15 Future-Proof Jobs
On the hunt for a job you can call a career? One key to long-term employment is to find a future-proof job — one that will still be around and thriving as the years wear on. But in today’s employment climate, it can be hard to land that perfect career that will last you through retirement.
Which jobs are the best ones for those looking to future-proof their careers? Here are 15 jobs, according to the Cognizant Jobs of the Future Index. Of course, nobody can see the future for certain, but these jobs show strong signs of sustained future growth. Median pay figures come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2017 median pay: $77,480
First, what in the heck is a genetic counselor? A person who’s trained to read human genetics and inform people when they are genetically more likely to contract certain diseases and conditions. While this may sound morbid, it can be helpful in prevention and early detection through lifestyle changes and frequent checkups. For example, someone more genetically susceptible to liver disease may think twice when they consume alcohol, and their doctors will know to check their liver condition more frequently.
While the genetic counselor role saw a 19.4 percent drop in Q3 2018, according to the CJFI, 2018 was a net job gain of 222.2 percent thanks to a surge in Q2. Plus, the BLS backs up this data with its 29 percent job growth projection through 2026.
So why the sudden spike in growth? This is a super-high-tech field with evolving technology, giving experts new insight into the human genetic structure.
Video Game Designer
Average pay (via Glassdoor): $73,182
With steady popularity and incredible innovation in recent years, like the commercialization of augmented and virtual reality, it’s no shock this is one of the hottest future jobs on the CJFI. In 2018, video game design saw 101.6 percent job growth, and Q3 2018 saw a 36.5 percent growth itself.
The BLS doesn’t track the video game designer job specifically, as this can branch into many areas, like programming, development, graphic design, writing and more, but some key roles, like software development and multimedia artists, show strong growth at 24 and 8 percent, respectively.
The BLS notes the gaming-console industry’s newfound focus on fewer games and higher quality may lead to rough waters for entry-level workers. However, internet- and cellphone-based games crop up daily and are great places to start.
Average pay (via Glassdoor): $54,261
Moving people and things in mass quantities requires someone skilled behind the scenes setting up routes, pickup points and drop-off points to ensure everything and everyone gets to their destinations on time and efficiently. This is where a transportation supervisor comes in.
Whether they’re at a school assigning bus routes and drivers or with Amazon coordinating its millions of deliveries across the nation, transportation supervisors must see the whole logistics puzzle. With the boom in at-home shopping, coordinating deliveries is becoming increasingly important.
According to the CJFI, the year-over-year job growth in 2018 was 204 percent, and there is no reason to expect this to slow down. The BLS does not directly track this job.
2017 median pay: $67,420
Fashion design once involved pen, paper and an imagination, but with new technology, it has become more like graphic design and computer aided design. This technological shift and the constant release of new tech that makes it easier for anyone with a great imagination makes it a great job for the future.
While the BLS’s 3 percent job growth projection through 2026 doesn’t give this position a great outlook, this is only part of the picture. According to the CJFI, the fashion designer position saw a huge 147.7 percent year-over-year growth in 2018 and a 114.4 percent growth in Q3 2018 alone.
One area that could see significant growth is costume design. With so many new streaming services now producing hundreds of new TV shows and movies, it should shock no one that the actual growth in the fashion designer position is crushing its BLS projections.
Personal Care Aide/Caregiver
2017 median pay: $23,130
There’s always a need for personal care aides, as we have yet to find the cure for aging. And as one generation ages out of being caregivers, the next generation swoops in to take open roles and care for those who once cared for others.
This revolving door has sped up due to the Baby Boomer generation hitting retirement age. This generation makes up roughly 29 percent of the U.S. population, and some members are now heading into their 70s.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this position will see 41 percent growth through 2026 and create 1.2 million new jobs. This is massive growth considering the BLS average projected growth through 2026 is 7 percent. Research from the Cognizant Jobs of the Future Index solidifies this with 293 percent year-over-year growth in 2018 and 98.9 percent growth in the third quarter of 2018 alone.
Average pay (via Glassdoor): $90,697
Today’s world of high-tech gadgets and gizmos combined with consumers who are busier than ever with their lives and jobs means we have lots of tech that people don’t have time to figure out how to use. They just want to turn something on and have it make sense. This is where user experience (UX) designers and engineers come in.
UX designers and engineers combine human psychology with technology to ensure the user can figure out how a product works without too much effort. Whether it’s button placement on a car’s dashboard or text box placement on a website, a UX designer aims to find the perfect place that maximizes user satisfaction and creates repeat buyers or visitors.
The CJFI shows a 57.7 percent UX job growth year-over-year in 2018. While that may not be as strong as some jobs on our list, its staying power makes it a hot job for the future. The BLS doesn’t track the UX developer field.
2017 median pay: $85,880 for mechanical engineers
Despite the cautionary tale of the infamous Skynet company of “Terminator” fame, robotics remain a huge part of our future. Manufacturers are automating parts of their processes with pre-programmed machines that work for free and consume only hydraulic fluid and electricity.
This is where a robotics engineer comes in. This role is responsible for designing, programming and developing these cost-saving robots. They oftentimes are a mixture of an engineer and a software developer so they can handle both the design of the robot and the software that prevents them from going all T1000 on us.
According to the CJFI, robotic engineering saw a 44.84 percent year-over-year job growth in 2018. This is not a huge spike, but it is a shot in the arm of a role that is already destined to grow exponentially over the years. The BLS does not track robotics engineers, but the related field of mechanical engineering showed 9 percent growth.
