Category Archives: Career Descriptions

Dancers and Choreographers

Significant Points

* Many dancers stop performing by their late thirties, but some remain in the field as choreographers, dance teachers, or artistic directors.
* Most dancers begin formal training at an early age—between 5 and 15—and many have their first professional audition by age 17 or 18; becoming a choreographer usually requires years of experience.
* Dancers and choreographers face intense competition; only the most talented find regular work.
* Earnings from dancing are usually low because employment is irregular; dancers often supplement their income.

Nature of the Work

Complex movements and dances on stage and screen do not happen without a lot of hard work. Dancers spend years learning dances and honing skills, as do most choreographers. Together, they then translate those skills into movement that expresses ideas and stories. Dancers perform in a variety of settings, including opera, musical theater, and other musical productions, and may present folk, ethnic, tap, jazz, or other popular kinds of dance. They also perform in television, movies, music videos, and commercials, in which they may sing and act. Dancers most often perform as part of a group, although a few top artists perform solo.

Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. They work in theaters, dance schools, dance and movie studios, and at fashion shows, and are involved in auditioning performers for dance parts. Because few dance routines are written down, choreographers instruct performers at rehearsals to achieve the desired effect, often by demonstrating the exact technique. Choreographers also work with performers other than dancers. For example, the complex martial arts scenes in movies are arranged by choreographers who specialize in the martial arts. Choreographers also may help coordinate costume design and lighting, as well as choose the music and sound effects that convey the intended message.

Work environment

Dance is strenuous. In fact, dancers have one of the highest rates of nonfatal on-the-job injury. Many dancers, as a result, stop performing by their late thirties because of the physical demands on the body. Nonetheless, some continue to work in the field as choreographers, artistic directors, and dance teachers and coaches, while a small number may move into administrative positions, such as company managers. A few celebrated dancers, however, continue performing most of their lives.

Many dance companies tour for part of the year to supplement a limited performance schedule at home. Dancers who perform in musical productions and other family entertainment spend much of their time on the road; others work in nightclubs or on cruise ships. Most dance performances are in the evening, whereas rehearsals and practice usually take place during the day. As a result, dancers often work very long and late hours. Generally, dancers and choreographers work in modern and temperature-controlled facilities; however, some studios may be older and less comfortable.



Computer and Information Systems Managers

Significant Points

* Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
* A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field usually is required for management positions, although employers often prefer a graduate degree, especially an MBA with technology as a core component.
* Many managers possess advanced technical knowledge gained from working in a computer occupation.
* Job prospects should be excellent.

Nature of the Work

In the modern workplace, it is imperative that Information Technology (IT) works both effectively and reliably. Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within their organizations. They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the computer-related activities of firms. In consultation with other managers, they help determine the goals of an organization and then implement technology to meet those goals. They oversee all technical aspect of an organization, such as software development, network security, and Internet operations.

Computer and information systems managers direct the work of other IT professionals, such as computer software engineers and computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists. They plan and coordinate activities such as installing and upgrading hardware and software, programming and systems design, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and intranet sites. They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of their organizations from an operational and strategic perspective and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements. They assign and review the work of their subordinates and stay abreast of the latest technology to ensure that the organization remains competitive.

Computer and information systems managers can have additional duties, depending on their role within an organization. Chief technology officers (CTOs),for example, evaluate the newest and most innovative technologies and determine how these can help their organizations. They develop technical standards, deploy technology, and supervise workers who deal with the daily information technology issues of the firm. When a useful new tool has been identified, the CTO determines one or more possible implementation strategies, including cost-benefit and return on investment analyses, and presents those strategies to top management, such as the chief information officer (CIO). (Chief information officers are covered in a separate Handbook section on top executives.)

Management information systems (MIS) directors or information technology (IT) directors manage computing resources for their organizations. They often work under the chief information officer and plan and direct the work of subordinate information technology employees. These managers ensure the availability, continuity, and security of data and information technology services in their organizations. In this capacity, they oversee a variety of technical departments, develop and monitor performance standards, and implement new projects.

IT project managers develop requirements, budgets, and schedules for their firm’s information technology projects. They coordinate such projects from development through implementation, working with their organization’s IT workers, as well as clients, vendors, and consultants. These managers are increasingly involved in projects that upgrade the information security of an organization.

