If your kids are entering high school right now, they probably need to start thinking about what professional fields interest them. If you are anticipating a mid-life career change, you need to be thinking, too. The hard part in this exercise is picking a career path that will exist in our country eight years from now. It's a continuously moving target. But, you need to start somewhere, as an article by Sue Shellenbarger and provided by the Wall Street Journal suggests. The article points out a good place for research is provided by the U.S. Labor Department.
"The richest vein of job-growth information is the Labor Department's 10-year forecast for demand, pay and competition for more than 300 jobs in 45 categories. The department's latest biannual compilation, published last month as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, is great for sizing up the long-term outlook for most fields," says Shellenbarger.
The Jobs of the Future
Occupations with the largest percentage growth expected through 2018*:
- Biomedical Engineers (72%)
- Network Systems Analysts (53%)
- Home Health Aides (50%)
- Personal, Home-Care Aides (46%)
- Financial Examiners (41%)
- Medical Scientists (40%)
- Physician Assistants (39%)
- Skin-Care Specialists (38%)
- Biochemists, Biophysicists (37%)
- Athletic Trainers (37%)
If you like math and science, you have lots of choices in careers: biomedical engineering, physicians, architects, psychologists. There will always be attorneys, too. Green jobs will continue to be an interesting area to keep tabs on as emerging technologies -- such as fuel-cell technology, biofuels, and wind energy -- become more and more viable.
Of course, there are limits on what we know today about the future. How many technologies and occupations have evolved in the last 10 years? Much has changed in Web-based tools, nanotechnology, hybrid cars, new drugs and treatments for newer versions of diseases, and consumer products like computers, televisions, and phones.
How to keep up with the changing job market
1. Stay informed
To stay informed, you need to read about research projects and collaborative efforts to create new solutions to old problems. You can also try to network with professionals in the industry (or related industry) to learn more. The power of the Internet gives us access not only to information, but the people who are leading advancements. This is not only in science, but also government policy and funding (which can lead to new jobs/industries), communications (how will we get our news in 10 years), health care (what's next for treating our aging population?), and others. Even if you just look into the area of "technicians," you'll find that there are technicians in all kinds of everyday, critical roles.
2. Be flexible
Obviously, we would like to find careers that allow us to love what we do. But common sense dictates we'd better make sure the jobs exist, too. One idea to keep in the back of your mind is there are aspects to jobs that may INCLUDE your passion, but may not be centered around your passion. If you like giving presentations in front of large groups, you may not find many trainer jobs available, but may find other positions that report project status to large groups periodically or have training as one job responsibility. Or perhaps, you love to write. Many jobs in research require papers to be written on their subject matter being studied. There are countless examples.
3. Ask around
I find that the biggest failure in career planning is not doing enough exploration. One of the simplest ways to learn more about what people do for a living is to ASK THEM. I have discovered all kinds of jobs I never knew existed. How did I start off in engineering? My mom asked someone what he did and he said he was a ceramics engineer working on the tiles on the bottom of the space shuttle. I gravitated toward mechanical engineering; but nonetheless, a perfect stranger guided my career path.