Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the robot-overlord-exterminator dept.

Programming 509

An anonymous reader writes: My niece, who is graduating from high school, has asked me for some career advice. Since I work in data processing, my first thought was to recommend a degree course in computer science or computer engineering. However, after reading books by Jeremy Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) and Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind), I now wonder whether a career in information technology is actually better than, say, becoming a lawyer or a construction worker. While the two authors differ in their political persuasions (Rifkin is a Green leftist and Kurzweil is a Libertarian transhumanist), both foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof? Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Simple (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 months ago | (#47459459)

Tell her to study home economics.

Re:Simple (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#47459713)

I'm not sure that the blatant misogyny in the joke here is worthy of anything higher than a -1: Flaimbait, but really: if you can completely automate production of every single thing that people depend on for their day-to-day lives: food, drinking water, medicine, and shelter: what's left?

Sure. Sure. Art, science, human progress. We're never going to give those up. Taking care of your own home and family would be the one obligation that would remain as a personal duty(yes, regardless of gender).

It's not yet, but at some point we're going to have to assess our work-ethic culture with the inevitable collision with technological progress.

Plumber (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459463)

I don't see toilets going away anytime soon....

Re:Plumber (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459579)

I see jobs that require hands-on stuff not going away anytime soon:

1: Lawyers will not be going anytime soon, and there is no such thing as an unemployed lawyer outside of LA or NYC. No, it may not mean being a part of Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe as a senior partner, but you will be able to make a living for you and your family with banker's hours.

2: Accountants -- A CPA or CIA (certified internal auditor) will always have some career path.

3: Plumbers, HVAC servicepeople, and electricians. They are not going anywhere, and everyone needs toilets flushing, A/C running and electricity going regardless of economy.

4: Morticians. Funeral directors may not be glamorous, but they will always be in demand.

5: Farming. There is pressure by agri-business, but the US still a very farm-friendly country.

6: Corrections. Ugly work, but always in demand, and only going to have more demand as time goes on. Of all the jobs mentioned, I'd say corrections is a place that there is a 100% chance of always finding work.

Re:Plumber (4, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 6 months ago | (#47459607)

2nd the above. Send her to a trade school. The nature of the work is local. It has some risk of automation but little risk of being offshored. As long as we need water plumbing will be needed. Electrician might be less future proof depending on advances in wireless power. Car repair will see some decline with electric cars. (they have less parts)

Re:Plumber (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 6 months ago | (#47459791)

Car repair will see some decline with electric cars. (they have less parts)

And fewer parts as well. :-)

Re:Plumber (1)

colenski (552404) | about 6 months ago | (#47459889)

Escalator repairperson. Think about it.

Sysops and programmers (0)

TyFoN (12980) | about 6 months ago | (#47459465)

will be in demand as long as we have computer that can break.
If someone invents a completely self programming, self healing, self building computer then maybe not.
Even if that happens I think you would need system operators for even these machines as someone has to tell them what to do even if it's only by spoken word or brain waves or whatever is the current input method.

Re: Sysops and programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459529)

You're bound to get many replies like this... It is Slashdot after all. That said, someone that is happy as a programmer is different than someone happy as a lawyer or happy as a construction worker. So the future proof advice? You had it in the beginning... It doesn't matter what you do, just go be one of the best at it.

Re: Sysops and programmers (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#47459635)

Computers are a virtual machine -- it can be any other machine. There's...a lot of other machines, many of which cannot exist in any other way. Get cracking!

Human Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459473)

The goals might change a bit, but the title would stay the same ;)

Gynaecologist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459475)

Because if there are two things you can count on in this world, its babies, and r***** p****.

Train as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459479)

... a mortician.

Re:Train as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459771)

... a mortician.

That is what my first response was as well.

In regards to future careers in computer science or engineering, the profession itself has the job of getting computers to do their job. It is a self defeating job in the long run. That being said, what will change will be what and how programmers interact with computers, but all these changes will not happen within the next 60+ years. People keep reinventing the wheel for computers, so her career path in this subject would be safe, just don't expect to do literal computer science. Very few are researchers. The separation between computer science and programming should be explained.

