The world of work moves pretty fast. Jobs that literally didn’t exist 10 years ago can quickly become highly sought after, leaving professionals scrambling to update their skillset. So it’s worth casting our minds back occasionally, to see how far, and how fast, we’ve evolved.
In 2012, for example, Instagram had only been going for two years. TikTok obviously didn’t exist, and streaming platforms were still in their infancy. Employment predictions for 2012 are, in hindsight, surprisingly nontechnical: traditional careers like education administrator, social worker, urban planner and emergency management specialist were assumed to be growth fields. Instead, data science, product management, UX design, cloud architecture and cybersecurity all saw an explosion of demand through the late 2010s. As tech infrastructure became more sophisticated, and in some cases more vulnerable, businesses needed new ways to stay safe, remain profitable, and measure their online impact.
Here are some in-demand jobs for 2022 that barely existed, or didn’t exist at all, 10 years ago.
1. UX designer
UX design technically goes all the way back to the 1990s, when a cognitive scientist named Donald Norman joined Apple and re-wrote the playbook on customer-product interaction. But in 2012, UX was still a nascent field, and UX designers were considered niche professionals, rather than essential tech workers. The rise of UX designers largely correlated with the proliferation of smart phones: phone sales jumped from 122 million in 2012 to 190 million by 2015, and UX design was suddenly the hot new field. Every business now needed a mobile-compatible website and a frictionless web store. Today UX professionals are highly sought after, with jobs predicted to grow another 12% over the next five years.
2. Twitch streamer
In 2012, streaming platform Twitch had only been running for a year. User growth was phenomenal, but the platform had yet to be acquired by Amazon for US$970 million, and the focus in those early days was on eSports and gaming exclusively. The idea that anyone could become a Twitch streamer, and broadcast cooking, or painting, or music, was still a novelty. These days, Twitch streamer and Youtuber are both recognised careers, albeit ones that rely on a little bit of luck. To put the numbers in perspective, the top 0.1% of streamers on Twitch pull in roughly 74% of all watch time. The vast, vast majority of streamers, some 8 million people on Twitch, attract fewer than 5 viewers per stream.
3. VR developer
VR has grown exponentially over the last 10 years. In fact, 2012 was the year a little company called Oculus launched a Kickstarter for their Rift VR headset – one of the early VR prototypes that hinted at the industry’s true potential (Oculus would go on to be acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014). VR jobs are expected to explode again in the coming decade, with the rise of VR/AR gaming, and the Metaverse looming on the horizon. The forecast is 23 million global jobs by 2030 – up from roughly 3.6 million this year. That’s a lot of developers, and a lot of work coming down the pipeline.
4. Blockchain engineer
10 years ago, the word ‘Blockchain’ would have got you come very confused looks around the dinner table, despite distributed ledger technology technically dating back to 1991. With the hockey-stick rise of Bitcoin in the mid 2010s, quickly followed by altcoins like Ethereum and Ripple, blockchain became the foundation for the cryptocurrency revolution. But people quickly realized it had the potential to be much more than that, and blockchain engineer is now one of the hottest jobs going around. In 2018, Upwork declared blockchain development and analysis the fastest growing skills in the world, and LinkedIn followed suit in 2020. Interested in studying blockchain? check our our blockchain courses here
5. Big data scientist
The last decade has really been the decade of data. Data scientists, data analysts and data engineers have quickly become the most sought after professionals on the market, as companies scramble to update their listening tools, track customers, and refine their online strategies. But with the rise of machine learning and data mining over the last few years, so-called ‘Big Data Scientists’ are becoming more and more crucial. The scale of the numbers, and the nature of the algorithms, requires a more specialised skillset. Large data sets are simply part of how corporations operate these days, and Big Data Scientists are needed to wade through huge swathes of structured and unstructured data, finding patterns, insights and (most importantly) value.
How to prepare for the next 10 years of work
Obviously predicting the future is impossible, otherwise we would all be cryptocurrency billionaires with shares in Afterpay. But there are a few things you can do keep your skillset ahead of the curve. Here are some of the best ways to prepare for the next 10 years of work.
Study an emerging area
If you want to future-proof your career, you need to upskill into emerging tech areas. Finding online short-courses in data science, blockchain, product development, cybersecurity, AI, software development, analytics or VR engineering is a great way to start.
Attend industry talks
Industry talks and conferences are the best way to stay across what’s new and emerging in your field. A lot of the time, these events can be covered (or at least partially covered) by your company’s internal training and development budget. So check with your boss and start signing up. For tips on talking to your boss about training, check out our blog here.
Find a mentor
Use industry events, university alumni, and professional sites like LinkedIn to build your network and find a good mentor. Finding a mentor who can challenge and support your career is essential for personal development. You don’t know what you don’t know – so go and find someone who does.
Broaden your skillset
Your best chance of remaining competitive in the market is to broaden your current skillset, with a focus on in-demand tech skills. Ideally, you want a good range of aptitudes related to your chosen discipline, and then deep knowledge in one or two specialist areas. This is the so-called ‘T Shaped’ career model.