Jobs involving memorization?
June 5, 2007 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I have a good memory. What are some careers that involve memorization?

I have a very good memory - not freakishly photographic, but good enough that memorizing things comes easily to me, especially data in lists. It's been great so far in life for acing vocab tests and pub trivia games, but I'm curious about what I could do to put it to further use. What kind of jobs really benefit from being able to memorize long and memorize fast?

This might be a bit Chatfilter. Mainly I am curious because my imagination is stopping at "foreign language translator" and "actor." I don't have any immediate plans to change careers, unless maybe someone suggests something mindblowing! :)
posted by cadge to Work & Money (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably stupid to suggest, but when I think of people with freakish memory skills, I think of aides to superstars. I'm not trying to put you into The Devil Wears Prada in real life, but hey, it'd be entertaining.

Something at NASA has to demand a great memory. Be a lawyer?
posted by cashman at 6:24 AM on June 5, 2007

Absolutely. An EA job requires serious memory skills, the more so the higher up you go.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:27 AM on June 5, 2007

Having a good memory is GREAT in librarianship. As a librarian you don't have to memorize facts so much as systems that allow you (and others) to find facts. Simply becoming familiar with a library's collection could be much easier with good memory skills. You could probably get good quickly at such complex systems as Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classifications, as well as the Library of Congress Subject Headings. These are helpful in cataloging, and of course in that magic skill librarians have of walking into the stacks and coming out with exactly what the patron wants.

Speaking of stacks, you could probably get familiar with them easily, esp. reference stacks (and databases for that matter), leading to quick turnaround of reference questions.

Then there's that bugaboo of accidentally buying something that the library already has (doh!)--you'd be less likely to do so, since you are more likely to know what's in the collection and what isn't.

Librarianship would be a way to use your memory to support professional work, rather than as a parlor trick. (Though the aforementioned coming-out-of-the-stacks-holding-precisely-what-the-patron-wants trick can be very applauseworthy!)
posted by gillyflower at 6:31 AM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Be a medical student.
posted by ruwan at 6:33 AM on June 5, 2007

Pharmacist. (And you make bank, too.)
posted by SpecialK at 6:38 AM on June 5, 2007

posted by grumblebee at 6:46 AM on June 5, 2007

Buy and almanac, memorize it, and you have the beginnings of a street performance career. For certain parts of the country, substitute a bible.
posted by yohko at 7:17 AM on June 5, 2007

an almanac
posted by yohko at 7:17 AM on June 5, 2007

Postal employee
posted by govtdrone at 7:33 AM on June 5, 2007

every career involves memorization. I'm in IT and I've got more IP addresses in my head than I care to admit.
posted by pmbuko at 7:36 AM on June 5, 2007

Development/funder relations. The best people in this field remember all kinds of details in order to make every communication (i.e. request for funding) warm and personal. And the money is good. Even in non-profits, the development staff gets paid a whole lot more than anyone.
posted by desuetude at 8:02 AM on June 5, 2007

Air traffic controller.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 8:09 AM on June 5, 2007

I agree with SpecialK. A pharmacist. My mom is one and she says it's mostly memorization.
posted by spec80 at 8:10 AM on June 5, 2007

Card counter.
posted by found missing at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2007

If you can remember details about people such as names to faces then you could do well at jobs such as sales or party planning.
posted by rongorongo at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2007

Seconding medicine.
posted by callmejay at 9:28 AM on June 5, 2007

Continuity director. Basically you sit next to the camera during movie shoots and do your best to memorize the locations, positions and conditions of everything in a scene. Since scenes are shot out of order, and sometimes later need to be redone, it's quite a bit of work to get a shot to look like one filmed a week or more ago.

This is becoming less of an issue with digital recordings (can view a shot right after without developing), but still important.
It makes me think of that digital pub game where you have to find the differences between two pictures.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 9:31 AM on June 5, 2007

Lawyer. Particularly in a field that requires lots of reference to statutes (regulatory, civil litigation, among others).

With a fantastic memory you could accurately say things like, "section 452.004 (a) wouldn't allow that," instead of pulling it out of your asymptote like many lawyers are tempted to do.

Any good lawyer will tell you that practicing law isn't a matter of memorizing lists of rules - and they'd be right. But it sure doesn't hurt.

If you memory is really, really good - I second "card counter." :)
posted by GPF at 9:39 AM on June 5, 2007

The best HR people I've known have been able to recognize me after a year, remember both my first and last name, and ask me something about my life such as how (home city) was or how it was going studying (subject). The first time this happened I was blown away but at this point I've seen it a few times and I have been forced to conclude that I could not hack HR.
posted by crinklebat at 9:56 AM on June 5, 2007

Be an historian. Although clearly this isn't the greatest financial decision that you will ever make, your career will hinge on your ability to remember facts.

Consequently, this is why the careers of historians peak later in life - the more facts that you know, the better you will be at your job.

At almost the opposite end of the spectrum, the careers of both mathematicians and silicon valley entrepreneurs tend to peak early in life because memory tends to get in the way of their jobs. These professions are about synthesis rather than recall and forging new connections that are almost always outside of "traditional."

If you are more into helping people, then medicine would also be great. As a doctor, you can have it both ways - when you are young, you can do research and come up with your own ideas and theories. When you are older, you have a vast database to draw from.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 10:13 AM on June 5, 2007

be a head hunter, especially in a well-defined industry where people tend to know a lot of other people. especially if that industry has a lot of minute details. I get to a) deal with a well-defined professional group of people that while not tiny is certainly finite and all part of one professional organization, thus breeding familiarity and b) deal with the industry characteristics -- a wide variety of complex products these people deal with etc. Name recognition, understanding of a highly technical product when i'm not a highly technical person is all based on memorization.

You're a lot more successfulit helps when you remember that not only does Joe Smith work for Company X but he used to work at Company Y, with Jane Doe, and before that worked at Company Z with John Public and Tom Jones but he's from New York and his wife is from Texas and for awhile 5 years ago he wanted to live in Alaska.

And keep a good recall of all the jobs we have open so if I am talking to Joe Smith and he mentions he wants to look at jobs in New York, I should be able to say, without fussing with my computer, I have this, this, and this, and these jobs report to him, him, and her, and here are the details and the salaries and the reporting structure.
posted by Soulbee at 10:40 AM on June 5, 2007

If you are good at remembering people/names, there are a lot of jobs for you:

Sales (also good if you can remember your catalog/inventory details)

Politics, HR, fundraising, etc.
posted by Good Brain at 10:44 AM on June 5, 2007

Editing. I'm an editor, and I think memory is just as important as conscientiousness. In a given day, I have to recall dozens of AP and Chicago rules and all sorts of in-house style quirks.
posted by lunalaguna at 11:10 AM on June 5, 2007

Ecologist/biologist, horticulturalist.
posted by tristeza at 12:28 PM on June 5, 2007

Response by poster: These are great suggestions, everyone! Yay! Please keep them coming if you have more!

Especially the pharmacist suggestion - I'm not actively looking for a new line of work but that is something I could seriously see myself doing. I already work in healthcare IT and have an appreciation/exposure to medicine and medications.
posted by cadge at 12:36 PM on June 5, 2007

Emulate KayJay.
posted by rob511 at 3:30 PM on June 5, 2007

I have been thinking about this very topic alot.

I have been doing research into being a Traffic Engineer. It seems like a good mix between a desk job and going out on the streets and putting the plans into action - traffic lights, signs, and so forth.

Everytime I drive through certain parts of my town (Asheville, NC) I can't help but think I could do a better job with the timing of some traffic lights and stuff.

posted by donmak at 6:07 AM on June 6, 2007

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