Emerging Career Fields

Keeping your eye on trends is a smart career management practice. New technology, business practices, laws or changes in the global economy create needs for new or evolving occupations and career specialties. Often these are specialties that build on more general experience within a career, like a move into a homeland security role for a police officer. On the other hand, some of these emerging careers creatively link together two or more fields of expertise, such as nursing and computer science.

For students, these emerging careers offer a chance to be on the leading edge of their fields. For adults, a shift within their career field to a new specialty often injects a dose of freshness and energy applied in a new professional direction. So what are the most exciting new careers on today’s horizon?

Three emerging industries are identified by Career Voyages, a website collaboration of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education:

  1. Biotechnology: The areas of research and development, quality control and assurance, manufacturing and production, agriculture, and bioinformatics all offer in-demand occupations in biotechnology. In bioinformatics, one of the newest sectors, specialists organize and mine huge amounts of biomedical data, such as research related to the study of the human genome, clinical trials, or diseases.
  2. Nanotechnology: This field includes research and development of practical commercial applications using particles of matter the size of atoms.
  3. Geospatial technology: This emerging field encompasses photogrammetry, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS). The most widely known application is the GPS (global positioning systems) that are familiar to many of us in our vehicles and cell phones.

Some additional career fields that promise long-term growth include:

  1. Genetic counseling: This specialty combines a love for science with a desire to educate people. Genetic counselors provide information on inherited conditions and diseases and offer emotional support for individuals and families making difficult decisions.
  2. Computer forensics: Experts gather electronic evidence for legal cases or administrative purposes. This field has several specialty areas including firewall forensics, database forensics and mobile device forensics.
  3. Cyber security: Jobs in this sector focus on anti-virus software and secure encryption for confidential information. Others study computer files that look normal but include hidden information, like a security map of an airport.
  4. Homeland security and emergency and disaster management: This is a broad field with growing opportunities. Whether earning a certificate or degree, courses cover topics such as the history of terrorism and the mind-set of terrorists, the nature and science of weapons of mass destruction, disaster response, telecommunications, investigation of terrorism incidents, and the process of gathering intelligence and developing sources. Graduates work in the financial sector, for the government, in insurance, and for consulting companies.
  5. Life Care Planning: Particularly for elderly patients, life care planners, case workers and patient advocates will see a rise in demand for their services. This includes conducting assessments, research, navigating the health care system, and planning and managing services.

The 2013 article “Hot Jobs, Emerging Careers” on MinorityNurse.com highlights four specialties for nurses:

  1. Nursing Informatics: A field that combines nursing, computer science and information science to manage and communicate data, information and knowledge in nursing practice to improve patient care and communication among diverse medical staff members.
  2. Fitness Nursing: These nurses help patients regain strength and health through exercise, nutrition and educational programs.
  3. Holistic Nursing: Using a combination of both traditional and alternative health care treatments, these nurses help patients regain health or deal with chronic conditions.
  4. Gerontological Nursing: Specializing in working with elderly patients, these nurse help individuals who have diseases or chronic pain, and other health issues related to aging.

Depending on the experience and education needed, these emerging careers may present opportunities for adults to consider immediately, or may help with a more long-term plan to prepare for a change into the new field or job. For students, knowing about these career possibilities can help formulate an educational path that will provide focus for college major and internship decisions. Either way, these individuals will be on the leading edge of a growing professional field.