Wondering whether you're in the right career for your thinking pattern? Check out these top careers for right- and left-brained people.
If we asked you to draw a tree, would you ask if it could be purple and have an attitude, or ask for its scientific name and the desired scale? If you answered with the first response, you may be right-brained, or what Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines as creative and intuitive. The latter response may tell you that you're left-brained, or what is defined as analytical and logical.
Figuring out if you are more creative or logical may help you decide what job better fits your personality, says Dr. Suzanne Anthony, a clinical psychologist. But she adds that most people have a little of both creative and logical thinking.
"While the idea of people being strictly left- or right-brained is exaggerated, it can help people to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, and what careers might fit them best," adds Anthony.
And how do you know which side of the brain you favor? It's not as easy as knowing if you're right-handed (traditionally, people associate that with being left-brained) or left-handed, according to Anthony. "It's not that cut and dried," she explains. "A good way to do it is to look back at high school and the subjects that interested you most."
For example, if you loved arts, writing, or sports, you're likely more right-brained. These are more "creative" endeavors. Couldn't wait for math, science, or philosophy to start? They're more left-brained, or logical and analytical subjects.
With that in mind, we used our left brains - or would it be our right brains? - to come up with a list of five great right-brained careers and five great careers for left-brainers. We also included education options - in case you want to use both sides of that brain to start prepping!
Elementary School Teacher
There's a reason that every elementary classroom wall is covered with art and color: "You need creativity to make lesson plans fun and interesting for kids," says Anthony. This is where your right-brain creativity can come into play. Intuition to relate to your students can also come in handy.
Elementary school teachers might use games, music, artwork, films, books, and other tools to introduce children to a range of subjects, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Teachers usually provide "the tools and the environments for their students to develop into responsible adults," adds the Department of Labor.
Education options: Education requirements can vary depending on whether you teach at a public or private school, but most teachers earn a bachelor's in education and can study a broad range of subjects, from math to music, says the Department. An education program could help you prepare to get your teaching license.
Even if you're programming the new game for the latest Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, you're still writing code, bro. "I would think you'd need very good analytic and logic skills for this," says Anthony. Yes, but don't worry - you'll need your fun side for testing your work.
Computer programmers might use theories of computer science and mathematical analysis to create, test, and evaluate software applications and systems for computers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Sounds pretty left-brained to us.
Education options: Employers typically require a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree or certificate may be adequate for certain positions, says the Department of Labor. Degree subjects range from computer science, mathematics, or information systems to business fields.
What? You didn't think salesmanship was an art form? "Salespeople need to read people through facial expressions and emotions," says Anthony. This allows them to be in tune with whether they're turning people off or not, she says.
Salespeople usually interact with customers and can help them find and buy what they want by determining their needs, says the U.S. Department of Labor. When that something is expensive or complicated, like a car or computer, a salesperson may need to explain the features of various models, adds the Department of Labor.
Education options: Generally there are no formal education requirements for retail sales. However, according to the Department, a college degree in any subject may be required for management trainee positions in some companies, especially larger ones.
Do you enjoy research and logic? If so, a paralegal career might be for you. "Paralegals need to use critical thinking, language skills, and logic," says Anthony. Those are all left-brained attributes. In other words, just the facts, ma'am, just the facts...
Paralegals could perform a lot of the same duties as attorneys. They might investigate facts, identify and research pertinent laws and judicial decisions, help prepare legal arguments and documents, and perform other casework, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education options: Earning an associate's degree in paralegal studies is the most typical education path, says the Department of Labor. If you've already earned your bachelor's degree, you can look into earning a certificate in paralegal studies, adds the Department.
Anyone who's tuned into the Food Network knows that top chefs have a pinch of science and a pound of creativity. Yes, today's chefs are often considered to be artists. "They exhibit creativity not only in food preparation and knowing what flavors will go well together, but also in recipe creation and dish presentation," says Anthony.
Whether you work in a diner or a fine restaurant, you could put your right-brain characteristics to use as a chef. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, chefs could be responsible for a variety of kitchen-related tasks, from cooking hamburgers to overseeing a kitchen staff, buying foods, creating menus, and doing other kitchen tasks.
Education options: According to the College Board, an organization that administers academic aptitude tests like the SAT, culinary arts programs are often offered at the associate's degree and certificate level. Programs might cover food science, menu planning, and nutrition, says the College Board.
Health Care Administrator
Want to use your (left) brain power to make a difference in how patient care is administered? A career in health care administration could be for you. "Any administrative job needs a lot of analytic and logic skill," says Anthony.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, health care administrators usually plan, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health care at a facility. They could serve as specialists in charge of a specific department or generalists who manage an entire facility.
Education options: The standard education path is a master's degree in health services administration, health sciences, public health, or another related field, says the Department of Labor. But a bachelor's degree in health services administration could be efficient for some entry-level positions in smaller facilities.
There’s a reason that graphic designers are also known as graphic artists. These days, of course, most graphic design is done on computer. “Basically, it’s art on a computer,” says Anthony. Even though most work is done on a computer, that's not to say this isn't a highly creative career.
Graphic designers could develop the layout of everything from magazines and books to websites and movie credits, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To help create an eye-catching design, they select the color, sound, type style, artwork, photography, and other visual elements.
Education options: A bachelor's degree in graphic design or fine arts is generally recommended for most entry-level and advanced positions; however, an associate's degree can sometimes qualify you for a graphic designer's assistant job, says the Department of Labor.
The last time we checked, creative accounting methods were frowned upon. Seriously, though, a profession that is known for crunching numbers is pretty left-brained. "It requires a person to [be] good at reasoning, math, and logic," verifies Anthony.
By preparing reports and financial documents, accountants can analyze financial information for companies, individuals, and government bodies, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They also might offer advice for budget analysis and financial and investment planning.
Education options: Most accountant positions usually require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting, or a similar field, says the Department of Labor. A master's degree in accounting or a master's in business administration with an accounting focus could be beneficial.
Do you often create characters and envision their stories in your head? You might be destined to be a writer. "Whether it's for magazines or novels, writers have to tap into their creative mind all the time," says Anthony. "The expression of emotion is very important."
Writers can create original written content in a wide variety of fields - everything from fiction or nonfiction books, to magazines, newspaper journalism, online publications, or public relations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education options: A bachelor's degree is generally needed to pursue a career as an author or writer. And when it comes to employers like magazine and website publishers, they typically favor a degree in communications, English, or journalism, says the Department of Labor.
Administrative Medical Assistant
If you can multitask with the best of them, an administrative medical assistant career could put your left-brained qualities to use doing office tasks like answering phones and completing forms. "Though they interact with people quite a bit, they need to be efficient and practical," says Anthony.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, administrative medical assistants could update and file patients' medical records, fill out insurance forms, arrange for hospital admissions, schedule appointments, and even do bookkeeping.
Education options: A certificate or associate's degree in medical assisting is the common education path for administrative medical assistants, says the Department of Labor. These programs could provide more knowledge in everything from anatomy to recordkeeping.
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