Two decades is both a long time horizon for gazing into the mythical crystal ball and also a surprisingly short timeline – both at the same time. The best careers will be ones that address pressing challenges, meet a consistent need, or develop new opportunities. To address pressing needs, careers such as in energy production and delivery; and responses to climate changes (think of hardening buildings and infrastructures, as well as community planning) will grow. Others are equally important, though the career opportunities may be less robust (in terms of numbers and financial compensation) will relate to conservation activities such as protecting watersheds and aquifers, reforestation, and a variety of food production from aqua farming to hydroponics to vertical growing to alternative protein sources such as insect based products and lab grown proteins. In terms of meeting consistent needs, careers in healthcare will continue to be needed and will grow as the population becomes proportionally older; but also careers in the trades will always have demand – in fact the increasing occurrence of severe weather events and the need to harden buildings and infrastructure will generate even greater demand for the trades. In terms of developing new opportunities, who knows what the future will hold, but I’d bet that self-driving vehicles and electric vehicle recharging will be a significant disruptive player. Personally, I think that self-driving vehicles will enable re-addressing public transportation. The biggest problem with public transportation has always been the first and last mile. With self-driving electric vehicles, you could use an app to request a pickup from where ever you are to be taken to your final destination or to a location a connection to a multiple occupant vehicle. Just imagine all the disruption from drastically reducing the need for private automobiles.
In reality many careers will continue to be needed, even ones that are too often overlooked (too often people seeking career advice ignore the value of careers in the trades), while other careers that we might not even be imaging yet could develop. The best advice is to pursue a career that you’ll find rewarding because you see the value that it provides to others. Then keep an open mind because your interests may change, opportunities may change, and being willing to be adaptable to new challenges can be the best way to prepare for the future.