Date of Publication: 23 November 2020
Thinking about where your future could take you?
Choosing your dream career can be difficult, especially as in today’s marketplace, there are more career opportunities open to you than ever before – some of which you probably haven’t heard of yet.
To avoid having to retrain later on in life, it’s worth taking the time during your GCSE and A-Levels to think hard about what career path you may wish to pursue in the future. This will allow you to tailor your education and extracurricular experiences to the subject and work that can help you best achieve that future job role.
To give you some insight into the unique paths available to you, we’ve compiled a list of 12 interesting careers you may wish to pursue in the future. We’ve also included the most straightforward pathways for reaching these careers, helping to give you focus over the next few years as you advance on your education.
Simply put, an architect is someone who is trained to work on the planning and design of buildings.
Architecture is a highly creative and respected profession, one which allows you to stretch your creativity and apply logical thinking to a variety of situations.
Although the facets of an architect’s role can be varied, ultimately, these are the professionals who take a building idea from concept to design, creating plans and technical drawings which are used in the construction industry.
How do I Become an Architect?
Being an architect is a highly creative role, but also one which requires a lot of highly specific training for you to become licensed.
Architecture is an art that works hand-in-hand with Physics and Mathematics. Not only does it involve creative design, but any building design also needs to be safe and able to withstand the elements of nature. Therefore, part of your training will mean you need to focus on the technical aspects which come with design work.
In the UK, becoming a licensed architect involves a lot of training, which usually begins with a five year undergraduate degree in Architecture. For that degree to earn you an official license as an architect, you will need to make sure the degree is recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB).
Like most other professions, you will need at least 5 GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and 3 A-Levels (or the equivalent) for you to secure a place and study architecture at university.
However, be sure to take the time to check each university’s entry requirements prior to choosing your A-Levels, as some courses may require you to have taken certain A-Level courses, such as Art & Design, or possibly a technical subject like Mathematics.
Once you have completed your degree, you will need to complete at least one year of practical training, before spending a final two years at university, completing a course such as a BArch, MArch, or a Diploma.
Once earning your final university qualifications, you will then be required to complete one more year of practical training, followed by a final examination. On passing this, you can then become a Chartered Architect as a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and start your career.
The field of genetics is a branch of Biology that examines the inheritance of physical and behavioural traits of living organisms, and how these characteristics are passed down from one generation to the next.
Research is a major part of a Geneticist’s job. This research involves the study of genes and the science behind their heredity in living organisms, including everything from humans and animals to plants, and bacteria.
Depending on their role, geneticists might even find ways to modify or generate new genes, helping the development of new pharmaceuticals and agricultural products which can help those who suffer with genetic diseases.
How Do I Become a Geneticist?
To become a geneticist, you will need to study Genetics at university, or have earned a relevant life sciences degree, such as Biomedical Science, Biology, Microbiology, Biotechnology and Genetics, or Biochemistry.
Most geneticists also go on to earn some form of postgraduate qualification, such as a Masters degree. Some will specialise in a particular field with a PhD, making it easier for those looking to lead their own research projects or become a university lecturer.
In addition to this, having volunteered your time with research work, hospital laboratory placements, and other relevant settings can be particularly helpful in securing a job after graduation.
If you want to work as a geneticist within the NHS in England, then you will need to complete their three-year-long Scientist Training Programme (STP) after your degree. Scotland has separate training schemes, but these also involve a three-year STP programme.
After completing your STP, you will then be able to apply for a certificate of attainment from the Academy of Healthcare Science. This will allow you to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is a board you must be registered with in order to practise as a clinical scientist in the UK.
The term anthropology is derived from the Greek words ‘anthropos’ (human), and ‘logia’ (study). As the name suggests, anthropologists are indeed scientists who explore, study, and understand humankind and how it has evolved over time.
As an anthropologist, you will spend a lot of time researching and studying artefacts, collections, ancient cultures and language. This research will help you to understand how modern civilisation has evolved and how it shapes our current social norms.
You could even find yourself applying your research to large societal issues, understanding how problems such as inequality, racism and poverty have derived, and how we can best overcome them.
How Do I Become an Anthropologist?
To pursue this career path, you will need to study Anthropology as a typical three or four year undergraduate degree.
Usually, there are no specific A-Levels which you need to complete prior to your university degree, but to be certain, it’s worth checking some specific course requirements that interest you. This is because some degrees may offer specialisms, such as Forensics, which could mean you need an A-Level in Biology.