2017 median pay: $56,740 for electro-mechanical technicians
If someone’s going to build robots, someone also has to maintain them. That’s where the robotics technician comes in. This position is responsible for all the mechanical work that goes into creating and maintaining these nonunion, autonomous bots that do all our dirty work. With their hands-on experience, they also help robotics engineers develop the software that makes them run.
In 2018 robotics technician positions spiked by 84 percent year-over-year, and this will only continue to grow as we rely more on robots to do more jobs.
The BLS doesn’t track robotics technicians, but it lumps them into electro-mechanical technicians. These show a slower-than-average BLS predicted growth of 4 percent. However, with robotics becoming more popular as the years go on, this narrow niche could grow much faster.
Average pay (via Glassdoor): $103,810
These days, everything seems to be a mixture of electronic, mechanical and computerized components, and the intersection of these areas is where mechatronics engineers work. These jack-of-all-trade engineers have firm grasps on mechanical, electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering, and they use this to inspect and test complex machinery that often combines all three areas. Think things like cars, airplanes and drones.
According to the CJFI, this job saw a 29.03 percent year-over-year growth in 2018, but it has seen steady growth since 2016 and will only gain steam as these machines become more complex. The BLS does not track mechatronics engineers directly.
2017 median pay: $84,760 for mathematics and statisticians
Data scientists eat numbers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they come back for more the next day. They look at data and use it to pinpoint issues and potentially come up solutions or educated projections for the future. They can also look at large amounts of data with hidden errors, identify the errors and fix them so the data is accurate.
In today’s world, everything involves complex data needs a bright mind to crunch. Everything from advertising and marketing to political races to websites requires data scientists, ensuring this should be an in-demand job for many years.
Since 2016, this position has shown steady growth, and its 45.6 percent year-over-year growth in 2018 more than made up for its small downturn in late 2017. There is no direct BLS data on data scientist job growth, but the job does fall into the mathematics and statisticians field, which the BLS predicts to grow by 33 percent through 2026.
Social Media Strategist/Specialist
Average pay (via Glassdoor): $54,115
What was once seen as a passing fad is now a monster in the world of advertising. I’m talking about social media.
Social media was once a way for your grandma to keep up with your shenanigans, but it can make or break million-dollar companies and political campaigns too. Social media specialists and strategists step in to ensure these companies post updates that will grow the business while alienating none of its client base.
Some social media strategists act as the filter between the owner’s mouth and the world, keeping things like politics and other polarizing updates off the page, while others act autonomously by researching their audience and posting with minimal input from upper management.
With social media here to stay, it’s logical this is one of the hottest jobs of the future. The CJFI shows an 84 percent year-over-year job growth in 2018, and the steady growth of social media in general will keep this on an upward trajectory.
The BLS doesn’t have a social media specialist category, but it lumps it in with advertising, promotions and marketing managers field, which it predicts to grow by 10 percent through 2026.
Alternative Energy Manager
Average pay (via PayScale): $$115,533
There’s massive growth in the alternative energy manager job market. These managers oversee the development and installation of alternative energy sources like wind, solar, biofuel and natural gas.
Due to the combination of environmental responsibility, government regulations and corporate savings, these jobs have 300 percent growth since 2016, according to the CJFI. Sure, there’s some volatility as it saw a big dip in 2018 with a 48.6 percent decrease in jobs — likely due to the political climate in the U.S. — but it remains a great job for the future.
The BLS has yet to develop data for this position.
2017 median pay: $82,450 for management analysts
A sustainability specialist analyzes a business’s environmental sustainability as a whole, aiming to reduce energy consumption and enhance environmentally responsible production.
Like the alternative energy manager role, this is a volatile area that surges and crashes with governmental regulations, but it ultimately has the underlying goal of saving businesses money, so its highs and lows are less dramatic. Since 2016, this role has seen nearly 400 percent growth, and it saw a 42.5 percent growth in Q3 2018 alone.
The BLS has no data on this field yet. It falls within the scope of management analysts, which shows a projected 14-percent growth by 2026.
2017 median pay: $55,410
The irony of this making our list is obvious. I mean, you are here for some career advice, so why shouldn’t a career counselor be on the list? Decades ago, you would leave school and choose between working in the coal mines, in a bank, in sales or in hospitality. Today, the career path is far less direct
A career counselor can assess skills and suggest jobs that fit skill sets. If needed, he or she can also direct you to the required training needed to land a specific job or to get into a certain field.
In 2018, the career counselor role saw a 53 percent year-over-year growth, according to the CJFI, which puts it at over 200 percent growth since 2016. BLS statistics support these findings with a projected 13 percent growth in the broader school and career counselors role through 2026.
2017 median pay: $71,490
An urban planner has broad-reaching responsibilities that include addressing and planning for transportation and economic development in a city or specific region. He or she handles housing and environmental issues, and even city beautification.
While this may seem like a job that would be fairly steady, it saw 72 percent job growth in 2018 and nearly 200 percent growth since 2016. The BLS lumps this into the urban and regional planners group of jobs, and it predicts this segment will grow by 13 percent through 2026 — more than double the national average.
Why the growth? There is no concrete data as to why this has become such an important role recently, but with more workers becoming mobile or willing to relocate, city officials may be hiring more of these planners to improve their cities and attract new workers to increase tax revenue.