When students choose to embrace a subject – any subject – there’s a future in it. There are fascinating careers related to every subject you teach.
Your students may roll their eyes at an algebra problem, dramatically skeptical that its solution will ever result in any meaningful gain for them, now or later. However, through basic school subjects such as English, Math and History, we are actually helping students build both a knowledge base and a skillset that they will indeed apply later. While that one particular algebra problem may never again rear its ugly head, tackling it helps the student acquire analytical and problem-solving skills. And if they find they have a knack for that kind of problem-solving, going on to major in mathematics could lead to a very satisfying and high-paying career.
Yes, There’s a Career for That
In an Educator Spotlight piece we posted earlier, first grade teacher Crystal Tolbird told us that in spite of her students’ youth, she regularly leads them in class discussions on careers that can stem from each of the subjects they study. Discussions of this type become increasingly important as students edge closer to college age.
If your students are feeling a disconnect with their subject matter, use this blog to entice them with the many interesting job possibilities in each field. We’ve created separate lists of jobs in Math, History, Biology, Chemistry, English and Geography, each including links to organizations that cater specifically to students of the field. If you’re an Art teacher, please check out our earlier blog: Creativity and Graphic Arts Careers.
The student who took on that ugly algebra problem might one day work at NASA, helping Man explore the stars. Studies by both CareerCast and JobsRated.com place "Mathematician" at the top of their lists, outranking jobs in medicine, engineering and law, based on factors such as income, working environment, outlook for the future, and level of job-related stress. The math-related jobs of Statistician and Actuary (a person who compiles and analyzes statistics in order to calculate insurance premiums) also ranked in the top four.
Other career fields available with a Bachelors’ degree in Math include mathematical modeling, teaching and cryptography. Math also opens the door to promising careers in finance, engineering, physics, computer science, etc. Skills such as logic, abstract thinking and data analysis can apply to all disciplines. Employers value these skills; consequently, math majors are in demand by employers for careers in a wide spectrum of fields.
For more on math careers, visit the Mathematical Association of America website. The MAA is committed to providing information that helps math students understand their options for the future.
In a blog entitled, Will All English and History Majors Be Unemployed? we concluded that there is indeed a promising future for liberal arts majors. History students develop skills in research, critical-thinking and communication, as well as a basic understanding of the ways of humanity. A website called LawSchooli.com says undergrads with English, History or Political Science degrees do better on the LSAT (law school entrance exam) than Pre-Law or Criminal Justice majors.
Jobs that pertain directly to the study of history are often in research, education or communications. A strong understanding of history is also key to many fascinating government jobs, including intelligence officer or foreign service advisor.
A good researcher is useful in a wide range of fields. Examples of a few interesting research jobs include:
- Grant writer
- Records manager
- Library specialist
- Research technician
Jobs in communications are practically unlimited, but interesting fields specific to history include:
- Technical advisor on film and documentary sets
- Speech or proposal writer
- Journalist, especially for topics of historical significance
Museums may be a perfect home for history students, offering jobs such as:
- Historic preservationist
The American Historical Association (AHA), Historians.org and the National History Club are all valuable tools for anyone interested in this field.
Biology is the clear choice for any student interested in the medical field. Medicine offers a fantastic variety of career options, as well as the reward of helping people and potentially making the world a better place. Jobs in medicine extend far beyond doctor and nurse, to include:
- Physical therapist
- Pharmaceutical developer, advisor or salesperson
However, medicine isn’t the only path for biologists. Your students may instead pick marine biology, and teach whales at Sea World, or study the ocean depths in exotic locations. Science museums, zoos and nature centers, usually a draw for students of all ages, are always in search of talented biologists. If your students care about the environment, biology is also a natural choice for a future in conservation.
Biology specializations range from molecular and cellular biology to botany and physiology. Students can choose their focus as an undergrad, and go on to a wide range of jobs, including:
- Forensic specialist
- Agricultural specialist
- Plant pathologist
For more on biology careers, check out the Careers page of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
Chemistry is the study of matter, so the influence of chemistry is all around us, from the water we drink to the medicines that keep us alive. Understanding the chemical building blocks that make up our world is far from boring.
Like with biology, chemistry specialists can easily find a home in medicine, especially in the research or pharmaceutical fields. However, chemists are also popular with employers in the lucrative energy and petroleum field, as well as in a number of environmental jobs. Environmental chemists monitor air, water and soil to study how chemicals and human activity affect the environment. They monitor the source and extent of pollution and contamination, thus promoting sustainability, conservation and human health.
Other interesting chemistry-related jobs include:
- Agricultural chemist
- Forensics expert
- Product development specialist
- Hazardous waste manager
The American Chemical Society provides terrific career information on their website.
Strong communication skills are a powerful asset in almost every job, and English is basically the study of communication. English students also develop good comprehension skills, with the ability to discern the primary significance within a written or spoken message. These skills are often considered “general,” so an English major’s job hunt for may take slightly longer than that of a “specialist” such as a software engineer or nursing student. However, this author can say with certainty that there is a future for those who love to read and write. Get your foot in the door in business, and good communication skills will often take you to the next step.
Specific job ideas for English majors include:
- Journalist or broadcaster
- Marketing communications manager
- Speech or proposal writer
- Public relations specialist
- Social media guru
- Editor or publisher
- English teacher in foreign countries
- School curriculum developer
- Advertising copywriter
- Author: of screenplays, novels, non-fiction, magazine articles, etc.
And, remember the study from LawSchooli.com, which showed that English majors do better on the LSAT than Pre-Law or Criminal Justice majors. A career in law can easily mean a six-figure salary!
The website called DearEnglishMajor.com helps English students gain a sense of direction regarding their careers, especially those who are interested in writing. Most university websites also have sections devoted to English majors.
Geography students have knowledge of the earth’s physical environments and understand the interrelationship of social, economic, political and cultural factors. They’re also skilled in analyzing and applying statistical methods. These skills can lead to jobs such as a Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist, who understands the hardware and software system that displays, analyzes and maps information. Community and business planners, land developers, real estate agents, utility companies, and municipal officials all use GIS systems, and therefore need a GIS specialist.
Another fascinating option for a geographer is as a Remote-Sensing Analyst, employed by the Department of Defense or CIA to interpret photos taken by high-flying aircraft or satellites. Officials use data produced by these analysts to evaluate activities in other countries, from crop production to troop movements, missile launches and nuclear testing.
Other geography-related careers include:
- Location expert/finder for businesses
- Market researcher
- Environmental manager
- Forestry technician
- Community developer
- Traffic/transportation manager/planner
- Travel advisor
The American Association of Geographers’ website includes a useful Career Section.
Please share other career and student engagement ideas in our Comments section!