If the niece wants to program and shows enough interest in math, then reinforce two things. 1. Try to intern / part-time job while in college that uses the degree. Making websites or something. Those will never go away. 2. Take "art" or elective classes that can be anything from literature to painting to music or finance and economics. A programmer needs to know a second field enough to apply their own knowledge to it, and always create constant job opportunities.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459481)

Better then a lawyer and a construction worker yes, There are already a glut of lawyers and the schooling is increasingly expensive and who says you can't print a house? Creative sure, but make sure its utilizing technology so can be part of a marketing department for example.

I don't know how they pay (5, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 6 months ago | (#47459491)

but being a plumber or AC repair can't be shipped overseas.

Re:I don't know how they pay (2)

Shados (741919) | about 6 months ago | (#47459573)

A/C repair doesn't pay very well, however with global warming, demand should skyrocket, so salaries may go up up and up!

Bonus point if you do that now, as there's only 1 year left for usage of Freon in condenser maintenance, and a lot of people will have to replace their systems with new ones (and they're not even slightly compatible, so you have to replace the whole thing, which is brutally expensive).

So I'd definitely recommend going that route.

Re:I don't know how they pay (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 6 months ago | (#47459811)

but being a plumber or AC repair can't be shipped overseas.

No, those jobs will not be shipped overseas, they will disappear. Look at the modular advancement of products. I do see a future where an HVAC system will be plug and play with parts sold at your local home depot. As for plumbing, why not use a "Lego" brand plumbing where "pipe A" connects to "pipe B" and snaps into place.

People can and will be replaced as technology advances. The goal is cheap and disposable with minimal impact on quality. Manufacturing jobs are dead and a thing of the past. We all have to get over that. The jobs will either be in services or distribution itself.

Re:I don't know how they pay (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 6 months ago | (#47459819)

Yeah but you can bring guys in to do the work cheap. There's already work being done to open up the work visa program to blue collar labor.

It's like that line from Temple of Doom. "Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away, Dr Jones"...

Healthcare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459495)

I would suggest healthcare. With the aging population, there will be a greater need for personal care. Even a healthy older person will need some level of care. I do not think robotics can handle this area well.

Re:Healthcare (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#47459853)

I would suggest healthcare. With the aging population, there will be a greater need for personal care. Even a healthy older person will need some level of care. I do not think robotics can handle this area well.

I would agree, with one caveat... Don't be a doctor. It takes WAY too much debt to get though medical school and wages for doctors are going to be in sharp decline.

An RN is a good choice. You can get a 4 year degree in nursing without going too far into debt. If you are a good student, get your RN then work on getting licensed as a physicians assistant. If you are not that great of a student, then there are a whole list of "technician" positions, like running the MRI and ultrasound machines which don't take 4 years in college.

That's not to say that a STEM career isn't a bad choice. There will always be a need for engineers and software developers, maybe not a whole lot of them, but there will be at least SOME jobs in this area forever..

But there is one thing we all need to realize. Where it was once normal to do the same job for your whole career, you need to expect to change careers two or three times if you are starting out now. The key is to be flexible, be observant and keep adapting to the market around you.

Just stay unemployed (0)

doctor woot (2779597) | about 6 months ago | (#47459503)

If labor is abolished in the future she can kick back and lounge around in her underwear all day eating junk food and watching Netflix. It's what I do.

Re:Just stay unemployed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459567)

Robots and algorithms will never be able to rival a human's ability to jump to conclusions based on no evidence and then build a chain of spurious reasoning to defend those conclusions.

So, I suggest journalism, law, and/or politics if you want a job that will endure advancing technology. Those jobs only go away when the rest of the populace wises up and kicks them out.

Re:Just stay unemployed (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 6 months ago | (#47459623)

Yeah but this girl actually wants to do something with her life so how about forgetting the latest technology and looking for careers with proven track records. Does anyone know what the worlds oldest profession is? Maybe she can do that?

Re:Just stay unemployed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459821)

Yeah but this girl actually wants to do something with her life so how about forgetting the latest technology and looking for careers with proven track records. Does anyone know what the worlds oldest profession is? Maybe she can do that?

Careers with proven track records? That's the same as letting technology pass you by because you've survived so well without electricity 300 years ago. If you want to be employed, you should watch the emerging technology trends. Learn as much as you possibly can because you NEVER know where the demand will be.

Re:Just stay unemployed (3, Informative)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 6 months ago | (#47459893)

Pretty sure they already have a robot for that.

Re:Just stay unemployed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459647)

Why wear anything?

Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (5, Insightful)

Nkwe (604125) | about 6 months ago | (#47459513)

Don't focus on specific jobs, focus on skills. Skills such as problem solving, understanding abstractions, and of course strong communication skills, both written and verbal. Skills involving dealing with and understanding people's needs will never go out of demand.

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459625)

Tax law

Re:Nonsense (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#47459867)

Tax law

soylent green
amazon same day grocery^^^^^^^soylent delivery
turbo tax

Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459727)

This is the recommendation for Arts degrees. I myself hold 3 of them in political science. I do tech support for a living.

Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (1)

sinij (911942) | about 6 months ago | (#47459751)

Skills become obsolete or can be automated. If you rely on skills you have to dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning.

Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (3, Insightful)

Nkwe (604125) | about 6 months ago | (#47459847)

Skills become obsolete or can be automated. If you rely on skills you have to dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning.

While I could have been more clear in my subject line, I did hint at the kinds of skills I meant in my comment text. I wasn't referring to specific technical skills, but rather more generic, high level skills -- sometimes referred to by recruiters as "soft skills". While specific technical skills (such as a programming in a specific language, brick laying, or buggy whip manufacturing) may come and go, high level or abstract skills (such as communication and problem solving), will never fall out of need.

Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (5, Insightful)

alvieboy (61292) | about 6 months ago | (#47459761)

I'd go even further and say: Teach her to learn, and she will adapt herself to every job on the Galaxy.

But if eventually this if not feasible get her to focus on whatever she likes to do. Like Confucius once said: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

We'll deal with the machines for her.


Engineering (5, Interesting)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 6 months ago | (#47459519)

Engineering has a strong future: Robots. Nanotechnology. Advanced materials. Hydrogen storage. Fuel cells. Automation technology. Rapid building techniques. Vertical farming. Take any industry she likes, then work with a company that is going to do it better with technology, using fewer humans to do the work.

Re:Engineering (4, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about 6 months ago | (#47459829)

As an engineer, I can tell you have not considered all definitions of future. What about dystopian futures where access to technology is luxury and sustenance farming in increasingly arid climate rules the day?

Barista (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459521)

They will help with the college tuition as well.

Mortician (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 6 months ago | (#47459535)

...unless you really bought into Kurzweil's book

Soldier (1)

Daniel Oom (2826737) | about 6 months ago | (#47459649)

Join the army for a job for the rest of your natural life.

Nothing, really. (2)

seebs (15766) | about 6 months ago | (#47459537)

Seriously, try to imagine describing a lot of the things people do professionally now to someone 30 years ago. Some of them are genuinely incomprehensible. Quite a lot, even.

You can't have a future-proof job. You will have to adapt as the world changes.

Re:Nothing, really. (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 6 months ago | (#47459609)

Seriously, try to imagine describing a lot of the things people do professionally now to someone 30 years ago.

Prostitution . . . the world's oldest profession will be around . . . well, as long as humans are still around.

Re:Nothing, really. (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 6 months ago | (#47459887)

Seriously, try to imagine describing a lot of the things people do professionally now to someone 30 years ago.

Prostitution . . . the world's oldest profession will be around . . . well, as long as humans are still around.


easy (2)

smithcl8 (738234) | about 6 months ago | (#47459551)

Mortuary Science

Hair Stylist (2)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about 6 months ago | (#47459557)

Get some experience doing nails just in case.

Artists are poor for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459569)

The life of an artist is 99% of the times very poor and destitute. It is very hard to be successful. In order for an artist to be financially secure they need wealthy patrons. If you are surrounded by wealthy people who want to purchase art then this could be a good move. If the majority of people in the world are becoming poorer and there is a lack of disposable income then the feasibility of making a living in the arts or humanities declines with this decline in disposable income.

With that said I still encourage anyone to pursue an art career because it can be rewarding mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

You can't beat them (1)

Drunkulus (920976) | about 6 months ago | (#47459571)

so join them. Become a shareholder. Who's benefiting from the current record setting profits that American corporations are posting? Not the working class that's for sure.

You are not talking about a career... (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 6 months ago | (#47459575)

you are talking about something bigger.

You use your college focus to get the toolsets you need to be a generally competent employee. What you do with it, that is what is important.

My degree is in Humanities, but I have a current career in IT, and the tools transfer to other careers.

