Beware of “Hot Career” Designations

Now that we are supposedly pulling out of this recession and new jobs are being created by the thousands, everyone seems to be looking for that next hot career — the one where there will be a ton of available high-paying jobs. While it is tempting to jump on the bandwagon, your next hot career may likely land you in hot water, as in it takes you forever to find a job, and when you do, you are going to be shocked at how low the pay is. Here are a few careers that are/were considered hot and why they’re not.

Manufacturing — Used to be that if you were strong and healthy and willing, you could find a career in manufacturing where they would train you for a lifetime job. Not anymore. If you want one of the new manufacturing jobs, you must be willing to learn the technology at some kind of technical school and apprentice to land a manufacturing job, and your salary may not be a salary at all, but an hourly rate of about $10 per hour to start. The company may pay for you to go to school, but you sure won’t earn much. And you will constantly need to retrain to stay abreast of new manufacturing technologies.

Service — Have you been out of work so long that you are eager to flip burgers? Good, because that is where the job growth is happening right now, in the service sector. Do you have the patience to deal with irate customers who just lost all their computer data? Superb. You may find yourself spending your days on the telephone as a customer service agent. Computer companies have finally picked up on the fact that we Americans do not appreciate trying to talk to some computer expert in Mumbai to fix a computer located in Boise, ID. It takes too dang long, the communications disconnect is too great, and the temptation to abuse the customer service person thousands of miles away is tough to resist when your computer just turned your life into a shambles. What the computer companies have not picked up on is that Americans aren’t going to take the over-the-phone abuse for the same low overseas wages. You are looking at making about $10 per hour with a headset glued to your face.

IT — The beginning of the 21st century was an ideal time for young computer programmers in the Silicon Valley. Start ups were everywhere, the angel investors were throwing the money at them like confetti, and you were crazy if you didn’t switch jobs every 6 months to increase your pay and benefits. None of these youngsters saved any money; they bought expensive toys to play with at work, not realizing that the bottom was about to fall out of their world. The start-up bubble burst, Silicon Valley had a glut of unemployed, shocked computer programmers, and these out-of-work geniuses had bills they couldn’t pay. The moral is if you are going to ride the economic wave, know that there is a crest and a point where it splashes down. Prepare for the splashdown by saving your money and planning ahead to the next computer gig, even if it means moving away from cool Silicon Valley.

Physical Therapy — The 1990s was a decade of preparing for the next century. The baby boomers would hit retirement in the next century; they would age and need health care services. The news portrays Americans as fat and ignorant consumers of empty calorie foods. We may be fat and somewhat ignorant consumers, but contrary to what doctors are warning us about, we are still relatively healthy. We are living longer, albeit with more prescription drugs. We are still more active than our parents were, even if you only dance around the living room waving the Wii controller in your hand. So, the need for physical therapists is not as great as anticipated. PT schools had admissions waiting lists and waiting lists to take core classes. And they still graduated too many physical therapists. The high average wages that these graduates anticipated took a dive because of the glut of job candidates. The search for a job where you did not have to work 14 hour days, 7 days a week took about 2 years, and you had to be willing to move wherever the decent jobs were.

Nursing — Yes, there really is a shortage of nurses, especially on the west coast of the United States. But nurses fresh out of college with the school loans coming due are finding it difficult to get that entry-level job. While these nurses have the basic training under their belts, there is a whole other level of training that happens on the job. Hospitals and clinics train their new nurses on how procedures are done according to their institutional policies. The problem in this economy is that the training money is just not there at these institutions, and they have learned to do more with fewer nurses, at the expense of their staff.  This trend will eventually reverse itself, but probably not in time for the newly graduated nurses to start paying off their loans.

Instead of asking “What is the next hot career,” I think the questions you should be asking yourself are “What is the next hot career for me?” What am I good at, passionate about? What keeps me focused and boredom at bay? What am I willing to practice? What keeps me generating ideas and pushing myself to do better? I think that at the end of the day, your next hot career should be one that has you excitedly anticipating the next work day, and the next, and the next…

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5 Responses

  1. Great advice!!! It is a shame that more folks didn’t have you as their guidance counselor, but lucky that they can now read here.

  2. Thanks, El. Happy you are home safe.

  3. Loved the pics from the trail, the beautiful sunny days. But glad you didn’t tell us you could “see” Russia. Bet Schiffer missed you…

  4. […] friends and family are telling you based on these trends. You are likely to be disappointed because career trends can disappear quickly, leaving you with a lot of school loans and a new degree that isn’t relevant to the current […]

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