Several months ago, I began wondering “what’s next for the job market after the pandemic?” As a result, I spent some time researching the question.
I expected to find that most jobs in the post-pandemic economy would require advanced technology skills, and workers that lack skills in areas such as software development, aerospace engineering, and biotechnology would be SOL.
This is not the case. While there certainly will be opportunities with good pay for those with expertise in STEM fields, many other opportunities are emerging. The big 3 areas, I found, are:
- Service jobs,
- Healthcare jobs, and
- Technology jobs.
Detailed results of my research will be found in the Guide to the Post-pandemic Job Market that has just been released. You’ll find some highlights below.
We found that 3 of the top 5 jobs with the most anticipated growth between now and 2030 are food service positions, according to the US Department of Labor. The jobs include fast-food counter workers, restaurant cooks, and wait staff. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced to workers overseas. They are also difficult to automate.
Other service jobs that are among the top jobs with the most anticipated growth include passenger car drivers (think rideshare) and truck drivers. Rideshare driving is a popular part-time gig economy role that can help even highly skilled workers in other fields earn extra income. It’s also worth noting that DOL may be underestimating the number of jobs that will be available because gig work does not fit neatly into their definition of a job.
Workers in healthcare occupations became known as essential workers during the pandemic. DOL statistics and demographic trends suggest that healthcare workers will continue to be essential when the pandemic ends. All the baby-boomers will be age 65 or more in 2030, so home health aides will be in very high demand.
While the median wage for home health aides is just above $27,000 per year, the DOL says this job will have the largest demand increase compared to any other job in their analysis. Registered nurses, on the other hand, earn median salaries of $75,000 per year, and are also among the top 20 high-demand jobs.
Other medical jobs with high anticipated demand pay quite well. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners, for example, can earn six-figure salaries,
We also learned that a new occupation—retirement coach—is being created as baby-boomers explore their options for active retirements. One can enter the field through a relatively brief certification program rather than the years of training required for some highly compensated healthcare occupations.
Strictly speaking, retirement coaching is more closely related to social services than healthcare. Nonetheless, it demonstrates that opportunities are being created as a result of an aging population.
The most interesting area to watch, in my opinion, is technology. Jobs in technical fields will be available for job seekers with advanced degrees, and for those with more modest levels of education and training.
Information technology experts are among the technical specialists expected to be in high demand and to command high salaries. The DOL indicates that high-growth occupations in software development, software quality assurance, and software testing pay median salaries in excess of $100,000 per year. Software development jobs require skills that not everyone possesses so salaries will remain high.
Information technology jobs are also growing gig economy roles so the DOL may be underestimating the number of jobs that will be created this decade. According to US News, software consultants are the most popular new business on a website for new business owners. A DOL study characterizes “non-employer businesses” as one element of the independent worker gig economy.
Advances in technology may also create unexpected opportunities. For example, SpaceX is reportedly hiring thousands of aerospace engineers and other experts to build spacecraft that may take people to Mars by 2030. Another start-up, Boom Aerospace, has signed an agreement with United Airlines to supply a fleet of supersonic passenger planes with sufficient range to cross the Pacific Ocean—something Concorde could not do–by 2029.
Space weather forecasting, a somewhat esoteric job, gained attention in recent weeks, too. About 40 satellites designed to provide internet service for isolated populations were lost shortly after launch as a result of an unpredicted space weather phenomenon. This incident starkly demonstrated how space weather can impact all of us that use satellites, not just the very small number of people that fly into outer space.
Fortunately, those of us that do not have degrees in physics or aerospace engineering will be able to consider jobs in fast-growing new fields, too. Wind-turbine technicians and solar photovoltaic installers—workers that set up and maintain wind and solar renewable energy systems—are jobs with high percentage growth rates, according to DOL These jobs require technical school and on-the-job training, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. In other words, whether you want to work on the final frontier, serve food at a local restaurant, or care for our aging population, some great jobs will be available in the coming years.