5 Awesome Careers as Seen on TV

Wondering what you should do after college? Take a page from these five popular TV characters' books and see how you can pursue their careers in real life!

As the final years of high school and the first moments of adulthood approach, ideas of what you might want to do when you “grow up” are bound to start swirling in your mind. You may find yourself longing for the simplicity of your favorite sitcom, where every main character seems to end up with a career they love. That might seem unattainable, but if you have enough ambition and you’re willing to put in the work, you may surprise yourself with the possibilities. Here are five careers from popular television shows and how you can attain them in the real world.

1. Chloe Decker, homicide detective on Lucifer

Netflix’s Lucifer, originally produced by Fox, introduced us to Chloe, a down-to-earth and incredibly clever homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. Her job of hunting down clues has been known to get her caught in her fair share of dangerous situations, but the risk only adds to the excitement. If you’d like to be a homicide detective, getting involved in a police cadet program in your area is the perfect option to gain experience before enlisting in the Police Academy, which typically requires its applicants to be at least 21 years old. A bachelor's degree isn’t required to apply to the Police Academy, but it can definitely set you apart from other applicants. If you choose to invest in a degree, Criminal Justice is the way to go! This program will give you an in-depth look into the minds and psychology of criminals and give you all the necessary law background you’ll need to excel. The average annual salary for a homicide detective is $67,290.

Related: List: Colleges With Strong Programs in Criminal Justice

2. Ross Gellar, paleontologist on Friends

Ross was everyone’s favorite awkward, nerdy dinosaur lover in NBC’s classic sitcom Friends. Though the show usually poked fun at his job, being a paleontologist is actually pretty cool! The specifics vary quite a lot based on your area of specialization, but in the most basic of terms, paleontologists study fossils. For example, a paleobotanist focuses on examining fossil plants like algae, while a palynologist is more involved in studying remains of fossilized pollen and spores. It can be helpful to narrow down your specialization before pursuing your bachelor's degree so you can choose your major accordingly, though the most common ones are Animal Biology, Ecology, Plant Sciences, and Earth Sciences. You’ll also need a master’s in a related field as well as a PhD, but don’t despair! You’ll be able to intern at places like museums under more experienced paleontologists during your schooling, and you’ll end up with an average annual salary of $93,580 when all is said and done.

3. Jessica Day, elementary school teacher on New Girl

If anyone is known for their jubilant personality and deep-rooted passion for kids, it’s Jess from Fox’s New Girl. Through the show, Jess shows a consistent commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of her students, which can be incredibly inspiring to future teachers! If you want to have a career similar to Jess’s, the first step is a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Keep in mind that you’ll also have the option to double-major in a specific subject like English or Art, which can give you a sort of specialty. In order to actually start teaching, you’ll need to pass the Praxis exam and earn a license unique to the state you live in. Elementary teachers typically make an annual salary of $60,660, but it does vary a bit based on location.

Related: List: Colleges to Prepare for a Career in Education

4. Dexter Morgan, blood spatter analyst on Dexter

Neat freak Dexter was the resident science geek of the Miami Metro Police Department on Showtime’s soon-to-be-revived show Dexter. You may assume his job is merely the product of TV fabrication, but blood spatter analysis is actually an important niche of forensics. To succeed in this career, you’ll have to pay close attention to small details and be somewhat comfortable around blood. A bachelor's degree in a science-related field such as Biology, Chemistry, Criminology, or Forensic Science is also required. Then you’ll start apprenticing under an experienced scientist to help solve crimes and create timelines based on your collective findings. The average annual salary for a blood spatter analyst (aka a forensic science technician) is $60,590.

5. Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist on Bones

Fans of Fox’s comedic crime drama Bones aren’t strangers to the abrupt personality of Dr. Brennan. In the show, she was portrayed as the leading scientist in her field of forensic anthropology, which is officially defined as the scientific study of humanity and consists mostly of examining hard tissue like bones. Those interested in a similar career should be prepared for lots of labwork and the possibility of being asked to use your knowledge to testify as an expert witness in court cases. The first step toward this career would be pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science or Anthropology, then obtaining a similar master’s degree. A PhD and certification are completely optional, though you’ll need the former to obtain the “doctor” title. The typical salary for a forensic anthropologist is $66,130 a year.

Related: List: Accredited Programs in Forensic Science

There you have it: five careers as seen on your favorite television shows and how you can mirror them in real life. Discovering what you want to do after college is a daunting task, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Remember to chase the occupation that will bring you the most joy, and don’t compromise on your dreams!

Want to read more blogs like this? Start exploring potential college options with Majors to Consider Based on The Loud House Girls.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Hailey Myers

Hailey Myers is a homeschooled high school student from California. She's been drawn to literature and creative activities from a young age and is ecstatic to share what she knows with fellow students. 


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro


For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find the school I am currently attending by consistently sending me emails of other schools. This allowed me to do research on other schools as well as the one I am in now!

Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

High School Class of 2019

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is that it features student writers so I get an inside perspective from students slightly older and farther along than me. I realize that other college websites also utilize student writers; however, I relate the most to the college writers that I read articles from on CollegeXpress.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Ashland University

Ashland, OH

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, IA

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Samford University

Birmingham, AL