Thinking Beyond the Desk: Artists & Artisans

Trinity University Studio

The government classification for artists includes: actors, architects, announcers, authors, clowns, comedians, designers, musicians and a whole host of other artistic endeavors.

What pathway do you take to be categorized as an artist on your IRS Schedule 1040? Some artists attend college or conservatory, others apprentice, and still others just "do it", whatever their passion is, until they get the proverbial 10,000 hours under their belt and artist.

Colleges to think about: Ringling College of Art & Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art & Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, California Institute of the Arts, Parsons School of Design, USC Roski or Iovine, Middle Tennessee State, Juilliard, UNC Chapel Hill, Yale, your local community college.

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Here's just a sampling of jobs where you'll stretch both your artistic and analytical side.

Fabric Arts

What can you possibly do with an interest in fabric? Here is a link to over 25 pages of possibilities from the Textile Society of America!  The wide variety of employment includes: Fashion designers, textile artists, woven art, seamstress, retail buyer, museum or gallery conservator. 


Where does one learn about textiles? Savannah College of Art & Design, University of Rhode Island, University of Georgia, University of California at Davis, RISD, Parsons, North Carolina State University, Fashion Institute of Technology



Music is the universal language; this pic doesn't require explanation! Check the BLS stats for a sobering 'outlook' on the industry.

The Diamond Building at Juilliard 

The Diamond Building at Juilliard 

Schools of note: Juilliard, Middle Tennessee State, USC Thornton School, Belmont, Oberlin, Berklee

Product Design:


Design labels, boxes, pamphlets, watches, cars, appliances, computers, perfume bottles...whatever consumable goods exist, there is a designer behind their manufacturing and presentation.

There are a multitude of schools and colleges to learn design skills. Some are trade schools while other programs are quasi-engineering degrees and still others are, really, industrial engineering programs.  Search out the schools here


Desk No Where in Sight

Not all jobs are confined to a cubicle! Everybody has different needs and dreams. Do you like to work outside? Do you want to be your own boss? Are you entrepreneurial? Here are a sampling of jobs that you might not have thought of:


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Tree trimmers come with varying degree of skill and education. Some have horticulture degrees, others have the ISA certification and/or years of experience with chainsaws, aerial lifts and wood chippers. Arborists may work for the utility company to lop the tops off of trees below power lines or the Forest Service or may manage their own landscape company. An arborist might have a PhD and know all about pathology and xylem and phloem and work for a university! (Future professors, see our page "Which Desk Will Be Yours in 10 years") 

Dog Trainer: 

Animal lovers work in a myriad of environments...depending on the level of passion and education. Do you want to be a dog walker, dog doctor, animal trainer, pet sitter. Do you want to work in a kennel, a stable, a clinic or a zoo? 

Animal lovers clearly have a passion for what they do. There is a lot of on-the-job training or learn-by-doing. To be a professional, eg. a Vet Tech or a Vet, a college education is necessary. Majors include: animal science, animal husbandry, equine science. There are a many 2-yr or certificate programs to be a Vet Tech. The 4-yr programs are found at colleges like Cal Poly Pomona or Purdue.

Winery Representative:

If you want to work in a winery, you can study to be a food scientist at colleges like: UC Davis, Oregon State, Texas A & M, Fresno State. Wineries are usually tourist-friendly so you could also study hospitality and tourism and work in the front office and/or interact with the customers.

Baseball Scout:

Not all scouts work for the MLB. Scouts recruit at showcase tournaments and high schools and for all levels of play (D-1, D-2, D-3, etc).

Scouts at the Perfect Game Tournament, AZ

Scouts at the Perfect Game Tournament, AZ

Most scouts have played their sport in college or in the professional leagues. They clearly love the game. 


Interested in owning an oyster farm? Agriculture provides less than 2% of all jobs in the US and is slated to decrease about 0.5% over the next ten years. 

Oyster Farmer in Virginia

Oyster Farmer in Virginia

That said, a new generation is entering the farming sector as a way to live a high-quality, sustainable life. Artisan cheeses? Range-fed beef? Biodynamic greens? Nationally, a slight uptick of people under the age of 35 are heading back to the farm to produce just these sorts of products. 

More than 30% of farmers have attended college. So, where do you go to learn the tricks of the aggie trade? How about University of California at Davis, Fresno State, North Carolina State, Texas A & M, Oregon State, just to name a few.

Fire Science:

Firefighting is a science! You can study 'fire' at schools as varied as George Washington University and Palomar College. Most degrees are 2-year, others are 4-yr. In many Counties, to be a firefighter first requires being an EMT and/or paramedic. As in most fields, the more education undertaken, the better the pay and position. 

As firefighters are hired by the government and are, generally, unionized, job growth is directly correlated to number of positions funded and the pay scale is arbitrated . Demographics are an important consideration.  Did your County just hire hundreds of firefighters? Then, your job prospects may be influenced by the retirement plans of the firefighter classes ahead of you.

Firefighters are known for their comfortable rec rooms...

Firestation Recliners

...but there is serious training involved. Remember, firefighters run into burning buildings as everyone else inside flees! 


