14 Under-the-Radar Careers for Smart People

Everyone knows about popular careers such as doctor, lawyer, and engineer. But especially when good jobs aren’t easy to land, it can be wise to pick an under-the-radar profession.

To that end, here are some in which braininess is required. Too, many people enjoy these careers. To boot, they’re offshoring- and automation-resistant.

Even if none of these careers are for you, perhaps you’ll find one or more you’ll want to pass along to a relative or friend.

Foundation program officer. It’s fun to give away money, to play Santa. Well, foundation program officers often pick which grant proposals to fund. Also, they may develop requests for proposal, support grantees in implementation, evaluate programs’ success, or generate ideas for their improvement or dissemination. They may write reports, present to the foundation’s leaders, and even raise more money for the foundation. More info.

Grant proposal writer. You’re the yin for the foundation program officer’s yang. Representing a potential grant recipient, usually a nonprofit, you respond to requests for proposal by querying key employees, assess their capacity to take on additional work, and then, liaising with the grantmakers, craft proposals likely to get funded. More info.

Deep learning/machine learning programmer. True, ever more programming jobs are offshored — Any job whose work product can be sent over the internet is at risk. But cutting-edge programming niches such as deep learning (programming computers to make themselves ever more competent) are likely to remain in-demand and offshore-resistant. More info.

Business developer. That term is often used to describe anyone from product developer to salesperson. But here, I’m referring to the kind of business developer that searches-out and negotiates joint ventures, licensing agreements, mergers, and acquisitions. It requires an unusual skill amalgam: valuation, persuasion, and, yes, strong learning and reasoning ability. More info.

Complex-big-ticket-item salesperson or its non-profit analogue: major-gifts fundraiser. Examples of complex? Stadiums, industrial robots, and customizable enterprise software suites. Good salespeople and fundraisers are slick listeners at least as much as slick talkers.They intuit the message behind the message and then ask questions likely to lead the prospect to say yes. Of course, they need product knowledge but, less obvious, they must be eager to help prospects solve their problem even if it doesn’t result in a sale. Such generosity often-enough pays off in the long run. More info on sales careers. More info on fundraising careers.

Orthodontist. Alas, this career requires extensive training: four years of dental school followed by a two- to three-year orthodontics program. But its rewards can be great, both financial and in its high success rate with patients — Almost all your patients get better, usually much better, medically and cosmetically. Plus, because you see most patients frequently over an extended period, you have the time to develop a relationship. And you rarely get a night or weekend call: “Doctor, my rubber band broke!” More info.

Optometrist or audiologist. Like orthodontics, these careers offer high pay, prestige, regular hours, and high success rate. Plus, training is shorter: four years post-bachelors. More info on optometry careers. More info on audiology careers.

Student affairs administrator. No, this doesn’t refer to assignations. Colleges employ people, many without doctorates, to develop and administer programs for orientation, extracurriculars, housing, etc. A college campus is a stimulating work environment and the academic year is short. More info.

Government analyst. Government jobs offer solid benefits, job security, and, perhaps surprising, good pay. A Congressional Budget Office study found that, for equivalent work, federal pay is higher than in the private sector. Government employs many people in analyst roles. At the federal level, “analyst” is a widely used title, less-so in state and local government. Whatever the title, analyst jobs tend to be in program or budget. Program analysts may review the literature in an area the government wants to fund. Or they may develop a request for proposals or guidelines for existing programs. A program analyst may also specify how the program is to be evaluated and review the results. A budget analyst usually develops or reviews budgets for agencies, sub-agencies, or specific government initiatives. More info.

Forensic accountant. Many standard accounting jobs will be lost to automation, but forensic accounting — the search for malfeasance — will likely remain automation-resistant. Besides, you might enjoy that career’s detective work more than, for example, preparing tax returns. More info.

Teacher or tutor of bright students. You might teach in a public school known for having high-achieving kids or one that has pockets of brightness, for example, offering lots of honors and advanced-placement courses. Some private schools focus on brainy kids. Here’s a master list. I’m personally familiar with and am impressed by the College Preparatory School in Oakland and the Davidson Academy in Reno. The latter focuses on the profoundly gifted. More info on teaching.

Tutoring, while not affording teaching’s benefits and job security, relieves you of the challenges of classroom management and adherence to often prescriptive and even labyrinthine regulations. If you’re not entrepreneurial enough to unearth sufficient clients, you may get some at Wyzant.com or tutor.com. More info on tutoring.

Dr. Nemko’s nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net.

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