There’s an excellent opinion piece over at the WSJ today called, “Is Your Job an Endangered Species?” that everyone should read. It does a pretty useful thing, tossing out the whole blue collar and white collar definitions of work and replacing them with creators and servers. From that reclassification, it’s easier to start to take the next step: figuring out what jobs (and whole job titles) are going to go bye-bye in the future. This is a Big Deal, and something kids thinking about what they want to do with their life should be digesting.
The big question that everyone should ask themselves is this: can my job (or what I want to do) be replaced by a computer program or a robot during my earning years? If so, then it’s probably pretty wise either change career paths ASAP or develop a backup career that doesn’t answer in the affirmative. If I was helping someone with career path planning, I’d advise them to stay out of retail (including management), most government-related work, higher education, law, or finance. Of course, you can succeed in almost any of those fields (they aren’t going to go away completely), but you’re putting yourself in a situation where there’s a shrinking demand with growing supply. You’ll have to really shine and work hard to carve out a career. Better areas to pursue? Science, engineering, computers, and — where I part ways with the author of the article — medical. Above all, create useful things that save people’s time, money, health, and energy.
Jerry Pournelle also has some insight into this, linking to the same article, but puts it into a larger context of human history and the grind of poverty.