Experts Point to Five Emerging Majors

New occupations develop when employers need workers to do tasks that have never been done before. Based on employment forecasters and other educational and career experts, The Chronicle of Higher Education points to the following five new majors related to emerging career fields:
service science, health informatics, computational science, sustainability, and public health.

For students, these emerging careers offer a chance to be on the leading edge of their fields. For adults, a shift within their career field can be the path out of a slow-growth career and into work with a more promising future. According to Career Voyages, a website collaboration of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education, these five areas of study fall into three growing industries:

1. Biotechnology: The areas of research and development, quality control and assurance, manufacturing and production, agriculture, and bioinformatics all offer in-demand occupations in biotechnology. In bioinformatics, one of the newest sectors, specialists organize and mine huge amounts of biomedical data, such as research related to the study of the human genome, clinical trials, or diseases.

2. Nanotechnology: This field includes research and development of practical commercial applications using particles of matter the size of atoms.

3. Geospatial technology: This emerging field encompasses photogrammetry, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS). The most widely known application is the GPS (global positioning systems) that are familiar to many of us in our vehicles and cell phones.

As cited in the article below: “Most of the interesting work today is done at the interstices of disciplines,” says Robert B. Reich, a former U.S. labor secretary and a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. While not all colleges and universities are offering these majors, most do offer courses in related subject areas. For example, in the field of service science, 250 colleges and universities in 50 countries offer courses, mostly for graduate students. Often these are specialties that build on more general experience within a career, like a move into a homeland security role for a police officer. On the other hand, some of these emerging careers creatively link together two or more fields of expertise, such as nursing and computer science. Here are questions to consider:

How might high school curricula need to change to better prepare students in these emerging career fields?

What steps can students take to analyze opportunities in these new areas and figure out which ones might be a good fit for their interests, gifts and talents?

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