By Mark G. McLaughlin
Almost every modern job is related to some combination of skills in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. The more of these skills in which an applicant is knowledgeable – or, even better, proficient – the more attractive a candidate he or she makes. This is true not only in the business world, but also in government service. Here are just five cool government jobs you can land with a STEAM background.
Criminal investigators are needed in every organization involved in maintaining law and order, from the FBI and other agencies in the Department of Justice to Homeland Security and the Department of Defense (in such organizations as that in the popular NCIS television series). Criminal investigators have to study forensic science and be familiar with and make use of new technologies, but they must also develop the analytical and communication skills that study of the arts helps impart.
Just as the Justice Department and other government law enforcement agencies need criminal investigators, so too do they need forensic psychologists. Why? Because these experts are not only well versed in the science of psychology, but also in the study of the arts. They need to conduct and analyze research, and also must be able to understand and follow applied criminal justice ethics – for which a background in the study of ethics is a must.
Astronomers work for many other government agencies besides NASA. More than 6,000 astronomers are currently working for the U.S. government. Many are employed by the Depart of Defense, and others work for such a variety of agencies as the National Radio Astronomy Observatories and the Space Telescope Science Institute. Astronomy is itself a science, and one that relies upon modern technology. It also requires extensive proficiency in mathematics. Astronomers also study the arts, both to understand the history of their profession and to better understand the influence the study of the stars has had upon the world.
Not all researchers wear lab coats. Although many do work in laboratories, most researchers in government agencies work from a desk or in the field. Every department and agency in the government has its own staff of researchers, whether they are studying soil erosion or security threats, or looking to identify and combat disease or improve the flow of traffic. Mathematical skills are key for many research positions, but just as many require a background in the arts – notably in how to find and analyze information and then present it in an understandable and usable fashion.
The United States Navy hires architects, and so does the National Park Service and a plethora of other government agencies. The U.S. Capitol has its own architectural department, headed up by a person with the rather grandiose title of Architect of the Capitol. The National Park Service not only has architects, but also has an Interdisciplinary Architect Historian. There are nearly 100 types of government jobs for architects, whose degrees, of course, require proficiency in the arts as well as in the sciences. Architects must know all about engineering and math and the latest building technologies and tools, but of all the STEAM disciplines, architecture is the one that is most heavily seated in the arts. Architects need to be creative and need to appreciate as well as seek inspiration from the artists in architecture who have gone before them.