Best Jobs for Strategic Thinkers

Jan 19, 2020

Career Options for Strategic Thinkers

Strategic thinkers are good planners. Some people are good at responding to situations as they arise and making quick decisions, but strategic thinkers tend to use their skills to prepare appropriately. They can use their skills in a number of career fields to ensure that regulations are met, projects stay on budget, and plans meet the needs of the people affected.

Job Title Median Salary* (2018) Job Growth* (2018-2028)
Urban and Regional Planners $73,050 11%
Civil Engineers $86,640 6%
Operations Research Analyst $83,390 26%
Medical Scientists $84,810 8%
Principals $95,310 4%
Air Traffic Controller $124,540 1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Strategic Thinkers

Urban and Regional Planners

With a master's degree, it's possible to pursue a career as an urban and regional planner. These professionals rely on strategic thinking to determine how to address a wide range of issues that may face a community. For example, a town's population may have grown to the point where new schools, parks and roads are required, but environmental factors can affect decisions that urban and regional planners make about where they should be built. They use strategic thinking to develop solutions to meet the needs of communities while considering regulations, costs and other relevant variables that may affect the expansion or development of a region.

Civil Engineers

A bachelor's degree is the minimum level of education required to become a civil engineer. As civil engineers make plans to develop infrastructure or build structures they must consider a lot of information including regulations, budgets and project goals. They use strategic thinking to determine the best way to develop the project so that the work can proceed on schedule; they may direct staff to perform a range of tasks or tests to ensure that they are ready for each phase of the project's development.

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts need to be able to think strategically because their focus is on identifying issues and developing solutions for those issues. In order to do this, they need to be able to obtain and analyze a lot of information and then consider how specific changes might affect a company's operations before developing a proposal. Operations research analysts can start out with a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is usually necessary for advancement.

Medical Scientists

Earning a doctoral or medical degree can lead to a career as a medical scientist. Medical scientists rely on strategic thinking to help them develop effective studies that will produce information that is relevant to the purpose of their research. For example, they might be trying to identify genetic factors that contribute to specific health conditions or they may be assessing the health benefits of a specific medication. Medical scientists must determine what factors are pertinent to the focus of their study so that they can decide what investigative methods to use.


Principals must oversee large groups of people who perform a range of tasks. They must consider the needs of students, teachers and maintenance staff, as well as factors such as school budgets and policies. Principals need to be able to think strategically to develop scheduling or budgetary solutions that can accommodate the needs of an education institution effectively. A master's degree and license are necessary to be a school principal; most work as teachers before pursuing administrative careers.

Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers must fulfill several requirements to qualify to work in their field; this includes earning a bachelor's degree or the equivalent work experience and passing a number of tests. They must also complete an FAA Academy training course, which they need to enroll in before turning 31 years old. They observe aircraft and instruct pilots to ensure aircraft don't collide and that they safely avoid potential hazards. Strategic thinking is required in this career because air traffic controllers may have to determine how to safely direct a number of aircraft due to an emergency, and they need to be able to determine how to do this as efficiently as possible.

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