We recently overheard this conversation at a college admissions fair . . .

A high school student said to another, “When I told my dad I was planning to work in cybersecurity, he said, `Forget it, those careers won’t be around for more than the next few years.’”

Her friend replied, “Well your dad could be right. As soon as the right company launches the right new kind of product, cybersecurity workers will be looking for jobs in other fields.”

That conversation points out something interesting about high-tech jobs, which is that some that are hot today could cool off faster than we expect. To put it another way, high-tech doesn’t necessarily mean durable.

To offer an analogy about what can happen in security careers, it seems that only a few years ago, starting a career installing home alarm systems looked like a pretty sound idea. Today, Wi-Fi home security systems, app-enabled and self-installed by users, could be paused to put alarm installers out of work. And how many young people are now planning careers as limo or taxi drivers? In the age of Lyft and Uber, not many.

Computer Careers that Promise to Be Durable

Which high tech careers will probably provide secure employment for the next decade, at least? Here is a list drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook:

  • Computer and information research scientists
  • Computer network architects
  • Programmers
  • Computer support specialists
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Database administrators
  • Information security analysts
  • Network systems administrators
  • Software developers
  • Web developers

But Should Students Write Off High-Tech Careers that Might Not Last?

Probably not, because most tech careers can lead to other options. Yesterday’s data-entry person could become tomorrow’s network architect, web developer, or software developer. Perhaps the important question to ask young people isn’t “Does that job have a future?” but rather, “Where can it lead?”

To share your views about trends in American higher education and careers, we invite you to Participate in the National Career & College Pathway Study.

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