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
Ruth Aguilar

Ruth Aguilar

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me by providing me with many scholarship opportunities and information about universities I want to attend. What I love about CollgeXpress is how it provides a variety of information, and as the first child attending a university next year, it has been very essential and helpful. I’m so grateful for this because the information provided by CollegeXpress has also helped me see that there are so many college opportunities, and it always informs me by email. In other words, CollegeXpress has been like a guide for me as a future college student.

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.

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.



High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Moody Bible Institute

Chicago, IL

Alfred University

Alfred, NY

Belmont University

Nashville, TN