What's white hot and what's not

Last Updated 06 January 2010, 12:46 IST

Twenty years ago, a personal computer technician would have been unheard of, now everyone has at least two or three on speed dial.

Similarly, each of today’s traditional careers will morph into something unrecognisable or disappear all together.
The next decade will see a growth in careers once thought impossible, such as space flight attendants and nanotechnologists, but there will also be a growth in more prosaic ones, such as caregivers and financial advisors.
We take a look at some of the careers of the next decade.

Space Tourism
One white-hot area guaranteed to grow at supersonic speed is the space career. Industrialist Richard Branson unveiled the first commercial passenger spaceship last December and has been selling tourist tickets on sub-orbital flights for a few years now.
And Space Adventures, the other company operating in the field, has already taken a handful of tourists to the international space station.
As such trips become a regular feature and governments step in to regulate them, pilots and inflight attendants are going to become a necessary feature, opening a whole new vista of jobs and updating the old-world glamour of the trolley dolly for a new era. While these will not be dramatically different from current airline jobs, they will require substantial new skills. Already, for instance, space marketing is a viable career option.
Further away but not far-fetched any more is the space tour guide, who will narrate the tours and explain in human terms the majestic vistas of space.

Medicine & Allied Fields
An ageing — but rich population — particularly in the West will see an increasing demand in jobs that cater to this demographic. In the US, for example, the Labor Department says 13 of the 20-fastest growing occupations up to 2014 will be related to healthcare. The department lists home health aides, medical assistants and physicians’ assistants in the top five. Personal and home care aides was one of the fastest growing occupations in 2008-2009, according to the department, posting a 50 per cent increase over the previous year.
Jobs in allied occupations, such as medical assistant, grew 35 per cent.
And of course, doctors and specialists will continue to be in great demand, even here in India, where it isn’t unusual for 60-year-olds to be visiting a battery of consultants regularly, such as neurologists, osteopaths and opthalmologists.

Business & Industry
As we progress towards an increasingly borderless world, and as global trade and business become ever more interconnected, jobs in international business will be white hot in the years to come.
Professionals that can help companies navigate the minefield of laws, tax structures, investment codes, work regulations, environmental regu- lations and regulations and ethical questions around the world will be eagerly sought after, so students should look to taking courses or specialising in international law and finance practices, government policy and human resources in a globalised world.
Corporations are also now beginning to realise they need to tackle diseases, natural disasters and hackers. This has given rise to the business continuity planner and the business development architect, new names for old-style management consultants — jobs in this sector are predicted to rise 22 per cent up to 2016. Best of all, they will pay at the top end of the market.

Never in the history of mankind have people been as rich as we are today — the global recession notwithstanding. The higher disposable income available to us all has led to a rise in consumption demand, which in turn has led to greater product innovation as companies look for new ways to tempt buyers to part with their cash.
This will be mirrored in allied services. Not only does everyone now have a hairstylist, for example, but colourists are now a whole new sub-species. There will continue to be a steady demand for personal shoppers and personal fashion stylists, with careers both in department stores and on the freelance or entrepreneurial front.
Personal DJs are already a feature on the party circuit, expect to see personal music library designers next.

Similarly, as we constantly interface with new technology, from Blackberrys to iTablets, people skilled at taking these apart and putting them together again will be in great demand.
And call centres — that boon and bane of India’s youth — can only continue to grow in a world where consumer is king and consumption is everything.
Finally, one sector that will never disappear as we all work harder and need to find ways to unwind, is the spa director. A diploma in hospitality with some degree of healthcare education and a genuine interest in improving people’s lives should put you in good stead for a job in this sector.

Technology & Nanotechnology
Technology itself will account for a lot of new careers. Just as computer engineers and software writers are commonplace careers today, so too, by 2020, we will all know and work with database architects and informatics nurse specialists.
The former, who should have post-graduate degrees in database management, will create, manage and protect databases in an era where transactions and hackers are more sophisticated.

And informatics nurse specialists will compile and analyse data on patients, procedures, medications and doctors that hospitals require to stay at the top of their game. Just as medical writing (still in great demand) was the big rage in the nineties, health informatics analysts and medical records administrators will be hot in the next decade.
Perhaps one of the most glamorous careers here is the nanotechnologist.
Nanotechnology is about studying matter on a molecular scale: manipulating individual atoms and building structures by the nanometre.
While fairly new as the tools to carry it out are still being developed, scientists believe it will have applications in medicine, electronics and even producing new energy.

Genetics & Transplants
Since the human genome was decoded in 2000, careers in genetics have been progressively gaining in significance. Not only does the subject offer detailed research in animal and plant forms, but it holds the key to a number of diseases that have been considered incurable so far.
As genetics continues to be fine-tuned, the bioinformatician will be a key person in bringing about change. This chap maps, analyses and compares DNA and protein structures.

On the consumer front, doctors will want to run all kinds of tests to predict various conditions and health risks. Enter the genetics counsellor, who will help families make decisions about future children in regards to available genetic technologies.
And now that some human organs can be grown in laboratories, young scientists will be constantly needed to push these boundaries and in the future, create custom-designed organs that will not be rejected by patients’ immune systems.
The way forward on this front is a primary degree in life sciences or medicine, followed by a masters’ in genetics, depending on which area of the field you want to specialise in.

Finally, in a world where everything is manufactured in China, individual consumers and corporate organisations will value art more than ever, looking for pieces that are expressions of who they are and what their lives are about.
As a result, artists and sculptors will find there are more buyers for their work, whether they are putting out high-end or knock-off supermarket pieces.
And applied artists dealing in small, bespoke printed cards, custom-made furniture and hand-painted personal effects will see tremendous growth, as users increasingly look for products that set them apart from their friends.

Our growing engagement with all things environmental means our lives will now stretch to incorporate green products and services — particularly for a climate-change generation eager to avoid the mistakes of their parents.
The downside, of course, is that plenty of companies will rush to label themselves eco-friendly when in reality they are greenwashing themselves and their customers, but there are also plenty of positive aspects.

In a new-wave spin on a traditional job, green marketers will develop and serve markets where the premium is on sustainable, renewable materials and energy. Hybrid cars, organic food, sustainable travel, eco-tourism — all need marketing and publicity people.
As we run out of fossil fuels, new technologies need to be developed. Among these is wind energy, which offers immense scope for high-paying jobs for engineering and environmental science graduates. Renewable energy technicians and hydrologists, who study the form and function of water, are other careers in this sector.

Another new department in corporations, particularly those that deal with large numbers of consumers is sustainability, now a real concern among businesses. These eco-savvy individuals must find, research and implement eco-friendly policies that are of the most benefit to the company at hand.
The flip side – and perhaps a rather smelly one – is waste management. As our planet runs out of landfill space, consultants with backgrounds in biology and chemistry will be needed to find new solutions to eliminate the tonnes of garbage clogging waterways and land.

Organic food is already here and supermarkets already stock it — in fact, the sector has grown tenfold since 2000 to account for 10 per cent of the food and beverage market in developed countries.
Set up an organic farm that clearly shows where the produce comes from and you’re well on your way to success.
And if that’s too boring, try becoming a food scientist. Genetic modification of food — to resist disease and climatic variations — is already here, but current solutions aren’t enough to fit our needs. Scientists who can figure out how to create new supplies of food stand to make a killing in the future.

Or you could always become an eco-tourism travel guide. More people now want to travel responsibly, without harming the environment and actively improving the well-being of local people and agencies that can fill this need with transparent, tailormade packages are set for mainstream popularity. Plus, you get to see new places — what could be more fun than that?

(Published 06 January 2010, 12:44 IST)

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