Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Under-the-Radar Careers

I've written lately about the likely accelerating reduction of good jobs because of automating/roboticization combined with the ever higher cost of hiring an American. And then there's offshoring: Are American workers so wonderful as to justify paying them four times as much as an Asian?

There's even an oversupply in supposed hot careers, for example, in science, technology, engineering, and math majors (STEM). Evidence:THIS  and THIS and THIS and THIS. Too, there's an oversupply of lawyers. Evidence: THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS.

Long-term, there may no way to avoid the accelerating decline in good jobs but at least over the next decade or two, one way to cope is to consider under-the-radar careers. Here are some that score high, overall, across these factors:
  • Most practitioners feel like they're doing something importantl.
  • Good projected job market
  • Most practitioners earn a middle-class income
  • Little risk of offshoring or automating the job.
  • Not requiring inordinate education 
Before dismissing these careers, do remember that status is often the enemy of contentment. There are many unhappy lawyers, doctors, and executives even in vaunted nonprofits. A more likely path to contentment may be an under-the-radar career, where, because of less competition, you're more likely to find a job with the attributes that usually end up being central to career contentment: job security, a decent boss, ethical work, reasonable learning opportunities and a moderate commute.

Of course, the following list is just a sampling, as much to encourage you to think beyond the obvious as to consider these particular careers. 

The first seven were listed in a Business Insider article, 18 High-Paying Careers Youve Probably Never Heard Of.

Air-traffic controller. Yes, high stress but good job market--almost all grads of training programs get hired and six-figure income is common. INFO.

Surveyor. Their job is to use GPS and other tools to identify the boundaries not just of homes but, for example, of highways, airports, mines, and underwater property.  INFO.

Unexploded ordnance technician.  A career for people who would love a job blowing things up. And training is short. INFO

Court stenographer. Despite the presence of translation software, the job market for stenographers remains good. They're used not only in courtrooms but in captioning, for example, for the deaf. Three-year training. INFO

Anesthesiology assistant.  Pre-, post, and intraoperatively, you work alongside and/or under an anesthesiologist. It usually requires a pre-med bachelor's and a two-year masters. But after that, you'll be in demand for a six-figure job. INFO. Parallel position: radiologist assistant: INFO

Audiologist. Three-year doctorate and then you're in demand for a good-income career helping people hear better using ever improved hearing-aids. INFO.

Embalmer. You prepare dead bodies for viewing at a funeral. Not for everyone but, for the right person,  it can be a career to die for. INFO

The next six careers were listed in another Business Insider article:  40 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree.

Purchasing Agent . Buy machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies for an organization to use or resell. INFO

Power plant operator. You control the systems that distribute electric power. INFO

Transportation, storage, and distribution manager. You plan, direct, or coordinate distribution of products in warehouses, trucks, etc. INFO

Here are some other under-the-radar careers I've recommended to various clients:

Academic adviser: You help college students choose courses, majors and keep them on track. A college campus is one of the more pleasant places to work. INFO

Haircutter. This career always scores near the top of job-satisfaction surveys thanks to high success rate, pleasant environment, and regular customers with whom you get to chat. INFO

Optometrist. Also high success rate, a six-figure income, and prestige. Training is long: 4 years post- bachelors. Programs exist that let you earn both your bachelor's and Doctor of Optometry degree in seven years. INFO

Condominium association manager. You hire contractors, supervise maintenance, and collect bills. INFO

Elevator Installer and Repairer. You may work on escalators and moving walkways as well as elevators. INFO

Wastewater plant worker. Most people are turned off by the concept but the few wastewater workers I've spoken with like their jobs and demand is high for a variety of positions, from plumber to planner to project manager. INFO and INFO

Clergyperson. Unmitigated do-gooding in this varied career: ministering to the troubled, performing ceremonies, sermonizing, and planning the congregation's future. INFO


After the Pulpit said...

