The times, they are a-changin’.
As technology progresses at breakneck speed, many of today’s jobs risk becoming automated out of existence. Yet, this very same pace of progress will also open up new areas of research and industry—along with new job opportunities.
For all the gloom and doom surrounding the global economy, at least one sector looks bright. Technology jobs dominated recruiting site Glassdoor’s 2017 list of the 50 Best Jobs in America, with data scientist in first place for the second year running.
“This reinforces the notion that the best jobs are highly skilled and are staying ahead of the growing trend toward workplace automation,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.
Technology professionals don’t have to limit themselves to the tech industry. Now that technology is so pervasive, they could also put their expertise to work in areas such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing and retail.
“Any organization today with a mobile app, web presence or digitised data is struggling to fill jobs like data scientists, software engineers and mobile developers,” said Dr Chamberlain.
In Singapore, 2017 will also see a high demand for technology professionals as companies continue to take their operations digital, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters’ annual salary survey.
In addition, government initiatives aimed at giving the local start-up ecosystem a boost should also create more jobs in technology, said the report.
So, inspired to learn to code and pick IT skills yet?
Here are seven suggestions for exciting careers in technology in time to come, which will also give you the opportunity to make a positive impact on society.
And we have cool superhero codenames to go along with your new future job.
1. Cloud Architect
Codename: Bridge Builder
Being a cloud architect has nothing to do with controlling the weather (although that would be cool too). Rather, it involves designing and implementing the infrastructure behind cloud computing, which businesses rely heavily on for services such as remote data storage, analytics and computing capacity.
And with more complex technologies—including machine learning—starting to become available over the cloud, architects who can connect users to them look set to remain in demand.
2. Internet of Things engineer
Codename: Maker of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT)—the network of communications between physical objects—has tremendous potential to transform how we live and work.
Imagine a refrigerator that can automatically order a fresh carton of eggs from the grocery store, or biomonitors that call an ambulance in the event of a health emergency.
The possibilities are endless, and IoT engineers will be at the centre of this creative connectivity.
3. Cybersecurity Specialist
Codename: The Watcher on the Wall
Pardon us for being obvious, but lately it's been another day, another high-profile computer hacking case.
As our lives — and hence our personal information — move increasingly online, data protection has become an issue of paramount importance.
Cybersecurity specialists take on hackers in a battle of wits to safeguard networks against attacks and security breaches.
As newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT become more mainstream, innovative strategies to hack-proof them will also be in demand.
4. Data scientist
Codename: Tamer of Chaos
Data scientists do much more than just crunching numbers.
They make sense out of huge, messy datasets, drawing on coding skills, statistical techniques and gut instinct to detect patterns amid complexity.
These insights can help policy makers and businesses take swift action to solve problems—the recent identification of the rogue Circle line train, for instance, is a textbook example.
It’s no wonder the Harvard Business Review has called data science “the sexiest job of the 21st century.”
5. Machine learning scientist
Machine learning—the science of getting computers to learn without being explicitly programmed—reached a milestone in 2016, when Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo programme beat Lee Sedol, the world’s number 2 Go player.
Machine learning scientists develop methods that allow computers to perform tasks requiring more than just brute-force calculations—driving an autonomous vehicle, for example, or making data-driven disease diagnoses.
6. Robotics Engineer
Codename: Mecha Master
Resistance is futile—the robots have arrived, and they are here to stay.
While today’s robots still mostly perform mechanical labour, droids of the future are set to play more integral roles in human society—they could work in healthcare, help children learn, or act as companions to the elderly or homebound.
Robotics engineers enable these human-robot interactions by working at the intersection of artificial intelligence and hardware engineering.
7. Virtual Reality Designer
Codename: The Architect
From Pokémon Go to Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies plunge users into virtual, interactive worlds.
These immersive experiences have also found numerous applications outside of gaming—for example, they can be used to train soldiers, pilots and surgeons, and to help doctors diagnose illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.
Always wanted to design a fantasy world or a virtual environment from the ground up? This job's virtually yours for the taking.