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Choosing a Career Path By Chasing Hot Jobs

A recent article in Fortune Magazine predicts that one of the hottest jobs ten years from now will be data scientist. If this prediction is true, parents of teenagers in their first year of high school and their parents might consider encouraging their kids to develop the skills necessary to be in high demand by the time they earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

To excel at data science, which is currently a growing field, though I’ve more often seen it labeled information science, students should develop strong skills in mathematics and technology.

In the Bakken area of North Dakota, the hunt for oil has created lucrative jobs today. There is a need for just about every type of career at this location, from burger-flippers to geologists. Unemployed people have been relocating their families to North Dakota in search of well-paying new jobs.

Oil field pipesFrom a financial perspective, it could be beneficial to be aware of what the market needs and fashion your career path in that direction. The flexibility to react to the economy is a human capital strength, and will help ensure you can generate income regardless of the strength of the broader job market. Today’s popular careers may be short-lived, however. While there’s an oil rush today in North Dakota, a longer career path may involve environmental science or alternative energy.

Attempting to predict hot careers in the future is riskier than chasing today’s in-demand careers because you could spend years of your life preparing for a specific job function. If that career doesn’t prove to be as necessary as previously thought, and you’re unable to find a job in that field, you might consider many years of your life wasted.

I lean more towards looking within when determining the career or jobs best suited for an individual. Skills and interest pay a large role. If you are able to make a career out of something about which you’re passionate, you’re more likely to succeed. Working will be enjoyable, and you’ll likely be more dedicated to your job. There’s a good chance, however, unless your passions coincide with a high-paying field, that following your passion is a luxury; it may not be a path that proves to be lucrative.

People in tougher financial situations need to be practical. Many parents have encouraged their children to develop skills in practical fields that have a chance of surviving any recession, perhaps due to experience living and struggling through recessions of the past.

Would you change your career to something popular now to try to improve your financial situation? Would you consider planning a career path based on what might be needed in a future decade?

Photo: lindsey gee
Fortune, CNN Money

Published or updated January 9, 2012.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I certainly wouldn’t move to the most remote and isolated portion of the lower 48 states.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

And with that attitude, we don’t want you anywhere near us, Tony!

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Chasing dollars is a huge mistake! You should find a career you have the skills and talent to be good and enjoy. The money will follow because you are good at it.

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avatar 4 Ceecee

If I were very young again, I would choose my first job for money and my second for love. Once you have a cushion built up you have the luxury of following your passion.

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avatar 5 shellye

I think the key is flexibility. Choose something you love to do, but keep your skill set sharpened so when opportunities present themselves.

But when you’re young and unencumbered, why not chase dollars for a while? That’s often how we find out what we’re truly good at, or have a real passion for. Or not.

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avatar 6 wylerassociate

I would definitely be open to changing career paths not just to improve my financial situation & career. I think people always need to keep their career options open to make changes in their careers.

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avatar 7 Luke Landes

I agree, changing your career isn’t always just about the money. I look for at least some kind of intellectual stimulation and other kinds of satisfaction.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

The biggest problem with chasing today’s hot jobs is if there are a bunch of other people following the same strategy. Not only do you face the risk that the job won’t be hot by the time you finish your school and/or training, you also face the risk of the market being saturated.

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avatar 9 Luke Landes

Another problem that arises in hot industries is that competition for jobs can be intense, and those who win the jobs are often those willing to sacrifice the most in terms of pay and benefits. While companies may make jobs attractive initially, after a while, it won’t need incentives if the jobs stay hot. Just look at tech start-ups… Those who got the best deals in terms of employment were generally those who were there at the beginning, taking a chance.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

There is no way to predict what the hot JOBS will be 20 years down the road. However, you can say that there are CAREERS that are fairly resilient to market fluctuations. These include engineering, programming, etc. While the jobs in these fields have morphed over the years, the careers have been solid. I remember back in the late 80’s when people were predicting the end of computer programmers. Then the Internet came. And when that slowed down, mobile apps came along. The mechanical engineers who learned about internal combustion engines in the 70’s still have jobs in mechanical engineering — but they may be working on wind farms, electric trains, etc.

What you don’t want to do is set yourself up in a career that has always had limited opportunity — like a history major. The biggest job for history majors is being a teacher (in which case, you might as well major in Education).

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avatar 11 qixx

It is not about chasing hot job but finding the skills that will translate to the hot jobs of the future. When you have skill that transcend any one job then the hot job is something you can get with the skills you have without having to learn all new ones.

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