Faith's Blog

February 4, 2019
Easily Confused Careers

We have over 900 careers profiled in the Explore Careers section, so it's not surprising that there is sometimes a little confusion about which careers do what. Trust me -- it's hard to keep them all straight! I've noticed there are a few careers that cause more confusion than others. Sometimes the spelling of one career is close to another. Other times, we can blame the media for giving us the wrong idea. Here is a list of some commonly confused careers to clear up any confusion.

Psychologist, Psychiatrist: This is a tricky one. People in both careers treat mental health issues. But psychiatrists are medical doctors with a medical degree. That means they can prescribe medication. There are many different types of psychologists since this is a broad field. In general, psychologists study human behavior. Some diagnose problems and emotional or mental disorders. Some may set up laboratory tests, while others are involved in counseling. However, because they are not medical doctors, they cannot prescribe medication.

Physiatrist: To further confuse us, physiatrists are also medical doctors. They specialize in the practice of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Personally, I have to really look closely to distinguish between the words psychiatrist and physiatrist but, as you can see, their specialties are quite different.

Careers in Crime: If you watch a lot of crime shows on TV, you might think the same good-looking person investigates all aspects of a crime, from gathering evidence to testing for DNA to interrogating witnesses. According to our article Track Down a Career in Forensic Science, there are actually many different careers involved in investigating a crime. And most crimes aren't solved within an hour!

Zookeeper, Zoologist: Again, these are similar words, but different careers Zookeepers., as you might expect, work in zoos. Their duties may include feeding animals and cleaning up after them. Zoologists could also work in zoos, but many do research. Their work emphasizes the study of animals, and they might find work as a director of a zoo or in a university. Many zoologists have PhDs.

Radiologist, Radiologic Technologist: People in these two careers both work with X-rays and other diagnostic equipment. Radiologic technologists are the people who would work directly with the patient getting the image. Radiologists are the doctors who analyze the results and make a diagnosis. Obviously these two work together a lot, but there is a big difference in the amount of education required: 13 to 15 years to become a radiologist, and two to four years to work as a radiologic technologist.


Esthetician: Estheticians can do a lot of different things, so it's easy to get confused about this career. Estheticians can also be called cosmetologists. They can apply make-up, give facial and skin care treatments and remove unwanted hair.

I hope I've cleared up a few things! If you have other questions about careers you're not sure about, don't hesitate to e-mail.

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January 7, 2019
Thinking About Thinking

I was thinking about my brain the other day. (I can't look at that sentence too much, or I get confused. Can a brain really think about itself?)

Our brains are busy all day long, even when we're just hanging out and staring into space. Think about it: just reading this entry takes a coordinated effort from an army of neurons, but it's something we usually take for granted. Our eyes and our brains work together so smoothly that we're not really aware of what's going on.

I heard a fascinating story that really made me aware of how little we really know about this interaction. Don Karkos is a veteran of the Second World War. In 1942, he was blinded in one eye by a piece of shrapnel. In the following years, many doctors looked at his eye, but nobody could cure it -- until he was kicked in the head by a horse. The horse apparently kicked Karkos in exactly the right spot to restore his sight. Now he can see again!

Neuroscience, the science of studying the brain, is a fascinating field. As Karkos' story demonstrates, there is a lot left to discover. In some senses, the "final frontier" is within us. That means there are a lot of career possibilities in working with the brain. (Maybe that horse should be thinking about a career in neuroscience....)

Neurologists treat problems of the brain, spinal cord and nerves -- the central nervous system. As you might suspect, this is a very complex field with a lot of responsibility. Since we're always learning more about the brain, neurologists must update their skills constantly. New advancements make this an exciting career.

Doctors who operate on the brain are called neurosurgeons. Personally, I can't imagine the hand-eye coordination that would require. (Of course, I have difficulty hemming pants, so fixing someone's brain seems pretty overwhelming.) In other words, you need a first-class brain to work on brains.

