3 Tech Jobs That Are Here to Stay
As a teenager my father once worked as a pinsetter in a bowling alley, where he'd manually clear and set the pins for the bowlers. Today, you probably won't find very many want ads for pinsetters at CareerBuilder.com. You also won't see any job postings for lamplighters on Monster.com these days. Today's streetlights are quite capable of turning themselves on and off, thank you very much.
New technologies replace old technologies, and that state of perpetual transition almost always results in certain jobs going extinct. Like the pinsetters and lamplighters of old, workers specialized in technologies that end up becoming obsolete inevitably see their jobs change, go away and/or transform into something else completely.
But not all new tech careers are as volatile or transitory as, say, "floppy drive technician." Some recent developments in tech have the growth potential to carry them well into the future. These technologies will certainly change and evolve over time, but they have conceptual roots that make the jobs related to them relatively future-proof... or as much as any tech job field can be.
With that in mind, here are three new technology careers that are here to stay, with a look at the training and education needed to become one of these professionals.
Big Data Programmer/Developer
Big data is a framework for gathering, storing and gaining relevant information from massive amounts of data. As both a technology and a discipline, big data is still very young, and is still volatile in terms of the hardware and software being used. Current organizations are still figuring out if they have a use for big data, and if so, how to best implement and manage it.
From an employment perspective, a lot of attention has been given to the "sexier" big data job roles, like the data scientist or chief data officer. But it's big data programmers and developers who will likely find themselves employed well into the future.
There are several big data programmer/developer specialties. Here are just a few:
- Apache Hadoop
- Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
- Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL)
- SQL and NoSQL
There are some hardware specialties found in big data, but hardware can be among the most volatile and short-lived tech specializations out there, and big data hardware technician jobs are not expected to remain stable or viable. At the other end of the spectrum, the position of chief data officer is still too rare to be highly available to entry-level individuals just getting started in the tech industry, and comes with the same sky-high experience requirements as other C-level executive roles.
And data scientists? Given the rapid advances currently taking place in algorithms and machine learning, it's not improbable that the high-level analysis and interpretation being performed by today's data scientists will eventually be done more efficiently and cost effectively by machines. Again, like pinsetters and lamplighters, technology may eventually make this job role obsolete.
But the programmers and developers who can create and maintain the software used in the evolving big data framework will find themselves in demand for many years to come.
How to become one
Software developers and programmers who want to enter the big data field typically need to have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related area. Proficiency with Java is popular in big data, as one of the most prevalent platforms, Apache Hadoop, is built on Java. That said big data also relies on several analytics and visualization tools that may be coded in other programming languages.
People may be able to get a foot in the door of big data programming/development by earning an associate degree in software development. These degrees typically take less time to earn than a bachelor's degree, and with less associated cost.
Oracle offers several professional certifications in Java programming, which can be earned by passing the associated exams. An Oracle Java certification is an excellent way to add some additional weight to a big data developer's resume.
Battery/Fuel Cell Engineer
Alessandro Volta created the first wet cell battery in 1800 using discs of copper and zinc with brine-soaked chunks of cardboard wedged between them. More than two hundred years later, our modern world is more dependent on batteries than ever before. The mobile computing revolution and the still-young electric vehicle industry have generated massive interest in battery science.
Fuel cell engineering continues to be a hot tech field as well. Adoption has been held back by the associated cost, but fuel cells are still an active concern, particularly for larger use cases such as on-site power sources for private residences and public buildings.
Both of these energy technologies may very likely be tied to our long-term future and economic development. Manufacturers have reached the limits of current battery technology, while fuel cells offer an environmentally responsible energy source that doesn't generate carbon dioxide emissions. This is why there are a record number of battery and fuel cell technology companies in existence today, which offers excellent long-term job opportunities for engineers entering one of these fields.
How to become one
A bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering is the baseline for those looking to become battery or fuel cell engineers.
There's another, more junior job role to consider in this field: the electrical/electronic technician, or E-technician. E-technicians assist engineers with the design and building of batteries and fuel cells. They can commonly be found in product testing departments, or helping with lab setup and administration. E-technician training can be found via associate degree programs through colleges, or professional certification programs offered by vocational and technical schools.
A genetic counselor is a medical specialist who consults with individuals and healthcare providers concerning genetic predispositions for certain illnesses. Couples who're thinking about starting a family can have themselves tested through a genetic counselor in order to determine if their child would have a high risk for certain birth defects or hereditary disorders. Genetic counselors can offer compassionate advice to women who have specific gene mutations linked to high rates of breast and ovarian cancer.
Genetic counselors can discuss complex genetic science issues with everyday people by breaking ideas down into layman's terms. A genetic counselor educates and supports patients who are faced with tough decisions involving potentially debilitating illnesses.
While most genetic counselors work in hospitals, medical centers, or in doctors' offices, there's a growing market for direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing. DTC provides genetic testing directly to clients without the need for going through a healthcare professional first. The growing popularity of DTC gene testing is another factor in the strong job outlook for genetic counselors.
For some insight into the future stability of this job role, look no further than the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, jobs for genetic counselors in the US are expected to grow by 41 percent between 2012 and 2022.
How to become one
The requirements for becoming a genetic counselor are challenging. Candidates must earn a master's degree in genetics or genetic counseling. In the US, genetic counselors are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Also, some states have additional licensing programs in place for these professionals.
"Genetic Counselors," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, April 27, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/genetic-counselors.htm#tab-1