The 2010s kicked off a decade of uncertainty within the job market. Many sectors were still dealing with the aftermath of the Great Recession, the national unemployment rate sat at 9.7%, the class of 2010 graduated into the worst job market in a generation, and by the summer of 2010, more than a million job seekers quit looking for employment.
However, now at the close of the decade, the job market has markedly improved for most workers. That’s especially true for those in the technology space.
While developing tech has eliminated some job functions, it’s also redefined and created completely new roles in the past 10 years — many that pay well, thanks in part to a short supply of workers with the right skill sets to fill emerging jobs that are crucial to keeping businesses competitive.
CNBC Make It spoke with Glassdoor senior economic research analyst Amanda Stansell about the jobs that barely existed at the turn of the decade, but that have exploded in growth and median base pay through the 2010s.
In 2012, Harvard Business Review named data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” And for the past four years, Glassdoor has recognized it as the No. 1 job in the U.S. based on job satisfaction, pay and opportunities.
Stansell says demand for data scientists is still most concentrated within the tech industry, but that it’s growing across every sector: health care, finance, business, retail, media and beyond.
“All these companies have a need for a data scientist who can make use of the growing amount of data they have and turn it into something valuable,” Stansell says.
While the term “data science” was first coined as an independent discipline (separate from traditional statistics) in 2001 by William S. Cleveland, jobs in data science have grown most rapidly since 2010. That’s because as more companies are investing in technology to collect user data, the need for professionals to interpret said data has skyrocketed.
Because it’s still a relatively new field, many of today’s data scientists have varied backgrounds in computer science, math, statistics and engineering. However, more universities have begun offering specific degrees, courses and even bootcamps in data science within the past decade.
Since 2010, data breaches have compromised over 38 billion accounts, according to the cybersecurity firm Risk Based Security.
These breaches, and the need to protect user data, has resulted in information security being one of the fastest-growing fields. Information security engineers work to safeguard an organization’s computer network systems, and plan and carry out security measures to protect sensitive information from infiltration and cyber attacks.
“As there have been more and more high-profile data breaches in recent years, this has translated to companies seeing the need for having people who can help them protect their data,” Stansell says.
The field is projected to grow by 32% through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The average growth rate for all occupations is 5%.)
However, the need for information security engineers has far eclipsed the number of people with the skills to do the job. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently estimated there are 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the country. Cybersecurity Ventures, an analytics and research company, estimates 3.5 million jobs in cybersecurity around the world are likely to go unfilled by 2021.
This talent shortage means workers in the field are paid handsomely. While Glassdoor data says information security engineers earn a median base salary of just over $100,000 per year, top-level jobs in the field, like chief information security officer, can yield pay above $300,000 in top metro areas, according to cybersecurity recruiting firm SilverBull.
The only top-paying emerging job of the decade that doesn’t fall into the tech space is one that focuses on workplace culture, particularly within diversity and inclusion. The position of D&I director is so new, Glassdoor doesn’t have adequate pay data for the specific role, but uses Human Resources Director salaries with an average pay of $98,154 per year as a guide.
According to a 2019 Glassdoor survey, 61% of U.S. employees have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace based on age, race, gender or LGBTQ identity. Meanwhile, the career site saw a 30% increase in the past year of diversity and inclusion job openings, such as D&I director, program manager, diversity recruiter and D&I consultant.
“This signals that these are issues employees are facing, and employers are catching up and trying to make an impact in this field,” Stansell says, “which is really an encouraging sign that employers are making the investment towards an inclusive workplace.”
Larger companies with 5,000 or more employees are the ones making the biggest investment in growing their D&I departments, likely because they have the financial resources to do so.
Stansell predicts progress in these types of roles will continue into the next decade. According to a 2017 survey from Deloitte, 72% of employees said they would consider leaving their company to join another with better diversity initiatives and programs.
“In the next few years, we’ll continue to see medium-sized companies invest in diversity and inclusion, especially as it is such an important thing to job seekers,” Stansell says.
Sales engineers work for tech companies to sell customized software and products to other businesses looking to expand their IT efforts.
“As tech companies are offering really high-value products to potential customers, they need to have the ability to adapt to each individual [client],” Stansell says. “Having a sales engineer, who is a communicator between the sales and engineering aspects, is really important make sure that the needs of the potential customer are met.”
Because workers must have extensive knowledge of these products and understand the scientific processes behind their operations, sales engineers tend to have technical backgrounds (for example, a degree in computer science or engineering). However, Stansell adds they also need solid interpersonal skills such as communication, negotiation and marketing know-how in order to provide customized solutions to clients during the sales process.
Those with a marketing background may also be able to learn more about tech products and software in order to transition into this type of role.
While Glassdoor puts the annual median salary of a sales engineer at $90,000 per year, pay can vary based on what they’re selling. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says those operating in the telecommunications industry tend to earn the most, about $118,000 a year, followed by sales engineers in computer systems design and wholesale electronic markets, who also command six-figure salaries.
While Salesforce, the cloud-based software company that specializes in customer relationship management, was founded in 1999, its influence in U.S. workplaces expanded vastly in the past 10 years, so much so that the role of Salesforce developer became a sought-after position at companies such as Google, Amazon, PwC and Uber.
As a Salesforce developer, workers use the Salesforce platform or cloud technology to code software or application solutions for their company to better connect with customers, partners and potential customers.
“It’s a job completely born out of successful technology product that’s changed the ways companies function and organize data,” Stansell says.
Developers generally have a background in computer science and may pursue certification in specific Salesforce applications or processes. That said, these developers also need soft skills, such as communication, in order to interpret data and workflows for a non-technical audience.
“I think we’ll continue to see this trend in the future with really successful tech products,” Stansell says, adding, “people who are able to learn those skills and apply them for different companies can have really great career paths.”