Careers of the Future

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“The Future.” Those two little words always conjure up the same image. Picture opening scene in the movie Back to the Future Part II where Doc Brown comes back from a 2015 reality to visit Marty in 1985 telling him he needs to do something about his kids.

When thinking about “the future,” one of the things that can almost be universally agreed on is that careers that exist today may not necessarily exist tomorrow and that careers that no one has ever thought of before will be the hot new thing for our children. We already see this happening. All you have to do is pay attention to business news.

For example, Tesla is not only creating electric cars. They are also rolling out electric semi-trucks that have been pre-ordered by some of the largest companies in the world. Multiple companies are testing self-driving cars, something that even 10 years ago the average person on the street would have thought of as “futuristic” and still decades away from being a reality.

Does the newest generation even know what a rotary phone is — and better yet, how to use one? As gains are made in the technology field, even Superman has had to adapt. The need for phone booths has been almost completely eliminated from society.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are mainstream ideas. These concepts would even 30 years ago, only be expected in the science fiction writing of  H.G. Wells or Gene Roddenberry. It was even announced this year that the United States would be launching a Space Force as a separate branch of the U.S. Military as part of ongoing national defense initiatives.

Historically, we expect this type of change to happen. In 1776, when America declared independence from Great Britain, very few probably foresaw the Industrial Revolution that was starting to take place in Great Britain would move America away from an agrarian nation into an industrial powerhouse. Your own grandmother or great-grandmother who lived during the Great Depression of the 1930s could probably never have imagined that her grandchildren would be able to run their entire business from a pocket-sized smartphone.

As society advances, progress is being made in industries that will affect the types of jobs that are available in the future. In order to prepare our children and grandchildren to compete in the changing global economy, we need to know what to expect.

South Texas College offers over 120 different degrees, many of them preparing students for careers of the future. “All programs of study are relevant to current and future economic and workforce trends in some form or fashion,” said Celinda Palacios, director of Career and Employer Services at STC. The institution bills itself on its website as “the most affordable College in the Valley,” and students are able to graduate with zero debt. As student loan debt is ballooning across the country, STC and its diverse range of programs of study is an attractive option for students.

“As an educator, administrator, and director of Career and Employer Services of South Texas College as well as an advocate of higher education, I would venture to say that both formal education and trade school are both excellent choices. The career choice is up to the student,” Palacios said. She added that at STC students are offered a career assessment that can help align them with a career that fits their interests.

Palacios quoted Albert Einstein when discussing student’s career options. “If they love their job, they will never work a day in their life.”

So, what exactly are the “hot” jobs of the next five, 10, or 20 years supposed to be? According to research Palacios cited from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Kiplinger, we can expect to see more jobs in the fields of:

  • App Development
  • Computer Systems Analysts
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physical Therapists
  • Health Service Managers
  • Physicians Assistants
  • Market Research Analysts
  • Personal Financial Advisers

Nurse practitioners, physical therapists, health service managers, and physicians’ assistants are key on this list. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges in an April 2018 news release, the United States can expect a physician shortage of up to 120,000 by 2030.

Another area that looks to be hot in the future is science, technology, engineering, and math careers. Today’s world revolves around access to technology. “STEM fields will continue to attract people,” Palacios said. “But that is not to say that there are limits in liberal arts. I don’t see liberal arts careers being affected in any way.”

The good news for those living and working in the Rio Grande Valley is that Palacios sees “extraordinary career growth in the next five to 10 years.” One thing is for certain — this will be an ongoing conversation for every generation with more exciting careers that we haven’t even imagined yet.