University academics have predicted the 100 professions of the future and the skills we could need to take on a job like a cyborg psychologist or smart dust wrangler

You’d have been hard pressed to find the position of mobile app developer or social influencer on a jobs board 15 years ago and with the rate of disruption increasing, it’s hard to predict what the next wave of future professions will be.

This hasn’t stopped academics from trying to predict 100 jobs of the future.

Researchers from Deakin and Griffiths universities, both based in Australia, and car manufacturer Ford consulted 11 experts on the major workplace trends and future skills required to work in their fields.

They included Megan Brownlow, of PwC; Mark Harvey-Sutton, of the National Farmers Federation; David Ramadge, of eBay; and Sally Ann Williams, from Google Australia.

The researchers wrote: “There have been few times in history when the future of work has been less like the past.

“In the past, people were defined by their job title. In the future, they will be defined and redefined by the skills they have and how they go about marketing those skills.

“The jobs of the future look to be much more dynamic, interesting and rewarding.

“And today, for those who engage with this project of lifelong learning, that future is within reach.”


What skills do the professions of the future need?

Many industries are being transformed by technology and automation, making some jobs redundant while simultaneously creating new ones.

The World Economic Forum estimates that up to 65% of children entering primary school today are likely to work in jobs that do not yet exist.

Employees will have to become competent in a new range of skills to be considered for these future roles.

The researchers concluded that the six key skills would be problem-solving, digital, STEM, creativity, interpersonal and entrepreneurial.

It also predicts that freelance and portfolio work will be much more commonplace in the future labour market, as the majority of people will have more than one job.


Profiling eight professions of the future

Ethical hackers

professions of the future
Academics from two Australian universities and Ford have tried to predict the jobs we could be doing in the future (Credit: Ford)

The report predicts that ethical hackers will be employed by large companies and governments to probe systems for weaknesses that could be exploited by cyber-criminals.

It claims the best ethical hackers will have great analytical skills, and enjoy finding and solving problems.


Robot mechanic

The mechanics of the future will be just as likely to be called out to fix a household robot as a car, according to the report.

It claims: “Robot mechanics will maintain robots and autonomous vehicles to keep them running smoothly.

“Their work will include hardware maintenance and fixes, but will also extend to electrical components, firmware and software updates, and patches.”


Smart dust wrangler

The researchers predict that environmental data will be constantly collected by so-called smart dust – microscopic sensors that fly in swarms and send information to the cloud to be analysed.

The prevalence of smart dust will therefore require smart dust wranglers to programme the sensors for the right tasks and conduct data collection.

It suggests the information they gather could be used to monitor the natural environment for toxins and in police surveillance to help locate and track criminals.


Cyborg psychologist

professions of the future
Cyborg psychologists will help people adapt to using robotic limbs (Credit: Ford)

A new area of psychology may also be required to aid the growing number of those who use robotic limbs, synthetic implants or artificial organs.

Cyborg psychologists would also help those suffering with digital addictions and will require high levels of empathy and communication skills.


Drone airspace regulator

As airspace becomes more crowded with drone delivery services, drone regulators will need to manage the area.

The drone airspace regulators will be tasked with creating rules for the sky – similar to the Highway Code that currently governs our roads.

They could restrict the areas drones can fly in, the proximity they can fly to buildings and which services get to travel in priority flying lanes, such as emergency services drones.



professions of the future
Nostalgists could create VR environments to help the elderly remember their pasts (Credit: Ford)

As human life expectancy continues to increase, a new type of counsellor could be needed to help those entering their final stage of life.

Nostalgists would work with the elderly to help recreate experiences they remember from their younger years.

The job will combine design, interpersonal and digital skills, to develop virtual reality experiences to help the elderly and those suffering with dementia return to familiar environments from their past.


De-extinction and conservation geneticist

The researchers predict that ecology restoration and ecosystem preservation will become a priority for governments.

A de-extinction and conservation geneticist will mostly be employed in the agricultural industry, restoring plant life that has gone extinct.

However, the report also suggests a Jurassic Park-style scenario where these future professionals are hired by wealthy people to bring dinosaurs and other extinct animals back to life as pets.


Off-world habitat designer

As humans continue to explore the further reaches of space, off-world habitat designers will be tasked with making new planets inhabitable.

Their jobs will be tied closely to other scientific professionals design and prepare moons and planets for human colonisation.


100 Jobs of the Future list

Technology jobs

  • Additive manufacturing engineer
  • Automation anomaly analyst
  • Biomimicry innovator
  • Bioprinting engineer
  • Chief digital augmentation officer
  • Child assistant bot programmer
  • Digital implant designer
  • DigiTech troubleshooter
  • Energy and data systems installer
  • Ethical hacker
  • Gamification designer
  • Integrated home technology brokers
  • Machine-learning developer
  • Mechatronics engineer
  • New materials engineer
  • Quantum computer programmer
  • Robot ethicist
  • Robot mechanic
  • Satellite network maintenance engineer
  • Shadowtech manager
  • Smart dust wrangler

People jobs

  • 100-year counsellor
  • Aesthetician
  • Aged health carer of the future
  • AI educator
  • Community support worker
  • Cross-cultural capability facilitators
  • Cyborg psychologist
  • Decision support worker
  • Digital memorialists and archivists
  • Displaced persons re-integrator
  • Drone experience designer
  • Early childhood teacher
  • Lifelong education advisor
  • Local community co-ordinator
  • Nostalgist
  • Personal brand manager & content curator

Business and Law jobs

  • AI intellectual property negotiator
  • Blockchain talent analyst
  • Chief ethics officer
  • Community farm finance broker
  • Drone airspace regulator
  • Fusionist
  • Innovation manager
  • Personalised marketer
  • Real-virtual transfer shop manager
  • Sharing auditors
  • Trendwatcher

Environmental jobs

  • Aged persons climate solutions consultant
  • De-extinction geneticist Digital apiarist
  • Entomicrobiotech cleaners
  • Flood control engineer
  • Integrated ecology restoration worker
  • Waste reclamation and upcycling specialist
  • Water management specialist
  • Weather control engineer

Urban jobs

  • Automated transit system troubleshooter
  • Autonomous vehicle profile designer
  • Biofilm plumber
  • Biometric security solutions engineer
  • Human habitat designer
  • Integrated energy systems strategist
  • Massive 3D printed building designer
  • Net positive architect
  • Regional community growth co-ordinator
  • Sustainable energy solutions engineer

Agricultural jobs

  • Agroecological farmer
  • Bio-jacker
  • Cricket farmer
  • Farm safety advisor

Space jobs

  • Off-world habitat designer
  • Terraforming microbiologist

Health jobs

  • Data-based medical diagnostician
  • Genetics coach
  • Health shaper
  • Memory optimiser
  • Nanomedical engineer
  • Nutri-gutome consultant
  • Virtual surgeon

Data jobs

  • Algorithm interpreter
  • Behaviour prediction analyst
  • Data commodities broker
  • Data farmer
  • Data privacy strategist
  • Data storage solutions designer
  • Data waste recycler
  • Forensic data analyst
  • Freelance virtual clutter organiser
  • Predictive regulation analyst

Experience jobs

  • Analogue experience guide
  • Food knowledge communicator
  • Haptic technology designer
  • Media remixer
  • Multisensory experience designer
  • Space tourism operator
  • Sportsperson of the future
  • Swarm artist
  • Virtual and augmented reality experience creator
  • Virtual assistant personality designer