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INTRODUCTION

study technology science technicians

Are you the scientific type? Do you like to figure things out? Are you interested in the world around you? Not all scientists have a college degree or their own private laboratory—nor do they need them.

The scientific personality is curious and likes to think through problems. Does that sound like you? Is “What if?” one of your favorite questions? You may like science fiction movies but you may be more interested in how the special effects are done than in the plot. You might find the idea of alien encounters exciting, but you're skeptical about reports of abductions.

Scientific types have a “show me” attitude. They want proof. They want logic. They want to work with gizmos and gadgets, numbers and formulas. Their “people skills” may not be as high on their list as their skill at tinkering. Sometimes they prefer to work alone, but they also like to work with others on a research team.

Scientists use the scientific method to solve problems. First they ask a question: Why doesn't this computer work? They come up with a tentative answer: It's not plugged in. They test their theory by first seeing if the computer is plugged in. If it's not, they plug it in and flip the switch. If the computer starts up, they were right. If not, they were wrong and they start over with another theory to test.

All the sciences are based on the big four: mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. A few of the divisions are:

  • Anthropology—the study of people and culture
  • Astronomy—the study of the stars, the planets, and galaxies
  • Atmospheric science—the study of the weather
  • Biochemistry—the study of the chemistry of living things
  • Botany—the study of plants
  • Geography—the study of landforms and maps
  • Geology—the study of the structure of the earth (rocks
    and minerals)
  • Metallurgy—the study of metals
  • Oceanography—the study of the oceans
  • Optics—the study of light
  • Psychology—the study of animal and human behavior
  • Zoology—the study of animals

Science done for the sake of creating a useful product or process is applied science or technology. Every science has a technology. Botany is the science of plants; horticulture is its technology. Geology is the science of the structure of the earth; mining is one of its technologies, gemology is another.

Technology uses tools and techniques for useful purposes—to send a voice from Seattle to Chicago, or to keep ice cream frozen. For years, technologists and technicians have been giving us the fruits of their labor: smaller radios; larger TVs; faster ways to cook food; better food to cook fast; lightweight jackets that are warmer than heavy ones; cars that know where they're going; and assembly-line robots that never get tired or bored.

Jobs in technology will continue to grow in the years ahead, but they will change faster than they've ever changed before. One of the most important skills for a technician to have is the ability to adjust to change. Few of today's jobs will be the same in ten years. If you want a job in technology, be prepared to keep on learning.

All of the sciences employ technologists and technicians. A technologist has a broad knowledge of the field and can perform many functions. A technician is a person skilled in the use of a specific technique and specific tools. Today's technologists frequently have a college degree, but most technician positions do not require four years of college. They do require training, however, whether from a technical institute, community college, through distance learning, or by way of on-the-job training or apprenticeship.

All technicians must be:

  • Computer literate
  • Math savvy
  • Quick at learning how to use equipment
  • Able to communicate clearly with both the written and spoken word

In this book we will look at some of the jobs open to technicians today. There are hundreds more, and new ones are created every year. The easiest way to find a job in the technological field is to talk to people (network); attend conferences and meetings of local science and technology organizations (a robotics club, for instance); go to job fairs; and search out professionals in your field of interest and ask them how they got started

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