The old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” doesn’t exactly hold true for careers. In the ever-changing universe of professions, new careers (and thus new jobs) have popped up that didn’t exist as recently as 10 years ago. As with any fledging career that appears to come out of nowhere, they all arise out of need, a void somewhere in the existing process that someone finally identified as salary worthy.

Even though the following four new careers have been around now anywhere from two to 10 years, they’re still considered the new frontier and thus wide open in terms of jobs and upward mobility. So if you’ve ever had a burning desire to be on the cutting edge, check out these four careers that no one had even heard of before the new millennium.

Social Media Consultant

Between Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, email, blogs, RSS feeds, and everything else I can’t think of off the top of my head, there are more options for social media than ever before. With so many choices how does one even get started? And once they’ve got their social media ship under way, how do these pioneers maintain it in order to get the most out of what social media has to offer?

The answer? Hire a Social Media Consultant (sometimes called a Social Media Strategist). These are the people who know how to get your content dugg on Digg; liked on Facebook, retweeted on Twitter, and so on. What originally just started out as a toy for lonely computer geeks has quickly morphed into one of the biggest communication tools to hit the planet since the discovery of the radio wave. In addition to being your own boss (by being an independent consultant) many publicity companies and newspapers are now taking on social media experts. For example, about a year and a half ago The New York Times hired a social media editor, who met regularly with section editors to make sure they were using social media to get their stories out. Since then the social media editor has been absorbed into a new department, The Interactive News Team, where even more social media editors and reporters have been (and will continue to be) hired.

Education: Information Systems, information technology, media arts, communications
Salary: $30K to $60K

TSA Agent or Air Marshall

Unfortunately, terrorism has forced us to increase security when we travel. Even though the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA for short, has been around in some form since 1972, it wasn’t until after 9/11 that it became the tour de force that we know today. TSA agents now have extensive training in areas of security, intelligence, and terrorism, and as such the opportunities for long term, rewarding careers are more prevalent than any other time in the history of TSA.

Similarly, air marshals are basically trained to be in-flight policemen, stationed on airplanes to keep the peace and prevent any mid-air terrorist attacks (or to subdue any unruly passengers who risk the safety of the other passengers). As you can imagine, air marshals have to go through just as much training as policemen, TSA agents, the FBI, and pilots, however, air marshals get the added bonus of free travel as part of their job.

Education: Law enforcement, emergency management, private security
Salary: TSA agent: $22K to $42K; air marshal: If hired as a G-5 employee, $27K to $45K starting salalry

Blogger

The need for good content on the Internet is huge, which is why professional bloggers are in such great demand. Although anyone can create their own website and blog on it, you have to be able to write well in order to be a paid blogger (at least well enough for someone to like your writing well enough to pay you for it).

Unlike traditional magazine writers, bloggers are hired to promote a brand, product, objective or mission through the use of writing interesting , yet informational articles. Typically bloggers do all their own research and then have to be able to compose the results into a brief, easy conversational style that allows viewers to read and digest the content quickly. They also have to be technical enough to post and maintain their own blogs on a blogsite.

Education: Technology management, journalism, communications, English and writing
Salary: $12K for part time work; up to $60K as a full time writer for a website, magazine, or newspaper

Patient Advocate

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you’re on just about everyone agrees that U.S. healthcare is a mess. Even though the quality of healthcare in the U.S. is generally good, the bureaucracy that surrounds it can be stifling, especially for patients who require extensive and expensive treatments. The billing system alone is enough to make anyone ill.

Which is why the patient advocate has bubbled to the surface. A patient advocate is someone who helps individuals understand their rights as patients when issues involving personal healthcare become overwhelming. The Patients Rights Act of 1996 coupled with the recent passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 makes sorting out patients’ rights (when it comes to treatment and billing) more confusing than ever. A patients’ advocate can help lift that confusion in a time when a person needs help the most.

Education: Medical billing and coding, health services, healthcare administration, law
Salary: Depends of the region of the U.S. and level of degree (lawyers make more), but anywhere from $32K to $70K

As you can see, the opportunities for new careers are never ending. By the time this new decade ends new careers that we’ve never even heard of today will be commonplace. Which is why it’s never too late to go back to school to pursue a new profession. Since change is the only constant, we constantly have to keep learning.

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