Jobs of the Future

How school librarians can prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist:

What If?

I often wish that I could see into the future so that I could prepare students for the next great thing. However, my MLIS degree did not come with a crystal ball. One of the most traditional resources for career information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This resource is scheduled for a major revision in 2018. There is still time for public input on the upcoming revision. Librarian is one of the career descriptions that is up for revision in the 2018 edition. The changes in the upcoming revision are tracked in this document. If you are a wordsmith you can make suggestions for wording for the “Librarian” description, but the hope is that librarians have been consulted in the verbiage included in the new edition.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system


New “Established” Jobs of the Future

The jobs and careers in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) are those considered well-established occupations. Therefore you will not see trendy jobs like “social media manager” on the list of added positions for 2018. This type of work will fall under broader categories like public relations. There is one new occupation proposed for this revision that did not exist in the 2010 edition. In the October 2012 Havard Business Review, the job of data scientist was billed as “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” According to this article, the term “data scientist” was coined in 2008, and in 2012 there were no university programs offering degrees in data science. The 2018 edition of the OOH will  introduce data scientists as a broad occupation under the major category of “Computer and Mathematical Occupations.”

New Not So “Well-Established” Jobs of the Future

We find the niche and temporary jobs in “listicles” online. Forbes lists the “10 Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago,” and Next Network outlines the “Careers That Exist Now That Didn’t 20 Years Ago.” Let’s face it: jobs are often born out of necessity. We currently have social media managers because some companies need people with this skill set. A need will drive industries in directions that we cannot imagine. The way we look at the traditional workplace may also change. Last Spring Fortune published the article “3 things millennials want in a career (hint: it’s not more money).” This article outlines how the dispositions of millennials will define the workplace in big ways like working from home and nontraditional schedules. We may think a school librarian’s schedule will never change; however, if we were to follow research about how teens learn and need sleep, even our school schedules may change.

Many, Many Jobs of the Future

Young adults today will have a greater number of jobs to choose from than ever before. In the past, we trained for a single career or occupation that we would hold until retirement age. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey 1998-2013, women with a bachelor’s degree or higher held an average of 8 jobs from age 18-28 and men held an average of 7 jobs. Consequently, the future career path of our students will need to be more fluid. This will require a flexible mindset for both our students and their parents.

Preparing Students for the Jobs of the Future

School librarians can help students navigate the seemingly uncertain future of jobs and careers. First, be positive about the possibilities that are ahead for students. Help students to see life as a journey, not a destination. Help students see every summer job, internship, and hobby as something that informs their future. Let students know that choosing a college or a college major is not pivotal to the idea of success. Finally, do what you can to help students prepare for their very next step.

How can school librarians help students prepare for the jobs of the future and what’s next?

  • college –  teach writing and research skills
  • workforce – teach literacy and information skills
  • indecision – give data and media to help students make an informed decision

Articles Referenced in this post:


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Would love to see the concept of connecting users and information more prominent. We may not know the answers but we know how to find the answers that our endusers want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.