Some of the most interesting work on the way we think doesn't involve the human brain at all. Knowledge engineers create computer programs that are supposed to think like human beings. This process involves something called "fuzzy logic." Fuzzy logic does not refer to a really bad solution to a murder mystery, but to the way that humans think. In contrast, computers usually use "mathematical logic." Confused yet?

If you'd like to know more about how our eyes work to take in the world, check out the field of ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who treat vision issues.

After doing a little research on careers related to the brain, I've started to develop a healthy respect for my own. Sure, there are days when I wish it would do a better a job of remembering where I parked my car, but it's served me well so far. If you'd like to learn more about what makes your own brain tick, check out some related careers!

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December 10, 2018
Culinary Careers and the Holidays

When you think of certain holidays, do you think of some favorite foods? Birthday parties and chocolate cake, July the 4th and potato salad, Hanukkah and latkes, Christmas and eggnog... I could go on, but then I would have to go and get a snack!

This a great time of the year to indulge in some delicious meals. Not only are there are lot of social gatherings, but something about the colder weather makes me want to head into the kitchen to whip up some comfort food.

In my family, we somehow started a tradition of eating trifle (a yummy concoction of custard and cake) on New Year's Day. I can't even remember how this started, but I like trifle enough not to question it.

It's interesting: for most of the year, food can be very trendy. Any chef will tell you that it's tough to keep up with food trends. But on holidays, many people like to stick to what they know. That's one reason why my mother gave me a cookbook she created filled with family favorites. What a great gift!

The first cookbook appeared in Rome about 1,600 years ago. A print edition of this book called De re coquinaria (Latin for "on the subject of cooking") came out in 1483. The recipes apparently involve a lot of salt and honey -- most likely because the chefs of the past didn't have refrigerators.

The directions in ancient cookbooks were pretty vague. Historians don't think they were intended to give specific directions for cooking meals. And that makes sense if you think about the structure of society back then. People who could read well were often in the upper classes, so they hired cooks. Cooks talked about various cooking techniques amongst themselves, rather than reading about them.

The recipes gave directions like, "Walk 20 times around the field," instead of giving specific cooking times. Once the cook circled the field 20 times, the dish was finished.

We've come a long way since then! Today's chefs study in culinary programs, where they can expect a healthy serving of theory and hands-on learning.

After their training, they can labor over boeuf bourguignonne or flip burgers. Chefs can create works of art in chocolate (and hopefully send some to me) or develop vegetarian delights. Entrepreneurial sorts can even build a business around their favorite family recipes! Food lovers can specialize in any number of culinary styles: the world is hungry for cooks and chefs!

I hope you have a safe, fun and delicious December!

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November 26, 2018
I'm a Word Nerd

There is a murder of crows outside my window as I write this. Should I call a crime scene technician? Or an animal control officer?

Actually, I would need an ornithologist. A murder of crows is the way we refer to a group of crows, just as we say a herd of elephants or a flock of birds. The word "murder" is the collective noun we use to refer to a group of crows.

Some of my other favorite collective nouns include a sleuth of bears, an ostentation of peacocks and a mischief of mice (if you've ever had mice in your house, that one will really seem appropriate).

I think learning new words is fascinating. For one thing, building my vocabulary helps my Scrabble game and makes it easier to complete crossword puzzles ! But it's also great to look at language and how it evolves and changes.

Lexicographers study new words. They're the people who decide to add new words to a dictionary. Did you know the word "zoodle" was recently added to the dictionary that I use? That addition was the work of a lexicographer. They would also write the definition: a long, thin strip of zucchini that resembles a string or narrow ribbon of pasta.

Linguists also study language and how we use it. More high-tech companies are calling on linguists' knowledge as we incorporate the concepts of human speech into new technology. If you think the rules of grammar are stodgy and outdated, just look at how speech patterns can be incorporated into things like robotics.

