Best/worst jobs: Or, the future is here!

Best/worst jobs: Or, the future is here!

By Kevin Kelly - Contributing columnist

We have seen the future when it comes to the best jobs to have. Unsurprisingly, they are almost all generated by the digital age in which we live, and the field of health care that allows us to continue living provided you can afford it — but that’s a story for another day.

The business magazine Kiplinger’s online edition announced its 10 Best Jobs for the Future last week. As the magazine’s Stacy Rapacon points out, “best” for Kiplinger’s takes into account such factors as growth, salary and education required for such positions. “Worst” is exactly the opposite: small or no growth projections, low-paying and grimmest of all, jobs increasingly being replaced by technology and consolidation of services, requiring less people to do the task at hand.

So what are the “best” jobs if you follow Kiplinger’s criteria? For 2017, they include app developer and computer systems analyst if you’re inclined toward that line of work. In medically-related specialties, there are nurse practitioner, physical therapist, health services manager, physician’s assistant and dental hygienist. Also making Kiplinger’s best list are market research analyst, personal finance adviser and speech language pathologist.

From an armchair perspective, these jobs offer a glimpse of where the market is going for the foreseeable future and how increasingly what we considered science fiction a few decades ago has become today’s reality. Think of it: developing applications and programs for telecommunication devices. Back in the ’70s I recall that was all out of the daily comic strip Dick Tracy and its two-way radio/TV wristwatch. We kind of knew then that someday such a contraption, or something like it, would come into being, even become part of everyday life, like on “The Jetsons.” But because for some of us the ’70s still aren’t all that long ago (and we were still using rotary dial phones), it’s amazing to see that momentary flight of fancy become a fact — and a major source of employment.

We all know the boom in medical jobs is the result of a changing health care system and a longer-living population. Advancement of technology in the field requires staff trained to operate the equipment and interpret the results. Personal finance helps us pay for our share of the cost, market research tells us (and manufacturers) where to spend what’s left, and speech pathology — go figure, you have to specialize in something.

This year’s list of worst jobs for the future is perhaps more revealing about what’s happening in our world. Textile machine worker, photo processor, metal and plastic machine operator, and furniture finisher are all jobs increasingly being replaced by automation and advances in product. Also on the no-growth list are such positions as radio/TV announcer, floral designer, gaming cashier and door-to-door salesperson, along with elected legislator. “It’s an ugly time to get into politics,” Kiplinger’s concludes. No kidding, especially if you’re trying to figure out what to do about health care.

If you’re entering college this fall, the magazine recommends you skip such majors as exercise and animal sciences, anthropology, radio/TV/film production, graphic design (for print sources), photography (unless you want to freelance) and yes, even culinary arts. Little or no future (or bucks) in those fields, they say. Instead, focus on aerospace, software, finance and economics, information security and nursing if you’re in it for the long run and future financial status. Oh yeah, and be advised you may have to hire one of those personal money advisers to help you figure out how to pay off the college debt incurred in obtaining those positions.

The reports are well-intentioned, informative and helpful in ensuring that your future earnings are commensurate with your job satisfaction. Kiplinger’s is performing a service for job-seekers and college students. What it doesn’t gauge is your own happiness with what you’re doing is perhaps just as important, if not as tangible as a bank account or retirement plan. Many years ago I asked my father if he was ever concerned with accumulating wealth, and he told me he was content in providing a comfortable existence for my mother, his children and himself. And working with his hands, building and making things, from erecting houses to producing his own wines, gave him all of the satisfaction he’d ever need.

I’m hardly in a position to offer career advice, but here goes. Do what you like and if not, find something that does. If it pays well, great. More power to you. If it doesn’t, and you’re committed to your particular line of work, take pride in doing your best. That’s this writer’s opinion, and it only costs you the price of this newspaper. Whether or not it’s worth that amount — I’ll leave that up to you.


On a personal note, allow me to honor the memory of Pamela Bradbury Shaw, who passed away July 7 at her residence in Rio Grande. My condolences to her husband, Bob Shaw, and to his and Pam’s family and friends in this time of loss.

Pam was my wife Beth’s aunt, whose acceptance of me when Beth and I were engaged nearly 20 years ago provided a sense of family and belonging that stays with me today. Pam was also a huge supporter of my newspaper efforts. I still chuckle when, when I began writing this column earlier this year, I heard about Pam’s thoughts on my doing so, delivered with her trademark dry humor: “I see William Randolph Hearst’s at it again.” Thanks for everything, Pam.
Best/worst jobs: Or, the future is here!

By Kevin Kelly

Contributing columnist

Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.

Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.