If you happen to be entering college and would like to decide the field you would like your career to be or feel the need to choose a major, you may want to consider a field that has growth prospects over the next twenty years or more. Even if you are already a few years into your career and it haven’t progressed the way you would like, now is a good time to consider shifting to a new direction. It would be impossible to accurately predict the future, but I can select a few careers I think will be growing based on current trends.
Information technology (IT) is going to be huge, if not just in the next twenty years, for the remainder of the twenty-first century. While there is a trend of outsourcing jobs overseas, there are many types of careers that must remain local. Technology infrastructure is an exciting field. I expect broadband networks will be expanded to new areas and the populous areas already serviced by broadband will see upgrades. Beyond fiber optics, wireless broadband will be a strong trend as well.
Over the next twenty years, baby boomers will be retiring. Many still have pensions and many have 401(k) retirement plans. Retirees are going to need to know what to do with their money. Financial planners will have a strong market for their services, and so will investment advisers who sell products like annuities.
Politicians have their eyes on health care right now, and this is a valid response to the same social condition that requires more careers in finance. As the baby boomers, one of the largest demographics, continue to age, they will need more care. Home nurses will be in demand. Existing assisted living communities will increase capacity and new communities will be built. As an increasing number of people look to medication, more pharmacists will be needed.
Companies hire professionals to conduct environmental impact analysis whenever land is being developed. Not only is there still vast amounts of land that will be developed in the next twenty years, the focus on “green” will mean there will be even more work for environmental scientists. Environmental technicians will be in demand as well as entrepreneurs who create and manage the next generation of environmental consulting firms. The economy’s current slowdown means there may be less work now for environmental scientists whose work depends on new development, but I expect that to change when the economy recovers.
Not everyone needs to chase a career or job path that looks like it will be in high demand. I generally believe people should look to their own talents and desires before statistics in determining a course of study or career. I don’t deny, however, that fitting in to a carved-out path based on population patterns is a good idea for some people.
Are there any other careers likely to be in demand for the next couple of decades?
Published or updated July 27, 2009.