Eight Hot Jobs

September 17, 2012 |

solar engineer

In an ever-shifting job market, what occupations have emerged in recent months? According to Payscale, eight positions have emerged as more valuable now than they were five years ago, based on the following factors:

Projected Growth: Data taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on overall growth for the specific job from 2010 to 2020.

Relative Experienced Median Pay: The median of total compensation for the job, based on an employee who has the average amount of experience in the position.

Total Cash Compensation (TCC): Annual salary or hourly wage combined with bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings.

The top eight jobs are listed below, with descriptions of what the job entails — you may or may not be surprised to see that many of these jobs are linked to “green” industries — for an overview of new opportunities there, see this Military.com article. To access these types of jobs and others, visit the Military.com Job Search section.

Data Scientist
Projected Growth (2010-2020): 18.7%

Relative Experienced Median Pay (REMP): $98,600
Job Description:
According to IBM, a data scientist is somebody who “is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends.” A traditional data analyst may look only at data from a single source, but a data scientist will explores and examines data from multiple sources. The data scientist will sift through all incoming data with the goal of discovering a previously hidden insight, which in turn can provide a competitive advantage or address a pressing business problem. A data scientist does not simply collect and report on data, but also looks at it from many angles, determines what it means, then recommends ways to apply the data.

Video Game Designer
Projected Growth: 32.4%

REMP: $52,200
Job Description: According to a guide to video game work by the Department of Labor, “Designers are video game dreamers. They imagine almost everything about and in a game. To develop a game, teams of designers write detailed descriptions of their ideas for all of its parts, including plot, characters, and gameplay. The teams hold regular meetings and select the best concepts. When a game is in production, designers work closely with programmers and artists to ensure that their designs are being followed. Designers frequently use scripting languages, a type of programming language that controls applications, to view their ideas within the prototype game. Scripting languages do not require extensive coding and allow designers to test various concepts as they arise in gameplay. Then, designers choose the concept they like best. If issues arise during production, designers might have to go back and edit or review the game design document.”

Sustainability Consultant
Projected Growrth: 18.7%
REMP: $59,200
Job Description: Sustainability consultants give advice to businesses on how to make their products as ecologically sustainable as is required or requested. They can give advice on the engineering challenges in meeting modern day building standards, such as making buildings and businesses more “green.” Sustainability consultants for building construction focus largely on the energy performance of a building: how much energy will be needed to heat, cool, or otherwise power a building, and how efficiently this energy can be recycled. They might also consult on the source of the energy if it will be from an alternative source.

Solar Sales Consultant
Projected Growth: 16.4%
REMP: $45,100
Job Description: Responsibilities may vary, but here’s a typical example: “Solar sales consultants will spend a great deal of time traveling to and visiting with prospective customers.  Responsibilities include sales of residential/commercial solar electric systems, evaluating customers’ current kilowatt usage and financial return on investment, and creating solar energy installation proposals for customers that meet their needs.”

Social Media Manager
Projected Growth: 13.6%
REMP: $41,700
Job Description: Think Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of online outreach. Combine that with public relations and marketing savvy, as well as creative and analytical skills, and you get your typical social media manager. With more businesses looking to build on their online presence through social media, jobs in this field should continue to multiply in the years ahead. In terms of day-to-day tasks, social media managers execute strategies for building and driving user traffic to business websites, leveraging customer and market information to deepen user engagement across social channels, and driving member registration and subscriptions.

Wind Turbine Mechanical Engineer
Projected Growth: 8.8%
REMP: $61,300
Job description: According to Mymajors.com, these engineers work from blueprints, technical drawings, schematics, or computer-generated reports, developing and testing turbine models. They confer with engineers or other personnel to implement operating procedures, resolve system malfunctions, or provide technical information.

Solar Energy / Solar Power Engineer
Projected Growth: 6.6%
REMP: $60,100
Job Description: These engineers perform site-specific engineering analysis of energy efficiency and solar projects involving residential, commercial, or industrial customers. They also design solar domestic hot water and space heating systems for new and existing structures, applying knowledge of structural energy requirements, local climates, solar technology, and thermodynamics.