So should hers, whatever she decides. (Don't do Humanities, it is a crock now, all touchy feelly and not the critical thinking I got 30 years ago)

A shift in economic metrics (5, Interesting)

emagery (914122) | about 6 months ago | (#47459585)

At some point, I don't see the world being able to avoid a paradigm shift in how we measure careers, labor, etc... we have invested in and achieved so much in terms of automation, ai, etc, and yet we refuse to distribute the high efficiency benefits of these things to the very masses who brought them about and are being displaced by them. If it takes less labor, per person, to make the world work, then it truly should take less labor, period... not the same (or, as things have been going lately) more labor by the few still employed while those at the top of the economic food chain rake in the entire difference just for themselves. In the end, our current path is resource wasteful in a time when we can't afford it, and all for the actual benefit of very few people. It's an untenable and unsustainable practice that's going to have to change, and I don't see us regressing to old technologies just to reestablish old careers when we already have (and simply aren't properly dispersing) much better.

Creativity is certainly future-proof (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 6 months ago | (#47459589)

Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?

Unfortunately taking art classes does nothing to actually increase your creativity -- it's an innate characteristic of the human soul (or brain, depending on your religious views).

Tell her to go into medicine. There is no way doctors are gonna be replaced by robots, ever.

On the off chance that some tremendous breakthroughs do lead to medical robots like in Star Wars, NOBODY will have to worry about getting a job. I'm not holding my breath though.

Re:Creativity is certainly future-proof (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#47459759)

You know what's a lot easier than making a Star Wars-like medical robot? Creating an oversupply of doctors. Good luck paying that education off without the big salary!

What does she like and what is she good at? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459597)

Your niece seems forward looking (and I assume bright) if she is looking for career advice at her age. Unfortunately for her, I don't think there's any career that you can suggest that will be entirely "future-proof" as we simply do not know what skills and fields will be in demand when she embarks on a career. Therefore my advice would be to take a different tack and identify her strengths and interests and find a career path that aligns with that. That's not to say she should necessarily study underwater basket weaving or any other field with dismal prospects, but entering a field for the money and prospects alone will likely lead to her feeling unfulfilled with her career down the road. I should know as I studied chemical engineering in school precisely because it was one of the highest earning engineering disciplines. I stuck it out and got good grades, but now that I'm nearly 10 years into my admittedly lucrative career, I can't say that I'm necessarily happy or fulfilled with the work that I do.

Anyway, that's my two cents. YMMV.

Good question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459599)

Unfortunately no best answer. IT is okay now. But 20 years from now who knows. Politics seems to be a booming industry. Unlimited money in that system she might as well get some of it. If she is one of those that wants to work in an area she loves her parents should keep her room furnished. She will be living with them for a while.

Wrong way to think (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459603)

I spent a decade+ in the wrong line of work because I made the 'smart choice'. The world is sum of countless variables you don't control. Save yourself the hard lesson and just do what you actually enjoy regardless of what you think is 'future-proof'.

Simple advice. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#47459611)

There is no job that will always exist.

But an intelligent person will always be in demand, by ensuring that they are always the most knowledgeable and by working in the elite end of the business.

The jobs that get destroyed are typically jobs that require the least amount of intelligence and skill.

Take fashion. Few Americans make a living sewing any more - unless of course you are a fashion designer, rather than a piece worker.

Taxi drivers may not exist in 20 years - but race car drivers will still have jobs.

Healthcare Provider (2)

teethdood (867281) | about 6 months ago | (#47459613)

Look up the best careers. Most of them are in the health care field. I don't see robots/automated systems taking over health care any time soon.You will not be rich, but let's just say comfortable.

Shit Shoveling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459615)

Seriously have her go to the local horse stable and get a job in shit shoveling. If she is nice and does a good job she may get tips on top of her pay. People won't stop using horses anytime soon (racing and recreational riding) so there is job security. It would also teach her that no job is below her.

A degree isn't required for shit shoveling and she can make money going though college by shoveling shit.

Re:Shit Shoveling (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 6 months ago | (#47459721)

Politics has already been mentioned...

Plumber, Gardner, HVAC repair (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 6 months ago | (#47459617)

You get the picture, jobs that are onsite, and very hard to automate due to dexterity/strength requirements. Handyman also comes to mind.
Barring honest labor you can always go law or civil service.

