Think about what you were doing 10 years ago: You might not have even had an e-mail address, and it's a certainty that your mother didn't. If you did, you were probably using a dial-up connection, and hadn't yet purchased anything online. Even if you had cable, it's likely you didn't have access to more than 50 channels, and you might not have been quite sure how exactly to define reality TV. No one had ever "friended" you, and you might have thought "Groupon" discounts were something mountain climbers got.
Just think about all the new jobs mentioned in the industries above. Kiplinger columnist Liz Ryan recently came up with a fascinating list of jobs that didn't even exist 10 years ago, and we added a few of our own. Ryan suggests that if you're hoping to be employed for the next 10 years, "perhaps you should avoid [professions in] the technologies that are dwindling, [think bookbinders, textile workers and machine-tool operators] and focus on professions whose outlook is rosier" (such as high tech, health care, financial analysis or social work).
"Technology, cultural shifts and changing demographics combine to create new career fields all the time," says Ryan. Here are some juicy new professional gigs for 2011 and beyond, that didn't even exist 10 years ago:
1. Social Media / Online-Community Manager
Social media or online-community management developed as social networking sites like My Space and Facebook took off. More than 600 million users of all ages and nationalities now participate, sharing personal and public announcements, photos,, music, products, games and more.
"Social media strategists focus on building their employers' or clients' brands through the use of social media sites and tools, whereas online-community managers specialize in fostering user discussion and evangelism for the marketers they support. To succeed, a social media or online-community manager needs great written communication skills, a sense of humor, empathy, a marketing background and lots of experience with social media tools [Facebook, Twitter and YouTube among them]," according to Ryan.
2. 3-D Animator and Technician
Ten years ago, 3-D meant donning those red-and-blue-lensed glasses. Now experts are touting it as the biggest thing to hit Hollywood since 'King Kong.' Not only are there special cameras and projectors involved, but now engineers are working on perfecting home editions, so you can watch 3-D on your big-screen TV in your own den. There are all sorts of new jobs involved in creating not only the technology, but also the content -- animation has taken a giant leap forward. A whole new curriculum is being developed in film and production schools across the country, and directors, designers and animators are having to rethink they way they do things. Why not get trained to help them out?
3. Telework Manager or Coordinator
Telework is the new telecommuting. Employers are finding it more convenient and less expensive to let employees work from their own homes, so large buildings or offices and the expenses of constructing or renting and running them are considerably less. Also, after infinite complaints about outsourcing, employers are bringing the work back home. It also enables employers to utilize the best talent from across the country without having to relocate them.
"Full-time or part-time telework program managers and coordinators manage the telework programs in place at their employers, resolving technical and communication issues that arise and writing policies to cover every imaginable telework-created sticky wicket," says Ryan. A recent Department of Commerce job listing for a combined telework / disabilities program manager offered a salary range of $89,033-$136,771 -- not bad at all for a job you can do from home.
4. Sustainability Manager
If you're resourceful, thoughtful, and frequently accused of being "too green," employment in the field of "corporate sustainability" maybe be for you. Think of it in terms of a giant, organized recycling program. "These days, nearly all sizable corporations employ dedicated and highly qualified people to look after their sustainability programs, which can include recycling and waste reduction as well as supplier sustainability evaluation, carbon footprint issues associated with the business and leadership in the areas of facilities design, green manufacturing and more. Bachelor's and master's programs in environmental leadership and sustainability are booming," says Ryan, adding that corporate sustainability officers and VPs can earn as much as $200,000 per year.
Whether you're doing it for love or money, online writers who specialize in stating their opinions and giving useful information about certain topics, as well as composing reviews and stimulating online conversation, can make a living as freelancers or full-time employees. Certain "mommy Bloggers" have stimulated enough traffic and feedback on their blogsites to be able to quit their day jobs and make six-figure incomes with an advertising revenue model. Media outlets (such as AOL) are now hiring bloggers in addition to traditional journalists, and blogging classes are being offered at universities. Newspaper reporters are losing their positions and outlets right and left, but bloggers are finding more and more opportunities for online journalism as the Web expands at a lightning pace.
6. Search Engine Optimization Specialist
SEO has indeed been around for more than 10 years, but it's grown to gigantic proportions. "Search engine optimization pros use a combination of left and right brain techniques, from analysis and experimentation to gut feel and insight, to move their clients' or employers' Web sites up the search engine rankings, thereby bringing them more traffic and, they hope, stronger revenues," says Ryan, adding that those who work in SEO often concentrate on search initiatives and "collaborate with marketing, technology and sales peers in search of the perfect search-engine-pleasing combination of site content, layout and programming." To work in SEO, you need a mix of technical and marketing skills, understanding of search-engine logic and a feeling for Web site user behavior.
7. Online Advertising Manager
Online advertising is capable of things print advertising never was, such as tracking clicks and steering visitors to targeted and customized landing pages. Online ad managers can work for content producers, selling ad programs and strategizing with clients (advertisers) about where on the site, when and how to run online campaigns. Or they may work for advertisers, running the online side of an advertiser's business and tracking each ad's performance. The Don Drapers of the 21st century, they're skilled marketers who merge new technology with consumer wants, needs and desires. It's both left and right brain work, and can make some people more than six figures.
8. User Experience Manager
What's a user experience? Basically, it's anytime you come into contact with something someone else is running or owns -- buying a book on Amazon to downloading an app for your smartphone to putting gas in your car to buying a cupcake to using the emergency room at a hospital. "Quick-thinking corporate marketers have glommed onto the fact that every interaction with an entity, from the Department of Motor Vehicles to Macy's, is also a user experience, and they're paying close attention to those things these days," says Ryan.
"User experience managers were first widely seen in Web design firms and the marketers who employed them, focusing on a Web site in development from the viewpoint of a user who would eventually have to navigate the thing. Now, user experience is the watchword for banks, insurance companies, restaurants and virtually any company that has reason to evaluate and improve the way its customers and prospective customers encounter its people and processes."