11 really cool jobs that don’t exist today, but will soon
Yes, the robots are coming. And yes, they will take some of our jobs. But they will create some too.
According to a 2019 report by the Brookings Institution titled "Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Affect People and Places," 25% of American jobs are at a high risk of automation—with food preparation, office administration, and transportation jobs taking the brunt of the blow.
But there’s an upside: Plenty of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations. Already, technology has created plenty of jobs—there are literally thousands of tech jobs on Monster, with more being added regularly. Titles like app developer and social media director are among the ones that didn’t exist a decade ago. And the work landscape will continue to evolve, bringing us positions in the next two decades that we can barely imagine now.
To stay competitive, you’ll want to focus your energy on the high-touch, strategic aspect of your job; robots can do a lot, but they can’t (yet) brainstorm, motivate, or inspire people. (Except when they can—oops.) Imagine working side-by-side with robots doing creative, thoughtful work—the kind only humans can do.
While it’s impossible to say exactly what the future will hold, these 11 examples of jobs that could very likely exist in the future show how current trends could play out over the next couple of decades. Who knows, you could end up landing one of these jobs at some point—if you start working toward it today.
Chief productivity officer
Driving efficiencies will be vital at individual, departmental, and organizational levels, and the officer-level position will be important at companies of all sizes says Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder and co-CEO at Replicon, a company that specializes in cloud-based timesheet management headquartered in Calgary, Canada. “People in officer-level positions must be comfortable working with data and offering recommendations on how to improve productivity,” he says.
Want this job in the future? Project managers with data analytics and leadership skills will be best prepared.
Excess capacity broker
As part of that push for productivity, organizations may look for ways to monetize more idle assets, such as renting out space or machinery they own, says author and futurist Julie Austin. An excess capacity broker might analyze an organization and identify assets that could be used, then find other organizations willing to pay for them.
Over the next 10 to 20 years, drones will lose their novelty and become ubiquitous, says Mick Mortlock, senior futurist and co-founder of Imaginexxus LLC, a Lake Oswego, Oregon, company that creates products and services based on the analysis and research of imagination. Experts will need to set and enforce standards for acquiring and maintaining an organization’s fleet of drones.
Want this job in the future? You’ll probably need experience as a fleet manager today.
Private industry air traffic control
As part of these drone fleets, companies will need to manage their own air traffic control systems, Mortlock says. These may cross interstate or international boundaries and require negotiation and cooperation with governments, municipalities and other organizations.
With the trend toward value-based care, there’s a lot of room for helpers, advocates and mentors in health care, says Jim Lebret, assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine and director of code team leaders at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
“We didn’t have physicians assistants and nurse practitioners years ago, and now multiple roles will continue to emerge,” he says. A medical mentor is someone who may check in after appointments to ensure that patients follow-through on recommendations from doctors about exercise, nutrition or medications, and help people navigate barriers that may be keeping them from success.
Self-driving car mechanic
While self-driving cars will eliminate many jobs, such as those of taxi drivers and couriers, they will create a few as well, Austin says. But these cars won’t be self-fixing, so mechanics will still be in business (in the short term, at least). The mechanic of the future will require be a combination of old-school mechanical ability plus the comfort level to work in a tech culture.
Autonomous transportation specialist
If our future is one that includes self-driving cars, drones and boards that actually hover, cities and towns are going to need humans to monitor all this neo-transit. People will need to integrate these autonomous vehicles into current systems, and then monitor results, Austin says.
Personal medical interpreter
With the advances made in genetic medicine, providers will increasingly be able to offer customized medicines and treatments to patients, Lebret says. Genetic counseling may evolve into genetic coaching. For example, futurist Madeline Ashby envisions super-specialized positions such as interpreter for a new gene-editing tool called CRISPR (clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats). Providers may evolve into individualized coaches or advocates who can inform patients about individualized medical treatments.
Want this job on the future? You’ll probably need experience as a genetic counselor today.
Human-technology integration specialist
These people would teach others how to leverage and use the vast array of technologies to improve the quality of their lives, says Charles Grantham, of Awakening to Wholeness. This is basically an IT specialist times 10. This person could take a holistic approach that examines all the different work and consumer technologies a person uses and streamline devices and platforms to get the most out of them.
With a greater emphasis on mindfulness and “time poverty”—which Ford Motor Company’s in-house futurist Sheryl Connelly defines as the fact that connectivity has actually made us feel more busy—in an increasingly chaotic world, the wholeness mentor may well be needed. This person would help others develop lifelong strategies to match their personal purposes with a hobby that provides them with fulfillment of physical needs, a social network and spiritual happiness, Grantham says.
With baby boomers approaching the end of their lives in the next 10 to 20 years, there’s likely to be a greater emphasis on how people want to spend their last days, Lebret says. An end-of-life coach can help individuals and families make better decisions on how to spend the last weeks and months of life. “Right now, there’s a lot of excessive treatment at the end of someone’s life,” Lebret says. “In the next few years, there will be a massive shift toward people wanting to add more life to their days, instead of days to their life.” These coaches will help people explore their personal values and medical options so they can create the kind of end of life they want.
Get started on your future career path
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