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On The Job

10 Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago

If you're looking for a career change, consider one of these new fields.

Thinking about a career change? For the best odds of snagging and hanging onto a job for the long haul, you'll want to avoid professions on the decline in today’s economy (think bookbinders, textile workers and machine-tool operators) and focus on professions whose outlook is rosier (such as health care, financial analysis or social work).

Technology, cultural shifts and changing demographics combine to create new career fields all the time. Here are ten of our favorite new roles for 2011 and beyond, ones that didn't even exist ten years ago:


Social Media/Online-Community Manager

Social media or online-community management is a field made possible and necessary by the gargantuan rise in social networking activity. Sites like Facebook serve 500 million (yep, that's half a billion) users, who share personal and public messages, photos, videos, games and other experiences at a dizzying pace.


Social media strategists focus on building their employers' or clients' brands through the use of social media sites and tools, whereas online-community managers specialize in fostering user discussion and evangelism for the marketers they support. There is overlap between the two fields; one can manage social media tools without dabbling in online community, and vice versa, or the two functions can be combined in one group or person. What does a social media or online-community manager need to succeed? Essentials include great written communication skills, a sense of humor, empathy, a marketing background and lots of experience with social media tools (Facebook, Twitter and Youtube among them).

Telework Manager or Coordinator

You've heard of telecommuting? It's called telework now, and it's all the rage among small employers who want to stay nimble (plucking the best talent from across the country or around the globe and deploying people virtually, wherever they're based) and large employers looking to shed office costs.

Full-time or part-time telework program managers and coordinators manage the telework programs in place at their employers, resolving technical and communication issues that arise and writing policies to cover every imaginable telework-created sticky wicket. Telework program managers may oversee other programs, too. A recent Department of Commerce job listing for a combined telework/disabilities program manager offered a salary range of $89,033 - $136,771 -- not bad at all for a job you can do from home (we're assuming -- the irony would be crushing, otherwise). Telework managers might report to HR, to IT or elsewhere in the organization, and can also exist at the regional or divisional level.

Sustainability Manager

What we now call a “corporate sustainability program” was once referred to simply as “recycling” and was often a very small part of someone's job. These days, nearly all sizable corporations employ dedicated and highly qualified people to look after their sustainability programs, which can stop at recycling and waste reduction or can include supplier sustainability evaluation, carbon footprint issues associated with the business (I hope the sustainability manager's office is close to the telework manager's) and leadership in the areas of facilities design, green manufacturing and more. Bachelors' and masters' programs in environmental leadership and sustainability are booming and can include courses ranging from Energy Management to Creating a Sustainability Culture. The Web site surveyed corporate sustainability officers and found that VPs in the sustainability game are earning close to $200,000 per year.


Elder-Care Services Coordinator

An aging population and increasing interest in at-home or like-home care are factors in the growth of the elder-care services coordinator role, both at residential facilities and with insurance companies and health care organizations. People who understand gerontology and end-of-life issues, and who can stay on top of the moving target of health care regulation and follow developing trends in elder-care best practices would be well-suited to these roles. Empathy, follow-through and top-notch communication skills are also must-haves for prospective elder-care services coordinators, who may need advanced degrees in gerontology (the study of aging) or related areas.

Educational Consultant

Tutoring is an old field. But in its latest incarnation, educational consultants work with children and their families to get students into the educational environments best-suited to their learning needs. In sync with an increasing body of knowledge about the way individuals learn (and we don't all learn the same way, in case you were wondering), the field of educational consulting provides kids and their parents with more information and better options for helping Timmy spell and helping Amber find a college where her gifts will shine. Educational consultants can work on their own, for larger firms or for educational institutions themselves, testing students and interviewing them and their families to help kids get the support they need.

Within corporations, internal educational consultants get staffers the “hard” (functional/technical) and “soft” (communication and leadership skills) training they need to thrive in a global, diverse and connected world. A recent job opening for an internal educational consultant role at a global bank pays six figures and requires seven years of industry experience. Isn’t a gig like that worth a look?