Now... what goes inside a zoodle casserole?

November 5, 2018
Staying Professional Online

What was the last crazy thing you did? What about the most embarrassing thing you've done all year? Is there photographic proof on Instagram? Would you show those photos to a parent? What about a college admissions officer?

Do I sound paranoid? I prefer "realistic." Believe it or not, more colleges are checking out students online when they're making their admissions decisions. They're reviewing social media, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter - but don't forget they can also access sites like If it's on the Internet, it's public. Admissions officers say they're seeing more posts online that make them reconsider applicants. That's right: what you put online can impact your chances of getting into college.

Does this mean the best approach is to stay off social media altogether? Experts say there's no need to throw away your phone. Teens socialize and have fun, and in today's world, it's perfectly normal to document those experiences online. Just remember to stay professional!

Posting content that shows your interests outside of school can show colleges and potential employers that you're a well-rounded person. You want your online presence to be something you can be proud of down the road.

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September 17, 2018
Peaceful Careers

Did you know that September 21st is recognized as the International Day of Peace? I didn't know about this day, but I'm glad to learn it exists! The United Nations established this day in 1981, and devoted it to "commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and peoples".

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes peace as "a state of tranquility; freedom from civil disturbance; harmony in personal relations; a state of accord and agreement between governments".

Everyone understands the importance of peace. But we know that living in harmony takes effort. So, the International Day of Peace is a good reason to explore careers devoted to keeping things calm.

In the business world, peace-relations skills are used in all areas of government, private industries and non-profit organizations.

It is a common practice for companies to hire a mediator to resolve disputes about employment, business contracts and other claims. Many public and private institutions employ an ombudsman whose duty is to investigate and resolve complaints made by individuals. They play an important role in helping an organization maintain the public's trust. Large corporations might hire a labor relations negotiator or an arbitrator in an effort settle disagreements and avoid strikes.

In the community at-large, police officers are often referred to as "peace officers". Their duties are to maintain law and order. Often, the mere presence of a police officer is enough to bring peace to an excited situation.

Ever hear of a justice of the peace? This is a type of judge who hears cases that involve civic complaints, like small-claims court, or minor criminal complaints and also performs marriages.

On a global level, there are thousands of peacekeepers assigned to troubled areas around the world. They navigate between conflict and peace to help countries and their citizens.

Are you interested in a peaceful career? If you enroll in a peace and conflict studies program, you will learn the art of tact, diplomacy and negotiation--crucial skills when handling negotiations between people.

Here's to peace! Let's pursue it and appreciate it.

September 3, 2018
Back to School Resolutions

I don't know about you, but I always loved the start of school. At first, it was all about fashion and socializing. Returning to school was a time for new clothes in richer colors and cozier fabrics. It was the chance to reconnect with friends and fill my social calendar with plans and parties.

Then classes started. Shopping and mingling gave way to studying, and before I knew it, I was a student again -- albeit a better dressed one.

Fortunately, I liked school and loved learning things. However, it always took a while to figure what worked for me when I was studying. Sometimes, I learned the hard way, like the time a bad mark on a physics test taught me that studying while watching Wonder Woman reruns wasn't the best idea.

Now is a great time to make some resolutions about your own study habits. Try thinking back to last year to figure out the areas in which you can improve.

Did you allow enough time for studying? If not, you might want to have a good look at a typical week's schedule, perhaps starting with your TV viewing. (I speak from experience.)

Were you able to concentrate on your work? If focusing was a problem, think about your study environment -- are there a lot of distractions? Get some tips on making the most of your study time from our article Successful Study Techniques.

Did you have trouble keeping up with your schedule and were you often surprised by due dates? Learn to manage your time with the article Time Management 101.

Did you have a hard time figuring out "the point" of an assignment or required text? It could be time to brush up on your critical thinking skills. Find out what this means in How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills.

Take it from me: a little thought now can go a long way towards a successful academic year. Good luck!

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