Tech Degree/Career as Lib. Art Major? How do I get in the Door and What Door do I get in?
April 15, 2008 7:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm a liberal arts major. I'm considering Law School or a Masters but according to US News & WR Even college grads might want to consider blue-collar careers . I live Near Wake Tech (a well respected Technical/Community College) and like the idea of a steady, secure 9-5ish type job. Salary is not critical, as long as I can live reasonably comfortably. So what are my best options? (See More Below)

I originally was gonna write this as "What IT or Computer Degree Could I get to predictably lead to a steady job" but decided to open it up a bit, so any technical, IT, blue collar, "green collar" or "computer blue collar" (if there is such a thing) careers are open.

The limitations are:

1- I can get any Training/Degree needed at Wake Tech (or near by),

2 -The Training/Degree is a reasonably straight line to employment

3 There are jobs here in NC (though eventually I may move to Denver or the North West)

Pluses if the Degree/Career:
- is a job that allows me to be "creative" in some meaningful way
- is mostly indoor/non-physical work
- is computer related,
- benefits the environment,
- is at all realated to games or simulations
- I get to interact with people a fair bit.

EXTRA DETAIL: I have considered, and sometimes still consider becoming a Game Designer. I even seriously looked at becoming a programmer to that end. I like programming and "tinkering" with scripts but in then end do not think I have a programmer mentality, attention to detail and so forth. Plus, though I don't have a problem with math, as a Lib. Art Major, math is not my strong suit.

Additionally, the Computer Game Design field is, as I understand, a very non-linear and grueling career... I just want a straight forward path to a job at this point. If I can keep game design as a hobby and possibly move into it professionally later, so much the better.

Thanks for any input... it helps a semi lost 23 year old.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Work & Money (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Art Major, math is not my strong suit.

Content creation is a big part of game development. Consider building some skills in 2D (photoshop, illustrator) and 3D (lightwave, 3d studio, whatever the kids use these days) design.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2008

You don't say where your liberal arts program is, or how intense or satisfying it may be.

My own college experience was in an excellent and historic New England college,
comparable to Davidson in your region, but older. The degree was A.B., awarded
in Latin, due to tradition. I say that just to emphasize that it was 'the real thing' -
intense, broad, scholarly and all that. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and it did the most to build me. If your program holds your interest, and you can afford it, finish it
out. You won't regret it.

Later, over years, after a degree in librarianship, medical school, six additional training years in medicine, and a whole bunch of interspersed real work - pilot plant in acrylic fiber development, hotel desk work, picking apples,
supervising pea-cooking for the Green Giant, and most recently glass-blowing,
together with helping people struggle to find a task they could
achieve on the rez -ervation, and watching four own kids try to make a career
and taking a long time at it - while we lived in nineteen different states
to make these things happen, and practice a little medicine,
now I advise you to do one more thing: -

Find a serious vocational adviser of good quality, and take the full array of evaluatory
tests, not just in computer-y or technical fields. After all, you'll use computers in whatever you do, but the excitement of finding some real new challenges in a field you've never even thought about will bring you satisfaction in coming decades that others may never be prepared to encounter. A good careerist can lead you toward a field you have an unrecognized talent for, in a format you'd like (9-5? -really so?),
in an area of anticipated growth and reward. Do this self-exploration SOON.

Be bold. Be independent. Yet don't neglect to seek meaningful advice.

Cheers !

posted by Orchard at 8:57 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

To clarify: I have graduated and already gotten my Liberal Arts Degree. I received it from CSU in Fort Collins Colorado.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:18 PM on April 15, 2008

I know you're asking about the IT end of the spectrum but since you said you were considering law school, and speaking as a guy currently there (and one who used to work as a database and network admin)...

...if you're seeking a 9-5 type job, law school's probably not the right choice, in the end. The system is pretty well rigged so that you graduate with enough debt (up to and over $100k) that you take the highest paying job (with concomitant demands on your time and sanity) just in order to service those payments.

Or at least, that's the track 90%+ percent of the people I know here are on.

Other than that, law does fit some of your criteria (#2 and 3 in particular, though employment prospects of course depend on how well you do in law school / where you go, unfortunately.)

It'll allow you to be "creative" in a sense (think up the most effective arguments you can) -- but in many cases, doesn't have that much personal contact (certainly not with clients in the early years, if you go the private practice route to settle some debt.)

I don't regret my decision at all, but I wish I had been a bit better informed about the aftermath before making the jump to law school.

As far as my time wearing admin hats / black t-shirts, well, I was a political science major in undergrad (albeit one with some tech skills), and I survived fine in the roles after I serendipitously assumed 'em. There's creativity and ingenuity required, and if you've got good interpersonal skills, the job's that much easier.

I'm a believer that formalism / degrees aren't the only way to move forward (though, admittedly, education has to come from somewhere.) I'd be wary of the quickie vocational programs guaranteeing employment at the end in CS/tech fields, though -- not all are shady, but many just take your loan money and toss you out the door at the end. (Career help? Bah!) I have few HS friends who made that mistake. there's my .02 and a little backstory. Good luck.
posted by theoddball at 9:54 PM on April 15, 2008

Just browsing through the list of programs at Wake Tech the obvious programs that fit your criteria including the "green" aspect might be some of the engineering tech programs like Civil Engineering Technology, Environmental Sciece Technology, or Landscape Architecture Technology. There are tons of environmental consulting firms in the Triangle area that I imagine use CAD techs from programs like this. You might want to look at the News & Observer classifieds to get some ideas.

You did see that they have a Digital Gaming Technology program, right? So if you want to go in that direction, you could probably just go.

While not overly familiar with Wake Tech, I know that community colleges in NC in general are great and are very focused on adult education and job placement. It might not hurt to apply and then talk to your counselor about which programs might be best for you when you go to register for classes.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:50 AM on April 16, 2008

i don't think the world needs more lawyers. or necessarily more it/tech people (which i don't consider blue collar). the world does, or will very soon as folks retire, need more plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. over the past 10ish years i've often found myself thinking i should have gone to a vo-tech instead of pursuing the "white collar" path i took. i'd have more job security and i'd probably be making more money.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:19 AM on April 16, 2008

I gotta say, as a group, machinists seem like a mighty content, well compensated group. their work is challenging, requires lots of problem solving, is all hands on, and can involve all sorts of cool equipment and creations.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:23 AM on April 16, 2008

How about accounting schools? They have master's programs for non-accounting majors now that will prepare you to sit for the CPA exam.

Or a HVAC specialist? Maybe go to the technical college's career center and ask them?
posted by onepapertiger at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2008

If you like computers and want a desk job, look into building information management (BIM). It's the next wave of representing all of the parts of a building on a PC. It takes the architectural, mechanical and other systems and models them for hypothetical purposes, building management (like HVAC/mechanical) and other reasons. Any technical college's drafting or construction technology program should be able to help you there.

I work for a non-profit that promotes jobs in the architecture, construction and engineering to high school and college students. The opportunities are amazing. You can graduate from high school, be a lineman for the electric company and make upwards of $100k/year with overtime. Now, not everyone wants to climb up and down poles all day. There are other opportunities. Even if you don't want to get dirty, you can still work as an estimator or project manager for a construction firm. There are real opportunities to work all over the world. Construction is a booming industry and in the US there are not enough qualified applicants to fill the jobs that are coming up due to baby boomers retiring. And the focus on green building is also driving jobs.

Safety is another good field to get into to, especially if you like technicalities. Go to work for OSHA and you've got a good career, but everyone on a job site will hate you. :)
posted by FergieBelle at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2008

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