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Out to Sea for My Next Career

Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum! You landlubbers can keep your earth-bound careers. It’s the seaman’s life for me. And it ain’t gonna be a big whale I’m chasing, matey. It’s a big paycheck.

I’m not delusional. I’m simply putting a bet on the next big demographic trend. Yes, I’ve finally realized if I choose a career that is on the way up, I am less likely to be trapped in a job that is on the way out.

All of which brings me to that most excellent of careers – sea captain.

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According to a recent Lauren Weber article in “The Wall Street Journal,” the Conference Board, a corporate-research organization, has “examined the risk of labor shortages in 464 occupations, projecting shortfalls for a majority of them.”

I’m not sure why sea captains turn up on high on the most-wanted list. Maybe the all the Harvard and Stanford graduates who would normally become sea captains have decided to become investment bankers, instead. Or, maybe, with global warming making ocean levels rise, we’ll just need more sea captains to run the new commuter boats that will be transporting passengers from under-water Manhattan to under-water Miami.

Of course, if you get seasick watching “Baywatch” reruns, or don’t look good in a uniform, or simply don’t want to go down with the ship, there are other careers that are the upswing.

Power plant operators are projected to be short supply, and that seems like a terrific job – if you have to stay on land. I think you would be especially good at operating a nuclear power plant, which is a really cushy job 99.99 percent of the time. Of course, the .01 percent of the time when things go, shall we say, nuclear, you might find yourself the subject of a rather negative focus in the press, but what the heck – you’ll be glowing so brightly you can easily get yourself a job as a floor lamp.

Occupational therapist is another career that is expected to be plagued by shortages in the coming years. This should give you time to figure out what the heck an occupational therapist does. If it has something to do with teaching people how to goof off at their jobs, and not only get away with it, but thoroughly believe that they deserve major raises for all they don’t do, occupational therapy could be right up your alley.

Wastewater treatment is another area primed for future growth. Though it is difficult to believe, the Conference Board’s researchers have found that young people are spurning this profession. This is very surprising to me. I know you’ve never passed a pool of wastewater, or, for that matter, passed out in a pool of wastewater, without saying to yourself, “By George, I could treat that.” And you didn’t know even know there were beaucoup bucks involved.

Do the glamorous worlds of power plant management and wastewater treatment seem like a lot more excitement than you could handle? There are some low-key jobs that are also showing great growth potential. Like librarian. Really! Remember your childhood dream of being able to shush people with impunity? Well, now’s the time to get yourself to library school, because the librarians we already have are rushing to retirement, and the hot new superstar librarians coming up can not possibly provide all the shushing we are going to need.

If the Conference Board and I have failed to present you with future career opportunities where projected shortages will get you megabucks, allow us to share with you the career choices that are likely to keep you mega-poor. Sad to say, the job market of the future will not be kind to “food preparation workers, cashiers, telemarketers, plasters and stucco masons, waiters, actors, cooks, credit analysts and cabinet makers.” We just have too many of these people, which depresses salaries, which depresses me.

Whether enough people in these over-crowded professions will jump ship, and then jump on a ship, is difficult for me to predict. If your lifelong dream is to be a stucco mason, I’m certainly not going to burst your balloon.

Personally, if I can’t be a sea captain, or a stucco mason, I know the career I’m going to choose. I’m going to become a researcher at the Conference Board. There will always be a big demand for big nerds who can crunch numbers and crunch dreams, all at the same time.

Until then, it’s full-steam ahead.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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