What will you be doing ten years from today? Will you have the same job or will you switch fields? Will you be with the same company or working for one that has not even been thought of yet? Will you live in the same town or will your career call you to a new location? And what will your pay check look like? Wouldn’t it be fabulous to peek ahead and find out?
While we can’t actually do that, there are some indicators that point toward viable career paths of the future. Before we go there, however, consider this: Dave Evans, a Futurist for Cisco Systems, says that 95 percent of everything we know as a species will be discovered in the next 50 years. That means we only know a pitiful 5 percent today of what we will know by 2064.
Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering and Futurist for Google, says that the knowledge we will gain as a species in the next 100 years will be the equivalent of the previous 20,000 years of knowledge. Both cite huge discoveries in technology as one of the basis points for their statements. Well, now, If things are going to be moving along so quickly, what will that mean for your career path? Better put on your running shoes, and try to keep up. But first, back to the future.
Consider the lifestyle landscape in 2004. Did you have a cell or mobile phone? If you did, it probably looked a bit different from the one you have today. It probably also operated a bit differently as well, and pretty much just made phone calls. Did you have a laptop? Maybe, but it was probably pretty heavy, and certainly couldn’t do the things today’s machines do. Even the shrunken versions in notebooks and e-readers can probably do more than the original laptops. Did we have big data ten years ago? Sure, we had data, but not streamlined, organized metadata, dropped on our electronic doorstep through the wonder of analytics as it is today. While much of what we’re doing today resembles our daily routines of ten years ago, it appears we’re in for a much faster ride through the next ten. Ready?
- Sentient machines: Over the next ten years, technology is expected to provide rapid advances in the area of robotics. We will likely begin to see sentient, thinking machines and self-aware robotics that almost seem human. I know. Don’t tell Siri. Or Watson. They truly have no job security here. Engineers and technicians who know how to design and build these machines will be in demand. Software designers and programmers who can bring these things to life through almost human movement, reaction, speech, and appearance will not have to look hard for work.
- Big Data: As we collect mountains of daily data, some big opportunities in analytics focused on financial sectors, marketing, sports performance, sales, and manufacturing will emerge. Extensive data will even begin to come from your doctor’s prescription. Pills containing tiny microprocessors will be travelling through your bloodstream, digestive tract, heart, and lungs, collecting and transmitting data about the state of your health to your hospital. All of these things will need computer savvy technicians to run programs, analyse data, and make sense of this brave new healthcare world.
- 3D Printing: While the jury is still out, and the product is still in its infancy, 3D printers have the potential to drastically change how we shop for many things. These amazing machines can print things in three dimensions using any number of materials, from plastic and metal to glass and chocolate, building items, layer by layer, with jets of stuff. A brilliant graphic designer who is also well versed in programming will be writing programs to plug into everyone’s 3D printers, allowing them to “make” their own replacement parts, or design cool new things, right at home on the little old desktop.
- Transportation and Energy: Getting things from point A to point B seems to be in for some big changes, as does energy, with sophisticated equipment and extensive new knowledge to perform new tasks, faster, cheaper, and better. Those equipped with industry knowledge that keeps pace will be busy.
- New Jobs and New Kinds of Work: Many new jobs will emerge with this technological boom, including things like urban shepherds and farmers, and anyone thinking very, very small, as in nanotechnology and photonic crystals. Farmers located in cities will begin to tend crops on roofs, vertical gardens, beehives, and perform composting, as they already are in some cities. Expect it to become much more common. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those working with nano-molecular materials to fabricate new layers in semiconductors, insulation, solar arrays, and microprocessors will command respect, and a good wage.
With all these advances, which careers are likely to become obsolete? Postman and meter reader come to mind. Drill press operators, printing company workers, and retail clerks will decline in number as automation continues to take over.
What to do if the automation, computerization, and renovation of the career landscape doesn’t appeal to you? People still need to be human. Some jobs just can’t be done by a machine, at least not in the next 10 years. We will continue to need physical therapists, training and development specialists, marketing and convention/event planners, interpreters and translators, registered nurses, physicians, surgeons, teachers, counsellors, and dental hygienists.
But what if you’re that square peg that doesn’t fit in the round hole anywhere? There’s still a place for you as well, serving as a corporate disruptor. It seems that the disruptive nature of start-up businesses instils an organized chaos that dynamic companies love. It keeps employees on the cutting edge of discovery, wondering what the next big thing might be. So get out there and mix it up. Plan now for where you want to be in ten years. It’s possible, but highly unlikely, that you’ll be doing the same thing.