We’ve tried in recent months to look at job and career opportunities for the remainder of this decade—the post-pandemic era. Specifically, we’ve found;
- Opportunities will increase in healthcare, service, and technical occupations,
- There will be fewer opportunities in office administration and manufacturing occupations, and
- Technological and demographic changes may create new kinds of jobs.
There will be opportunities for workers at all skill levels. Although we think about advances in technology when we speculate about the future, economists project that the number of jobs in certain service occupations and industries will grow, too. Even in technical fields, opportunities will exist for technicians that learn on the job, as well as for engineers and medical professionals that qualify for their roles through years of university-level training.
The US Department of Labor characterizes growth occupations and declining occupations in two different ways—those with the largest percentage growth rate or reduction, and occupations with the largest increases or decreases in the number of jobs. For example, the five jobs that are expected to have the greatest percentage growth rate include:
- Wind-turbine technicians,
- Solar photovoltaic installers,
- Nurse practitioners,
- Home health and personal care assistants, and
Percentage changes can be confusing because, to take a simple example, if an occupation started with 10,000 jobs in 2020, and added 10,000 jobs by 2030 that would be a 100% increase. If the occupation started the decade with 100,000 jobs, and ended the decade with 110,000 jobs that would represent only a 10% increase.
Click here for our more detailed article on jobs with the greatest expected percentage growth rate by 2030.
We also looked at DOL’s estimates for occupations that could gain the largest total number of jobs. The top five on this list included:
- Home health and personal care assistants,
- Cooks working in restaurants,
- Fast food and counter workers,
- Software developers, software quality assurance analysts and testers, and
- Waiters and waitresses.
The most notable aspect of the “top 5” list is that four of the top five job categories are not tech jobs. Instead, 80% of the jobs in DOL’s top five are traditional service jobs. (Click here for detailed statistics.)
We found that the highest paying job category in the top five is software development. Although some experts in this field are largely self-taught, many hold college and advanced degrees. In fact, federal government statistics show a clear link between education and salary levels.
New trends are creating new occupations.
While the DOL tracks employment projections for existing occupations, new career tracks are also being created that aren’t on their radar yet. The potential growth of some new occupations are supported by data, and established certification and graduate programs. Growth, or even existence, of new occupations is more speculative, but worth thinking about because we should expect the unexpected.
We know that new occupations can be created and grow quickly because, for example, there were no web developers in 1988. Millions of workers are employed in website design today.
Briefly, we looked at three possible new occupations—retirement coach, space weather forecaster, and astrobiologist–in a previous article. According to a certified retirement coach, there are only six certified coaches helping retirees in New York today. There will be a tremendous demand for retirement coaching in the coming decade, though, since all baby-boomers will be 65 years old or older in 2030—and many of them, he believes, will have disposable income to pay for coaching.
On the other hand, space weather forecasting sounds like a field that has little relevance for most of us because only 574 people from Earth have gone to outer space as of July 20, 2021. It turns out, though, that communications satellites and other technologies we depend on daily are affected by space weather. Our GPS, for example, may not work at all due to a storm in space. So, the job of space weather forecaster could be a “thing” by 2030. Already, there is at least one graduate program in the field.
A more speculative field we discussed in a previous post is Astrobiology. Astrobiologists would study life on other worlds. At least one expert called Astrobiology a “fake science” because we do not know whether life exists elsewhere in the Universe. Fortunately for those that are passionate about the possibilities there are other specialties, such as Molecular Biology, one can study or work in to be prepared for this field in the future.
Most of us do not want to count on highly speculative fields, especially when the cost of entry is an advanced degree. Another blog we looked at provided us with a list of job categories, such as 3-D printers and data scientists that already exist in small numbers and seem destined to expand greatly in the near future.
Watch for Declining Jobs and Industries.
Our economy tends to be what economists call a “zero-sum game.” That means there are winners and losers.
DOL’s top five job categories with the largest numerical decline include:
- Secretaries and administrative assistants,
- Executive administrative assistants,
- First-line supervisors of retail sales workers, and
- Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators.
The top five jobs, like most of the jobs on the list of 20 job categories with the largest anticipated reduction in total jobs listed in a previous article are administrative and factory occupations. They are roles can be automated or sent offshore.
These are also jobs that were traditionally available to people with high school diplomas. Although service jobs in healthcare and food service will be available for those without college degrees, this data suggests more education will be needed for “white collar” office jobs.
DOL’s list of the most rapidly declining jobs, by percent, tells a similar story with one interesting difference. The five job categories that are expected to have the highest percentage rate of decline include:
- Word processors and typists,
- Parking enforcement workers,
- Nuclear power reactor operators,
- Watch and clock repairers, and
- Hand cutters and trimmers. (factory workers that cut fabric)
It’s jarring at first to see that nuclear power reactor operators–highly technical jobs–are on the list. This is a declining industry in the United States due to high costs and safety concerns. The situation demonstrates that even high tech careers are vulnerable to obsolescence in some cases. So, the good news based on our research is that you won’t need to be a tech entrepreneur, app developer, or aerospace engineer to find a job in the post-pandemic era. There will be jobs for all, including those that want to care for our aging population or work in traditional service economy jobs. But you are likely to earn more money with more education.