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A Guide to Alternative Careers

Most students while selecting a career, opt for predictable choices like management, computers, medicine, engineering and law, However, there are many more alternative careers, which although are not so common, are still rewarding for those who choose the road less traveled. Here, we discuss some of these careers.

Private Detectives

Private detectives, investigators and private security personnel assist legal personnel, businesses and the general public in resolving various problems. They extend protective services to residential/business premises, protecting their clients from thefts, vandalism and disorder. Detective agencies, which may easily provide security services, have to be equipped to handle duties ranging from the location of missing persons, to exposing financial frauds. Besides, the job also involves insurance investigations ascertaining the bonafides or creditworthiness of an individual, adopting inquiries, proofs of evidence and statements obtained, executive, diplomatic and celebrity protection, accident, surveillance you name it they do it.

This profession involves long hours to work, often irregular too. Reliability combined with efficiency are the mantras which make or break the reputation of a security/detective agency. Detective and security personnel are of various categories and at various levels but they are more or less in job without professional degrees. Of course, there are specialized investigations in which special qualifications or specialized knowledge works out to be useful.

During corporate investigations both internal and external investigations are required. Sometimes corporate houses employ their own in-house investigation staff who may, in turn, employ outside agencies to do their undercover operations. Financial investigations require specialized knowledge of finance and investigating agencies may employ or hire the services of finance specialists to complete the assignment. Departmental/Retail stores require the services of security agencies for loss control and asset protection.

Qualities required of security services are good physique, integrity, strength of purpose, motivation and discipline primarily. Most security agencies prefer to employ ex-servicemen but they have to look elsewhere too.

Although professional qualifications are really not required, yet literacy and commonsense, being observant, alertness, manual dexterity, ability to work as a team, ability to tackle regular public contact and hazards are qualities that one would look for in an incumbent. On a very large scale, security enterprises might maintain a laboratory for chemical analyses; employ forensic scientists, chemists, etc. for various investigative jobs.

In most investigation firms, the screening process for potential employees includes a background check to confirm education and work experience, to inquire about criminal history, and to interview references and others who know the applicant.

Training in subjects such as criminal justice is helpful to the aspiring investigator or detective. Most corporate investigators would find it helpful to have at least a bachelors degree, preferably in a business-related field. An MBA, law degree, degree in criminology, forensic science, accountancy and insurance surveying training are helpful. A number of private security agencies conduct workshops for executives and short-term training programmes for inducting new talent into their organizations. Among formal programmes one can expect diploma programmes related to defense management or may a specific college or educational society conduct a short-term course.

Nutritionist and dietitian

A dietitian applies scientific principles of nutrition to the preparation of different kind of food for people in good health as also those suffering from disease/illness. Nutritionists and dietitian plan nutrition programmes and supervise the preparation and serving of meals.

Hospitals and nursing homes require full-time dietitians who advise and plan special diets for patients as part of their medical treatment. In community settings, dietitian may be employed in old age homes, residential schools/institutions, with catering services, hotels, local authorities, helping to develop and implement food policies, and help promote positive, enjoyable changes in food choice. Dietetics can also work as educators in centers of higher learning, in research, industry and as consultants or freelance for sports nutrition, media and fashion and beauty industry. Nutritionists also form part of staff for schemes such as Integrated Child Development Scheme run by government or non-government organizations

Food processing units, food manufacturers, food retailers, catering organizations and other industrial units allied to food and nutrition often engage the services of nutritionists and dietitians in a consultancy role. Freelance dietitians or consultant dietitians may perform nutrition screening for their clients, and offer advice on diet-related concerns such as weight loss, cholesterol reduction, sugar control, salt restricted diet etc.

The first step is to take up a Home Science course right after Plus Two or equivalent. In the case of the 3-year BHSC (Bachelor of Home Science) course, Food Nutrition Science and related aspects are taught as components of the course. There may be provision for specializing (major/honors) in this group of subjects. This course is designated in some universities as BSc (home science) and in some as BA (home science). The next step would be to take a Master's degree in Home Sciences with specialization in food science and nutrition. Around 70 universities in the country conduct Home Science/Domestic Science/Home Economics courses. Some Agricultural Universities also offer BHSC/MHSC course. Admission is on the basis of an admission test. Preference is given to candidates with the science background at the Plus Two level.

The other line of action for entry into this career would be to take up a full- time catering diploma and add on specialization in nutrition as part of further education. A bachelor's degree in Food Science/ Food Technology may also lead you to this line of work.

Food Science & Technology/Nutrition can be taken up in a B.Sc. course or as a Bachelor's degree in Applied Science, as in Delhi University.

