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Predicting the Careers of the Future

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on hot jobs of the future. The article noted that several careers in science and technology are predicted to have the largest job growth over the period 2008 – 2018, including:

Biomedical Engineers 72% growth
Medical Scientists 40% growth
Biochemists and Biophysicists 37% growth

Science-related careers include:

Network Systems and Communications Analyst 53% growth
Physician Assistants 39% growth
Veterinarians 33% growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, published the predictions in the latest edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which reports career trends and predictions biannually. Though the Handbook has accurately predicted fast growing jobs in the past, it is important to note that the report does not take into account unpredictable events, like the 2007-2008 recession, which leads to errors. For example, the article noted that in 2000 the Handbook predicted computer programming as a fast growing field. That prediction was made just before the dot-com collapse.

Resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook could help young students decide which fields to study when entering college. However, it is important to explore several information sources — including career counselors, industry experts, and local job market data — and to do some self-examination to assess your own interests. Local data can be found at ACT’s College 2009 Readiness Report, which lists, state by state, the career interests of prospective students.

José Fernández
Tweeting @jose_fernandez