce the law, and therefore are an integral part of what holds society together," says Hornell. She says that the fact that we believe that rule of law is the most just way to run a society means that police officers, and other jobs in the justice system, will continue to have a major impact on the quality of life for everyone.
How to Pursue a Career as a Police Officer: The Department of Labor says that police officers must have a high school diploma or GED and graduate from their agency's training academy. The Department also notes that many agencies require some college coursework or a college degree.
Career #6: Civil Engineer
If you dream of designing levitating traffic lights for future hovercraft or Jetsons-style buildings above the clouds, well, perhaps you should come down to earth, because warp speed is still a long way off. But keep that civil engineering dream alive; it'll still be one of the jobs that may shape the future, hovercraft or not.
Why It Will Make an Impact: Civil engineers literally design the world around us, says Heathfield. "As long as society exists we will always need people to design and build the infrastructure of cities. Bridges, roads, buildings. How those are designed and built to a large degree shapes how we live, how society functions," she adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
How to Pursue Civil Engineering: Civil engineers must complete a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, or a related specialty, according to the Department. However, to pursue licensure, which is usually required to work as a professional engineer, their degree needs to be approved by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).