The Best Jobs Of The Future

Posted May 3, 2017, by Vivien Luu

The future of work is changing. Fast.

Industries are shrinking, jobs are vanishing, and professional skills now have a rapid half-life.

‘There are some overarching shifts poised to change the nature of work itself over the next decade,’ says research director of the Institute of the Future, Devin Fidler.

It’s a brave new world out there. And if you’re feeling a little nervous, we don’t blame you.

You’re probably wondering: How do I keep up with it all? What sort of professional skills do I need to gain? What are the best jobs to have in the future?

All great questions.

And thankfully, we have the answers.

By looking at the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report and MONEY’s research findings, we’ll show you which career paths and skills will give you the brightest future and have companies clamouring to hire you! 

1. Data analysts

Data Analysts

The World Economic Forum (WEF) surveyed thousands of CEOs from around the globe and across various industries, and the overwhelming majority agreed that data analysts were on the top of their ‘to hire’ list.


Because we humans currently generate a TONNE of data. In fact, an IDC study projects that by 2020, every human on the planet will generate approximately 1.7 megabytes of new data every second of every day.

That’s a lot of data.

For companies, plenty of data means plenty of opportunities to mine this information for rich consumer insights.

And in order to do this, the WEF says they’ll need a team of data analysts to ‘make sense and derive insights from the torrent of data generated by technological disruptions.’

Data analysts will be as important to the Information Age as the prospector was to the Gold Rush. After all, what’s the point in having all of this data, if you can’t mine it for all its worth?

Salary range: $52K-$123K
Relevant course: ADMA Analytics Certificate
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • SAS (Statistical Analysis System): +6.1%
  • Data Mining/ Data Warehousing: +5.1%
  • Data Modelling: +5%
  • Forecasting: +3.5%

2. IT and mathematics professionals 

IT and Mathematics Professionals

No surprises here. Hardcore techies and maths nerds will still be in red-hot demand heading into the future as they continue to form the backbone of innovation and industry.

Programmers, software developers and information security analysts will be particularly important, as established industries and emerging niches need these professionals to build the next generation of platforms, applications and technologies – and more importantly, to make sure they’re secure.

Tech professionals are already a highly sought after pool of workers, and the wonderful knock-on effect of being so coveted by companies is enjoying awesome work conditions and a nice paycheque. It’s no wonder ICT dominated the list of happiest jobs last year, securing an impressive 7 out of the 10 top spots!

If you’re lucky enough to already work in this field, you’re probably wondering what sectors or specialisations will offer the most growth into the future.

Tech mogul Bill Gates says that if he had his time again, he’d drop out of college in an instant for these three promising fields:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Energy
  • Biotechnology 

Salary range: $50K-$220K 
Relevant course: Certificate IV in Web-Based Technologies 
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Software development: +4.9%
  • IT security and infrastructure: +3.7%
  • Systems troubleshooting: +3.3%

3. Architects and engineers 

Architects and Engineers

Over the next three years, the need for architects and engineers is set to skyrocket, with today’s demand for these highly-skilled professionals already eclipsing supply.

Architects and engineers are like the masters of the universe; they turn dreams into reality and do everything from powering planes and driving space exploration to transforming entire cities and the way we live.

As we inch closer to major breakthroughs and take on the world’s most ‘wicked problems’ – large-scale, complex problems that are not ‘evil’ per se, but are considered wicked because they’re notoriously difficult to solve – like the refugee crisis, climate change and dwindling resources, we’ll need the ingenuity and might of architects and engineers to lean on.

According to the World Economic Forum report, the biggest growth specialisations are:

  • Biochemicals
  • Nanotechnology
  • Robotics (mechatronics engineering)
  • Materials 

Salary range: $50K-$220K
Relevant course: Master of Engineering Management
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Computer-aided design/manufacturing: +3.4%

4. Specialised sales professionals

Specialised sales professionals will be in high demand in the future

By 2020, sales reps with technical chops will become increasingly important.

As companies of the future continue to create the most innovative and technologically complex products we’ve ever seen, they’ll need a taskforce of specialised sales reps – particularly ones who can handle technologically complex sales – to target new clients and drive growth.

As MONEY and Payscale’s joint report points out, sales professionals with strong technical skills enjoy an average 4.3 per cent boost in their salary and ‘typically fatten their paycheque if they can handle technologically complex products and services.’