Solar Energy Systems Designer
Projected Growth: 6.6%
REMP: $46,100
Job Description: Insidejobs.com describes this job as follows: “As a Solar Energy Systems Designer, you might also be an Electrical Engineer. That’s because Solar Energy Systems Designers work in the field of electrical engineering. You know about electrical currents and voltage, but you’ve also mastered the art of reading the sun. Your job requires you to visit homes and businesses where the solar system is to be installed. You monkey around on the roof, take measurements, figure out the slope, and evaluate how many panels the roof can accommodate. In addition, you calculate the direction and angle of the sun’s rays so that you can ascertain the amount of energy that can be collected. Back in your office, you use grid paper and computer programs to sketch out the actual design. That might be for a water-heating system, heating a barn, or sole solar reliance for a cabin off the power grid. Whatever the challenge, you consider pumps, batteries, storage, usage, flow rate, and layout to create the most effective design for your customer’s needs. With an approved design in hand, you may also travel back to the job site to oversee installation.”

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at Military.com. His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.


  1. Larry says:

    Going by how all these Green Companies have gone bankrupt his analysis on all these Green jobs is nothing but crap.

  2. adam says:

    Name which ones have gone bankrupt? I'll bet you only know one. You might be interested to know the reason it went bankrupt was because China was flooding the market with cheaper solar panels than we were able to make over here. That doesn't mean there isn't a market for them.

    Green energy is the future, some companies won't make but it is still being built into every new home and apartment building and is %100 necessary. Don't forget all the computer makers that went out of business but we still use computers…

    • A year ago FIRST SOLAR stock was going for $145.00. Today it is selling for about $15.00. And by the way, it is a GERMAN company.

      • Elke Greding says:

        First Solar is NOT a German company, but it has a factory over there. It is a U.S. solar giant company. Yes China did flood the market with cheap panels and Solar had to replace a lot of their own defective panels.

    • Ray says:

      Green car company in Wakarusa Indiana recieved $6 million in government start up money. Went out of business without ever producing a single car.

    • Rhubymama says:

      According to the Foundry (Heritage.org) there were 11 others as of July.

      Abound Solar (Loveland, Colorado), manufacturer of thin film photovoltaic modules.
      Beacon Power (Tyngsborough, Massachusetts), designed and developed advanced products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation.
      Ener1 (Indianapolis, Indiana), built compact lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for hybrid and electric cars.
      Energy Conversion Devices (Rochester Hills, Michigan/Auburn Hills, Michigan), manufacturer of flexible thin film photovoltaic (PV) technology and a producer of batteries and other renewable energy-related products.
      Evergreen Solar, Inc. (Marlborough, Massachusetts), manufactured and installed solar panels.
      Mountain Plaza, Inc. (Dandridge, Tennessee), designed and implemented “truck-stop electrification” technology.
      Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsens Mills Acquisition Co. (Berlin, Wisconsin), a private company producing ethanol.
      Range Fuels (Soperton, Georgia), tried to develop a technology that converted biomass into ethanol without the use of enzymes.
      Raser Technologies (Provo, Utah), geothermal power plants and technology licensing.
      Solyndra (Fremont, California), manufacturer of cylindrical panels of thin-film solar cells.
      Spectrawatt (Hopewell, New York), solar cell manufacturer.
      Thompson River Power LLC (Wayzata, Minnesota), designed and developed advanced products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation.

  3. Aaron says:

    How about six bankrupt companies; Abound Solar, Evergreen Solar, Solyndra, Q-Cells, SpectraWatt, Solar Trust of America. Probably more, but point made none the less. Green energy is not the future, future energy will come from new processes and innovative ways to utilize the proven energy resources we have now. Getting more energy and less waste out of coal, oil and gas as well as developing new ways of extracting those with less ecological impact. Getting past the fear of nuclear energy and allow the building of smaller, safer and more efficient plants that will allow the dinosaurs that we have now to disappear. Just about any career that involves the above processes will be a winner over the next 10 years.

    • NativeSon says:

      You couldn’t be more wrong, Aaron.

      Wind energy is booming, solar energy is also booming. Problem with solar at this point is the efficiency of the collection which is improving drastically. Storage of the power is also an issue but with improvements in batteries, that will not be the problem it is now.

      To use a few companies failures as a strike against the technology is not only silly but foolish. There have been a whole lot more oil companies that have gone broke, too (not to mention coal and gas).

      Quite the contrary, getting in the ground floor of these technologies assures a bright future. Only a dullard, a flat-earther would think otherwise…

    • Jay says:

      Yeah! And some people still believe the Earth is flat…by 2030, 1 in 4 people will be employed in a "green" job.

    • Weaver says:

      Green energy is not the future! Look at all of the gas companies drilling for natural gas. Yes we have tons of natural gas reserves but think of how many millions of Americans are getting cancer and their livestock from all of these chemicals being pumped into the earth and contaminating main water supplies just to get the natural gas. Green energy is not the future in this case. But as in solar, wind, and wave energy are the only kinetic green energy sources that I will agree with that will not only save the planet by using natural resources but will also be a means of survival if we were to ever lose the grid and there was no electricity or internet or computers to run. People need to learn how to adapt without using all of our spoiled resources given to them, just in case a disaster ever happens.

