Jobs of the Future for the Ever-Evolving Digital Economy

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Since the dawn of industrialization, the job market has been in a constant state of flux. That has never been more evident than now.

The sheer pace of technological advancement makes it clear some jobs just won't be around in a decade. If you're in one of those positions right now, that can seem pretty scary. But while tech is threatening some sectors, it promises to invent others. The jobs of the future vary in discipline, but they generally make use of now ubiquitous technology. It might be a bit early to start training for some of these jobs just yet. Keep these positions in mind, though. Experts say you are likely to be seeing them on job seeking sites in coming years. 

Prepare to say goodbye to even more jobs set to join the switchboard operator in obsolescence. 

We've already seen automation take over some entire realms of the public sector. Self service has become the norm in many fast foot joints. Entry level positions are increasingly being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. When is the last time you saw every register open at your local supermarket or department store? On the contrary, if you're like most folks you head down to the self service register.

Each time we scan an item, that beep is a reminder of a job lost to automation. And it's not stopping there. Even in some more technical industries, the tech threat looms large day in and day out. Let's examine the elements at work in the job market and technology sector.

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How is the job market changing?

The loss of service industry jobs such as cashiers and tellers might be the most obvious sign. Yet, there is much more going on beneath the surface. It is similar to how automation caused massive layoffs in the manufacturing industry decades earlier. This time, though, the impact could be much more severe.

One 2016 study predicted a whopping five million U.S. jobs would be lost to these advancements by 2020. Some of that reconstruction has already taken place. But there's going to be plenty more disruption before the jobs of the future take over. So we need to start preparing now before we're caught behind the eight ball. 

Why is it necessary to predict future job growth?

Losing as many as five million jobs in a matter of a few years is undeniably tragic. But the fact that we can predict it means we can prepare for it. As a workforce, it is our responsibility to be plugged in to our own industries. Leaders should be honest about the future of their craft and adapt appropriately. Whether that requires cross-training or an entire career change, it's better to know that now. And jobs of the future won't just replace entry level positions.

It is incumbent on university students to make sure they are prepared for the future of their chosen major. What will the landscape look like when you graduate? It's best to get a handle on that before you finance four years or more at an expensive college. Admittedly, humans have had a pretty spotty record when it comes to predicting the future. When our ability to earn a living is on the line, though, we put our best minds to the task.

What skills/abilities will be the most sought after in the future? How are these different from today?

It's obvious that we need to predict which jobs are likely to disappear. Experts also need to identify which skills jobs of the future will require. Experts are already trying to isolate those skills, and early indicators suggest they are wide ranging.

The top 10 skills needed in 2020 are expected to be topped by complex problem solving. From there, jobs of the future will require critical thinking and creativity. Rounding out the top five skills are people management and coordinating with others. Emotional intelligence, judgment/decision making, and service orientation are next. Finally, the top 10 rounds out with negotiation and cognitive flexibility. 


The jobs of the future require flexibility on the part of employees of the future.

It's a brave new world out there in the job market. And we've all got to be brave enough to accept the challenges that come with it. We've taken a look at the landscape in an effort to provide a few jobs that look safe. Some of them are redefined versions of existing careers. Others are entirely new, caused by the very technological advancements that have cost us other job choices.

1. Medical Mentor

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The medical profession is one that will always be important. But as we've seen, the industry is changing rapidly. As you might imagine, so are the jobs of the future in that industry. One new job that might exist is that of medical mentor. As robots and artificial intelligence take on a bigger role in health care, this could be needed. Patients will need someone to meet with them in consultations.

Even if we get to the point that exams are largely robotic, we'll need a human touch. Whether for accountability, compassion or any number of reasons, patients can look to medical mentors. This is one of the jobs of the future dependent on human interaction.

In this profession, you can help identify personal factors to aid in recovery or fitness. It is really a hodgepodge of all of the bedside relationship a computer just can't muster. You'll not only need a medical background, but you'll need to act as a therapist on occasion. And most of all, in a clinic full of robots in lab coats, you'll be a human and a friend. Focus on majors like biology, nutrition, and sociology to learn the necessary skills.