The AI will be broken just like everything else. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459627)

Every couple of years we, the ones who do the real work, hear that we will be owbsolete in a few years. And yet every buggy whip maker alive today is perfectly capable of making BDSM equipment and is doing fine. The needs change from generation to generation but the helpless society will still need people to help them achieve the basics needed to make their worthless lives feel less empty.

Every industry will have a down moment; there is no point . You need to be able to be flexible. The algorithms will be broken. People will be needed to clean up the mess. Make sure your niece knows how to fix things; program; pitch a tent; cook (especially for boys, but girls too); build shelter in several kinds of wilderness; complete a university degree (any one); paint; invest in shares; avoid being ripped of by slimy stock brokers; be nice to people; solve quadratic equations and do long division; fix plubing; run fast all the basic stuff. After that make sure she does the thing she's good at and enjoys.

World's oldest profession? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459631)

It's the oldest for a reason. Only holodecks will render it obsolete.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459641)

It is not glamorous but if you want future-proof nothing beats prostitution.

Caregiver... (4, Insightful)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 6 months ago | (#47459643)

Seriously, I know it's all anti-fem movement and all that but someone has to take care of children might as well take care of your own.

However, if having kids isn't your thing then you want to be somewhere in the robot design/maintenance track. So, something like Engineering or Computer Science would be best. Not everyone is good at math and abstract problem solving. Learn to do that really well and get some people skills and you should be able to stay at least marginally employed.

Another option might be to join the Military. There will always be a need for Generals even if all the grunts are robots. Someone, has to tell squad A to attack point B, and I'm not convinced that the lowly soldier will ever really be replaced with robots. Someone will always fight once the robots are defeated.

Also genetic engineering of crops might be a good thing to go into. We are going to need better yielding crops if we are going to support all the unemployed TV zombies the Robot's replace in the job market. Otherwise, someone might get the idea in their heads of limiting the population.

The personal touch! (1)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about 6 months ago | (#47459651)

Depends on how long of a future you need to proof against, but I'd imagine jobs requiring human interaction and contact will be among the last to go. PT's, masseuses, and psychologists are probably fairly safe for the next fifty years.

Becoming a physical therapist will be a great way to make a living off all the utopians who are injuring themselves with increasingly bizarre sports, plus you'll get to use the latest and greatest exoskeletons at work.

Think, write, and learn (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 6 months ago | (#47459655)

If you can think, write, and learn, you will always be able to find or create a job.

What are her Strengths? (1)

robstout (2873439) | about 6 months ago | (#47459663)

What sorts of things is she good at? It doesn't help to recommend a sysadmin position if she isn't detail-orientated.

Political Science and Military History (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459673)

We will need charismatic leaders with good tactical perspective to lead the revolution(s) against the (1) A.I./robots/enhanced humans/etc., (2) wealthy corporate elites, (3) other nations, (4) and/or any other threat that will come from the idea that continuing to put faith in current talking heads, hipsters, activists, internet-of-things purveyors, etc. etc., will ultimately be _good_ for _us_.

Oversimplified answer (4, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 6 months ago | (#47459677)

Common dangers to your career and wages are:
1. Outsourcing
2. Automation
3. Disruptive innovation
4. Boom and bust economic cycles

Ways to protect your career and wages are:
1. Merit and Knowledge
2. Restricted professions & credentials
3. Union or government position

Not all dangers are avoidable, for example disruptive innovation is all but unavoidable, but boom and bust cycles are easier to survive in a bigger industry.

Not all way to protect career are available to everyone, for example merit and knowledge is unobtainable goal for significant portion of population (merit, by definition, it is zero-sum game). Additionally some have drawbacks - proximity to government or union usually has negative effect on one's maximum earning potential.

Now for more practical advice - a technical profession that interfaces with government, requires accreditation, and deals with local or critical infrastructure would be most stable long-term position. Civil engineer, food inspector, dentist are some typical example.

Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459679)

I'd choose security if I had to choose now.

I've been in networking, sysadmin and telecoms over 25 years now and past 15 years also involved quite a bit IT-security. Security is and will be there whatever we will be doing far in the future. It's not going away for sure and more complex systems become more there will be security related work to be done.

future-proof (1)

Art Deco (529557) | about 6 months ago | (#47459681)

Health care is probably the most future proof career. People are going to keep getting injured and sick and our aging population will have more health problems over time. Doctor, nurse, pharmacist, radiologist, physical therapist, etc. You really can't automate health care.

Yes, you can. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459817)

You really can't automate health care.

