large roller coasterWhen planning your college career you want to choose a major that will weather the turbulent storms of an unpredictable economy. But at the same time you want to pick something that interests you; remember you’re going to be working on your career at least eight hours a day, five days a week for a really long time. So you want to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing.

Which is why you shouldn’t overlook the possibility of majoring in software development.

What’s that? You think software development is for tech heads only? On the contrary, a degree in software development is actually so broad it opens up a cornucopia of career possibilities you probably never even though of. Yes, you could go for standard techie jobs in information technology, point of sale, aerospace, banking, or even manufacturing, and although all those sound riveting, a college degree in software development could lead to other more unique (and fun) careers that you may not have thought of, such as…

Video Game Developer

When asked “What is your dream job” in a career poll of people under the age of 30 the number two answer was video game developer (the number one answer was rock star, but to my knowledge there isn’t a college degree for that). What’s better than being paid to sit around and play video games all day?

To be fair, a career in video game development is more than that. You could be on the development team that comes up with a gaming concept. Or you might be a Q & A analyst, in which case you would be paid to play the games—and find fault with them. Or maybe you could be a project manager that oversees software releases. Or you could be one of the programmers that actually writes the gaming code. There are so many areas of expertise in this field that a software development degree could lead to lucrative lifetime career of joysticks and avatars. (Energy drinks and junk food not included.)

Amusement Park Ride Engineer

Amusement park rides are now one of the safest forms of entertainment around. Why? Because with the help of computer aided design (CAD), as well as a host of simulation software, all those scary, death-defying rides can be tested literally on a drawing board before any kid sets foot on them.

According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) merging physics and engineering with computer technology has resulted in failsafe measures that make taking a spin on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, for example, safer than riding in a car on the freeway. This new fusion of science and technology has spawned a whole new set of companies (such as Intamin and TOGO) that do nothing but design safe attractions (mostly roller coasters) that are heavy on the “Wow!” factor. And besides, how cool would it be to point to Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure and say, “Hey, I helped design that.”

Ski Resort Software Designer

Do you ever wonder how a ski lift operator knows how many times you’ve been up the mountain? Or how the ticket office knows your season pass has expired? Or how the rental shop knows exactly which skis you need before you do? There is a whole industry in ski resort software that answers these questions and more.

For example, Siriusware is a software company that provides salespoint applications (called Ski Solutions) for ski resorts, and my guess is Siriusware needs software developers to keep their business going. Also ski equipment companies such as K-2, Head, and Volkl all use CAD applications to help design their products. AND the ski instruction industry uses simulators so that beginner skiers know what it feels like to be properly balanced BEFORE hitting the slopes. All of these applications are designed by software developers—most likely ones who love to ski. (Best perk? Discounts on your ski equipment and lift tickets.)

Video Animator

Now that everyone and his or her mother has a website, someone has to build those websites. And for that you have people who get college degrees in website design (which can also be a lucrative career). But have you noticed that the really cool websites have spiffy animated graphics; anything from a schematic that demonstrates how to assemble a piece of furniture to a fun cartoon that teaches a toddler how to tie a shoe.

Video animation and data compression involve customizing existing software packages to make them do what the designer (and ultimately, the customer) wants. Unlike developing off-the-shelf software that people use to do a specific job, video animators use software toolkits to create custom programs for specific animation jobs. And what has more job security than being the mastermind of a software program that only YOU know how to fix?

So when considering your future, don’t be quick to discount a college degree in software development. Keep in mind that the world runs on computers, and businesses need someone who knows how to harness that technology into something productive. Who says it can’t it be productive and fun.

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