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What does a Firefighter do?

How would you like to make your living being a hero? If that sounds too good to be true, you’ve probably been thinking about work as strictly a way to pay the bills. Let’s face it: most jobs are a means to an end. At best, they’re an acceptable trade-off, a way for you to support yourself and contribute to the family income. The best careers, however, highlight your personal strengths and challenge you to overcome your weaknesses. If you have always felt you have more to give, live to help others and welcome tests of courage, a career as a firefighter may well be such a job.


Becoming a firefighter: a condensed how-to guide

Firefighters are required to complete formal educational training. In the past, a high school diploma usually fulfilled the educational requirement, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stresses that employers in this field increasingly prefer job applicants who have completed some post-secondary schooling. Many universities now offer 2- and 4-year programs in fire science, and community colleges sometimes provide fire science electives for students who wish to pursue a shorter, more general course of study.

Firefighters must pass written and physical tests, as well as a medical examination that includes a drug screening. All new hires receive several weeks of intensive training at their department’s academy. A combination of classroom instruction and practical exercises teach new recruits fire prevention, hazardous materials control, fire fighting techniques, emergency medical procedures, and specialized equipment management. In addition, most departments require firefighters to be EMT-certified; some larger, urban departments require paramedic certification.

You can find employment in a variety of settings, from rural areas to big cities, at airports, chemical plants, and as part of hazardous materials units. Workers who fight forest fires employ methods and equipment that differ from those of other firefighters, and their on-the-job training reflects these unique practices.

Job outlook and wage information for aspiring firefighters

The BLS predicts faster than average growth for the firefighting industry over the coming decade, due to an overall increase in demand as well as the conversion of volunteer jobs to paid positions. Yet, because firefighting consistently attracts so many applicants, competition for jobs should remain high. Candidates with the best chances are physically fit, score well on mechanical aptitude tests, and have completed some post-secondary education and/or EMT/paramedic certification.

If you’d like to make your career in public service, get a jump on the competition by enrolling in fire science courses at your local university or community college.

What does a Food Scientist do?

How would you like a job that pays well, allows you to put your scientific know-how toward the betterment of the nation’s food supply, and is part of an industry that offers great employment opportunities in a variety of specialties? If this sounds like something you could sink your teeth into, consider enrolling in school to become a food scientist.

food scientist

Food scientists may work for a number of different entities, from universities to the Federal Government to the food processing industry. Drawing on their experience in multiple life and physical sciences, food scientists aim to create and improve food products.

A food scientist’s chief job requirements

Most food scientists working in product development or applied research enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, although individuals hoping to obtain an academic research position usually need either master’s or doctoral degrees.

The aspiring food scientist has his or her choice of majors, ranging from the obvious agricultural science degree to more general, yet interrelated, concentrations like biology, chemistry, and physics.

The major you select should naturally reflect your specific career ambitions, but don’t worry if your prospective university doesn’t offer an agricultural science degree; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) assures that broadly-trained students are more than qualified for food science work and often enjoy the greatest career flexibility.

Agricultural science curricula read a lot like general education programs, and typically require classes in everything from communications, business, and economics to courses in mathematics and the sciences.

Personal qualifications for food scientists include good written and verbal communication skills, fluency in computer technology, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Once completed, your food science (or related) degree provides access to a host of rewarding careers, such as agricultural scientist, food technologist, agronomist, and soil scientist, as well as others.

Job outlook and salary information for food scientists

The BLS predicts faster than average employment growth over the coming decade throughout the food science industry. As environmental awareness and preventative health care increase, so too should the employment of food scientists. Furthermore, because food is a staple item, food scientists enjoy good job security even during the bleakest of economic recessions.

Although one might assume that most food science jobs are concentrated in America’s heartland, the truth is that they exists all over the country, from Kansas to California, Connecticut to Minnesota, and so on.

Wherever you are, if you’re passionate about science and the integrity of your food, food science makes an excellent major.

forensic investigator

What does a Forensic Investigator do?

Do you possess great attention to detail, inquisitiveness, and a desire to serve the public? Would you like to enter a field that not only pays well, but is also seeing a rapid increase in the creation of jobs? If you can answer yes to the above questions, you may want to consider becoming a forensic investigator.

forensic investigator

Forensic investigators (also known as forensic science technicians) investigate crime scenes from the ground up, collecting and analyzing physical evidence. They perform tests on materials that may prove germane to an investigation, file reports documenting their findings, and occasionally even testify in court. Forensic investigators may work with other experts in order to place their findings in context.

Educational requirements for the aspiring forensic investigator

Forensic investigators typically enter the work force with a bachelor’s degree in either forensic science or another natural science. Some courses typically found in a forensic science curriculum include:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Genetics
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Criminal justice
  • Statistics

Some schools facilitate internship programs that allow students to receive hands-on training at a local company while completing their classroom hours at the regular university. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), participation in such programs can significantly bolster your employment prospects.

Forensic investigators should be good at science and math, and possess a real love for the step-by-step process of working toward a goal. A strong sense of justice also helps, as this brand of work requires dogged perseverance.

Experts in this field usually train to work in one speciality, such as DNA testing, speech, or engineering.

Job outlook and salary information for careers in forensic investigation

The BLS has excellent news for those considering the field of forensic science. Jobs for forensic investigators are expected to increase by a staggering 20%: much faster than average for all occupations. This prodigious growth can be attributed to state and local governments’ increasing reliance upon forensic techniques to solve crime. Candidates with highly developed technical skills who hold diplomas in an applied science should find themselves well-prepared to take advantage of this booming job market.

The top-paying states for this occupation are dispersed quite evenly throughout the country, and include, in order of descending mean annual wage, Illinois, Virginia, California, Connecticut, and Michigan.

Regardless of where you call home, the field of forensic science holds exciting prospects for talented and experienced individuals. Enroll in a forensic investigation program now to take advantage of these excellent job opportunities.