Work environment.

Computer and information systems managers generally work in clean, comfortable offices. Long hours are common, and some may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or solve unexpected problems; in 2008, about 25 percent worked more than 50 hours per week. Some computer and information systems managers may experience considerable pressure in meeting technical goals with short deadlines or tight budgets. As networks continue to expand and more work is done remotely, computer and information systems managers have to communicate with and oversee offsite employees using laptops, e-mail, and the Internet.

Injuries in this occupation are uncommon, but like other workers who spend considerable time using computers, computer and information systems managers are susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Computer and information systems managers oversee a variety of workers, including systems analysts, support specialists, and software engineers.



Fastest-Growing Jobs That Do Not Demand A College Degree

Home Health Aide


– Provide health care professional services in the homes of the elderly or people with long-term illnesses or disabilities.
– Cook, give customers baths and massages, change bandages as needed, etc.
– Help clients to dress, doing exercises, get in and out of bed, etc.
– Maybe some light laundry, cleaning, or other household chores.
– Grocery store and other shopping for their clients.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma or G.E.D. and short-term on-the-job training.

Personal Care Aide


– Carry out health-care related duties and responsibilities, for instance prescription medication and monitoring vital signs.
– Administer bedside and personal care.
– Carry out housekeeping duties, such as cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, etc.
– Instruct and even counsel clients on issues such as household cleanliness, utilities, hygiene, nutrition, etc.
– Transport clients to locations outside the home, for instance to physicians’ health care practices.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma and short-term on-the-job training

Physical Therapist Aide


– Clean in addition to organizing work area and disinfect apparatus following treatment.
– Instruct, motivate, safeguard and assist patients practicing physical exercises and functional activities, under the direction of medical staff.
– Transport patients to and from therapy areas, using wheelchairs or offering standing help and support.
– Secure patients into or onto therapy related equipment.
– Provide active and passive manual therapeutic exercises, massage therapy, and various types of treatments.
– Assist patients to dress, undress, and putting  on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, and slings.
– Educate patients to make use of orthopedic braces, prostheses and supportive devices.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma and short-term on-the-job training

Dental Assistant


– Schedule appointments, keep records, receive payments coming from patients, order materials, etc.
– Locate patients’ medical and healthcare records for the dentist’s use.
– Prepare patients for the dentist’s examination.
– Operate the suction hose to keep the patient’s mouth area dry.
– Operate X-ray equipment, process X-rays, make impressions of a patients’ mouth or teeth, sterilize instruments, etc.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma and modest amount of on-the-job training.

Medical Assistant


– Perform administrative tasks and duties and dealing with standard clinical tasks.
– Manage medical and healthcare documents, bookkeeping, and answering and responding to  phones.
– Examine the height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure of each patient.
– Write down patients’ medical backgrounds and run simple and easy laboratory tests.
– Give injections, apply bandages, as well as take X-rays.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma and reasonable amount of on-the-job training.

Pharmacy Technician


– Receive and fill doctor’s prescription requests (from nurses, hospitals, and patients).
– Put together, price, and document prescriptions for the pharmacist to check.
– Put together insurance claim forms.
– Answer phones.
– Maintain inventory for over the counter medication.
– Maintain patient profiles.
– Take care of money/cashier duties.

Education Requirements

– High school diploma, work-related experience, and reasonable amount of on-the-job training.

Construction Laborer


– Loading and unload of equipment and other material, put up and take down scaffoldings, clear away work zones, and carry materials to other workers, etc.
– Assist to bricklayers and plasterers by mixing materials and setting up scaffolding.
– Create forms into which concrete is poured, and spread and spade the concrete.
– Perform any and just about every single small to medium size job on the work site.

Education Requirements

– Reasonable amount of on-the-job training, high school diploma is not required.

Source: Jim Walker,,,,,,


Hotels and Other Accommodations

Significant Points

* Service occupations account for almost two-thirds of the industry’s employment—by far the largest occupational group.
* Hotels employ many young workers and first-time job holders in part-time and seasonal jobs.
* Job opportunities should be good as low entry requirements for many jobs lead to high turnover and replacement needs.

