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What Did Your Ideal Job Look Like 20 Years Ago?

Ilinca Draganescu


It's Time For Recruitment To Become A Sustainable ...

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The global job market is changing. Seemingly overnight, professions that were once highly prized and prestigious find themselves tumbling down the ranks, while others that were literally unheard of 20, 10, or even 5 years ago are pulling all the interest and the paychecks to match.


Picture your ideal job. What do you see?

What does your ideal job look like? What did it look like 20 years ago?

Have you given any thought to how long that role has even existed? And if so, do you know what it looked like back in the year 2000? Today we want to take a quick look at 9 of the most popular jobs around the world as we end 2019 and enter a new decade. We’ll take a dive into the profession’s history to get a glimpse of just how recent a development they are, or how much they’ve changed through the first 2 decades of the 21st-century.

1) Software Developer


Going by many different names over the years, developers have obviously been around as long as computers. That said, the recent advancements in mobile technology have led to a dramatic swing in the focus of their work, moving from desktop computing to mobile app development. Whether the position is called “software developer,” “full-stack developer,” “web app programmer,” or any one of dozens of other related titles; the role is essentially the same as it was 20 years ago. You get to build the software being used by millions of people around the world.

2) Physical Therapist


Jumping from tech to the medical world, physical therapists (PTs) are in higher demand than ever. By no means a new field, the focus of PT has shifted in recent years from primarily assisting post-surgery patients regain mobility to also helping people stay more mobile, longer. As the Boomer generation ages, even those who don’t have joint replacement surgery find themselves with ever-limited mobility, and PTs are stepping in to assist with a growing range of modalities designed to keep active people active for as long as possible.

3) Nurse/Nurse Practitioner


Perhaps more than any other profession on our list, nursing has undergone a radical set of changes over even just the last decade. First, we saw the creation of a whole new discipline, that of the nurse practitioner (a highly trained professional capable of writing prescriptions and doing a large percentage of the work of a GP of old). Then there’s the increasingly present role of technology in managing patient records and data. Extensive training and elevated prestige are now attached to this role, taking it from simple caretaker to respected medical professional. And the technology used in medical records is on the cutting-edge of both mobility and security.

4) Accountant


Money hasn’t changed much over the years, so on the surface being an accountant would seem to be a relatively stable profession. In reality, there have been a number of significant shifts behind the scenes leading to this being one of the most technologically savvy of professions around. Project management is now the purview of each individual accountant, no longer tied to a shared office admin, so understanding current web-based tools for everything from file sharing, to document signing, to scheduling is now in the accountant’s hands. 

5) Data Analyst


Big data is a thing. There is simply so much data flowing around the internet these days that someone is needed to make sense of it all. This field is a bit different from the others on our list in that it really didn’t exist 20 years ago. Now, as we enter the 3rd decade of the 21st-century, there is an ever-present need for highly-trained mathematicians who are anxious to put their skills to use analyzing all the data streaming in from websites, eCommerce, social media apps, and more. A trained data analyst can take their pick from industries ranging from eCommerce to marketing; or from government service to software development applications to put their skillset to work. 

6) Industrial Engineer


No surprise here, technology is the driver of most of the changes seen in this sector over the last 20 years, or more. Where once drafting was done with pencil and ruler, tools like Google Sketch-Up have put the power of CAD/CAM in the hands of anyone with the time to learn the basics. Industrial engineers are now working with cutting-edge technology like 3D-printing to accomplish more than they could have even dreamt of in 2000. Alongside these developments is the emerging significance of Industry 4.0 tech like internet of things (IoT) sensors and the increasing role they play in streamlining the manufacturing industry as a whole.

7) Electrician/Trades-people


Something that gets overlooked in the race to develop the next big tech widget is that all those tech workers need buildings to work in. They need roads and transit infrastructure to get from home to those offices, and they need all of that to work together. If there was nobody to install fiber-optic cabling in the office buildings, how would the next awesome app be developed? The trades are actually thriving these days, just slightly under the radar since what they do hasn’t actually changed all that much. Carpenters still use power saws, electricians still rely on voltmeters and wire snips, and road crews still use dozers and rollers to create and repair road infrastructure. Great pay and unionized benefits are just 2 of the things drawing in the next generation of trades-people.

8) Teacher


One of the most in-demand professions in the world, teachers are also at the forefront of emerging technology and it’s possible uses in educating tomorrow’s workforce. Think back to your most recent education experience. Most of us had that one teacher, the one who connected with us on a deeper level and set us on the course we find ourselves still following today. A growing dis-ease with the way teachers are treated as something of an underclass is causing an upswing in pay and prestige for the teaching profession, and frankly, we couldn’t be happier about that!

9) Psychologist


All this technology is having an impact on us humans. Screen addiction, online buying habits/binges, and the ever-present pinging of work emails and Slack messages interrupting our time with family and friends has lead to entire new subspecialties in the field of psychology. At the same time, there’s a growing understanding of the power of helping employees get to know themselves on a deeper level and the impact that can have on their happiness and fulfillment at work. This is leading to a growing number of organizations bringing organizational psychologists on staff to help sort out these issues for their workforce.


Whether you find yourself entering the workforce for the first time, or are considering a career jump, these 9 fields are ripe for the picking. As long as you go into it knowing about the changes that have occurred and are ready for the changes to come—you’ll be well-positioned to weather the shifts and come out on top of your chosen profession. No matter what it is!

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