Q. I've been working as a nurse in a health centre for a few years and have become really interested in disease prevention and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Are there any postgraduate courses that might take me into this work? I have a nursing degree.
A. This area of work is called health promotion or health education, and would follow on logically from your nursing background. There are a number of postgraduate courses you could take, some of which are part-time, which would allow you to continue working while you study. More than 50 universities advertise courses in this broad area, the most common title being "health promotion and public health".
A large number of the courses target a specialist area of health promotion, including diet, tobacco-related illnesses, heart problems and occupational health. One decision facing you is whether you want to specialise straightaway, or first acquire a comprehensive foundation in health promotion.
Your experience would stand you in good stead for entry to one of these courses, and you might be able to apply for a job in one of these areas, and get your employer to sponsor you through the courses.
While most jobs are in the public sector, there are also opportunities with medical charities, such as the British Heart Foundation, health action zones and international organisations.
Q. I have a degree in engineering and want to get a qualification (short of full chartered accountancy) that would enable me to work on the financial side of a business or organisation. Are there any part-time postgraduate courses I can follow that would give me a relevant qualification?
A. To land a job in a financial role within an organisation, and progress up the management ladder, you'd generally need to arm yourself with a financial qualification of some sort. Your engineering degree, given its mathematics content, provides an ideal platform for such extra study, and would generally be regarded as ample proof of eligibility for such courses.
One of the most popular routes in this direction – and shorter and less onerous than the path to chartered accountancy – is to become a management accountant. These are the figures within medium and large firms who control budgets, and shape strategic income and expenditure plans. The qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (www.cimaglobal.com) are tailor-made for entry into such roles, and can be taken full- or part-time.
Another option could be to study for an MBA or Masters degree in a business or finance area. The key for you here is to look at the content of such courses, to make a judgement on whether you think they provide a preparation for the sort of job you see yourself filling. There are plenty of part-time courses in this area, and it could be worth looking at distance learning with a university such as the Open University (www.open.ac.uk) for even more flexibility in your study timetable.
Q. I'm doing a pure science degree, but don't feel it's preparing me for a career in anything other than a laboratory setting, which I don't want. Can you point me towards any type of Masters course that might enable me to augment my degree with some commercial and business management knowledge?
A. Find out from your university careers service what graduates of your own degree have gone on to do. The information is collected six months after graduation, and gives some idea of decisions taken by your predecessors, although bear in mind career paths can change radically after the initial six months.
The non laboratory-based options you could consider include teaching, law, patent work and a range of jobs where your skills such as research and problem-solving are more important than the subject matter of your degree.
Look at the "Options with your subject" section in the "Careers advice" menu of the Prospects website (www.prospects.ac.uk), and then the "What jobs would suit me?" section in the "Jobs" menu.
If you decide a business environment is where you'll feel happy, a management Masters course may be a strong option. This will give you an all-round background in business practice, after which your scientific knowledge might prove useful if you end up working for a firm involved in engineering or technology.
Thanks to Liz Hagger and Gill Sharp, careers consultants for Domino Careers (www.dominocareers.co.uk)
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