There are Postgraduate diplomas in Nutrition and Dietetics that only Home Science/Microbiology/Biochemistry graduates can take up. Some of these courses are also open to students from other streams at some of the hotel management and catering institutes.

In most institutes, for a post graduate Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health Nutrition (DDPHN) the eligibility is B.Sc. in home science (10+2+3 scheme) from a recognized university with 50 per cent marks in the aggregate and 50 per cent or above marks in food and nutrition, physiology and biochemistry.

For M.Sc. in home science (food and nutrition): B.Sc. in home science (10+2+3 scheme) from a recognized university with 55 per cent marks in aggregate and 55 per cent marks in food and nutrition, food science, biochemistry and nutrition in the honors course, and food science, biochemistry and nutrition and dietetics in the pass course. The postgraduate diploma course in dietetics and nutrition is spread over one academic year, with a compulsory three-month internship in a hospital under a qualified dietitian.

Besides the preventive and curative aspects of medicine it is rehabilitation, which helps in improving quality of life. Alongside the doctors and nurses, other medical staff like speech pathologists, audiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and mental rehabilitation specialists help many individuals pick up the threads of their life.

Speech Pathology and Audiology

Speech pathologists, also known as speech-language pathologists, work with people who cannot make speech sounds. They also help people who have trouble making sounds clearly or who stutter. In addition, they work with people who have problems understanding and expressing language. Speech pathologists diagnose and treat such disorders as stuttering, delayed or impaired language, and voice and speaking problems.

Audiologists evaluate hearing disorders in children and adults. Physicians to determine certain medical conditions and the need for surgery often use these evaluations. Audiologists examine them to determine the presence and severity of hearing loss. When a physician determines hearing loss is irreversible, audiologists may plan, direct, and participate in rehabilitative programmes. They select hearing aids, do auditory and lip-reading training, and counsel the hearing impaired and their families


Physiotherapists use exercises and movement, electrotherapy, manipulation and massage to treat the injured, disabled, sick and convalescent of all ages for a large variety of conditions. In order to work as a physiotherapist one must possess a BSc in physiotherapy or diploma in physiotherapy. Sports physiotherapy is an emerging specialization that will see further growth.


Certificate courses in sports physiotherapy are offered at :

  • The Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences,
  • University of Delhi, New Delhi.
  • Master of Sports Physiotherapy after Degree in Medicine,
  • Physiotherapy, Physical Education at Algappa University,Karaikudi-630003.
  • Guru Nanak Dev University. Amritsar-143005.

Major institutes offering bachelor's in Physiotherapy:

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University
Paliwal Park,

Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research Institute
1, Ramachandra Nagar,
Porur, Chennai-600 116 (T.N.)
Ph. : 91-44-24769816, 24768423
Fax : 91-44-24765995, 24767008
Email :

Guru Jambeshwar University,


University Fax  No. : 01662-276240 University E-Mail :

Gemmology and Jewelry Design

Gemology is a science dealing with the study of gems. The work done by gemologists is essentially scientific and technical, and requires highly skilled manpower in order to identify the gems, sort and grade them. Gemologists are involved in the identification, testing casting, and molding gemstones. They also advise jewelers/jewelry designers on the various properties regarding the suitability of particular gemstones in different metals and types of settings.

Jewelers design, make, repair, adjust rings, necklace, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry. Using a variety of common and specialized hand tools, and increasingly, computers, they mould and shape metal and set gemstones. Jewelers may specialize in one or more areas of the jewelry field-design, gem-cutting, repair, sales, or appraisal. The manufacture of jewelry is the largest area requiring trained personnel.

Jewelry design and manufacture skills may be learned in technical schools, or informally on the job. Art colleges and art schools also offer programmes that can lead to a bachelor's or master's degree of fine arts in jewelry design.

For those interested in working in a jewelry store or repair shop, technical schools or courses offered by polytechnics are the best sources of training. In these short-term courses students learn the use and care of jewelers tools and machines and basic jewelry and repairing skills, such as design, casting, stones setting and polishing. Most of the institutes offer courses after matriculation or 10+2 or equivalent at the diploma or graduate-level. While most courses take students from any discipline, those from sciences are better- equipped to handle. While graduate and diploma courses are of 1-3 years in duration, these institutes also offer short-term courses ranging from a few weeks to few months. The Gemological Institute of India, 29 Gurukul Chambers, 187-189 Mumbadevi Road, Mumbai offers programmes in: Gemology, Diamond Grading and Assorting, Pearls. Some of them as resident while others are by correspondence.


Following institutes offer courses on Jewelry design and related fields:

Jewelry Design and Manufacture Department
3rd floor PV Polytechnic
SNDT Women’s University
Juhu Campus, Santa Cruz W, Mumbai-49.