After completing your degree, you may wish to pursue further studies, such as a Master’s qualification or a PhD. This will allow you to specialise in a particular branch of Anthropology that interests you, making you stand out when applying for your dream job in today’s highly competitive job market.
Meteorologists analyse and forecast the weather, using specialist technologies to measure and predict short-term patterns.
Though many believe that the only role for meteorologists is presenting the weather forecast on TV, there are actually lots of different job roles which are available to meteorologists. As an example, you could find yourself producing forecasts and reports for the armed forces, for shipping, or for the agricultural industry.
Your career path could also be divided into two main areas: forecasting or research. As a forecasting analyst, you will collect data from satellite images, radar, remote sensors and weather stations from all over the world to predict the upcoming weather patterns. Whereas the role of a researcher would be far more investigative, applying research to practical problems, such as predicting natural disasters and improving computer forecasting models.
How Do I Become a Meteorologist?
In the UK, you will need to have a good (first, or upper second class) undergraduate degree, where you have studied Meteorology or a related subject, such as Computer Science, Mathematics, or another science subject, like Physics. Typically, students who pursue this subject at university level will probably have studied Mathematics and/or Physics at A-Levels.
On top of an undergraduate degree, having a postgraduate qualification in Meteorology or Climatology is also highly desirable, as Meteorology is a highly niche career area.
Most individuals in the UK who wish to work as a Meteorologist then go on to finalise their training with the Met Office, who will help you build your professional skills and support your career development, guiding you through programmes which focus on your area of interest.
5. Art Historian
As the name indicates, an Art Historian is an expert in historical works of art, spending their time researching and familiarising themselves with a number of styles of art, artists, and their work.
The term is quite a broad one, with a number of job roles which can fall under the ‘art historian’ umbrella. Those working as an art historian may find themselves doing any of the below roles during their career:
- Art museum curator
- Art gallerist (for historical items)
- Tour guide
- Writing journals, newspaper and magazine articles on art history
- Researcher/research assistant
- Art history lecturer
However, knowledge in the field of art history can be applied to a vast number of industries, meaning you could even find yourself working in roles such as costume design, interior design, public research, or furniture design.
How Do I Become an Art Historian?
Unlike some of the other art professions, starting a career as an Art Historian often requires a university education. You can study Art History at university as a Bachelor’s degree, which typically requires an essay-based subject at A-level (or an equivalent qualification).
Generally, most art historians go on to earn a Masters or Doctoral degree, allowing them to specialise in a particular style or period of history which interests them. This will strengthen your understanding of the subject even further, solidifying your knowledge for future job opportunities.
For those who are interested in becoming a teacher or lecturer, you will also need to complete the necessary teacher training qualifications.
In England and Wales, the role of a barrister involves representing and pleading the case on behalf of an individual or organisation in court.
The role is highly respected, with barristers considered independent sources of legal advice, only becoming involved in legal matters once advocacy before a court is needed. As such, being a barrister is a demanding, but highly rewarding job, requiring an analytical mind, a logical approach, and excellent attention to detail.
As a barrister, you will usually specialise in a particular area of law, including any of the below:
- Chancery law – involving states and trusts
- Commercial law
- Common law – includes family and personal injury law
- Corporate law
- Criminal law
- Entertainment law
- Environmental law
- International law
- Sports law
Many barristers work on a self-employed basis, but you can also work for government departments, such as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), or for a private or public organisation, such as a charity.
How Do I Become a Barrister?
To become a barrister, you must first complete a university degree. Typically, students looking to become barristers will study Law, but you can study another subject and complete a conversion course at a later date.
Once you have completed your degree, you will then need to complete some vocational training, known as the official Bar Professional Training Course. This can take place over the course of one full year, or two years for part-time study.
After this, you will enter the final stage of your training, known as pupillage. During this, you will spend a year as a pupil in a barrister’s chamber, getting real-life experience as a barrister. After which, you will then be able to start practising professionally, either as a self-employed barrister, or by joining an existing organisation.
Being a professional pilot is a highly respected and interesting career, where you have the responsibility for safely flying and navigating planes, helicopters, and other types of aircraft.
