WASHINGTON (TheStreet) -- The 244,000 jobs created in April and the U.S. unemployment rate's rise to 9% in the same month is just another reminder of the near-constant state of flux in America's work force. Technology has no problem telling people who string wire for landline phones, develop photos, sell books to a mass market or produce news or any other sort of editorial content on paper that their days are numbered.According to IBISWorld, roughly 200 U.S. industries in its database of 700 are in a state of decline. That unfortunate 29% will continue its slide until roughly 2016. A combination of tech savvy and adaptive tenacity is keeping the rest alive, but sometimes it's just a matter of knowing which way the winds are blowing. TheStreet went job hunting and came up with five careers that didn't exist a decade ago and another five that may not exist a decade from now. Choose wisely, employment seekers:
If you've Googled ( GOOG) yourself lately and thought "Man, this LinkedIn page is better than constantly updating a resume" or "Boy am I glad I finally figured out my Facebook and Twitter privacy settings," you're about as safe as any other Internet user. If you do that same search and discover that an old college acquaintance tagged you in a picture with your one-time roommates Bung and Wheezeman smoking some unknown substance out of a piece of produce, you've got problems. Fortunately, the aspiring ethics professors, chief executives and federal politicians among us can pay anywhere from $400 a search page to $3,000 a month for "reputation management" services from Reputation.com and Integrity Defenders. Their hundreds of staffers will not only help you expunge your ill-conceived comments-field diatribes against your future employer, but bury it pages deep behind shiny new social networking pages and profiles. Do you own a restaurant you feel is being slagged excessively by foodies on Yelp? Reputation.com's $700-a-year MyReputation VP can help bring loyal customers' positive reviews to the fore. It seems costly, but it's a small price to pay considering that a Microsoft ( MSFT)-funded survey of 2,500 recruiters last year found that 79% of human resources staff see online reputation as a factor in hiring and 85% feel a positive online rep can help push a candidate toward employment -- compared with the 7% of potential employees who feel online information affects their job hunt.
For online gamers, getting to be a virtual badass with tons of gear and experience can be a full-time job. In a time when real full-time jobs are scarce, a lot of Americans don't have hours on end to go digging for gold, slaying baddies for their riches and picking up cool new weapons of digital destruction such as flying dragon mounts. This is why even obsessive game geeks are outsourcing the most tedious parts of their jobs. The World Bank -- yes, the World Bank is weighing in on Activision's ( ATVI) World of Warcraft -- estimates that gamers' gold, weapons, experience and other virtual assets represent a $3 billion industry. Of that, 75% is collected by "gold farmers" in China and Vietnam that are paid to play the games and collect the stuff for a living. The other 25% either amass the stuff themselves during long Red Bull-infused sessions or pay firms overseas upward of $100 per upgrade, with some gamers laying out as much as $10,000 just to build a better avatar. The largest game gold-getting firms in China bring in $10 million a year each, while even smaller firms can top out at $1 million a year.
Throwing Justin Bieber's name into your online content isn't the best way to help your blog or site rise through the search rankings. You're going to need someone who can keep on top of Web user behavior, identify trends before they end up in Yahoo ( YHOO), Google or Bing trend lists and drive traffic to your site as a result. That's what a search engine optimization specialist does, and if they can convince a company's advertisers they're scoring as many page views as possible, their $40,000 to $100,000 salary should pay for itself several times over. It's as much about marketing as it is making the proper combination of search terms and links come together, so a specialist needs to keep his or her company relevant without breaking SEO's unwritten rules. JCPenney ( JCP), for example, had outside firms inflating its SEO results during the holiday season by spreading links to the store's website around hundreds of irrelevant sites. BMW took a similar tack and both companies found themselves bounced from Google as a result.
"Green" may be a buzzword that's slowly fading to black, but the search for sustainability in almost all fields is creating opportunities for those willing to force a bullheaded company to do more with less. The tasks can be as simple as providing recycling bins for the office Keurig machine's K-cups and arranging proper disposal or as difficult as Levi's overhauling its supply chain with a focus on workers' rights or Ford ( F) trying to turn dandelion waste into rubber. Meanwhile, the Santa Fe, N.M.-based Green Burial Council has carved out a niche for environmentally conscious funeral directors by outlining business practices that make funeral and burial a more sustainable process. The group's standards either do away with embalming or allow embalming with formaldehyde-free products, use biodegradable clothing, caskets and liners and allow ashes to be scattered only on preserved land.
