Monday, June 20, 2011

Careers of the Future - Take 1

Trending Sectors - Agriculture (grain stores at multi-decade lows, increasing populations, resource competition), Energy (everyone needs it, possible peak oil, increasing demand), Mining (gold and silver as money, resources to service Asian economies), Manufacturing (with a weak/collapsed currency labor will be cheap and US must export), Water Management (clean water technology especially in emerging economies), Transportation (energy crisis will require restructuring of the transportation system)

Declining Sectors - Finance (worldwide financial meltdown, round 2), Education (public funds decimated/higher education loan defaults), Medical (entitlement and federal funding collapse, baby boomer nest egg bust), Consumer Technology (waning demand unless Asia picks up with consumption), Computer Programming (increasing competition, India and China will be very competitive), Real Estate (until a sound production/manufacturing economy is established real estate will languish)

Engineering Disciplines (maybe a little biased here...)
  • Chemical Engineering - Renewable Energy, Water Management, Process Engineering, Electrochemistry, Nano Material Synthesis, MEMS & Microfabrication processes
  • Mechanical Engineering - Energy, Transportation, Aerodynamics, Manufacturing, Power Systems, MEMs & Microfabrication, Military Technology
  • Civil Engineering - Transportation, Building Energy Efficiency, Power Systems, Electrical Transmission Systems
  • Materials Engineering - Supports other engineering disciplines
  • Industrial Engineering - Supports renewed manufacturing base
  • Electrical Engineering - Power Electronics, Microelectronics (dominated by Asia)
  • Environmental Engineering - Water Treatment, Environmental Monitoring
Scientific Disciplines
  • Physics - I've always had a lot of respect for physicists, but it simply doesn't pay unless you go for the PhD in an applied area. Mechanical and Electrical engineers are generally sought after over physicists. Unless you're pursuing quantum or nuclear physics, don't bother pursuing this degree.
  • Chemistry - This discipline is making a comeback primarily on the backs' of chemical and biomedical engineering. As with any science degree, a PhD is preferred. You simply don't get the applied knowledge otherwise.
    • Finance - Though I expect a general collapse in the financial markets, I believe the international portion will eventually regroup and largely service Asian economies and their periphery resource suppliers, though there may be a period where paper assets collapse in their entirety. If/when this occurs a large portion of the financial sector will be decimated. Good riddance.
    • Management - This one is simple: 1) Be good, in fact, be better than the next guy. 2) Associate with the trending sectors and service or supply them in some way. 3) Be networked.
    Foreign Languages
    • Mandarin Chinese - It's no secret that the Chinese are becoming increasing wealthy and influential as a multipolar world continues to develop. With their increasing political, economic, and military might, an understanding of Chinese culture and language would be advantageous to entrepreneurs,  politicians, or generals depending on how the relationship develops.
    • Spanish - Latin America may become a more prominent player in international affairs through raw material and goods exports. In addition, the Latin population continues to grow at a robust pace.
    Vocational Disciplines
    • Accounting - Accountants servicing trending sectors will be sought after. Those who aren't will be unemployed. Experience and targeting specific sectors will be important aspects due to the relatively low barrier to entry for this discipline.
    • Machining - A good machinist is hard to find and refined skills take time to develop. This presents a natural barrier to entry. In addition, with an increasing manufacturing base machinists can expect to be sought after.
    • Farming - Raw production, renewable, continued demand. The barrier to entry lies in on-the-job training, access to resources, and a general lack of understanding by the general public. Overall, I expect farmers to do quite well, especially if they're producing exportable goods.
    At the end of the day thriving careers will center around things that produce dividends or that can be exported in some way. Individual job security will have a "barrier to entry" component due to high unemployment. This means that there will be a lot of people who want your job, and if they can learn to do it quickly and become more efficient than you, well, your job security will be reduced. The atmosphere will be extremely competitive where innovation and efficiency will be rewarded, assuming government intervention doesn't mute growth altogether. As far as service based careers, your market should encompass individuals who are in the trending sectors. That's where the money will flow from...

    Of course there are exceptions and at the end of the day you can make just about anything work if you do it well. With that said, swimming with the current is always easier than against, but it certainly can be done. 

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