Nature of the Industry

People travel for a variety of reasons, including for vacations, business, and visits to friends and relatives. For many of these travelers, hotels and other accommodations will be where they stay while out of town. For others, hotels may be more than just a place to stay; they are destinations in themselves. Resort hotels and casino hotels, for example, offer a variety of activities to keep travelers and families occupied for much of their stay.

Goods and services

Hotels and other accommodations are as different as the many family and business travelers they accommodate. The industry includes all types of lodging, from luxurious five-star hotels to youth hostels and RV (recreational vehicle) parks. While many provide simply a place to spend the night, others cater to longer stays by providing food service, recreational activities, and meeting rooms. In 2008, 64,300 establishments provided accommodations to suit many different needs and budgets.

Hotels and motels comprise the majority of establishments in this industry and are generally classified as offering either full-service or limited service. Full-service properties offer a variety of services for their guests, but they almost always include at least one or more restaurant and beverage service options other than self-service—from coffee bars and lunch counters to cocktail lounges and formal restaurants. They also usually provide room service. Larger full-service properties usually have a variety of retail shops on the premises, such as gift boutiques, newsstands, and drug and cosmetics counters, some of which may be geared to an exclusive clientele. Additionally, a number of full-service hotels offer guests access to laundry and valet services, swimming pools, beauty salons, and fitness centers or health spas. A small—but growing—number of luxury hotel chains also manage condominium units in combination with their transient rooms, providing both hotel guests and condominium owners with access to the same services and amenities.

The largest hotels often have banquet rooms, exhibit halls, and spacious ballrooms to accommodate conventions, business meetings, wedding receptions, and other social gatherings. Conventions and business meetings are major sources of revenue for these properties. Some commercial hotels are known as conference hotels—fully self-contained entities specifically designed for large-scale meetings. They provide physical fitness and recreational facilities for meeting attendees, in addition to state-of-the-art audiovisual and technical equipment, a business center, and banquet services.

Limited-service hotels are free-standing properties that do not have on-site restaurants or most other amenities that must be provided by a staff other than the front desk or housekeeping. They usually offer continental breakfasts, vending machines or small packaged items, Internet access, and sometimes unattended game rooms or swimming pools in addition to daily housekeeping services. The numbers of limited-service properties have been growing. These properties are not as costly to build and maintain. They appeal to budget-conscious family vacationers and travelers who are willing to sacrifice amenities for lower room prices.

Hotels can also be categorized based on a distinguishing feature or service provided by the hotel. Conference hotels provide meeting and banquet rooms, and usually food service, to large groups of people. Resort hotels offer luxurious surroundings with a variety of recreational facilities, such as swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, game rooms, and health spas, as well as planned social activities and entertainment. Resorts typically are located in vacation destinations or near natural settings, such as mountains, seashores, theme parks, or other attractions. As a result, the business of many resorts fluctuates with the season. Some resort hotels and motels provide additional convention and conference facilities to encourage customers to combine business with pleasure. During the off season, many of these establishments solicit conventions, sales meetings, and incentive tours to fill their otherwise empty rooms; some resorts even close for the off-season.

Extended-stay hotels typically provide rooms or suites with fully equipped kitchens, entertainment systems, office space with computer and telephone lines, fitness centers, and other amenities. Typically, guests use these hotels for a minimum of 5 consecutive nights, often while on an extended work assignment or lengthy vacation or family visit. All-suite hotels offer a living room or sitting room in addition to a bedroom. Casino hotels combine both lodging and legalized gaming on the same premises. Along with the typical services provided by most full-service hotels, casino hotels also contain casinos where patrons can wager at table games, play slot machines, and make other bets. Some casino hotels also contain conference and convention facilities.

In addition to hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, RV parks, campgrounds, and rooming and boarding houses provide lodging for overnight guests and are included in this industry. Bed-and-breakfast inns provide short-term lodging in private homes or small buildings converted for this purpose and are characterized by highly personalized service and inclusion of breakfast in the room rate. Their appeal is quaintness; they typically provide unusual service and unique decor.

RV parks and campgrounds cater to people who enjoy recreational camping at moderate prices. Some parks and campgrounds provide service stations, general stores, shower and toilet facilities, and coin-operated laundries. While some are designed for overnight travelers only, others are for vacationers who stay longer. Some camps provide accommodations, such as cabins and fixed campsites, and other amenities, such as food services, recreational facilities and equipment, and organized recreational activities. Examples of these overnight camps include children’s camps, family vacation camps, hunting and fishing camps, and outdoor adventure retreats that offer trail riding, white-water rafting, hiking, fishing, game hunting, and similar activities.

