What Are The Best Jobs of the Future?

Since I was a kid, I've been enamored with the future. I give the credit to the cartoon "The Jetsons." Watching George Jetson push a button on his briefcase to transform it into a spacecraft was something I couldn't wait to do when the present finally caught up with the future. I also couldn't wait to have my very own "communicator" a la Star Trek.

It took me a while to figure out that the Hollywood future and the actual future weren't always in sync. While the Smart Car is getting closer to briefcase size, it's still not the contraption of the future I was promised when I was a kid. But to be fair, the "communicator" of today is much cooler than what Star Trek producers envisioned in the 1960s.

Fast-forward to the year 2010 and the magazine Popular Science has put together a list of the 10 Best Jobs of the Future. The top job: Space Pilot with a hiring date of 2020. The description: "Virgin Galactic plans to launch the first commercial suborbital spaceflights by 2012 for about $200,000 a seat. With competition from other companies, that price could soon drop low enough for daily shuttle service to outer space, the moon and asteroids for tourism, mining and science. Commercial pilots will regain the mystique they had in the '60s as thousands of them strap in for the stars."

When I read this all those giddy feelings of what the future could hold started flooding back. In one short decade I could be on a flight to the moon and my pilot brother-in-law could be flying the ship.

Another top job: Human/Robot Interaction Specialist will be the "it" career in 2030. This job will aim to help robots and people get along by teaching robots human nuances like sarcasm and humor. . . meaning robots will be more like Rosie on the Jetsons than "Robot" from "Lost in Space" that would flail its arms and spurt out the statement: "Does not compute" anytime it didn't understand one of Dr. Smith's dry jokes.

And in the year 2025 fusion workers will be in high demand. According to Popular Science, "Fusion jobs will boom, much like nuclear-power ones did in the early '70s. Jobs—"diagnostic physicist," "magnet auxiliary officer"—will, er, radiate."

To view the other top jobs, visit the Popular Science gallery. Do you think the present has finally caught up with the future? And what job do you hope to have in 2030?

Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor