5 careers for people who love solving problems and puzzles.

Some people chase careers that promise big money. Others devote themselves to helping people.

But if you’re a natural-born problem solver, someone who enjoys a good puzzle, odds are that you’re going to need something more to truly excite you.

The good news is that there are plenty of careers out there that not only challenge your brain – but allow you to help others, and pay well too.

Check out these five promising careers for people who love to solve problems and put together puzzles.

1. Automotive Mechanics

The Puzzle: A customer has brought in a car that isn’t running right. Using that complaint as a clue, you isolate the problem area: engine or electrical, brakes or suspension. From there, you run tests to find the cause of the problem, and implement the appropriate solution, which gets the car – and its relieved owner – back on the road.

The Training: Today’s cars are like computers on wheels. The best way to get up-to-date on automotive systems and repair techniques is to complete a one-year automotive service training course.

The Pay: Auto mechanics working for automobile dealers made a median hourly wage of $18.85 in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

2. Police Officers and Detectives

The Puzzle: A crime has been committed…but who did it? As a police officer or detective, it’s your job to secure the crime scene, sift through the evidence, locate and interview witnesses, and pull together clues to solve the big whodunit – all while ensuring the victims receive the appropriate attention.

The Training: To join the police force, you must have a high school diploma. Some departments may require one or two years of college. In fact, police departments are increasingly encouraging applicants to take post-secondary law enforcement courses.

A degree in criminal justice could put you one step ahead of the pack and prepare you for future advancement in the law enforcement field.

The Pay: In 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor found that police officers earned a median annual income of $47,460. Detectives earn more as their experience increases.

3. Psychologists

The Puzzle: A person has a problem – a career problem, a social issue, an emotional issue…sometimes all three – that is affecting them in a negative way. You interview, you test, and you probe until you get to the root of the problem. Next, you develop a strategy to help your patient adapt and cope.

The Training: To practice as a psychologist, you’ll need to have a master’s degree in psychology and a license. Get started with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which can qualify you to assist mental health professionals in research, community mental health centers, and correctional programs.

The Pay: The median expected salary for experienced psychologists is $78,243, according to Salary.com data pulled in April 2009.

4. Computer Support Specialists (it’s my job)

The Puzzle: A customer has brought in a faulty computer and it’s your job to determine if the problem is a bad connection, a software problem, a hardware problem, or possibly the customer just hasn’t set up the machine properly. You’ll need to run diagnostic tests and use your knowledge of computer systems (and their common problems!) to determine the source of the customer’s issue and help out.

The Training: Some positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems, but some may only require an associate’s degree in a computer-related field. Already have substantial computer experience? Then the proper certificate program may be all you need.

The Pay: Computer support specialists made an average of $41,470 in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

5. Crime Scene Technicians

The Puzzle: You’re at the scene of a crime, and it’s not pretty. You step around blood, hair, fibers, glass, and small traces of other items. Soon you find yourself locating a shotgun…and fingerprints.

While every day may not be this exciting, crime scene technicians are responsible for analyzing evidence and communicating their results to the police and other members of law enforcement. You may even testify in court as an expert witness depending on your level of experience.

The Training: Different police departments have different training standards. The requirement might be little more than an associate’s degree in applied science or science-related technology. Some departments insist on a bachelor’s degree that includes science and math classes.

The Pay: The U.S. Department of Labor found in 2006 that the average hourly wage for forensic science technicians was $21.79.

thanx to Gabby Gruen

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