As each new digital innovation transforms our world, new jobs keep springing up that would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago.
Some of these we now take for granted, while others seem bizarre and unusual even today.
Can you imagine Charles Dickens being told which words to use when writing Bleak House?
“Make sure you include the keywords ‘sad tale’ and ‘litigation satire’ up to three times every chapter please, Mr. Dickens. Oh, and can we change the title to something more relevant to the top Google searches in our research? How about Ten Things to Avoid When Contesting a Will?
A decade ago such ideas wouldn’t have been taken seriously. But the arrival of the big search engines changed how we all find and process information. Suddenly words became a technical, as well as a creative, challenge.
Today, search engine optimisation (SEO) is an accepted part of digital content writing and is still in great demand as search engine rankings become increasingly competitive. Its importance cannot be understated, for without it your words may struggle to find enough readers in the first place – no matter how wonderful your writing may be otherwise.
The best SEO consultants are those who can navigate the compromises between the purely technical concerns of algorithms, meta tags and keywords with the creative skills necessary to produce great content people want to read.
We’re not quite ready to produce Cybermen or Borg just yet, but advances in medical technology have led to the creation of this particularly specialised field.
Robots are entering the operating theatre to assist surgeons in performing delicate operations with much greater dexterity and precision. Already robots are assisting in open-heart surgery, creating incisions much smaller and more accurate than even the steadiest human hand. This reduces the risk of complications and speeds up recovery times. Then, of course, there are robotic prosthetics and exoskeletons that look more like the sci-fi future we imagined in all those pulp novels.
All of these require both technical hardware and digital software, just like any other part of our digital world. But medical roboticist sounds way cooler and more impressive on a resume than software engineer.
DDoS attacks, viruses, unauthorised access to private information – there are a number of risks to a business’s IT infrastructure that could be extremely damaging or costly. And hackers are always at the bleeding edge of digital technology, exploiting vulnerabilities and using tricks even seasoned IT security experts may be blissfully unaware of.
In much the same way as paying a thief to catch a thief, an ethical hacker uses the same skills as those purveyors of online carnage to try any and all methods of infiltrating or frustrating a business. Far better for the first unauthorised intrusion to your network to be on your side and willing to give you a full report on what to fix to prevent anyone else using the same method.
Some ethical hackers have merely switched sides upon realising that there’s a decent wage with a much lower risk of jail time. Others train specifically as ethical hackers, working towards a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) qualification.
Of course there have been many other careers created by the digital age: network engineers, social media managers, automation specialists and hundreds more.
Some are now so common that we forget how odd they actually are – such as the SEO consultant who looks at digital copy as a technical exercise rather than a linguistic one. Others are inspirational – like the medical roboticist, slowly creating the sci-fi future we once read about. Still others turn our notions of good and bad upside down – such as the ethical hacker who has made a virtue out of breaking the rules and systems.
And there are probably many hundreds more crazy new careers still to be created over the next century of technical innovation that we couldn’t even begin to predict today.
What unusual tech careers can you add to the list?