Each year, the Occupational Information Network, or O*Net, an occupational information source developed for the US Department of Labor, recognizes “bright-outlook occupations.” Even though they may have been around for a while, several of these occupations are considered “emerging” because they now have a critical mass of workers and a clearer career road map, according to career expert Laurence Shatkin, co-author of The College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs.
Based on the July 2012 O*Net update, here are eight emerging careers with bright outlooks in terms of immediate demand and pay. Even better, they’re all in high-growth industries.
Precision Agriculture Technician
Using GPS and GIS technology, these agricultural specialists help farmers determine how much water or pesticide to use or which crops are appropriate for the soil in various locations. The projected job growth for 2010-2020 is between 10 percent and 19 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary is about $43,000. Similar job titles are crop specialist, nutrient management specialist, precision agronomist and precision farming coordinator.
Using a variety of engineering disciplines, mechatronics engineers design systems to automate industrial tasks. Most jobs can be found in manufacturing and government. Pay is excellent -- the median annual mechatronics engineer salary in 2011 was $90,580.
Energy brokers facilitate the sale of energy commodities between their clients and other companies. This job is different from an energy trader, who buys commodities on spec and hopes to sell them at a favorable price. Brokers are usually employed by financial services companies, banks and trading houses. The BLS expects job growth of up to 19 percent through 2020. The median energy broker salary in 2011 was $50,630. Another job title for energy broker is energies commodities broker.
A logistics analyst uses advanced RFID tagging technology to analyze product delivery or supply-chain processes. Based on their analysis, these experts may manage or recommend changes in route activity to maintain or improve efficiency. Similar job titles include global logistics analyst and supply-chain analyst. The BLS projects fast growth -- up to 28 percent -- through 2020. Median annual salary is just shy of $72,000.
Biostatisticians look for patterns of disease emergence and persistence. In addition, they are increasingly studying how various healthcare policies and procedures can be made more efficient and affordable. “The Affordable Care Act of 2010 should boost this career because it includes provisions to study the efficacy of various healthcare procedures,” Shatkin says. The BLS projects job growth between 10 percent and 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. The median biostatistician salary in 2011 was about $74,000.
These technologists look for indicators of genetic abnormalities in fetuses and are increasingly studying genetic signatures of various cancers and indicators of genetic diseases. The BLS projects job growth of 10 percent to 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. The median annual salary in 2011 was $57,000.
Ergonomists create products and procedures designed to lessen physical strain and injury. “The field is strong due to the aging of the population, which creates demand for products and workplaces that are less physically demanding, and from businesses’ demand for greater efficiency that can be built into work procedures,” Shatkin tells Monster.com. The median annual ergonomist salary was just over $77,000 in 2011, according to the BLS. These specialists are also called human factors engineers.
These professionals help protect the environment by determining the economic impact of policy decisions relating to air, water, land and renewable-energy resources. More than 90 percent of these experts have either a master’s degree or doctorate. Salaries are high: The 2011 median environmental economist salary was $90,550. Jobs can be found in the government and professional, scientific and technical services sectors.