Back to the Future: For High-Tech Jobs, Look to the Past

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Posted by The Editors on July 4, 2011
Back to the Future: For High-Tech Jobs, Look to the Past

The June issue of Wired magazine featured an article investigating where the “smart” jobs of the future will come from—both in terms of geography, as well as specific sectors giving rise to growth. In the magazine’s characteristic counterintuitive fashion, one article uncovered the bounty of cutting-edge technology and jobs springing from the cotton industry.

That’s right, one of the poster children of the Industrial Revolution is back in the form of high-tech business: Genetic seed engineering, fertilizer chemistry, and literally, the latest cotton pickin’ technology have brought cotton into the 21st century.

This example should serve as inspiration for looking for opportunities off the beaten path. Don’t overlook a given industry just because it’s not putting out the latest consumer products or it doesn’t have a sexy reputation your friends will fawn over (I’m looking at you, wind turbine engineers.). The fact is that while analysts lament poor overall job growth, people still wear socks just about everyday.

The need to update America has created a hotbed of opportunity. Our nation’s infrastructure is aging, crumbling even. Public transportation systems date back to mid-20th century technology and major arteries of commerce, such as the Northeast Corridor, are choked to capacity. That spells a need for a rail system that employs ultra-light material, operates at higher speeds without sacrificing safety, and requires less energy.

What harkens back to the Industrial Revolution more than the coal industry? It’s reputation for being, dirty, dusty, and downright unsafe is exactly what makes it a great sector to dig for jobs. For example: Lockheed Martin developed the MagneLinkTM Magnetic Communications System (MCS), a wireless, through-the-earth communications system that aids in the rescue of trapped miners by use of magnetic waves.

Now we’re not suggesting you become an old-timey gold prospector. It’s just that we think what’s worked in the past will likely work again. Just take a minute to reconsider your options and realize not all jobs offer the allure of Madison Avenue. But allure doesn’t pay the bills.

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