The job: Software engineers design, develop and maintain computer software – everything from the latest virtual reality computer games to online banking software and apps. In our increasingly digital age, and with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), they will play an important role in the future economy. According to Australian Government employment projections, there are likely to be around 16,000 software engineering job openings every year for the next five years.STEM skills like maths and coding are essential in this career, but so is the ability to communicate to clients, empathise with end-users and to be creative and think outside the box.
Secondary school: Students should stick to maths and science – they’ll help build a solid foundation for the skills needed later on. For senior electives, students should consider subjects like software design and development or information processing and technology if they’re on offer at their schools. But these are not prerequisites for a successful career as a software engineer – they weren’t on offer back when Bill Gates or Steve Jobs were at school! Humanities subjects like English and art to could also give your child’s ICT career a creative edge.
The job: Environmental scientist is a catch-all term that describes scientists who study the natural world and try to find solutions to environmental problems. It can include careers such as marine scientists, climate scientists, botanists, ecologists and many more. As we tackle challenges like climate change and overpopulation, they will play a vital role in creating a more sustainable future – and job prospects for environmental scientists over the next five years are strong, with about 2800 job openings predicted every year.
Secondary school: Maths and biology are a must, and any physics and chemistry would also be useful in this interdisciplinary field, depending on the specific interest. If Earth and environmental science is available at your child’s school as a senior elective (or something similar) then that would also be a great choice for this career.
AKA: Data analyst, data engineer, statistician, business intelligence analyst
The job: Data scientists use numbers to uncover new insights, predict trends and understand consumer behaviours to help companies make better, more informed decisions. In this data-driven age, they are increasingly sought after by a wide range of companies A 2017 report from PwC predicted 2.7 million new data science and analytics jobs would be created by 2020.
Secondary school: Data scientists apply lots of maths, so that’s a must. Any ICT-related digital technologies electives are also a good idea. Data scientists also need to tell a story about the numbers they’ve interpreted, which requires communication skills, so a strong foundation in this area could offer a competitive edge.
The job: With the speedy pace of technological change, opportunities to innovate and come up with the next tech startup success story are endless. Being equipped with relevant STEM skills like coding and maths will provide a great foundation alongside the creativity, imagination and drive needed to launch a tech startup.
Starting salary: Unknown/notoriously low – entrepreneurs often need to look for investors to help launch their career, however they can be quite successful through businesses such as Atlassian and Facebook. Crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter are another option, or programs such as RMIT’s Activator.
Secondary school: Diverse skills are a big plus for any aspiring entrepreneurs. Stick with STEM subjects and particularly computer science electives – but top-notch communication skills will also come in handy when selling an idea to investors and the public, so that should be kept in mind when choosing subjects.
Uni degrees: Optional! A software engineering-related degree may be useful, or something completely different – aspiring entrepreneurs should follow their passion. Steve Jobs famously dropped out of college, but continued to attend courses as an unofficial student before he started Apple.
VET pathways: There are plenty of useful VET courses available for aspiring tech entrepreneurs to up-skill where necessary, everything from coding and programming to business and management courses could be valuable.
AKA: Crime scene investigator, forensic pathologist, forensic investigator
The job: This is another in-demand career – for students! Forensic scientists draw on many scientific disciplines – chemistry, biology, physics, medicine – to examine potential evidence to support legal proceedings. They play an important role in our criminal justice system. And thanks to popular culture and TV shows like CSI, this career choice has boomed in popularity in recent years – in Queensland alone, enrolments were reported to have surged by nearly 70% in the four years to 2016. That means this is a competitive field to get into, but if your child is passionate then that shouldn’t hold them back. As well as the police force, government health departments are other main employers of forensic scientists.