Interdisciplinary career options?
May 10, 2013 9:01 AM   Subscribe

What careers or jobs might actively look for and value candidates with degrees in quite disparate fields? One example is patent law, where lawyers with science or technical backgrounds are valued. What other instances are there?
posted by Malad to Work & Money (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Malpractice Attornies who are also lawyers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:02 AM on May 10, 2013

Academic librarians who need a background in one or more academic disciplines.

Translators and interpreters in specific fields such as medicine, law and the natural science also benefit a lot from knowledge in those, also in terms of credibility.
posted by ipsative at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2013

Technical/scientific/legal writing and editing
Humanities computing
Translation (many different specialties needing a combination of language and content expertise)
Grant writing and nonprofit/research administration
posted by RogerB at 9:13 AM on May 10, 2013

The trading world wants people who are really good at math and who can also code and who also know something about the markets. If you're not familiar with the industry, you might think "hey, I'll major in economics or finance or something," but I have mostly seen folks who are electrical engineering majors or math majors or something like that. Once even an astrophysics PhD.

Maybe there'll be a double major in econ, but usually it's an engineer who just studies the markets for fun.
posted by phunniemee at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Computer scientists with a good understanding of social science and/or the humanities are also worth their weight in gold in digital humanities projects as well as other technology-based culture enterprises.

Normally there is a mismatch of expectations between both sides and it helps to have someone who can understand both.
posted by ipsative at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2013

Malpractice attorneys who are also lawyers.

I assume you mean medical malpractice attorneys who are also doctors, or at least have an MD. There are legal malpractice attorneys (and attorneys who handle other kinds of professional malpractice cases), but they are of course all lawyers.

Anyway, that's really just a marketing gimmick. The attorney will not have much opportunity to bring it up before the jury, and cannot give any expert testimony of his or her own. It's much more important that a medical malpractice attorney be a good lawyer, first and foremost, and hire good expert witnesses. Indeed, I would personally be very wary of a JD/MD: what does it say about them that they couldn't hack it as a doctor and then spent another three years (and probably a lot of money) to enter a much less certain field?

It's much the same in patent litigation. Unlike patent prosecutors (i.e. patent attorneys who handle patent applications), patent litigators are less likely to have a technical background. It can't hurt, and in today's job market it's becoming de rigueur, but as a practical matter the litigator's own technical expertise is largely irrelevant. That's what the expert witnesses and technical consultants are for.
posted by jedicus at 9:31 AM on May 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Writing/editing skills + anything.

I have a creative writing degree. After graduating it was really tough getting a job. Outside of the usual suspects (marketing, publishing, journalism) no one cares about you if the only thing you can do is write. But if you have experience in a field and you're a good writer? You're at a huge advantage.
posted by mcmile at 9:37 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Investment/financial analysts whose academic and professional background is in the industry they are analyzing.

Programmers/Computer Scientists who understand human factors/design.
posted by deanc at 9:46 AM on May 10, 2013

Believe it or not there's a degree program in biotechnology and chartered accountancy which I think is aimed at people doing valuations of biotech company acquisitions.
posted by GuyZero at 10:02 AM on May 10, 2013

Math/Stats/Physics and pretty much anything.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:14 AM on May 10, 2013

Not that the job market is too robust for journalists, but that's another example of a job where having another speciality can be a boost.
posted by duffell at 10:32 AM on May 10, 2013

Business analysts.
posted by sapere aude at 10:52 AM on May 10, 2013

A clinical degree (nursing, MD, PA, pharmacy) and experience is hugely valuable if you want to work in the business or technical (IT or devices) side of the health care industry.
posted by mskyle at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2013

I suspect that ways of categorizing fields can grow out of data, as new opportunities and demands emerge. So, there are lots of ways modern careers cross disciplinary boundaries. In addition to the broad categories of people who have a background in education and field X, or programing and field X, or research/analysis skills and field X, there are lots more specific examples: cosmetic surgeons, food scientists, computational linguists, engineering psychologists, forensic pathologists, art restorers, combat medics, music therapists, biomedical engineers, etc.
posted by neutralmojo at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2013

I considered a career in art restoration, the road to which would have included studies in Art History and Chemistry.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:56 PM on May 10, 2013

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