Yes, you can and it has been.

And it can be offshored. I worked on the software for McKesson that enables X-rays and whatnot to be offshored, Pharmacy robots, and various things are automating healthcare. It's amazing how much of medicine is just following a flow chart - even at the physician level.

In the not too distant future, we will be seeing healthcare being mostly automated: at least in other countries that don't have an organization like the AMA. Step into a full body scanner, anything the system can't recognized is sent to a doc/tech and a solution will be given: lifestyle change, prescription, or whatever.

Even today, computers are more accurate in diagnosing illness than doctors.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459685)

Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts,

You can just show her how to get a job at wal mart directly take the shorter path.

Seriously though, a course sure, suggesting it as a career path is laughable though

yes we need artists, yes some make money. Most don't, most at best get the occasional commission or design clip-art

No such thing anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459687)

all thats left are a bunch of squalling kids looking to take over the remaining gravy trains then fight each other tooth and nail to tweak process synergize or in some other way euphamism the other guy out of his job.

Join the resistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459695)

She could get working on time travel

HVAC (1)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#47459699)

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. The job sucks, but it's steady. Automation of ductwork installation and repair is a long way off. Unlike construction, there's maintenance work; someone always needs their A/C fixed.

There's always... (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 6 months ago | (#47459705)

... the oldest profession.

"Learn how to learn." Let go any naive delusions (1)

spads (1095039) | about 6 months ago | (#47459707)

...of permanence. Perhaps such is normally willed to us by well meaning superiors (making themselves feel good in the process), but it is a serious delusion.

First, one should identify a field which generally appeals. From there, the field needs to be constantly analyzed to see what makes it work (i.e. current "skills"), but always keeping one's eyes to what new skills (or a new field, for that matter) might soon come into play. It's not about her career. It's about what needs doing in the world.

If these trends continue.... (3, Interesting)

notcreative (623238) | about 6 months ago | (#47459711)

Remember the Simpsons where Disco Stu shows Homer how Disco album sales are up 400% for the year ending 1976? "If these trends continue.... Ehy!" While I'm not sure how to spell that sound, I am sure that the idea of future-proof career is a dream. What careers seemed future-proof thirty years ago, and could anyone have picked the winners and losers? There's a hindsight fallacy there. Just like the stock market, if there was such a thing as a future-proof career then everyone would want it, driving the salary to zero and making it worthless.

As other worthies have probably pointed out elsewhere in the comments, the best idea is to learn critical thinking and remain flexible. STEM education is valuable whether you're working in your specialty or not. Unlike Underwater Basket-Weaving or other majors that seem like a great idea as a freshman, STEM educations generally push students to learn basics about how the world works that can be universal (including submarine crafting mechanics). I have this same issue with my kids and I think the answer is just to let them know that building a network and constantly learning is the highest-payoff strategy but no guarantee. Anyone giving a job guarantee is, to paraphrase, lying or selling something.

Also I'm planning to have my drugs delivered by Amazon Drones(tm), so that's not a future-proof occupation either.

Seriously? (4, Insightful)

Calavar (1587721) | about 6 months ago | (#47459715)

Are you kidding me? You're planning your daughter's career based on predictions from Kurzweil and Rifken? They both have notoriously bad track records. Kurzweil is the guy who predicted that we'd have automatic translation for phones ten years ago. (He claims that his prediction held true because 2004 smart phones shipped with crappy text translation apps, but it is obvious from context that he originally meant real time voice-to-voice translation.)

I have no doubt that much of what Kurzweil and Rifken predict will eventually happen, but their timelines are far too optimistic. IMO, the best advice you could give your daughter is to keep away from factory work (everyone will be replaced by robots relatively soon, even in China), law (far too many grads, far too few jobs -- you need to go to a top 10 school if you want any shot at a good job), and academia (same problem as law).

The human touch (1)

TheSeeker11 (1061698) | about 6 months ago | (#47459717)


Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459725)

Doctors are or will be subjects of the state, capped and controlled with bureaucratic discipline. The big corps are getting the H1-B nirvana they demand and swamping IT with cheap Asian labor.

Law is the place to be. As the power of the state grows employment of vast numbers of well compensated lawyers is inevitable. This is why the DMV area (District, Maryland, Virginia) area is outperforming [wikipedia.org] the rest of the nation in terms of income growth, rates of employment, etc. They're living a 1960's American Dream life with steady income, gold plated benefits and pensions; you can't get that anywhere else any longer aside from academe.

