I was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on the subject of hot new careers for the next decade. See article here.
As I spoke to the reporter, I had my own “aha moment.” I realized that jobs of the future are increasingly interdisciplinary—they span multiple fields. I have begun to call these “nexus careers” because these new professions rely upon a connection or link between previously separate disciplines. A few examples:
1. User experience design spans the highly technical and creative aspects of product design and engineering as well as behavioral psychology and anthropology to understand more about consumer behavior and how products or systems are actually used.
2. Healthcare informatics requires some knowledge of information technology, security, data storage or patient records, and how these systems interact with or affect patient care, healthcare outcomes, practice settings, healthcare policy, law, and management.
3. Sustainability coordinator requires a broad knowledge of the science, economics, and social aspects of sustainability as well as how to apply this knowledge in a particular field (manufacturing, energy, architecture, and so forth).
4. Paralegal assisting always required knowledge of legal practice and civil procedure, but increasingly paralegal assistants need higher level information technology skills in order to digitize, store, and manage a variety of documents involved in litigation and to electronically file documents with the courts.
Here we see the merging of art and technology, of social sciences and engineering, of policy and science and many others. The great thing about these “nexus careers” is you do not need to “start from scratch” to prepare for them. One can easily enhance existing knowledge and skills and make a bold move into a new and growing field.
Another thing I realized is that many of these newer careers require broad knowledge, critical and abstract thinking skills such as those honed by a traditional liberal arts degree. (So for some of you, instead of downplaying the degree in History or Comparative Literature on your resume, now is the time to emphasize the relevance of all your education.) Many people can learn the technical components of a new area by completing a focused certificate program, adding that to existing degrees and certifications.
Nexus means a connection or link. Personally, I like this trend. We’re moving away from career and skill silos to a looser construct, allowing us to apply all our strengths to today’s significant challenges.
If you enjoyed the WSJ article, you may like another article on Future Jobs in UCLA Magazine, July 2009: http://www.magazine.ucla.edu/features/future-jobs/
For information on certificate programs in these and other areas, visit the UCLA Extension website at www.uclaextension.edu