Technology continues to change the labour market at an incredible pace, and even the most senior figures in business can’t be sure where it’s going. A report by Dell Technologies on the future of work and technology in 2030 found that nearly half of senior decision-makers didn’t know what their industry would look like in three years’ time.
But all this change also means opportunity, sometimes in the form of entirely new industries and jobs being created. We’ve sought out expert views to find some of the best careers that have emerged through the last ten years of technological progress.
The term “virtual reality” – meaning immersive computer simulations with 3D displays and movement tracking – has been around for a while. But the launch of VR company Oculus in 2012, and its subsequent purchase by Facebook, marked the point where VR had become a commercial reality. Now it’s a growing industry as companies such as Apple seemingly prepare to enter the market: the UK government estimates the market will be worth £62.5 billion by 2030.
VR developers need top-notch computer graphics and coding skills while taking into account physical responses such as motion sickness. Industry body ScreenSkills says you need to “imagine solutions that have never been thought of before – VR is still a developing field and there is no ‘correct way’ to implement VR games”. Salaries for London-based VR engineers range from £72,000 to more than £140,000, according to hired.com.
Commercial space pilot
Perhaps the most sci-fi job imaginable is becoming a reality, as companies such as Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX plan to offer commercial flights to space. But the requirements will be tough, if Virgin Galactic’s test pilot job advert from 2020 is any guide.
You won’t need to be a NASA-trained astronaut, but you will need to be an experienced commercial pilot with at least 3,000 hours of flying time. One catch is that you’d most likely need to work in the US. Virgin didn’t disclose the salary, but NASA astronauts make between $66,000 and $144,566 a year.
Self-driving car engineer
In the last ten years, companies such as Google subsidiary Waymo and General Motors have been ramping up tests of self-driving cars on public roads. And while some have scaled back their efforts as the scale of the challenge becomes clearer, cars with some self-driving capabilities are hitting the market.
Mohamed Elshenawy, executive vice-president of engineering at autonomous vehicle company Cruise, says its AI engineers come from academia, finance and even gaming – several of his staff worked on The Sims, he says. He looks for a mind-set of “learning, curiosity, and experimentation”. Average salaries are around $71,000, according to US recruitment firm ZipRecruiter.
For obvious reasons, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in remote medical appointments, which increased by a factor of 38, according to McKinsey. Growth was particularly strong among mental health practitioners – not surprising given they rely more on talking than physical examinations.
Start-ups such as BetterHelp have begun delivering online counselling with registered psychotherapists. You need to follow the training requirements of an organisation like the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, and BetterHelp pays £25 an hour.