Not ready for college?

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What if you just aren't ready to commit to four years of academics...what do you do?

What about a Gap Year?

Middlebury College and UNC, Chapel Hill both conducted studies on the benefits of a gap year and found that students who took a year off to work or travel or volunteer were not only more likely to graduate but also graduated in less time than students who went directly into college from high school. They have official Gap Year programs. Bottom line:  it's OK to take a Gap Year!  There are benefits of taking a year, or even just a few months off, to explore social, academic, creative, or even simply recreational activities.  Well, maybe 'recreational activities' aren't exactly smiled upon by admissions officers but, taking time before college to figure out what you want in life, not just want you want to DO in life, is a good thing.

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How, exactly, do you do a Gap Year? The recommended/traditional way is to go through the normal college admissions process and timeline. Once admitted, the student then can ask to defer enrollment. Each college has its own 'enrollment management procedure'. Some provide for one semester deferrals, others for an entire year. The student will generally submit a deposit to hold the spot. A side note: as more students are taking Gap Years and participating in Study Abroad programs, colleges increasingly are offering Spring enrollments to their Freshman applicants. Again, this is part of the college's 'enrollment management process'. All of those dorm rooms and classroom seats need to be filled!

What about attending a 2-year college or certificate program?

There are many reasons students choose to forgo the 4-year college adventure and, instead,  attend a community college. In fact, the vast majority of college-bound students enroll in community college. In 2015, President Obama initiated a program to offer free tuition for two years at community colleges. Unfortunately, so far, only Oregon and Minnesota have begun implementing this tuition-free approach.

A recent article in the NY Times said this: " many as 25 million of all new job openings in the next decade will be for middle-skills jobs." Community colleges offer numerous pathways for entry into 'middle-skills' jobs (which are jobs requiring either some college preparation, a postsecondary certificate, or an Associate degree). 

What is your pathway?

Fully 1/3 of all future jobs will require a bachelor's degree. Another 1/3 will require some sort of post-secondary education (from community colleges or 3rd-party certificating process) and training. There is a lot of information online...just do it!

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Contact the A+ team for more information!

Which Desk Will Be Yours?

Not sure what you want to be when you grow up? No worries...few do! In fact, the average adult switches careers every 5-7 years. Check out these pics of desks and read the accompanying text to explore what your workaday world might look like if you head down the various career pathways. Stay tuned b/c more "desks" are coming...

Medicine: Doctors

What's the first thing you notice in this photo? Are there really 7 degrees framed on the wall? If you are interested in studying to be a doctor,  you will need a ton of education, heavy on the science and math. Plan on a minimum of 8 years: 4 years of undergraduate & 4 years of medical school just to get the MD. To actually practice medicine requires another 2-5 years of residency and fellowship, depending on the type of medicine you want to practice. Scholarships to medical school are rare and usually reserved for the absolute best and brightest of an already-super-smart student population. So, be prepared to pay for this education. The good news: earning capacity of a medical degree is high. You should be able to repay those loans! 


For more details:

Colleges to consider: Haverford, Lafayette, Hendrix, Case Western, Washington U

Medicine: Allied Health Professions



There are a wide variety of jobs available in the healthcare industry. And, healthcare, as a sector, is growing at a fast pace. Allied health jobs include: medical assistant, radiation technologist, dental hygienist, recreational therapist, physician assistant, pharmacist, nurse, home health aide, audiologist. Some healthcare jobs require six months of education, others a bachelor's, a master's or a doctoral degree. The more education, the higher the pay generally.

Dental hygienists have one of the better ROIs that I've seen. 


Physician Assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients. This field is growing at a very fast pace. Most students have a bachelor's degree with about 3 years of healthcare experience before they even enter the 3-year Physician Assistant program.


We all remember our favorite teachers. The job outlook for high school teachers is 'just a bit above average' and for college professors, 'above average'. 

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To be a high school teacher requires an undergraduate degree plus a credential (for public school systems). That said, the more education you have, the more pay you will receive over your employment contract (teachers have strong unions). A college professor will have at least a Master's and usually a PhD.

Did you know that many professors need to read and teach and publish  and  do research, too?

Did you know that many professors need to read and teach and publish and do research, too?

Top Ten Reasons Why Employers like College Athletes

  1. Time management skills

  2. Teamwork

  3. Competitive

  4. Experience under pressure

  5. Work ethic

  6. On-time

  7. Discipline

  8. Mental toughness

  9. Perseverance

  10. Coachable

A+ College Consultants help athletes navigate the ‘student-athlete’ path. It’s a rocky, arduous path up the knowledge-mountain indeed-- scalable if you know what you’re up against and plan accordingly, worthwhile if you have incredible passion for your sport. 

We can help whether you are D-1, D-2, D-3, NAIA, NJCC, or even if you just want to play intramural. Let's chat about it! 

Lady Gaga and College

Lady Gaga and College

Lady Gaga attended, even if only briefly, the Tisch School of the Arts. So, yes, even Lady Gaga had to fill out the Common Application and do the NYU supplement. The college application ritual is a rite of passage for almost 70% of high school seniors.