Beyond being tech-savvy, sales reps will also need to have exceptional communication skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Salary range: $41K-$91K
Relevant course: Certificate IV in Business Sales (BSB40615)
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Contract negotiation: +5%
  • Technical sales: +4.3% 

5. Senior managers

The the future senior managers will be needed, especially in industries ’ripe for disruption’

Over the next few years, the WEF says senior managers will continue to be highly coveted by companies, particularly in sectors that are ‘ripe for disruption.’

According to analysts and forecasters, the sectors that are most likely to experience a major shakeup include:

  • The energy sector
  • Real estate
  • Financial services (particularly mobile banking)
  • Media and entertainment 

So if you’re a manager on the cusp of transitioning into a senior exec simply looking for a new challenge, consider moving into one of the above fields.

Just remember that if you want to be the type of executive companies will drool over, exceptional managerial skills simply aren’t enough anymore. Moving into the future, companies will seek a ‘new type of senior manager who will successfully steer companies through the upcoming change and disruption.’

Salary range: $110K-$203K (varies widely depending on industry)
Relevant course: Master of Business Administration (Innovation and Leadership)
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Strategic project management: +4.4%
  • Financial analysis: +4.0%
  • Business analysis: +3.8%
  • Forecasting: 3.5%
  • New business development: +3.0%

6. Product designers 

Product and industrial designers will become more important than ever into the the future

With repetitive and monotonous jobs becoming increasingly automated in the future, the WEF says creative jobs will become more important than ever, particularly ones that require a human touch.

It’s why designers will become increasingly important as we inch closer to 2020, with commercial, product and industrial design jobs set to experience the most growth and demand.

With emerging fields like robotics and wearable technology and industries like the energy sector poised for disruption, we’ll need product designers to design everything from driverless cars and the future of transport through to new gadgets and manufactured goods.

Salary range:
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Lean manufacturing: +3.6%
  • Computer-aided design/manufacturing: +3.4% 

7. HR specialists 

In the future, HR specialists will be needed to secure top talent and help reskill existing employees

Given the general disruption felt by industries across the board, and the fierce competition for talented programmers, architects and engineers, it’s no wonder CEOs from around the globe told the WEF that one of their highest priorities is to find clever and efficient ways to secure a ‘solid talent pipeline’.

That’s why HR specialists will be in such high demand over the next few years.

Roles within the ‘computer and mathematics’, and ‘architecture and engineering’ job families are already notoriously difficult to recruit for – and with the WEF forecasting that these fields will create an additional 2 million jobs around the world by 2020, companies will be being over backwards to hire talented HR specialists to help reinvent HR as we know it.

And the future of HR is digital.

‘We see how digital has transformed media, retail transportation and education. Now it’s HR’s turn,’ writes Jeanne Meister, a partner at HR advisory firm, Future Workplace. ‘The next journey for HR leaders will be to apply a consumer and digital lens to the HR function, creating an employee experience that mirrors their best customer experience.’

But talent acquisition isn’t the only thing HR specialists will need to focus on.

According to the WEF report, 65% of CEOs and industry leaders said they were looking to heavily invest in reskilling their current employees. So HR professionals with a strong background in developing training programmers will also be highly desirable.

Salary range: $50K-$115K
Relevant course: Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management)
The average pay boost each skill brings:

  • Contract negotiation: +5% 

8. Regulatory lawmakers and government relations experts 

Regulatory lawmakers and government relations experts

As our future becomes besieged with exciting (and terrifying) new technologies like driverless cars, long-range drones and gene-editing tools, we’ll need regulatory lawmakers and policy experts to navigate the legal and ethical conundrums that go hand in hand with new tech.

Let me give you an example that the car industry is already grappling with.

No matter how safe they may be, driverless cars still need to be programmed to respond in the event of an accident. So, if there’s a crash, who should the car be programmed to save? The driver? The pedestrians? Or the other drivers?

These ethically murky grey areas will need to be thoroughly explored by lawyers and government regulators alike as they attempt to legislate and regulate our increasingly complex future.

Salary range: $45K-$220K
Relevant course: Bachelor of Laws

Want to really future-proof your career? Here are the 10 skills you will need by 2020


Future of Jobs report by World Economic Forum
21 Most Valuable Career Skills report by MONEY and Payscale
Robert Half Salary Guide 2017
Hudson Salary Guide 2017 

Vivien Luu
Vivien Luu

Viv is a writer who enjoys researching and writing about creativity, how the human mind works, and neuro processes. She values creativity above all else and admires people who pursue their career dreams, no matter the sacrifice. In her spare time, she binges on HBO shows and epic fantasy novels.

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