2. Organ & Body Part Manufacturer

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You'll see variants from the medical field heavily populate lists predicting the jobs of the future. No matter how advanced robots become, humans will likely always play a central role in health care. That role is likely to shift dramatically, though, which is why we should be preparing. As scientists continue to make leaps in cloning cells and other material, there is sky high opportunity.

Many experts predict that will play out in the ability to create custom body parts. Organs and limbs alike are seen as fair game for possible fabrication in a lab. In anticipation of that potential future, some experts predict a new type of medical professional will be needed.

Whatever the job title becomes, these folks will be responsible for reconfiguring the delicate coding of human tissue. We've already seen strides in creating external organs and other body parts. As science progresses, so will our ability to refine this revolutionary art. Biomedical engineering is a great place to start studying for this and similar jobs of the future. Also look at majors including biology and genetics if you're interested in the possibilities.

3. Space Tourism Guide

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Credit: Flickr, Official SpaceX Photos

It is clear that space travel and tourism is poised to be a big part of our future economy. Just like travel agents and flight attendants were needed after the invention of air travel, we'll see similar needs. SpaceX has been leading the charge. But companies like Virgin Galactic are also planning for manned space travel. This is set to be a private sector experience, so we're not talking about specially trained astronauts.

When price and technology converge to make this a feasible form of travel, look for space tourism guides. These professionals could be tasked with helping humans prepare for time away from earth. They could also provide tips about what to expect, and maybe even extraterrestrial sights. Depending on the trajectory private space travel takes, these positions could vary. If humans establish a manned colony, guides might take return trips. In any case, we're sure to need someone to explain the ins and outs of an otherworldly travel experience.

4. Extinct Species Revivalist

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If we have the potential to recreate our own cells, it stands to reason we might be able to resurrect species. There have been some startlingly impressive advancements in this arena already. It has technically already happened in a few cases. But the ethical and moral implications are hardly settled.

We already know that humans have played a role in the extinction of many species. Many people think we should also be active in restoring them. Each animal types has its own mission in nature. When too many of any species disappears, we can see negative consequences. Restoring them could help reverse that impact.

In addition to conservation of endangered species, this could be a new way to battle the problem. Zoologists, ecologists and other experts are already deep into the research. You could still be at the forefront of a potentially revolutionary science by preparing now. If this one pans out, it is sure to be one of the most fascinating jobs of the future.

5. Mind Transfer Specialist

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If we're going to go out on a limb in predicting jobs on the future, let's do it right. Some experts predict that humans might be able to transfer our minds. Not only that, it could happen by the end of this century! That means folks alive today are likely among those who will pioneer such a strange idea.

The possibilities are staggering. And the implications are potentially detrimental to some existing ethical boundaries. Nevertheless, if the industry emerges successfully it will need people trained to transfer minds. They might be transferred into robots, computer storage, other humans or some combination. Either way, it is a truly brave new world. If science is your thing, such jobs of the future are probably for you.

6. Clean Energy Technician

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Credit: Pexels, Matthias Zomer

Let's come back to reality a bit with this last one. Sure, wind and solar energy technicians already exist. But as the process becomes more profitable, look for these positions to boom. Incredibly, solar energy is projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the next decade. There will probably be twice as many technicians in this area by 2026.

And right behind it is wind energy. This industry is expected to grow nearly as fast. Harnessing the power of the sun and wind is becoming more economical and efficient. As we advance further, there are likely to be even more forms of alternative energy. Either way, look to this as one of the emerging jobs of the future.


At this point, predicting the jobs of the future is an exercise in observation.

Looking at the trajectory of arts, sciences, and the current job market, we can speculate. But the future will write itself, with our input, and we don't yet know how it will read. Whatever it holds, it never hurts to be prepared by scoping out potential jobs of the future.

We hope you enjoyed our take on this interesting topic. Do you agree with our predictions? If you're excited about a possible future job, let us know in the comments section below. And while you're at it, please share this article with the future professionals in your life.

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