Hot Jobs for the 21st Century

Jennifer Landon Quote
Pat Spirou Quote about Social Media
Lundy Lewis Quote on Game Design and Development
Paul Barresi Quote about Sustainability Jobs
Rafael Rojas Quote about Homeland Security Jobs

The Extra Mile provides examples of where the jobs are, even in a tough economy.

With all the bleak economic news of the last two years, encouraging information from the job front is more than welcome.

“The good news is that there are jobs,” said Jennifer Landon, SNHU’s Career Development Center director.

Government labor reports and SNHU faculty and staff experts predict swelling opportunity in such fields as information technology, homeland security, the “green-collar” sector and mental health.

“With new technologies constantly emerging, growing concerns over national security, more attention being paid to sustainability and continued demand for a variety of mental health services, these are all expected growth areas as we enter into the second decade of the 21st century,” Landon said. “The advantage that Southern New Hampshire University has is we keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on. We’re the perfect incubator for hot jobs and employment trends, and building education around those.”

The Extra Mile has compiled a list of career sectors that have remained bright – and are expected to continue to be so – even as we begin to emerge from the dark days of the Great Recession:

Social Media Manager
Ten years ago, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no LinkedIn and very little blogging, texting or podcasting. Marketing typically focused on traditional methods of messaging, including print, TV and radio.

With the emergence of social media comes an immediate need for people who know how to navigate and reach customers in this space and companies are beginning to see a need for strategic social media management.

Social media duties often are being added to existing job descriptions, such as executive marketing manager, but an increasing number of job postings have “social media” in the job title, according to Dr. Patricia Spirou, marketing chair and co-creator of the university’s new MBA in social media marketing.

Also called social media directors, interactive social media coordinators, social media marketing managers, online marketing managers, new media specialists, online community specialists, directors of Internet marketing and more, this career category didn’t exist 10 years ago and is still developing.

“It’s fairly new, as far as companies allocating positions to it. The social media manager is going to be different form company to company,” she said.

Technology Integration Specialist
Technology is a key focus for schools these days – not just how to introduce it and keep it running smoothly, but how to incorporate it into K-12 classroom teaching.

This new role is being filled by the technology integration specialist, a new educator certification from the Department of Education.

“The new image of the integration is that technology needs to be part of every single classroom,” said Dr. Mary Heath, dean of SNHU’s School of Education, which is introducing a technology integration specialist program at the master’s level.

The technology integration specialist’s role “is to work hand in hand with educators (and) plan lessons with them, incorporating ways technology can be used to enhance instructional practice and student achievement,” she said.

“The real benefit of this position to the children is, it’s building learning environments that support them in their style of learning,” Heath added. “It’s helping teachers employ those digital measures kids are used to and using those as learning tools. It’s getting educators to think differently about technology in their classrooms.”

Game Design and Development Specialist
Game design and development wasn’t even a degree before 2000, and jobs in the field were scarce, according to Dr. Lundy Lewis, chair of SNHU’s Computer Information Technology Department.

The increasingly widespread use of technology for gaming, therapeutic purposes, entertainment, training and more is one reason for the field’s growth; another is simply because computer technology has improved, said Lewis, who teaches in the university’s game design and development program.

Specialty careers include character/organic modelers, concept artists, lighting specialists and artificial intelligence experts (which is Lewis’ domain).

“More games are being developed for entertainment and serious purposes. The understanding of what it takes to build a game has evolved over the last 10 or 15 years,” he said. “Now there is a multiplicity of specialized jobs in GDD (game design and development).”

Green Collar
Sustainability Director
Pursuing sustainability in organizations is the purview of the sustainability director, who typically focuses on a company’s energy use and all aspects of purchasing, production, facilities operation and construction, often ­with a goal of creating a zero-waste, zero-pollution operations strategy, said Roy Morrison, director of the Office of Sustainability at SNHU.

“Economic growth means ecological improvement, not ecological destruction; this will be a
crucial task for the 21st century,” Morrison said. “The position of sustainability manager or director will be integral for business and managerial success and play an increasingly important role in decision making, entrepreneurial success and the creation of secure value chains.”

