Nifty, Neato, Noticed Jobs

N is for… Neurosurgeon!

The next time someone tells you “it’s not brain surgery,” you can reply that it is – because you’re a Neurosurgeon.

Dr. Siba Kumar Padhi (photo credit: Sadasiv Swain)

Neurosurgeons are responsible for diagnosing and operating on the brain, which is your body’s most important organ. Ironically, one of the best-known neurosurgeons in the U.S. is Ben Carson, a guy not typically associated with saying very smart things, and who was known as a poor student in school. He ultimately became famous as a younger man due to his experimental surgery on Siamese twins who were joined at the head. (Unfortunately, his very first patients have never lived “neurologically normal” lives, despite the surgery, though he apparently perfected his technique over time.)

Neurosurgery, despite my opening joke, is actually quite a demanding profession. Not only do you need the kind of skills involved in other types of surgery, such as steady hands, mechanical abilities, 3D thinking, understanding of human anatomy and physiology, but you’ll also need to be a specialist on how the human brain functions, as well as an expert on blood vessels, nerves and the spinal cord and the spatial relationships between these various parts and systems. This requires many years of training in school as well as apprenticeships in the medical field, known as residencies.

Further Reading

Related Films

Other Nifty Jobs That Start With N

  • Narrator
  • Nematologist
  • Neurologist
  • Newscaster
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Nurse

Want to learn about even more cool jobs?

Pre-order the book, World’s Coolest Jobs, a collection of all the coolest jobs you never knew existed. On sale September 1, 2017.

Melodic, Multitalented and Magnificent Jobs

M is for… Musician!

Musicians are the people that entertain you in song. But how exactly does one become a musician?

Špilliga (photo credit: Tom Mrazek)

There are many different ways to become a successful musician these days. While most people envision the rock stars that travel the world, there are also many other kinds of musicians that aren’t necessarily touring musicians. Indeed, even the musicians that tour aren’t necessarily rock stars. They may be local performers, backup musicians, or indie performers going on self-scheduled tours.

In addition to traveling musicians, there are also studio musicians who only perform on recordings, as well as symphony musicians who perform with symphonic bands or orchestras.

Musicians may perform as buskers in parks or subways, in festivals (local or national), or in bars, nightclubs or cafés.

Violin in the park (photo credit: Tom Driggers)

Musicians are everywhere!

Musicians may also be music teachers. You might find them in schools, or teaching private lessons in their homes.

Musicians may also be composers, who create their own music to perform. Some may perform other people’s music, as in cover bands.

There are many ways that musicians can make a living these days. Indie artists may become successful simply by selling CDs straight to their fans.

An Interview with a Musician

Here’s an interview with musician and music teacher Amanda Fillio, to give you some idea about the day-to-day life of the non-rock star musician.

Why did you become a musician?

Playing is fun and challenging. I like that whenever I’m working, I’m bettering myself and meeting new people or creating cool things with my students or friends.

How long have you been a professional musician, and how did you get started?

I’ve been a professional for about 16 years. My teachers in high school began recommending me for various gigs or events, and that’s how I became a professional.

Could you describe a typical work day?

Monday through Friday I teach in a public school. I teach small group lessons for flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and percussion. I also do concert band rehearsals for various grades. After school I have a weekly rehearsal that lasts about two hours once a week, and we perform all over western Massachusetts throughout the year. This time of year is particularly busy, as I also play for several musical productions. That means rehearsing about four hours a night, and then anywhere from two to five performances over a weekend.

In the summer I play at various churches and in musical productions, which means my days don’t have to start until noon (if there’s a matinee) or 5 PM for evening performances. I love teaching, but could definitely get by on just that type of performing if I had to.

What do you like most about your job?

Every day is a little different. I’m never bored!

What do you like least about your job?

Sometimes I miss out on things with my family or friends because I have a performance. They understand, but I wish I had time for everything without conflicts.

What personal qualities are most valuable for this kind of work?

Time management. You have to break up your day for practice and motivate yourself.

Any advice for students looking to become musicians?

There are so many options! Try to learn all aspects of it so you can be versatile. Know how the sound equipment works, figure out how to put together simple recordings, speak up if it doesn’t feel right. Above all, manners matter. Nobody wants to work with a jerk.

Further Reading

Related Films

Other Mellifluous Jobs That Start With M

  • Magician
  • Magistrate
  • Mail Carrier
  • Make-Up Artist
  • Manicurist
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Media Specialist
  • Merchandiser
  • Microbiologist
  • Mime
  • Model
  • Motorcycle Racer
  • Museum Attendant
  • Mycologist

Want to learn about even more cool jobs?

Pre-order the book, World’s Coolest Jobs, a collection of all the coolest jobs you never knew existed. On sale September 1, 2017.

Great, Grand Gigs!

G is for… Gemologist!

Gemology seems to have roots here in San Diego, which is why I’ve chosen it for my G gig. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is headquartered in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, and is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls.

Hold It (photo credit: Brian Geltner)

The GIA was founded in 1931 as a correspondence school, offering students a way to learn more about gemstones and become certified jewelers. It has since grown into an accredited institution, certifying gemologists the world over.

The school is also home to a museum, which showcases various gems and semi-precious stones in jewelry, sculptures and artifacts. (If you followed my Chicago from A to Z posts last year, you may be interested in this museum, as it is similar to the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art featured in my Q post.) Although it posts hours from Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, the website also indicates that it’s only open to the public by appointment, so be sure to call or email in advance if you’d like to visit.

So what, exactly, do gemologists do? Most are jewelers, which means they sell jewelry to the public. They are all skilled enough to be able to tell you whether your ring is sporting a genuine diamond or a cubic zirconia – or just a piece of glass, for that matter! They can also perform tests that differentiate between one type of stone and another, when it’s difficult or impossible to tell just by looking at them. Gemologists can also be certified appraisers, who can also tell you what the market value of your stones is, which is particularly handy if you’re looking to sell them.

Gemologists may also work in museums or for auction houses, evaluating stones and jewelry for authenticity and appraising them for auction or insurance purposes.

In short, gemologists get to work with precious stones all day long – which is one very cool job indeed!

Further Reading

Related Films

Other Grand Jobs That Start With G

  • Glockenspiel Maker
  • Game Attendant
  • Guardian of the Galaxy (gotcha!)
  • Goldsmith

Want to learn about even more cool jobs?

Pre-order the book, World’s Coolest Jobs, a collection of all the coolest jobs you never knew existed. On sale September 1, 2017.