Search Engine Optimization Specialist

SEO was around ten years ago, but it was a gleam in Al Gore's eye just a few years before that. Search engine optimization pros use a combination of left- and right-brain techniques, from analysis and experimentation to gut feel and insight, to move their clients' or employers' Web sites up the search engine rankings, thereby bringing them more traffic and, they hope, stronger revenues. SEO types focus on natural (unpaid) and paid search initiatives and collaborate with marketing, technology and sales peers in search of the perfect search-engine-pleasing combination of site content, layout and programming. A recent search of the jobs site turned up 1,402 SEO-related jobs within a 25-mile radius of the Big Apple. To apply, you'll need a mix of technical and marketing skills, grounding in search-engine logic and a nose for Web site user behavior. reports a national average salary from the mid-thirties to high forties for SEO specialists, but the good ones I know get double that, or more.


Medical Biller/Coder

Sure, ten years ago, people had health insurance. It's just that, in those days, plans were simpler, and filling out the 10 million forms necessary for patient or provider reimbursement was simpler than translating the Rosetta Stone, unlike today. The new field of medical billing and coding has sprung up to get insurance companies (and government plans like Medicare and Medicaid) the information they need and to make sure that medical procedures are classified and recorded the proper way. Medical billers and coders work at doctors' offices, at hospitals and other health care facilities and typically have certification or formal education (six-month and one-year programs abound) that allow them to navigate the tricky terrain of medical terminology every day. quotes an average national salary rate into the mid-thirties.

Online Advertising Manager

It used to be that if you wanted to purchase an ad in the newspaper, you'd write some ad copy, get a designer to create some nice graphics, and you'd be ready to roll. Nowadays, print ads coexist with online advertising, which is capable of things (such as tracking clicks and steering visitors off to specialized-for-their-needs landing pages) that print advertising never was. Online ad managers may work for content sites, selling ad programs and strategizing with clients (advertisers) about where on the site, when and how to run online campaigns. Or they may work for advertisers, running the online side of an advertiser's business and tracking each ad's performance.

Online advertising managers are savvy marketers who also understand how new technology enables cooler (or creepier, depending on your POV) ad programs all the time. (For instance, have you noticed how ads follow you around the Internet now, as though to say, "You're SURE you didn't want those to-die-for silver pumps? REALLY?") Online ad managers can earn a high-five-figure salary or more, and if they do, they'll be sure to keep track of and take credit for (very appropriately) every ad dollar they've driven into their bosses' coffers!

Talent Management Coordinator

Human Resources people have always had a hand in what's loosely been called talent management -- the art and science of attracting great people (the “talent”) into an organization and keeping them there. These days, corporations employ dedicated talent managers or talent coordinators to plan their workforce needs over time and make sure that the skills exist within the company to keep the organization on top of its game. Talent managers are HR people who take the long view, looking at talent pipelines and the development of high-potential employees for leadership roles over years. They may also run their firms' succession-planning programs, keeping nervous board members and shareholders feeling good about the company's ability to hit its goals even if key individuals resign or retire (or get arrested, now that we think about it). Talent managers possess a mix of analytical and strategic attributes, and they are often charged with crafting the employer's hiring plans, as well.


User Experience Manager

What's a user experience? Why, it's what happened to you when you went to get your new driver's license or when you, say, read a captivating column online about new professional opportunities. Quick-thinking corporate marketers have glommed onto the fact that every interaction with an entity, from the Department of Motor Vehicles to Macy's, is also a user experience, and they're paying close attention to those things these days. User experience managers were first widely seen in Web design firms and the marketers who employed them, focusing on a Web site in development from the viewpoint of a user who would eventually have to navigate the thing. Now, user experience is the watchword for banks, insurance companies, restaurants and virtually any company that has reason to evaluate and improve the way its customers and prospective customers encounter its people and processes. (Now, here's what I'd like to see: a talent manager job combined with a user experience assignment, to convince employers to stop insulting their would-be employees with those hatefully bureaucratic and tedious careers Web sites. But that's a topic for another column.)