Indian Diamond Institute
Katargam, GIDC
Sumul Dairy Road, Surat-395008.

S.G. Jhaveri Centre for Diamond Technology
Shri Bhagubhai Mafatlal Polytechnic
Vile Parle W, Mumbai - 400056.

Jewelry Product Development Centre
Commerce Centre
Tardeo, Mumbai-400034.

Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council

Jewelry Design and Training Institute (JDTI)
Noida. Offers a whole range of courses dealing with all aspects of the Gem and Jewelry Industry including, Jewelry Design and Technology, Gemology; Finishing; Polishing; Repairing; Mould-making; Market Research and Presentation, etc.

Department of Geology
St. Xavier's College, Mumbai-400001.

Gemstones Artisans Training School (sponsored by GOI)
Jaipur-302017. Trains for diamond/colored gem stones cutting and polishing.

Small industries Services Institute
Guindy, Chennai-600032
Trains for Gem Cutting and Polishing.

Indian Gemological Institute
Barakhamba Road, New Delhi-110001.

Moreover, The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT)
New Delhi, conducts a three-year intensive diploma programme in accessory design, which also includes jewelry designing.

The JD Institute of Fashion Technology also offers a specialized course in jewelry designing
where students get an opportunity to work in the industry. It is a 15-week programme for which admission is through a formal interview.

The South Delhi Women's Polytechnic
and the Apeejay School of Design also offer courses in jewelry design.


Ocean scientists investigate how the oceans work. They usually have a graduate education in oceanography, but have studied one of the fundamental science fields at the under-graduate level, such as physics, chemistry, biology or geology. Ocean scientists take measurements and samples at sea, obtain -remote sensing' data from artificial earth satellites, perform laboratory measurements on samples and conduct laboratory experiments, analyze data and perform simulations of ocean phenomena with numerical models on computers.

Recognizing the influence that the ocean has on the land mass and its potential for providing rich resources for the benefit of mankind, the government of India established the Department of Ocean Development in 1981. The role of this department has been to pursue research and development activities in all branches of ocean science, for use in subsequent technology development.

There are several disciplines in which the Department of Ocean Development is undertaking work. These areas include the Antarctic programme, non-living resources, underwater technology, acquisition of new research vessels and ship management, marine pollution research, remote sensing, living resources, manpower development, data collection and dissemination, energy from the sea, desalination, legal regime, use of the marine research and development fund.

Currently, however, the attention of oceanographers has been drawn the use of the sea as a dumping ground for all waste and the effects of these pollutants on sea water. Many people associate careers in oceanography as consisting of swimming with marine animals at a marine life park or snorkeling in crystal-clear tropical waters studying coral reefs. In reality, these kinds of jobs are extremely rare and there is intense competition for the few jobs that do exist. An oceanographer's duties are diverse, dictated by the nature of the profession. Data are most often collected at sea or from inland waters, but are usually processed and analyzed in laboratories and offices, often involving the use of highly-specialised instruments and computers.

Oceanographers experience the exhilaration and rigours of new discoveries made at sea, and return to home port for months of data processing, computer programming, analysis, writing, budgeting, planning, and conferring. Oceanographers study the seas, coastlines, estuaries, coastal waters, shelves and the ocean bed. Their work incorporates the scientific knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, geology, geophysics and the applications of mathematics and engineering science, alongwith the use of computers.

Most opportunities are with the Geological Survey of India, Department of Energy, meteorological departments and with departments working in environmental protection.

The study of oceanography is conducted as part of post-graduate studies in subject options related to the various branches of its study. The subjects available are: marine biology, marine zoology, marine sciences, marine geology, marine geophysics, physical oceanography, meteorology and oceanography, marine chemistry, etc. Graduates from related subject backgrounds are enrolled in the courses. Universities where these courses are conducted are located in the coastal regions.

  • The Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and the National Institute of Oceanography is located at Goa.
  • Post-graduate courses in oceanography, marine science and geology are offered in the following institutions (Eligibility for most courses is B.Sc. degree):
  • Berhampur University,Bhanja, Bihar, Berhampur- 760 007.
  • Utkal University P.O. Vanivihar, Bhubaneshwar- 751 004 Orissa.
  • Goa University P.O. Santa Cruz, Taleigao Plateau Goa-403 002.
  • University of Chennai Centenary Building, Chepauk, Chennai-600 005.
  • Mangalore University University Campus, Mangalagangothri - 574 199 Karnataka.
  • Cochin University of Science and Technology PO Cochin-682 022 Kerala.
  • Annamalai University PO Annamalai-608 002.
  • Karnataka University Pavate Nagar Dharwad-580 003.
  • Andhra Pradesh University Vishkhapatnam-530 003