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What to Study in High SchoolIf you are still in high school, the courses you take now can shape your studies and career in the future. For example, getting a strong foundation of math and science knowledge will make your life a lot easier when you are applying to college! So, what courses should you sign up for? The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) recommends that all high school students who are considering a career in science or engineering take the following courses:
- Social Studies
Undergraduate DegreesScience and Engineering offer many great careers for graduates of associate and bachelor’s degree programs in these fields. Associate degrees are two year degrees that typically prepare you to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. You’ll train for a specific career, and you’ll be eligible for job titles like food science technician or nuclear technician. Four-year bachelor’s degrees will also open the doors to many great careers in Science and Engineering. These four-year programs will give you a solid foundation in your field – along with a general education that will equip you with the “soft skills” you’ll need to distinguish yourself on the job market. With a bachelor’s degree, you might find work as an industrial engineer or a wildlife biologist.
Standardized TestsIf you plan to pursue a graduate degree, you will probably have to take a standardized test as part of the admissions process. Be sure to check the admissions requirements for the program you wish to apply for, because they can vary a lot between different schools and programs. Still, it’s likely that you’ll need to take the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE. It’s a test of general knowledge like the SAT or ACT, and you may also need to take the specific subject area tests for biology, physics, and chemistry.
Graduate DegreesMaster’s degrees offer opportunities to specialize in your field, or to change fields after you’ve been in the workforce for a while. These programs usually take two or three years to complete, and you’ll focus exclusively on your area of study. With a master’s degree, you’ll be eligible to move into management positions, or to work in a field like epidemiology, which typically requires an advanced degree. Doctoral degrees in Science and Engineering prepare you for work in research or academia. A Ph.D. in one of these disciplines will typically take four to six years to complete, and you’ll be an expert in your specialty by the time you are finished! Doctoral degrees are required for college professors, and for workers like medical scientists, who investigate ways to improve human health.
Certifications and Security ClearanceMost roles in Science and Technology do not require state licensing or professional certifications in order to work in the field, although there are exceptions. For example, some physicists who work on sensitive government research may be required to hold security clearance. Even if your field doesn’t require licensure or certifications, you might choose to obtain credentials in order to show that you have advanced knowledge in your field. One credentialing organization is the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management, which certifies environmental scientists. Because this certification must be renewed every 5 years, it demonstrates that you are up-to-date on the latest technology and developments in the field. Or for specialties like electrical power testing and industrial instrumentation, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers certification. While these credentials may not be prerequisites for employment, they can make you more competitive on the job market, and could help you earn a better salary.
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