Today, most modern aircrafts are operated by more than one individual, known as the ‘cockpit crew.’ This is usually made up of a captain and a co-pilot or first officer. Together, the pair will share responsibility for flight duties, such as directing the plane, communicating with air traffic control, and monitoring stats.
There are different types of jobs to choose from as a pilot. For example, an airline pilot will work for a specific company, transporting passengers and cargo on fixed schedules, while commercial pilots work for organisations that offer a whole range of aerospace jobs, such as charter flights, rescue operations, or aerial photography.
While job duties may vary depending on the type of pilot you become, there are some common tasks you will have to do as part of your daily responsibilities, including:
- Pre- and post-flight safety aircraft inspections
- Planning safe and efficient flight paths
- Analysing any potential risks
- Communicating with personnel and air traffic controllers
- Ensuring the safety and comfort of those on-board the aircraft
How do I Become a Pilot?
Becoming a pilot can be quite a costly investment, but one which offers substantial rewards, as well as a high salary.
In terms of academia, trainee pilots will need to hold good GCSE grades in the core subjects, as well as their A-Levels, which usually require a technical subject like Mathematics. While a degree isn’t an essential requirement, they are looked on favourably.
On top of your academic qualifications, you will need to obtain a Class 1 Medical Certificate which is valid for 12 months until the age of 40. This will ensure you are fit and healthy enough to be flying regularly.
Once you have gained your medical certificate, you can then apply for your Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). These tend to last around 12 months to complete and include both a practical skill test and theoretical knowledge exams. The topics you will cover include radio navigation, operation procedures, and air law.
Upon passing all the necessary examinations, you will graduate with a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and an Instrumental Rating (IR), which combine to make a ‘frozen APTL.’ A frozen ATPL will only allow you to apply for jobs as a first officer or co-pilot. You can only ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL after completing more than 1,500 hours of flying experience, after which you can apply for jobs as a captain.
8. Video Game Designer
A video game always begins with a concept. A concept which is nothing more than a plotted story arc, an idea for who the game should be targeted at, what requirements it should have, including its budget and deadline.
The role of a video game designer is to take that concept of gameplay and bring it to life. Using specialist computer software, the game designer will input certain computer scripting, which is then read and processed by the software to generate commands, events, objects and characters that players can control and interact with.
Video games are very complex, with whole teams usually working together to create a final product. As such, you may find yourself working on just one or a few of the following areas when developing a video game:
- Plot and storyline
- Scenarios, and methods for winning or losing in each
- Difficulty levels for the user
- Creating a user interface
At some point, most developers will spend a chunk of their time as testers, where you can experiment with coding to check for glitches.
How Do I Become a Video Game Designer?
There are a few routes into becoming a video game developer, with most students undertaking an undergraduate degree where they study Computer Science, Computer Game Design, Graphic Design, or Animation.
Typically, these degrees require some sort of technical A-Level, such as Mathematics, Coding, or a media/design-related qualification. You will also need to have achieved a solid set of GCSE grades in order to pick these A-Levels.
Unfortunately, the video game industry is highly competitive, so developing a portfolio of work experience and demonstrated skill is essential to help you secure a great graduate role. Whilst at university, you could try securing a work placement which involves design or coding skill. You could also try using your dissertation or final project to create a short video to demonstrate your ability. Both are great ways to build up your portfolio and showcase your passion for the job.
9. Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design and build a whole range of aircraft, such as planes and helicopters, as well as spacecraft vehicles.
Being an aerospace engineer is a very technical career, requiring a high level of detail, excellent numerical and IT skills. As a designer, you will also need a significant level of creativity to create concepts and overcome any technical hurdles.
Aerospace engineering is quite a broad role, and there are three main areas you can choose to specialise in. These are:
- Research and development
- Production and maintenance
How Do I Become an Aerospace Engineer?
In order to become an aerospace engineer, you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree. You can study aerospace engineering at lots of UK universities, or you could choose to study a broader engineering degree which you can then specialise later on with a Masters.
Typically, most engineering degrees will require one or more technical subjects, such as Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, or Design and Technology. You will also require five GCSEs graded 9-4 (A*-C) or the equivalent.
During your degree, it would be worth looking into any potential workplace training opportunities, such as a ‘Year in Industry,’ where you can take some time during your degree to put your knowledge to practical use in a real-life work environment. This will impress prospective employers, as you will have demonstrated your ability to apply knowledge in real workspace.
