With people spending more of their time in virtual worlds, they might come to be a little disappointed with the real world. They might want to interact with their virtual friends or significant others without having to wear their VR gear. Thus, technology may eventually allow those virtual friends to emerge as real-life avatars in robotic bodies or 3D holograms. In the real world, they could become nearly as common as flesh-and-blood people. But they will take many different forms, including animals and strange alien-like creatures. Special designers will be needed to help create custom avatars that are just as appealing or imaginative in the real world as they are in the virtual ones they inhabit.
Virtual Reality Designer
Most people like to travel and explore places they've never been. However, you don't necessarily have to physically travel anywhere in order to see and experience new places. Whole virtual worlds are being created, and the supporting technology will increasingly allow you to interact with it using all of your senses. A lot of VR users might even form deep relationships with other people's virtual avatars while having adventures that they would never experience in the real world. As this technology matures, what's real and what's fantasy will start to blur together. Talented VR designers may become highly sought-after as VR developers race to fill a growing demand for more sophisticated, realistic, and imaginative virtual experiences.
Augmented Reality Developer
Is the real world too boring? Does it need some visual enhancements that provide extra information or entertainment value? Some people think so. That's why they're developing ways to superimpose digital images and information onto a person's normal perception of the world using special glasses, bionic contact lenses, or other technologies. Augmented reality could eventually have a major impact on everyone's personal and professional lives since it will probably touch every industry, event, and public space. So augmented reality developers are needed to intelligently design and plan the safe and effective use of this technology.
Many futurists believe that we've only just begun to scratch the surface of what 3D-printing technology (aka additive manufacturing) will ultimately be capable of achieving. Hobbyists, industrial designers, biomedical engineers, and other people are already experimenting with on-demand manufacturing of things like tools, food, clothing, everyday household objects, medical implants, and aviation, automotive, and electronics components. As this technology advances, 3D-printing machines may become just as commonplace as refrigerators and microwaves. Eventually, every home and business could have one. And small, localized 3D-printing manufacturers in every town may ultimately replace large remote factories. So technicians who specialize in maintaining 3D-printing equipment will likely be in growing demand.
You've probably heard of the digital cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. But how much do you know about the underlying technology that makes it possible? Blockchain technology works as a distributed cryptographic ledger that can make economic and other types of transactions decentralized, faster, and more private. It's all a bit hard to understand, but many experts believe that blockchain technology will eventually be just as world-changing as the Internet. That's why professionals who understand how to develop practical services and products with blockchain technology will probably be in high demand well into the future.
Digital Content Specialist
One of the major cultural revolutions that keeps getting more entrenched is the move toward more dynamic, digital, interactive, and on-demand media. Because of digital devices that keep us constantly connected to almost any kind of information or entertainment we want to consume, the need for fresh content that breaks through the noise is never-ending. Organizations in every industry are discovering that generating new digital content is becoming a major key to sustaining their effectiveness. That's why digital content specialists—with all kinds of different job titles and abilities—are increasingly in high demand, especially with the growing popularity of remote work and freelance gigs. To prepare for this type of position, it's smart to get training in areas like Internet marketing, writing, and multimedia and digital arts.
Thanks to computing advances and a cultural shift toward more tracking and measuring, the amount of data that gets collected every year grows by an astonishing amount. Organizations of every type now have the ability to gather so much detailed information that it's becoming more and more difficult for a lot of them to figure out what it all means. They need professionals who can not only collect the data they need, but also spot patterns, identify past and current trends, and forecast future probabilities.
Computers, robots, and mobile devices are useless without the well-engineered software that gives life to the sophisticated hardware it runs on. As the Internet grows and machines get smarter and more connected to us and to each other, the need for talented software developers will expand. Mobile app development, especially, is considered one of the best careers for 2020 and beyond. In fact, almost 1.2 million total job openings are projected to become available in the software development field between 2016 and 2026.