She Does What?: The Four Coolest Jobs You've Never Heard Of
What it is: Cracking and creating codes. What career could get you closer to the reality of your favorite digital-age thriller movies? Ok, so working as a cryptographer isn’t actually going to be as action-packed as a blockbuster film, but it’s pretty neat. Many cryptographers are employed by technology companies, where they work to keep information shared over the internet, like credit card numbers, private. But many others work for the government, where the exact work they do is classified, but could include things like figuring out how to send out secret messages to the military or cracking codes to find criminals.
How you get there: A BSc in math or computer science is required for almost all entry-level jobs, though if you’ve taken a lot of courses in either without it being your official major, that could work too. Cryptographers are also usually bi- or multi-lingual (you knew that foreign language requirement would come in handy somewhere, right?). And most advanced jobs require a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. in math or computer science, so expect to be spending some more time in school if you want to move up in the field. Once you’ve got the education you need, look through job listings at government agencies or technology companies.
What it is: Helping people fix all aspects of their image—from their hair and clothes to their manner of speaking and walking. Many image consultants develop a specialty, like working with politicians or TV personalities. Some also work exclusively with one aspect of someone’s image, like their wardrobe or speaking habits. Others work on cultivating the core of their client’s image and refer them to specialists, like hairstylists or etiquette experts, to help with specifics.
How you get there: Though you don’t need it to become an image consultant, certification in PR, somatology or branding/marketing is helpful. Once you’ve got certification, you can set up a business and start finding clients. University seniors and recent grads make good first clients because it’s easy to reach a lot of them at once, and they’ll be less picky about your prior experience than, say, a CEO.
What it is: Figuring out how much to charge for food at a restaurant. Ever wonder who decided that a flay white costs so much more than a coffee? Menu engineers did. They look at how much a menu item costs to make and how popular it is to determine the prices that will result in maximum profits for the restaurants. Specifically, they try to find prices that will encourage the purchase of highly profitable items while discouraging the purchase of less profitable items. They also physically design the menu in a way that gets people to pay more attention to higher priced items. Become a menu engineer and you can be the person everyone blames after realizing they spent R30 for a tiny cup of ice cream (but hey, you convinced us we should).
How you get there: Study hospitality, marketing, economics, or psychology. Pay attention to prices when you go out to eat to give yourself a common sense education in the field. Then look for internships in restaurant management or hospitality consulting. Most menu engineers work for hospitality consulting companies, but if you’re really good, you can start you own business after you’ve developed contacts in the industry.
What it is: Designing cities for maximum well-being. Urban planning includes a bunch of subfields, but the four core ones are urban design, environmental planning, transportation planning, and housing and economic development. Urban designers focus on the physical layout of the city, determining where buildings and parks should go. Environmental planners focus on keeping the environment intact as a city grows. Transportation planners look at how to best get people from point A to point B, whether that be by roads, trains, subways, buses, or trolleys. And housing and economic developers try to create programs and design policies to solve problems like homelessness or joblessness.
How you get there: Most entry-level urban planning jobs require a master’s degree in urban or city planning, though occasionally you can get a job with a bachelor’s degree in the field. Master’s programs have no specific prerequisites, though many applicants study architecture, economics, political science, sociology, or environmental studies during undergrad. Almost all master’s degree programs will set you up with fieldwork or an internship to give you real world experience. Once you’ve graduated, you can look for jobs in government, development agencies, and nonprofits—all three hire urban planners!
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