Friday, March 6, 2009

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators, also known as curriculum specialists, staff development specialists, or directors of instructional material, play a large role in improving the quality of education in the classroom. They develop instructional materials, train teachers, and assess educational programs in terms of quality and adherence to regulations and standards.

 They also assist in implementing new technology in the classroom. Instructional coordinators often specialize in specific subjects, such as language arts, mathematics, social studies, gifted and talented, or English as a Second Language. Instructional coordinators evaluate how well a school's curriculum meets students' needs. They research teaching methods and techniques and develop procedures to determine whether program goals are being met.

 To aid in their evaluation, they may meet with members of educational committees and advisory groups to learn about subjects - English, history, or mathematics, for example - and to relate curriculum materials to these subjects, to students' needs, and to occupations for which these subjects are good preparation. They also may develop questionnaires and interview school staff about the curriculum. Based on their research and observations of instructional practice, they recommend instruction and curriculum improvements.

Another duty instructional coordinators have is to review textbooks, software, and other educational materials and make recommendations on purchases. They monitor materials ordered and the ways in which teachers use them in the classroom. They also supervise workers who catalogue, distribute, and maintain a school's educational materials and equipment.

Top Executives

All organizations have specific goals and objectives that they strive to meet. Top executives devise strategies and formulate policies to ensure that these objectives are met. Although they have a wide range of titles-such as chief executive officer, board chair, president, vice president, school superintendent, county administrator, and tax commissioner-all formulate policies and direct the operations of businesses and corporations, nonprofit institutions, governments, and other organizations.

A corporation's goals and policies are established by the chief executive officer in collaboration with other top executives, who are overseen by a board of directors. In a large corporation, the chief executive officer meets frequently with subordinate executives to ensure that operations are implemented in accordance with these policies.

The chief executive officer of a corporation retains overall accountability; however, a chief operating officer may be delegated several responsibilities, including the authority to oversee executives who direct the activities of various departments and implement the organization's policies on a day-to-day basis. In publicly held and nonprofit corporations, the board of directors is ultimately accountable for the success or failure of the enterprise, and the chief executive officer reports to the board.

The nature of other high-level executives' responsibilities depends upon the size of the organization. In large organizations, their duties are highly specialized. Managers of cost and profit centers, for instance, are responsible for the overall performance of one aspect of the organization, such as manufacturing, marketing, sales, purchasing, finance, personnel, training, administrative services, electronic data processing, property management, transportation, or the legal services department.


Actuaries are essential employees because they determine future risk, make price decisions, and formulate investment strategies. Some actuaries also design insurance, financial, and pension plans and ensure that these plans are maintained on a sound financial basis. Most actuaries specialize in life and health or property and casualty insurance; others work primarily in finance or employee benefits.

Regardless of specialty, actuaries assemble and analyze data to estimate probabilities of an event taking place, such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or property loss. They also address financial questions, including those involving the level of pension contributions required to produce a certain retirement income level or how a company should invest resources to maximize return on investment in light of potential risk.

Moreover, actuaries may help determine company policy and sometimes explain complex technical matters to company executives, government officials, shareholders, policyholders, or the public in general. They may testify before public agencies on proposed legislation affecting their businesses or explain changes in contract provisions to customers. They also may help companies develop plans to enter new lines of business or new geographic markets with existing lines of business by forecasting demand in competitive settings.

Most actuaries are employed in the insurance industry, in which they estimate the amount a company will pay in claims. For example, property/casualty actuaries calculate the expected amount of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies depending on the insured person's age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors. 

Automotive Body and Related Repairers

housands of motor vehicles are damaged in traffic accidents every day. Although some of these vehicles are beyond repair, others can be made to look and drive like new. Automotive body repairers straighten bent bodies, remove dents, and replace crumpled parts that cannot be fixed. They repair all types of vehicles but work mostly on cars and small trucks, although some work on large trucks, buses, or tractor-trailers.

Automotive body repairers use special equipment to restore damaged metal frames and body sections. Repairers chain or clamp frames and sections to alignment machines that use hydraulic pressure to align damaged components. "Unibody" vehicles, designs built without frames, must be restored to precise factory specifications for the vehicle to operate correctly.