In the future, job growth in the green sector will be driven dramatically by the eventual transition to a low-carbon economy, said Dr. Paul Barresi, chair of the Environment, Politics and Society Department.

“How quickly that’s going to happen and precisely what form that’s going to take remains up in the air,” Barresi said. “But the real growth ultimately is going to be the result of what both the private sector and public sectors are going to have to do to slow down and ultimately to adapt to global climate change.

“These professionals will be concerned not merely with reducing energy uses to slow down the process ... but with adapting to various spinoff effects with economic implications caused by the very high concentrations of greenhouse gases that we've emitted into the atmosphere already, and by the climatic disruption to which those concentrations already have committed us,” Barresi said. “There’s a market for applicants with the relevant credentials now, and the demand for qualified professionals will only grow in the future.”

Mental Health and Wellness
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor
Stresses stemming from the recession, from military deployments and the growing needs of military personnel and their families, and from natural and industrial disasters such as Katrina and the oil spill in the Gulf are adding up to a growing need for mental health and substance abuse counselors to serve people of all ages, from infants to elders, according to experts in SNHU’s Graduate Program in Community Mental Health.

Add to the increased demand the scores of leaders and practitioners in the field who are at or nearing retirement age. “For our students and graduates, it’s an opportunity to step into different roles, not just in direct service, but also in positions of leadership,” said Susan Maslack, the PCMH’s site development coordinator.

“People are more informed that there may be help out there, and looking for that help,” said Dr. Annamarie Cioffari, director of the PCMH. “The field is hungry for new people.”

People with mental health and substance abuse counseling training and expertise are in particular demand.

“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that one-fourth of all adult stays in U.S. community hospitals involve mental health or substance abuse disorders. In addition, a majority of people needing services have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse concerns,” Maslack said.

“There are many positions for mental health and substance abuse counselors available in both prevention and treatment,” Cioffari said.

Safety and Security
Homeland Security
It’s hard to pick only one area of growth from all the occupations housed within homeland security (so we won’t).

Homeland security is a huge umbrella that covers numerous agencies and occupations – and it will only grow larger, said Rafael Rojas, Jr., an assistant professor of justice studies who came to the university after an almost 30-year career in law enforcement.

Emergency management, law enforcement, transportation security, intelligence and analysis, border patrol, and infrastructure protection all fall into this category, and job growth is predicted across the board.

The Department of Homeland Security has more than 180,000 employees; there are more than 80 federal law enforcement agencies and more than half a million police officers in the U.S. today, Rojas said. The Transportation Security Administration alone has doubled in size in the last five years, he added.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people working together to make sure that this country is not attacked again,” he said.

Rojas, who worked in New York City and lost 37 co-workers on Sept. 11, 2001, said the attacks that day “catapulted the occupations in the justice field.”

“These are occupations that by nature tend to grow because we’re becoming a more sophisticated society, we are growing in population size,” he said. “It was exacerbated by the fact of 9-11.”

Cybersecurity Officer
Advancements in technology and increasing comfort with storing personal information digitally has led to a growing crop of tech-savvy “bad guys,” said Dr. Lundy Lewis, who, in addition to chairing SNHU’s Computer Information Technology Department, also conducts cybersecurity research and development for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. 

More bad guys means “you need more good guys to counteract that,” Lewis said.

In this case, the person in the white hat is the cybersecurity officer.

SNHU’s good guy, Information Security Officer Robert Witmer, said companies that collect personal information – such as universities and banks – must meet a number of regulatory requirements aimed at keeping that information safe. One role of the cybersecurity officer is to help institutions meet these requirements and protect such information from daily threats.

“Social Security numbers are worth a lot of money on the black market. Someone’s credit card numbers are worth a lot of money. As long as there’s value, someone is going to try to get it,” Witmer said. “The university gathers data; we’re entrusted with that data and we need to protect it.”

There are a lot of opportunities in this growing field, Witmer said.

“It’s such a broad field. Opportunities exist for everyone, from the übertech, where the person is doing bits and bytes, actually tracking intruders through the systems, to the business major who is working to make the security policies and actions fit the business,” he said. “There’s always something happening.”

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