As a former minister I agree that, for the right person, being a member of the clergy can be a very rewarding career choice. Ministry utilizes a variety of skills, is inherently meaningful and provides countless opportunities to make a difference in people's lives and in society as a whole. That said, I'd like to share a few (of the many) cautions I have:

1. There are notable exceptions in evangelical/fundamentalist circles, but on the whole church attendance is trending downward dramatically. The fastest growing religion in North America is actually the "nons" i.e. non-religious. Youth have largely left the church and those who remain are far more guarded in their charitable giving. Dependent on parishioner's offerings, job security is tenuous at best for most ministers. Candidates for ministry need to be aware of the unfavourable labour market forecast for the career as currently configured.

2. As many churches close or downsize, congregations are increasingly anxious and insecure, driven less by questions of outreach and service and more by survival. Clergy are often called with an implicit expectation of "saving" the congregation from demise. This "saviour complex" (sometimes assumed by the minister as well) saddles clergy with unwarranted stress and scrutiny and ignores the larger, likely irreversible, societal trends. New ordinands may also be shocked that the passions and ideals that inspired their calling to ministry in the first place (theology, service to the poor, study of scripture, homiletics, etc.) are secondary values (at best) for church boards who are singularly focused on this survival question.

3. It is one of the few professions I can think of wherein one's personal beliefs are a condition of employment. Change your beliefs and you should probably check out. That's easier said than done as many clergy can't envision doing anything else. Studies indicate that a full 50% of active clergy would leave ministry if they felt they could do something else. In fact there are many atheists in the pulpit who--integrity notwithstanding--struggle to leave ministry because they still need to provide for themselves and family.

4. A Duke University study found that eighty-five percent of seminary graduates entering the ministry leave within five years and 90% of all pastors will not stay to retirement. Seminaries, like most educational institutions, will never advertise this shockingly low success rate. Many of these ministry drop-outs are saddled with student loan debt that is equivalent to other graduate degree students.

5. 52% of clergy say they and their spouses believe that being in ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health. It's easy to see why:

- many clergy families live in church-owned properties where there is little privacy, minimal maintenance, and no chance to build equity. Changing jobs, most often, also entails changing housing.
- clergy are expected to be on call 24/7 and typically have only one day off (usually Mondays when others are at work). Holidays (eg. Christmas/Hanukkah) are often very busy working days
- there are little supports available to the minister and her/his family, i.e. who is the minister to the minister? Judicatory officials are often too overburdened to provide any real support, counsel or spiritual inspiration/opportunities for worship.
- clergy families live with the pressure of parishioners expecting them to be a role model family
- particularly in smaller communities, clergy families often have few friends outside of the church who don't relate to them as "Pastor" or as the clergy's family.

I hope candidates considering the career do so with both eyes open to the realities of the profession.

Peter, Vancouver, BC

Marty Nemko said...

Dear Peter,

You have given us a great gift. Thank you!

Marty Nemko

After the Pulpit said...

Thank-you for your kind words Marty. You need to know that you have given me many gifts as well. While I was transitioning out of ministry into a new career as an employment counsellor, I listened to all of your archived podcasts and read many of your articles and books. Sitting at the feet of a master, I learned more from you than I subsequently did in the university career counselling program I graduated from. Your acumen, work ethic, and client-centred approach remain the benchmarks I aspire to. Many thanks!

Rex said...

Marty, I have bought your book "Cool Careers for Dummies" and I was wondering, now that 7 years have passed since its publication if you would amend any of the careers you describe in Chapter 2, career yellowpages? Are any of the careers you once thought "cool" no longer so? Will you be releasing an updated edition anytime soon?

Marty Nemko said...

I'm not planning to write an update. Of course, there are other careers I'd include if I did. What comes to mind of the top of my head are Big Data analyst, anesthesiology assistant, radiology assistant, energy efficiency specialist, genomic biophysicist, and expanded coverage of government jobs in growing areas such as immigration and infrastructure.

Marty Nemko said...

I am now writing a fully new book that updates and revises much of Cool Careers for Dummies, including a vastly improved Careers Catalog. The book will be the for Dummies series' flagship career title, Careers for Dummies. It will be out in Spring 2018.


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