The means of government employed lawyers is assured as we evolve into a nanny state adjudicating every aspect of the hoi-polloi.

Re:Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459807)

Uncle Sam is in top gear hiring thousands of people a month. The "great recession" saw temporary furlows and no actual job loss among Federal workers. Now they're back on pace [washingtonpost.com] as the largest employer and the fastest growing employer.

Good times!

Re:Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459849)

If you can read university-level French, this is the most terrifying book I've ever read.

http://www.editionsladecouvert... [editionsladecouverte.fr]

To me it's obvious that we, as a whole, are regressing towards the kind of top-heavy social structures that seem to be the norm for most of human history and gave rise to the term "byzantine".

We're just coming off the post-WWII/cheap fossil fuel/technology sugar high, it won't last.

This is a test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459735)

Testing 123

Critical Thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459745)

Look for a skill set that can be applied anywhere. I'm a programmer by trade, but there's very little I can't do with electrical, plumbing, carpentry well with a bit of education.

Critical Thinking is something that seems like it can be used in any setting. Things like that.

huh ?? (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 6 months ago | (#47459747)

Industry can't get their hands on enough developers right now and we're worried about those jobs going away?

Seriously, google, Microsoft, etc. are lobbying the federal government to lure SW people from other places so we can fill the void here.

I have a friend who became a lawyer couldn't find any work. He's a SW manager now because that is where the demand is. A really old guy told me at lunch today he his phone is ringing off the hook for SW work and that if I wasn't raking in money right now I was doing something wrong.

Construction doesn't seem like a good thing to into when you get older, but it's not my field so I wouldn't know.

Should be asking other questions (5, Insightful)

AudioEfex (637163) | about 6 months ago | (#47459769)

What does she want to do. It's fine if she doesn't know yet, too many kids are forced into a box too early, but those are the types of questions you should be asking her. What is she good at? What are her hobbies? There may be jobs she doesn't even know about that may relate to them that you can help her discover. Picking a profession is not something really that should be done on statistics/probability.

That said, of course it's good to reign in certain things - there aren't a lot of jobs for underwater basket weavers. But, you could suggest offshoots of that - either a basic business degree to run her own shop, or something in textiles/manufacturing. But it's always best to go with what she likes and/or is good at as a starting place - vs. figuring out what has the least amount of risk and going for it no matter what the profession is.

This is where those "aptitude" tests that you take in high school might be helpful. I'm sure there are equivalents online, or her school might still offer them. I'd never use them as a sole resource, but they can help you find things that may not be obvious. In high school one of the careers that mine said was "law enforcement" which at the time I laughed at - yet now, in my mid-30's - I suddenly found myself working in a different field in the private sector, but as a financial investigator. Something to those tests, I think.

Undertaker (1)

Ateocinico (32734) | about 6 months ago | (#47459775)

People has that bad habit of dying...

food service (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#47459779)

People have to eat. Plan for migration into servicing food service machines at some future time. And then servicing food service servicing machines.

Live performance? (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 6 months ago | (#47459801)

It seems like a profession where your identity, presence, and personal behavior is part of the product being sold. Possibly the only such profession?

Maybe robotics? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#47459813)

There will be more of these jobs in the future than right now for sure, but there might not be many overall. Still, possibly the best bet for any job you'll need a degree to obtain.

Forget Jobs and Skills, Think Happiness (1)

gunner_von_diamond (3461783) | about 6 months ago | (#47459825)

Instead of finding a job that is future proof, or learning a set of skills that will get her a job, why not recommend to her to do something that she enjoys doing? No one can predict the future, and settling for a future proof job because the job that she would want to do may possibly go away sometime in the future sounds like setting her up for a miserable life. The best advice is to follow a path that she enjoys. A job will always be just a job, but a career is doing something that you love.

A future proof job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459833)

Becoming a salient artificial intelligence maybe?

From-the-career-path-department (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 6 months ago | (#47459857)

Slashdot editor. Those guys are set for life! Timothy even has a lordship!

Construction Worker? Future Proof? Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459861)

Future proof job? Prison administration. Learn an eastern foreign language. Lots of 3rd world countries need American expertise in our core competency: fascist dystopian prison industrial complex manufacturing.