A career in journalism is fast-paced and exciting, with a journalists’ daily role involving the research, writing, editing, proofreading and printing of news stories, features and articles that interest their audience.
Journalists need to be well-read and balanced in what they are writing, collecting a number of different sources to ensure all arguments are represented and their readers are being given an objective view of the events in their world.
Many journalists work freelance, though you can work for a number of different types of organisations, such as:
- Periodical publishers
- Press agencies
- Radio stations
- Television broadcasters
How Do I Become a Journalist?
Although there are various routes available for those looking to get into journalism, a lot of mainstream media organisations and newspapers will ask for a degree, preferably one where you study English Literature, English Language, Creative Writing or Journalism.
Some jobs may also require a qualification accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). Lots of UK universities offer masters courses or postgraduate diplomas in journalism that are accredited by the NCTJ, which typically run at just one year in length.
Journalism is an industry built on connections and experience, so it’s worth trying to gain as much relevant work experience as possible during training. There are a whole range of ways to build your portfolio, such as having your articles published in print or online, undertaking freelance work, submitting entries to writing competitions, or by doing voluntary work.
Some journalist jobs also specify that a full, clean driving licence is required, so do bear this in mind as you begin to think about your future.
Animators are artists who use sequential images of drawings, puppets and models to produce films, commercials, computer games, music videos, websites and other animated media. The career is a highly creative one, with typical job responsibilities including:
- Producing original and creative designs
- Using specialist computer software such as Maya, Flash and After Effects
- Presenting designs to clients
- Liaising with other design and production staff
- Negotiating with clients over contracts, pay, etc.
Animators can find themselves working for a variety of employers, such as computer game companies, film studios, marketing agencies, or even web developers. However, you could also work freelance, as long as you have the right software installed on your computer.
How Do I Become an Animator?
Animation is a highly technical job, involving a lot of computer-aided design and coding skills. Therefore, studying for an undergraduate degree will provide you with the knowledge and practice necessary to help you excel in your career.
You can choose to study Animation as an undergraduate degree, but many employers will also accept degrees in relevant fields, such as Film & TV, Illustration, Graphic Design or Computer-Aided Engineering. A postgraduate qualification in Animation will also be advantageous, as the media industry is one of the most competitive and saturated on the job market.
Outside of your education, it’s also recommended that you start to build a portfolio of work, including in professional workplace environments, creating animations on the side of your course, or taking part in competitions.
12. Marine Biologist
Marine Biology is one of the most highly rewarding and interesting careers, one which gets you up and close with some of the world’s most incredible creatures. Being a Marine Biologist involves the study of all aspects of life in the sea and its complex ecosystems. This includes marine plants, animals, and other organisms that live in the sea, deep oceans, as well as laboratories.
The aim of a Marine Biologist’s role is to improve our understanding of the marine world and be able to better predict any changes which take place because of human and natural disturbances.
As you can imagine, the field of Marine Biology covers a whole range of work, and job roles can include:
- Research assistant
- Marine ecologist
- Reef restoration
- Fishery data manager
- Environmental engineer
- Marine biotechnologist
- Marine policy expert
- Consultant in marine ecology
How Do I Become a Marine Biologist?
In order to become a Marine Biologist, you will first need to complete an undergraduate degree. This could be specific, where you only study Marine Biology, though you could also undertake a broader-based science degree and specialise with a postgraduate course later on.
Postgraduate degrees offer a whole range of Marine specialisations, including Tropical Marine Biology, to Coastal Management, and Aquatic Ecology and Conservation.
You could even undertake a PhD to specialise your research further, particularly if you plan to follow a certain academic path.
Of course, all these degrees will need a foundation of good GCSE grades (9-4/A*-C) or the equivalent, as well as a good trio of A-Levels, including Biology, Chemistry, or another relevant science subject.
Undecided on What You May Want to Study in the Future?
As we’ve uncovered during this article, there are a whole variety of interesting careers available to you, and one of the hardest decisions you now face is narrowing that choice down.
To help with that decision, you should take plenty of time to research and obtain as much information about your interested career as possible, so that you can apply for university, confident and excited to launch into your dream job role.
Part of this research could involve attending a summer course in your chosen field, allowing you to immerse yourself in the subject for a couple of weeks and get an understanding of what it may be like to study it in higher education.
To see what subjects we have on offer, take a look at our list of available summer courses for the coming year.