So the official title is ‘Research computer scientist’ at NASA. Your mission is to work with software-intensive aerospace systems, ready to successfully blast the next astronauts to the moon, or Mars. Now that’s something to aspire to. If you can’t manage the US visa, the European Space Agency is also searching for software engineers. You’ll need a Master’s degree in computer science, and a “knowledge of spacecraft systems engineering” will also help you get a foot in the door.
2. Information security crime investigator
A specialist in forensics, you’ll be tracking cybercriminals across the globe. You’ll need to master a range of skills, from intrusion detection to hacker exploit techniques, as well as be able to reverse engineer malware. This role has adventure written all over it.
3. Racing systems engineer
Your job is to track and analyse the performance of racing cars down to the most minute detail, constantly refining algorithms to ensure they have an edge over competitors. Whether it’s a fraction more fuel or a change in tyre pressure at the next pit stop, your software gathers live telemetry from the car during the race so that you can calculate any adjustments.
4. Secret service researcher
While the era of secret agents in raincoats with poison-tipped umbrellas is long past, today it’s the IT mastermind behind a computer screen who’s spying on international governments. Think the young, hip Q as played by Ben Whishaw in Skyfall. The downside is that thanks to the Official Secrets Act, you won’t be able to brag down the pub about Pyongyang’s latest nuclear developments. For all your mates know, you work in the canteen at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
5. Algorithmic trader
Brilliant at maths and coding, as a quantitative analyst or ‘quant’ you write software to beat the financial markets. Once your algorithm is optimised, you can theoretically sit back and watch the wealth stack up. But it’s a constant race to minimise latency and have the most powerful hardware.
6. Cloud architect
No, you’re not trying to sound posh and impress your friends by saying, in a pompous way, that you’re a weatherman who charts the patterns of clouds. But rather you are at the forefront of the new IT industry, responsible for helping companies create and secure their cloud servers. The security and privacy of an entire company rests on your shoulders… no pressure!
7. Computer games tester
The ultimate dream for any gamer: getting paid to play. The reality may not be quite so glamorous, as while you get early access to new titles, you’ll be playing the same level multiple times over trying to find any and every possible scenario or flaw. Being an ‘electronic athlete’ or pro gamer and playing games in tournaments can earn you big money, but the top players still train for over eight hours a day, often practicing a single manoeuvre.
The other option is to take the solo route and create your own job: billionaire tech entrepreneur. You just need to come up with the next Facebook, WhatsApp or Angry Birds. Many of the world’s top billionaires hit the jackpot by their thirties, so it’s never too early to get cracking.