War on drugs is out. War on cybercrime is in. Big business. Make technology essential to capitalism and criminalize poor people trying to break in to the Capital City/Elysian or out of District 12/Earth's gravity well.

Get them hooked on drugs/VR and they'll hack their way to indentured servitude with Air Force Cyber Command sweat camps under the watchful eye of General Alexander^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Jean-Luc Picard.

Very Cyberwarrior! Much "tip-of-the-spear"! Wow!

Capitalist (5, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 6 months ago | (#47459869)

We all know eventually the only ones profiting will be those who own the robots. So become a capitalist. Take that money she was going to spend on a college education and start a business instead. A few rules, though:

1) It must not be something other people do for free for fun. Don't become a photographer.
2) It must be something where eventually other people do the work while you make the money. Don't become a freelancer.
3) It must be scalable. That is, adding workers/locations/production increases profits. This is similar to "don't be a freelancer," as there are only so many hours in your day.
4) When you're finished, you can sell the business to somebody else. That is, it must be a business that accumulates assets, rather than just service contracts.

Good luck.

Math and Engineering (1)

cowdung (702933) | about 6 months ago | (#47459877)

Get a job building things for the future.. If you can handle the math and learn to build things creatively that is a good basis for a ton of careers.

I told my daughter: get an undergrad degree in this.. if you don't like it later than get a Master's and change.. but getting an undergrad in something simplistic and simple later limits your options.

College is expensive.. learn hard things there.

No easy answer: (2)

oracleofbargth (16602) | about 6 months ago | (#47459881)

The answer really depends on several things, but she should start by looking at what she is good at and what she enjoys doing. Trouble is, for kids coming out of high school, they may or may not really know either one of those things yet. I knew right off that I enjoyed writing computer programs (taught myself Basic and some C during high school), so I went for a CS degree for system programming in college, and ended up working as a sysadmin. My wife was the opposite, and didn't find out that she enjoyed working in health care until having to get a "real job" after a couple really bad years of college. I also have a nephew who spent almost 8 years in college, switching majors (and sometimes colleges) every semester for the first 5 years until he found a passion for social work.

If she doesn't have a specific field that she is interested in, but she does want to go to college, I would recommend she pick a degree program that offers an Associates degree mid-way through, (or just go for an Associates of General Studies,) in order to make it easier to get a job or switch colleges halfway through, should the need arise. (In other words: be prepared.) If she wants to go into a field where she would need an advanced degree such as a Masters or PhD, I recommend picking a university that offers the advanced program she wants for her Bachelors' degree, as they often offer automatic acceptance to students who received their undergrad from them, and also may offer dual grad-school credit for some advanced undergrad classes.

With regards to books recommending one avoid studying computer science, I have one statement: We have not reached the Singularity yet, and if nobody studies computer science, how are we supposed to get there?

Big Picture (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 6 months ago | (#47459883)

foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof?

Think of the big picture. If the future you are describing really happens, with the vast majority of society scraping for an ever smaller piece of the pie, what would be the natural outcome? What skills would be in demand?

There would be a lot of big crime targetted at the very few, very rich and the corporations (giant concentrations of assets imply large scale criminal operations). There would be a lot of petty crime between the proletariate (mostly crimes of opportunity with a low profit margin, probably not much of a career there except maybe in racketeering). Maybe some shakedown operations not too far removed from mass copyright enforcement. There would be religious and ideological pontification, offering hope to hopeless people, whether substantive or illusory. There would be a lot of civil unrest, and a lot of mechanisms for suppressing that unrest (tough to say which side will have the upper hand at any moment, but both sides will have openings).

So: Information security, physical security, ideology / idolism / propaganda and counter-propaganda, sockpuppet armies and microtargetted mass messaging, law enforcement and thuggery, lickspittle to the wealthy, and influence management and peddling, off the top of my head.

Consider what postmodern feudalism might look like. That should be a reasonable picture, if what you suggest should come to pass.

Agricultural science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47459891)

No farmers, no food.

Que the ending for "Dinner at Eight" (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 6 months ago | (#47459895)

Kitty (a blonde bombshell): Y'know I was reading a book the other day.

Carlotta (a world weary diva): (taken aback) Reading a book?

Kitty: Yes. It's all about civilization or something. A nutty kind of a book! Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?

Carlotta: (giving her a once-over) Oh, my dear, that's something you need never worry about.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?