      -SSgt Weaver
      U.S. Air Force Veteran

    • Rich says:

      In agreement, Not only Smaller Reactor, But Breader type with fail-safe natural convection cooling. Cut the greed, piss poor training, corner cutting and dump the oil, gas, coal lobbiests out of the equation. Enough is enough, we as the people should stop thinking as sheep being hurded by the big intrests. We travel as cattle, eat what we are told and half of the health freaks are dead .There are 458 jerks running this country, non of which have our health programs, they make their own retirement programs,and work less and less each year. BRING BACK THE DRAFT

  4. Dann says:

    While i agree leon and larry, i also agree with adam. The premise of solar energy and the physics behind it are sound. The need for a cost effective alternative to petroleum based energy sources is of paramount importance to the world!
    We need breakthroughs in energy generation, storage and delivery, not profit taking.

    This response Very Respectfully submitted to all parties,

    • Aaron says:

      Without the "profit taking" there would be no breakthroughs. The only incentive for companies to perform R&D is profit. It’s on that premise that made the last century the technological wonder that it was.

      • MoVet71 says:

        The Wright Brothers wanted to fly, Edison wanted light, and Alexander Bell wanted his wife to be able to hear. Our greatest achievements had nothing to do with money! But the motivation behind the Monsanto frankenseeds that produce one crop forcing you to buy all new seed for the following season? absolutely SINISTER! Altering the reproductive capability of food just to make money when so many are hungry is just evil! You don't really want our country to be known for these types of technological advances do you?

  5. Dann says:

    I do not disagree with you sir! I just find it very disheartening that is our only motivation. Make no mistake , i am a straight ticket GOP voter, but, i do believe some things need to transcend profit. I do not fault private industry. I expect returns on my stocks just like everyone else. I firmly believe this is an issue that must be elevated to the national level with no expense spared to get our nation’s ( and possibly the world’s) “best and brightest” focused on a cost effective alternative solution to fossil fuels . When that time comes, turn it over to industry to produce .
    Just my opinion.

  6. Dann says:

    I do not disagree with you sir! I just find it very disheartening that profit is our only motivation. Make no mistake , i am a straight ticket GOP voter, but, i do believe some things need to transcend profit. I do not fault private industry. I expect returns on my stocks just like everyone else. I firmly believe this is an issue that must be elevated to the national level with no expense spared to get our nation’s ( and possibly the world’s) “best and brightest” focused on a cost effective alternative solution to fossil fuels . When that time comes, turn it over to industry to produce .
    Just my opinion.

  7. Mike says:

    Hot jobs for who? We do not actually do this in the military.

  8. Rob says:

    Folks we are not looking at the big picture here. NASA was thought about in 1959 or so maybe sooner not sure. What I am sure of that in the early sixties we set a goal to get to the moon and with good leadership and very little public resistance we accomplished that by working together not bickering amongst ourselves. Energy freedom is accomplish-able but we have to pull together not apart. Now the people that are making huge profits with the status quo will not go quietly I know I have bucked them before with radiant barrier and they had the bucks and won, So we continue to purchase and install the pink stuff in our homes because somebody in the courts decided that was the best way to go. Nothing is easy when it is worth it. I don't think that was what drove Edison or Franklin or Salk however we need to return to those values and git it done!

  9. Dann says:

    Well said rob! Don’t forget Tesla. His was a vision that was good for all.

  10. Dann says:

    Well said rob! Don’t forget Tesla!

  11. Dann says:

    Well said rob! Don’t forget Tesla!

  12. Rob says:

    Nikola A/C current

  13. Libby says:

    Coal, Oil, and gas are not inexhaustable energy sources though, wind and solar are. They also don’t harm the environment, it’s do-able. What if the people who discovered and developed fossil fuels had given up because wood as
    a fuel was tried and true

    • James says:

      You are mistaken. Oil is inexhaustable. You just haven't realized it yet. Oil is abiotic and has been shown to be by the Russians and a couple of other countries who have gone back and realized that oil reserves MILES under the earth have gone back and filled up. There weren't enough dinosaurs to create the oil we have NOW, even. Abiotoic oil has only been poopood by those who seek to profit from oil. Here's a good place to start, if you don't like the author… read the book, it has a bibliography….facts are facts. The Great Oil Conspiracy: How the U.S. Government Hid the Nazi Discovery of Abiotic Oil from the American People

  14. Libby says:

    Oops….. This Country has always been about innovation but we can’t fall behind the rest of the world by following the status quo.

