Sweet Revenge: Job Prospects Great for Geeks and Nerds

Posted By Terri Williams on May 5, 2017 at 7:53 am
Sweet Revenge: Job Prospects Great for Geeks and Nerds

It wasn’t long ago that Harvard Business Review crowned data scientist as the sexist job of the 21st century, a sign of the times. Now, almost everyone wants to fit in with the geeks and nerds. Perhaps we should have seen this coming, since the kids who were considered cool in elementary and high school took a decidedly different turn.

According to a study in Child Development journal, “What Ever Happened to the ‘Cool’ Kids?” the pseudomature kids who engaged in vandalism, substance abuse, and “precocious romantic involvement” were more likely to be popular at the age of 13, but by the age of 23, they were more likely to engage in criminal behavior and have substance abuse problems than the kids considered to be geeks and nerds and generally just not as cool.

And since success is the best revenge, now the geeks and nerds – and their cousins, the wonks – are considered cool and are in high demand, and commanding jaw-dropping salaries. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, the cast of Big Bang Theory, and the character of “Q” in the James Bond series are just some of the people – real or fictitious – who demonstrate that being almost obsessively smart or talented is a good thing, a very good thing – especially when it results in a net worth of $86 billion (Gates) or $56 billion (Zuckerberg).

Not everyone in this category will achieve such fame or fortune, but even for the average person, recent research reveals that tech is a better bet than sports for those who want to be millionaires.

“When we look at the types of jobs nerds, geeks or wonks thrive in, it is important to understand how their skill sets are better suited to certain careers over others”, says Patricia Siderius, Chicago-based managing director of executive outplacement services with BPI group, an executive HR and consulting firm.

Siderius tells GoodCall® that these are very smart people – they are detailed-oriented and have a very profound sense of fascination. “This lends them to have very sharp mental skills and, oftentimes, to be passionate about a singular subject,” she says. Siderius notes that these very brilliant individuals have the best chance for success when they channel their mental power in a career that will truly bring satisfaction and enjoyment.

“The possibilities are endless,” according to Manny Contomanolis, PhD, senior associate vice president and director of the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education at Rochester Institute of Technology. “In large part, this is due to that fact that nearly all employing organizations need some kind of tech talent or rely on the tech talent resident in some service provider to drive their business.”

Computer geeks and nerds

While the opportunities for computer geeks are infinite, Contomanolis tells GoodCall®, “Some of the popular choices include jobs in the computer gaming industry, with start-ups in any number of product or service areas, and very often as freelancers – programmers and developers – who can shift from project to project as their needs and interests take them.”

Samaira M, the 9-year old inventor/founder of coderbunnyz.com, a STEM coding board game, is naturally, biased. She tells GoodCall® that since she created her board game, many people have called her a geek or nerd, and she thinks this would be a good career choice. “I think they would like software coding, writing complex pieces of application and debugging the code,” Samaira says.

Mad scientists

Samaira thinks that mad scientists would like working in biomedicine and biomedical engineering, “especially genetics and DNA,” she says. However, Samaira also thinks that computer geeks and nerds would like these jobs, stating, “These are other geeky fields that also need hours and hours of software coding.”

Siderus believes that these mad scientists want to be involved in developments that the average person can barely fathom. “Chemists push the boundaries of the ordinary and are constantly questioning the world around them to learn or discover something new.”

Kim Costa, former career coach at Snagajob, agrees. “Chemists get to spend all day studying chemical reactions, and work to make new products where they can unleash their ‘madness’ into the world.” Costa tells GoodCall®, “They get paid to spend all day in a lab testing their theories and coming up with ways to make life easier for all of us.”

Policy wonks

Like computer geeks and mad scientists, policy wonks can find fulfillment in a variety of career options. “A career as a political scientist is a perfect choice for wonks because it provides the opportunity to go deep, be introspective, analyze and often work with teams to brainstorm,” says Aricia Schaffer, a career counselor and the author of Unlocking the Secrets of the Successful Career Seeker.

And Siderius adds, “A nerd who excels at analytical thinking would find great satisfaction in working as a political scientist.” That’s because she says these people are often passionate about a greater cause and discerning the purposes and processes of politics on multiple levels.

“Political scientists are skilled at thinking independently – they are logical and use reason to understand complex topics,” says Siderius. “They enjoy the research component of their profession and can easily synthesize data to develop big-picture ideas.”

Some policy wonks are economists, working for the government. However, Dr. Paul Anderson, associate professor of economics at Asbury University, tells GoodCall®, “Several of my friends have found that working in a startup or incubator provides the same ‘rush’ as influencing government policy.”

In fact, he believes that it may offer distinct advantages. “In some respects, it is freer in that it is a better meritocracy than government, which is not surprising.”

Below are the median annual wages for two jobs in each category:

 Computer geeks and nerds Software developers $102,280
Computer programmers $79,840
Mad scientists Biomedical engineers $85,620
Chemists $73,740
Policy wonks Political scientists $114,290
Economists $101,050


Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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