Other short-term lodging facilities in this industry include guesthouses, or small cottages located on the same property as a main residence, and youth hostels—dormitory-style hotels with few frills, occupied mainly by students traveling on limited budgets. Also included are rooming and boarding houses, such as fraternity houses, sorority houses, off-campus dormitories, and workers’ camps. These establishments provide temporary or longer term accommodations that may serve as a principal residence for the period of occupancy. These establishments also may provide services such as housekeeping, meals, and laundry services.

Industry organization

In recent years, the hotel industry has been dominated by a few large national hotel chains. To the traveler, familiar chain establishments represent dependability and quality at predictable rates. Many chains recognize the importance of brand loyalty to guests and have expanded the range of lodging options offered under one corporate name to include a full range of hotels from limited-service, economy-type hotels to luxury inns. While these national corporations own some of the hotels, many properties are independently owned but affiliated with a chain through a franchise agreement or management contract. Increasingly, hotel chains are moving away from owning properties to managing them. As part of a chain, individual hotels can participate in the company’s national reservations service or incentive program, thereby appearing to belong to a larger enterprise.

For those who prefer more personalized service and a unique experience, boutique hotels are becoming more popular. These smaller hotels are generally found in urban locations and provide patrons good service and more distinctive decor and food selection.

Although there are nationwide RV parks and campgrounds, most small lodging establishments are individually owned and operated by a single owner, who may employ a small staff to help operate the business.



Carpentry and Joinery

Significant Points

* About 32 percent of all carpenters are self-employed.
* Job opportunities should be best for those with the most training and skills.
* Carpenters can learn their craft through on-the-job training, vocational schools or technical colleges, or formal apprenticeship programs, which often takes 3 to 4 years.

Nature of the Work

Carpenters construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures made from wood and other materials. Carpenters are involved in many different kinds of construction, from the building of highways and bridges to the installation of kitchen cabinets.

Each carpentry task is somewhat different, but most involve the same basic steps. Working from blueprints or instructions from supervisors, carpenters first do the layout—measuring, marking, and arranging materials—in accordance with local building codes. They cut and shape wood, plastic, fiberglass, or drywall using hand and power tools, such as chisels, planes, saws, drills, and sanders. They then join the materials with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives. In the last step, carpenters do a final check of the accuracy of their work with levels, rules, plumb bobs, framing squares, and surveying equipment, and make any necessary adjustments. Some materials come prefabricated, allowing for easier and faster installation.

Carpenters may do many different carpentry tasks, or they may specialize in one or two. Carpenters who remodel homes and other structures, for example, need a broad range of carpentry skills. As part of a single job, they might frame walls and partitions, put in doors and windows, build stairs, install cabinets and molding, and complete many other tasks. Well-trained carpenters are able to switch from residential building to commercial construction or remodeling work, depending on which offers the best work opportunities.

Carpenters who work for large construction contractors or specialty contractors may perform only a few regular tasks, such as constructing wooden forms for pouring concrete, or erecting scaffolding. Some carpenters build tunnel bracing, or brattices, in underground passageways and mines to control the circulation of air through the passageways and to worksites. Others build concrete forms for tunnel, bridge, or sewer construction projects.

Carpenters employed outside the construction industry perform a variety of installation and maintenance work. They may replace panes of glass, ceiling tiles, and doors, as well as repair desks, cabinets, and other furniture. Depending on the employer, carpenters install partitions, doors, and windows; change locks; and repair broken furniture. In manufacturing firms, carpenters may assist in moving or installing machinery.

Work environment.

As is true of other building trades, carpentry work is sometimes strenuous. Prolonged standing, climbing, bending, and kneeling often are necessary. Carpenters risk injury working with sharp or rough materials, using sharp tools and power equipment, and working in situations where they might slip or fall. Consequently, workers in this occupation experience a very high incidence of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. Additionally, carpenters who work outdoors are subject to variable weather conditions.

Many carpenters work a standard 40 hour week; however, some work more. About 7 percent worked part time.