Smart Careers for Intelligent People

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Want to prepare for a career where you can really put that brain of yours to use? Check out these hot career options for smart people.

By Sarah Tann

Do you want a career that challenges your intellect?

Whether you're a former high school mathlete, Rubik's cube contender, or you've got street smarts to rule the world - one thing is for certain: you don't have to waste your brainpower in just any old career.

Employers are always looking for smart people to add to their team, says career expert and strategist Mary Jeanne Vincent.

"In today's marketplace, employers are looking for people who can tighten the belt - to make smart money choices," says Vincent. "They're also looking for leadership skills, team skills, and people with an ability to take smart risks."

So, if you're a self-proclaimed smarty pants, do yourself a favor and check out these career options that just might be a good fit...

Career #1 - Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers combine knowledge of two complex industries - health care and business.  So, it's probably safe to say that people in this field have a mental capacity to be envious of.

Here's a glimpse of how they use that brainpower: Medical and health services managers have the capability to improve the efficiency and quality of health care services in the hospital or facility they work in, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They might do so by keeping up-to-date on new health laws and regulations, as well as by managing the finances of a facility.

Smart Factor: "This career takes someone who is able to understand and interpret complex rules and regulations, so that's where the smarts really come in," says Vincent. She adds that people in this field should also have interpersonal and social skills.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program for You.

Education Options: If you want to use your brainpower to pursue this type of career, know this: According to the Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in health administration is one way to prepare. It's also typical for medical and health services managers to have a master's degree in an area like health services, long-term care administration, public administration, public health, or business administration.


Career #2 - Marketing Manager

Unless you're a psychic with extrasensory perception (ESP), it's hard to gauge what people want...and while marketing managers don't necessarily have ESP, they tend to have the wits to do just that.

According to the U.S Department of Labor, marketing managers are the ones responsible for determining potential markets for their organization's products. They also keep a close eye on trends to see if there's a need for new products and services.

Smart Factor: "A good marketing manager has to be smart about social media, traditional marketing, and communications," says Vincent. "They have to target their message to an audience and it takes smarts to know who your audience is and market to the right people. They have to be very creative and on the cutting-edge."

Click to Find the Right Marketing Program for You.

Education Options: So how could you get to this level of consumer understanding? With experience, a bachelor's degree, and relevant coursework in business law, economics, management, and more, according to the Department of Labor.


Career #3 - Elementary School Teacher

When it comes to molding the minds of tomorrow's leaders and presidents, you've got to be pretty smart to do so, right? Well, take a look at what elementary school teachers have to do and you'll likely agree.

The U.S. Department of Labor notes that elementary school teachers asses students' knowledge and skills to determine their strengths and needs, plan lessons that teach a variety of subjects, grade assignments, and meet with parents to discuss the child's progress.

Smart Factor: "Elementary school teachers have to work with a wide range of students - from high performing to low performing students, and even students with disabilities like autism," says Vincent. "The skills and smarts needed as a teacher is to know how to operate with this broad range of students, bridge the gap, and teach the students as whole."

Click to Find the Right Education Program for You.

Education Options: If you think you have the smarts needed for this type of career, look into earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a state-issued certification or license. According to the Department of Labor, public school elementary school teachers must have these credentials.


Career #4 - Personal Financial Advisor

If you're a smarty with a fondness for calculators and an eye for numbers, then a career as a personal financial advisor might be worth your consideration.

Personal financial advisors are the go-to people when it comes to financial planning. They offer advice to clients in regards to their money goals, and help them financially prepare for the big milestones in their lives, including college expenses and retirement, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Smart Factor: What makes this career a good fit for intelligent people? "Personal financial advisors need to be able to spot financial trends and be ahead of the game on that," says Vincent. She adds that it's an especially smart career for someone with a banking or mortgage background.

Click to Find the Right Finance Program for You.

Education Options: Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor's degree, says the Department of Labor. Majors that could provide good preparation include finance, accounting, or business, says the Department. And if, down the road, you want to expand your education and brainpower even more, a master's degree and certification in the field could help improve your chances of advancement.


Career #5 - Computer Systems Analyst

If you've ever been called a "computer nerd" or "tech geek," color yourself lucky. Why? Because when it comes to a tech-savvy career like computer systems analyst, being a geek-chic is practically part of the job description.

Just look at what the job duties often entail: researching emerging technologies, coming up with ways to adapt existing computer systems to meet new needs, and devising new systems by choosing and configuring hardware and software, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Smart Factor: "Computer systems analysts not only need technical smarts, but they also need to be people smart," says Vincent. "They need to be able to translate geek-speak, talk about what they do, and explain it to non-technical people."

Click to Find the Right Computer or Information Science Program for You.

Education Options: If you want to hone your techie skills and climb up the clever ladder, consider earning a bachelor's degree in a computer or information science field - a route that is common in this career, says the Department of Labor. The Department also notes that some employers might also prefer applicants with a master's in business administration with a concentration in information systems.

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