Although bad news seems to be the order of the day, there is reason for optimism on many fronts–one of them being the future of employment in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a projected 20.5 million new jobs will have been added between 2010 and 2020, a 14.3% growth in employment. And if you’re technologically inclined (like us!), there’s even more reason to rejoice. Read on to find out which careers are most promising.
Computer and mathematical occupations come in at a growth rate of 22%–well above the overall average of 14.3%–and sport one of the highest median wages (almost double construction and installation), at a healthy $72K annual average. Here are three related industry positions that show exceptional promise.
Software Development and IT
Thanks again to the Boomer boom in healthcare, expanding mobile networks, and a growing energy sector, IT professionals have an extremely favorable outlook. As big data increasingly drives commerce, the skills needed to control our vast networks of information are more valuable than ever. U.S. News and World Report shares the following statistics regarding 2020 growth figures for some titles in the field:
- Software applications developers (app development): Expected to gain 143.8 million jobs by 2020, a 27.6% increase. .
- Systems software developers (web development): 127,000 jobs, a 32% increase.
- Database administrators: Expected to spike 30.6% and gain about 34,000 new positions.
- Computer and information systems managers: Will grow from about 308,000 positions to approximately 364,000, an 18% increase.
While some of these are highly specialized tracks that require formal education, lack of a college degree may not necessarily be a deal-breaker for big data work in the future. Why? The demand for database scientists could potentially lead to the need to share the load with non-technical workers. U.S. News puts it this way: “As data proliferates, one solution could be to put the ability to manage it—and the tools to manage it with—in the hands of more people who aren’t IT pros.”
But organizing and managing data is only one piece of the tech puzzle. Once the information has been wrangled, the next step is to present it in a way that makes is useful and accessible. That’s where user experience designers shine. Their broad vision necessarily spans user needs, design aesthetics, and data flow, providing the critical understanding that turns the endless zeroes and ones into tools we can all actually utilize.
In an interview with U.S. News, Adam Honoré, research director of the Aite Group (a Boston agency focused on IT Research for Financial Services) illustrated the importance of UX roles: “They typically work as graphic designers, but their job functions often bleed into analytics and research as they look to improve the way data is represented. ‘The securities industry, as one example, can’t keep adding screens to a traders’ desktop in response to the data torrent they get,” says Honoré.” Strong growth, high job satisfaction (rating a “B” in the areas of Personal Satisfaction, Flexibility, and Low Stress), and the paycheck is pretty sweet, too. CNN shares some favorable stats for UX designers: Median Pay: $95,000 Top Pay: $150,000 10-year job growth: 22.1% Total Jobs: 3,426,000.
Product Management and Project Management
These closely related (often interchangeable) titles pertain to researching, developing, and deploying new products and services. Both Project and product managers work across disciplines, taking the output of team members like information technologists and UX designers, and integrating it into the bigger picture. The Project Management Institute notes 6 areas of greatest promise for project practitioners: Energy, healthcare, IT, construction, finance, and aerospace & defense.
There are plenty of reasons to pursue this avenue. For starters: expanding job markets, rising salaries, and growing industries. But one of the most notable characteristics of opportunities for project managers is their truly global nature. Although project manager jobs were number one in available positions for healthcare IT in the U.S. in 2013, they are also in demand all over the world. Check out the panorama of prospects for 2020 from PMI’s Project Management Talent Gap Report: Canada: 582,366 new project management roles by 2020. Brazil: 1.3 million new project management roles by 2020. Germany: 1.6 million new project management roles by 2020. Japan: 2.6 million new project management roles by 2020. India: Almost 9 million new project management roles by 2020. China: Close to 25 million new project management roles by 2020. If that wasn’t enough to get your bags packed and your Rosetta Stone shipped priority, they go on to share some of the highest meridian salaries (in U.S. dollars) for PM positions around the globe:
- Australia: $134,658
- Switzerland: $133,605
- Netherlands: $103,274
- Germany: $101,983
- Canada: $95,140
- New Zealand: $93,513
- Belgium: $92,817
- Sweden: $90,690
- United Kingdom: $90,666
No need to put off travel for “someday”–you can satiate your wanderlust and fund your retirement at the same time. If one of these fields speaks to you, there’s plenty of time to get prepped and make the switch before 2020–but no reason to wait. It’s never too early to get started enjoying the sense of well-being derived from promising and fulfilling work.
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