Google's camera-equipped Street View cars have already left Australia and may not be around much longer in the European Union, but just about everywhere else there are still Google camera crews tooling around in cars, on tricycles and even through museums on something called "the trolley." They're getting a lot of company, too, as Microsoft's Bing Maps Streetside feature and AOL's ( AOL) Mapquest want a view of the world from the ground floor as well. The upside? You get to travel to UNESCO World Heritage sites and other landmarks and have your handiwork seen by folks all over the world. The bad news? People are still generally distrustful of a car loaded with cameras and, when you're out to map the world from the comfort of your car, you can't just pick and choose the pretty parts.
Yes, the Department of Labor says receptionists jobs are expected to grow by 15% between now and 2018, but those jobs are heading toward glorified greeter and mail getter and resembling less the phone-answering, filing, appointment calendar updating and word processing the job entails now. Growth within the medical industry should keep the numbers up, but technology's cutting into the ranks by replacing receptionists with automated systems and voice mail. Also, clerical tasks are often being shipped offsite to "virtual receptionists" who handle multiple clients at once. The Labor Department's basically betting that high turnover of highly taxed receptionists will keep this area humming, but as data entry and other tasks becoming increasingly automated or outsourced, receptionists are shifting over to medical billing and other fields.
In a trend that surprises no one who's booked a vacation on Orbitz ( OWW), Expedia ( EXPE), Priceline ( PCLN) or even American ( AMR), Delta ( DAL), United ( UAL) or U.S. Airways ( LCC) sites within the past decade, travel agents are taking a slow cruise toward extinction. There are little more than 105,000 travel agents throughout the U.S. and that's set to drop by 1% in seven years. The obvious reason for the slide is the ease of booking simple trips, cruises and hotel stays on the Web and an increased desire by travelers to research and plan their own trips. The hitch, however, is that it takes a lot of time and effort to book trips that entail more than one or two stops and multiple sets of accommodations. Determined travelers will shrug off such apprehension, but leisure travelers who want to see a lot but don't want to put a lot of work into their vacations may still seek a travel agent's services. When your industry relies on not only American laziness, but on a weakened economy that will allow agents to sell tours to international visitors on holiday, the honeymoon is over.
Excuse the writer for tapping out this section with his eyes closed, but it's not looking good for the folks with the bylines. Overall, the number of news analysts, reporters and correspondents is expected to drop 6% by 2018 as news agencies consolidate or shut down altogether. Not everyone's getting the pink slip, however, as reporters and correspondents' ranks are expected to drop by 8% while broadcast news analysts jobs are expected to increase by 4%. If you're not loud and don't feel ways about stuff in the most public manner imaginable, journalism's probably not the best career path to follow.
In a television landscape where "stars" are ill-mannered nouveau riche housewives with bad hair extensions or loud, violent, spray-tanned summer renters, the actor is becoming less of a commodity. Just ask Charlie Sheen, who found out that even one of the highest-paid talents on one of television's highest-rated shows may not be above replacement. The number of American actors is expected to increase 13% by 2018, but that doesn't mean you'll see a wane in reality television or a sudden surge in the theater community. Nope, the Department of Labor says you're looking at a spike in bit parts for Web-only content and a surge in the number of actors needed for theme park, cruise and resort productions. This means a lot fewer stints as "Junkie No. 1" on Law & Order: SVU and a lot more long stretches as Buzz Lightyear in Disney ( DIS) Cruise Lines productions of Toy Story on Ice.
Counter clerks are a growing industry, but anyone aspiring to be Randal from Clerks and to spend their days mocking the customer's love of Charlie Sheen's 1990 epic Navy Seals should take that news with a DVD-sized grain of salt. Counter clerk jobs are expected to grow 3% in seven years, but the Department of Labor cautions that "trends, such as videos provided by mail and online, may reduce the need for some of these clerks at video rental stores." Well, that... and the trend toward huge video store chains such as Blockbuster and Movie Gallery declaring bankruptcy and closing their stores. Netflix ( NFLX) is the least of the poor clerk's worries, as Google's planned addition of 3,000 rental titles to YouTube, Apple's ( AAPL) rumblings about a streaming service, DISH Network's ( DISH) purchase of Blockbuster, Amazon's ( AMZN) new Amazon Prime streaming service, Best Buy ( BBY), Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Sears' ( SHLD) streaming services and even Coinstar's ( CSTR) RedBox vending machines have all pushed the video store clerk toward unemployment. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.