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Duke University
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Timothy Peck
6 Career Advice

10 Careers of the Future

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As high school and college students get ready for future careers, it’s strange to think that many of today’s jobs will someday cease to exist. According to the World Economic Forum, automation, digitization, and mechanization will make 75 million jobs obsolete between 2018 and 2022. While that may sound devastating, the good news for students entering the workforce is that 133 million new jobs are predicted to emerge over that same time period. Keep reading as we explore what the jobs of the future look like and the skills you’ll need to perform them.


10 Careers of the Future

1. Robot Counselor


As robots become more integrated into our daily lives, play larger roles in our homes, and are asked to complete more complicated tasks, the need for robot counselors will rise. Robot counselors will assist families in selecting a machine that meets their needs, and will provide support as the robot is integrated into its new environment. 


This position could have particular value for robots employed in the service of elderly family members. Robots will help elderly individuals stay in their homes and out of assisted living facilities, helping them with the everyday activities such as eating, bathing, dressing, and standing up. The will also help with more complex functions, like managing medications.


Necessary Skills: Robot counselors will need many of the skills held by today’s family counselors: communication, perceptiveness, empathy, and conflict resolution, to name a few. Along with core people skills, robot counselors will also need a basic understanding of the robots, their capabilities, and the capacity to train new users on how to best apply these helpful machines.  


2. Man-Machine Team Manager


There is great concern about robots and automation eliminating jobs, but in many settings, humans and machines will work together. The job of a man-machine team manager is to ensure coordination between the two entities. Man-machine team managers will define roles and responsibilities, along with developing a system for humans and machines to collaborate. Man-machine team managers will also need to convince human workers to view robots and machines as colleagues, not competition. 


Necessary Skills: Man-machine team managers will need an arsenal of both hard and soft skills to be effective leaders. A background in computer science and engineering is beneficial for understanding machine capabilities and best applications, while knowledge of experimental psychology and human resource skills will be vital when working with human team members. 


3. Solar Specialist


Over the past decade, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 50%, a number that should continue to grow as more industries and communities transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. The numbers are staggering: in 112 hours—less than five days—the sun provides as much energy as is contained in all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas on earth. 


To meet this increased demand, solar specialists will help design, build, and manage solar grids. They’ll operate anywhere from expansive rural areas to close-packed urban environments, where integration will be a trickier task.  


Necessary Skills: Solar specialists will need to have technical minds and possess a number of the World Economic Forum’s “growing skills,” including analytical thinking and innovation, critical thinking and analysis, and complex-problem solving. People with an aptitude for electrical and mechanical engineering will likely find homes in this emerging technology. Similarly, those with backgrounds in architecture and urban planning would also be equipped to fill positions as solar specialists. 


4. Augmented-Reality Journey Builder


The experience economy is here and not disappearing anytime soon. Today, people are choosing to spend their money on unique experiences, rather than products, fueling the demand for the creation of new and unique moments. 


Augmented-reality journey builders will help design, create, write, gamify, and build the next generation of amusement. Whether rapping on-stage with Drake, entering the world of Game of Thrones, or walking the ruins of Machu Picchu from your living room, augmented-reality journey builders will allow users to experience virtually anything they wish. 


Necessary Skills: Augmented-reality builders will require tech-savvy skills, like those of engineers and programmers, to build the equipment and codes to make virtual experiences a reality. On the more qualitative side, writers will assist with storytelling, designers will bring ideas to life, and those with video game backgrounds will gamify experiences. 


5. Data Detective


We’re creating data at an astounding pace: in the last two years alone, 90% of the data in the world was generated. 


Data detectives will analyze the growing amount of data collected through computers, phones, wearables, etc. to help businesses better serve their customers with data-driven insights. Data detectives will also help businesses better understand their clients and assist them in tracking down leads. They will recommend products and services customers value, reduce pain points, and suggest organizational changes, all based on the data. Basically, they will garner valuable insights from the mountains of data produced.


Necessary Skills: Data detectives need a well-rounded understanding of a variety of technologies and core skills. A background in information technology, coding, probability, and statistics all need to be in a data detective’s arsenal. Above all, data detectives should be able to interpret information and apply it to create desired outcomes.


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6. Rewilder


Rewilders will seek to repair blighted landscapes and decimated land. Whether it’s environmental damage caused by urbanization or intensive farming, rewilders will turn back the clock, replacing unneeded infrastructure—such as building, roads, and fences—with forests and native species, while also helping heal overtaxed land. 


Necessary Skills: Rewilders will need a scientific mind with a solid understanding of biology and ecology. Those with degrees in agriculture, wildlife management, and environmental science are well suited for roles as rewilders. The ability to communicate is also a helpful skill for a rewilder, as rewilding projects will need to support of governments and communities. 


7. Wellness Commitment Counselor


According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the US—it’s estimated that 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic. This creates a higher demand for individuals in the wellness and fitness industry.


Working in combination with fitness trackers and robots, wellness commitment counselors will help individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle—from remote one-on-one fitness coaching to meal planning with nutritionists to health monitoring through wearables.  


Necessary Skills: Wellness commitment counselors will need a background in nutrition and fitness, and in more intense applications, a background in physiology or pharmacology will be beneficial. Culinary skills could also be of value when teaching (and trying to convince) people to eat healthier. 


8. Memory Curator


It’s predicted that by 2050, 14 million Americans will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease—a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. To combat this loss of memories, memory curators will remake past experiences using a digital footprint. For example, they might take Facebook and Instagram posts, or conversations with friends and relatives, to create virtual reality experiences based on personal memories. In general, memory curators will help ease anxiety and stress in patients suffering from memory loss. 


Necessary Skills: Memory curators will require a variety of skills. They’ll need to be part historian and part researcher to discover the memories and place them in a specific timeline. Similarly, they’ll need to play the part of writer/director to recreate these memories. The ability to work with others will also be essential, as memory curators will need to work with high-tech teams to turn realities into experiences. 


9. High-Tech Traffic Controller


The use of drones and autonomous vehicles is quickly becoming a reality—Amazon is on the verge of launching its drone delivery service, and Tesla has said full self-driving could arrive to its cars by year end. High-tech traffic controllers will be responsible for monitoring and managing automated road and air space, ensuring error-free operation and safety; the FAA and NASA are already working on this.


Necessary Skills: Monitoring high-tech traffic will require users to have an understanding of AI and the technology used in autonomous vehicles. They will also need familiarity with highway and airspace laws to make sure operators remain in compliance. In terms of soft skills, high-tech traffic controllers should be able to solve complex problems in high-stress situations.


10. Virtual Shopping Assistant


E-commerce is on the rise and looks to grow steadily in the coming years—it represented 14.3% of total retail sales in 2018. As online shopping grows, so will the need for virtual shopping assistants. Similar to a “product sommelier,” these virtual assistants will provide the personal touch of a brick-and-mortar store, guiding customers through expansive online selections, providing advice, and delivering customer support to consumers across the globe. 


Necessary Skills: Virtual shopping assistants will encompass many of the skills employed by today’s retail employees. Specific product knowledge or expertise in a particular area—for example, trades like plumbing or landscaping—will be beneficial. Good communication, conflict resolution, and other people skills will be required of these positions. 


While these jobs are just developing—or are only an idea at the moment—it is possible to begin preparing for them today. One of the best ways to secure a path to your dream job is by getting into a cutting-edge college. CollegeVine’s free college applications platform can help you better understand what it takes to get into a top school, and show you the steps you can take to better improve your odds of securing a place at one of these highly respected institutions.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.