Body repairers remove badly damaged sections of body panels with a pneumatic metal-cutting gun or by other means, and weld in replacement sections. Repairers pull out less serious dents with a hydraulic jack or hand prying bar or knock them out with handtools or pneumatic hammers. They smooth out small dents and creases in the metal by holding a small anvil against one side of the damaged area, while hammering the opposite side.

Body repairers also repair or replace the plastic body parts increasingly used on new model vehicles. They remove damaged panels and identify the family and properties of the plastic used on the vehicle. With most types of plastic, repairers can apply heat from a hot-air welding gun or by immersion in hot water and press the softened panel back into its original shape by hand. 

Loan Officers

For many individuals, taking out a loan may be the only way to afford a house, car, or college education. Likewise for businesses, loans are essential to start many companies, purchase inventory, or invest in capital equipment. Loan officers facilitate this lending by seeking potential clients and assisting them in applying for loans. Loan officers also gather information about clients and businesses to ensure that an informed decision is made regarding the quality of the loan and the probability of repayment.

Loan officers usually specialize in commercial, consumer, or mortgage loans. Commercial or business loans help companies pay for new equipment or expand operations; consumer loans include home equity, automobile, and personal loans; mortgage loans are made to purchase real estate or to refinance an existing mortgage.

In many instances, loan officers act as salespeople. Commercial loan officers, for example, contact firms to determine their needs for loans. If a firm is seeking new funds, the loan officer will try to persuade the company to obtain the loan from their institution. Similarly, mortgage loan officers develop relationships with commercial and residential real estate agencies so that, when an individual or firm buys a property, the real estate agent might recommend contacting a specific loan officer for financing.

Once this initial contact has been made, loan officers guide clients through the process of applying for a loan. This process begins with a formal meeting or telephone call with a prospective client, during which the loan officer obtains basic information about the purpose of the loan and explains the different types of loans and credit terms that are available to the applicant. Loan officers answer questions about the process and sometimes assist clients in filling out the application.

Cost Estimators

Accurately forecasting the cost of future projects is vital to the survival of any business. Cost estimators develop the cost information that business owners or managers need to make a bid for a contract or to determine if a proposed new product will be profitable. They also determine which endeavors are making a profit.

Regardless of the industry in which they work, estimators compile and analyze data on all the factors that can influence costs - such as materials, labor, location, and special machinery requirements, including computer hardware and software. Job duties vary widely depending on the type and size of the project. The methods of and motivations for estimating costs can vary greatly, depending on the industry.

On a construction project, for example, the estimating process begins with the decision to submit a bid. After reviewing various preliminary drawings and specifications, the estimator visits the site of the proposed project. The estimator needs to gather information on access to the site and availability of electricity, water, and other services, as well as on surface topography and drainage. The information developed during the site visit usually is recorded in a signed report that is included in the final project estimate.

After the site visit is completed, the estimator determines the quantity of materials and labor the firm will need to furnish. This process, called the quantity survey or "takeoff," involves completing standard estimating forms, filling in dimensions, number of units, and other information. A cost estimator working for a general contractor, for example, will estimate the costs of all items the contractor must provide. Although subcontractors will estimate their costs as part of their own bidding process, the general contractor's cost estimator often analyzes bids made by subcontractors as well.


Athletes and sports competitors compete in organized, officiated sports events to entertain spectators. When playing a game, athletes are required to understand the strategies of their game while obeying the rules and regulations of the sport. These events include both team sports - such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer - and individual sports - such as golf, tennis, and bowling.

As the type of sport varies, so does the level of play, ranging from unpaid high school athletics to professional sports in which the best from around the world compete before national television audiences. In addition to competing in athletic events, athletes spend many hours practicing skills and teamwork under the guidance of a coach or sports instructor.

Most athletes spend hours in hard practices every day. They also spend additional hours viewing films, critiquing their own performances and techniques and scouting their opponents tendencies and weaknesses. Some athletes may also be advised by strength trainers in an effort to gain muscle and stamina, while also preventing injury. Competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always precarious.

As a result, many athletes train year round to maintain excellent form, technique, and peak physical condition; very little downtime from the sport exists at the professional level. Athletes also must conform to regimented diets during the height of their sports season to supplement any physical training program. Many athletes push their bodies to the limit, so career-ending injury is always a risk. Even minor injuries to an athlete may be sufficient opportunity for another athlete to play, excel, and become a permanent replacement.