  15. Richard Barnard says:

    Didn’t the government just cancel money for such home solar projects?

  16. Ken Weatherford says:

    I really loved the conversation on this topic. I believe everyone is right. What a concept! I agree that we (human beings, as a whole), need to provide innovation and education for our youth, first. Second, we definitely need to look for alternate sources of energy because oil and gas won't last forever. Better yet, once the supplies start to become less accessible and the population gets bigger, the costs will be prohibitive to the masses…especially those that provide our services. So, yes we need oil and gas. Yes, we need alternatative fuels and power sources. Anyone mention that rubber supplies are dwindling? What? No car tires? Maybe we should be flying by now? Everything mentioned is common sense. Work together towards a goal and make it happen. Forget government subsidies. Farmers did.

    • NativeSon says:

      Not so fast there… Farmers are some of the largest recipients of subsidies, next to oil companies, in this country.

    • Rob says:

      So do I Ken and I was wondering why it has gone that way. I am not sure but it may be that the people that are posting here have nothing to prove. They have already put their lives on the line for people that don't personally know. I will stand with you all in this endeavor for sure!

    • Charley says:

      You have the best statement out of all these good comments, Ken. You nailed it with the "both … and," rather than the "either … or" — "So, yes we need oil and gas. Yes, we need alternatative fuels and power sources."

      It's not solar and other renewables versus fossil fuels — it's BOTH categories to win with more innovation.

  17. John says:

    How is anyone in Military prepared to preform these jobs???
    Believe it or not people Airplanes, Tanks and Ships do not run on Solar Power!!

  18. Robin Daddario says:

    I am a 57 year old Vietnam era veteran whose job was terminated after 33 years.How would I be able to do these jobs when there is no training for them in my area, and the companies are not located in my area! I"m married for 32 years with 2 children.IT's a little too late for me to relocate my family!

    • Lawrence says:

      Id like to hire a vet in the Harrisburg PA area with retail management experience to manage my retail business there. How do i post this job opening for free so vets can see it and respond? Can anyone help?

  19. Jim K says:

    WTF. These jobs might not be for everyone. The point is, these jobs are growing and there are job openings for someone that is interested and has the proper training. There are a lot of electronic, electro-mechanical, & engineering jobs in the military that would give an individual a good background.
    These jobs may not be in your area.
    I know there are plenty of companies looking for individuals to work in Solar sales field. I have read that Germany is a big user of solar panels so I would think that solar panels could be used anyplace in the continental USA.
    It's important to know the trends so you can make wise choices in where to invest your time in training and job searches.
    I was able to get jobs in IT with only 6 months of training during the dot-com bust because I was willing to work for less pay than unemployed individuals with years of experience. I was making $60K to $100K when they were not working.
    I worked for a lot of start-ups and I had to change jobs every 6-months to 2 years. They had good pay and great benefits, but that is not for everyone.
    I never left the Seattle area.
    I got jobs because of my contacts at school, work and Linked In. I kept in contact with people and they told me where to apply for a job and recommended me.
    I was 50+ working in a young mans world. I had been laid-off from Raytheon and now I am working at Boeing. Boeing has a lot of job openings.
    Anyway, Boeing, BP & a lot of large companies are investing in solar and wind power too. Not just start-up manufacturers.

  20. Mike says:

    For the unemployed VET like myself, there is free schooling under the new VRAP program where the government pays up to $1,464.00 a month for 12 months in industries that are considered high growth. Hope it helps you.
    Mike in PA

  21. P.M. says:

    I have a question, my ex-husband is very hurt because we had always planned to use his GI BILL for our son to go to college so he did not incur the expense of student loans however we have been told that our son can not use it due to either post 9-11 or when he retired back some ten years ago-the GI BILL expires in March of 2013 it seems a shame for something he spent his entire career hoping to pass onto his son be thrown away. Can anyone assist?

    • vet too says:

      Go to the your respective county veterans office. You can visit with a veterans representative in person and they can explain eligibility rules for the education benefits and all other benefits your ex qualifies/ed for himself and/or dependents. I believe most county offices have no appointment system so you will have to sign in and wait in the lobby to be called. go early. plan on waiting a longer time in the lobby than you spend with the vet rep. make sure he takes his dd214 also. wishing you the best with all the answers you are looking for.

  22. MJ Power says:

    Mike that is awesome for you, but it does depend on when the service member retired. If he is a Vietnam Era Vet Robin probably retired over 10 years ago. I know for dependents after 10 years the program expires. I don't know about the Vet and how long them have to utilize the program. I for one don't have artistic talent so even though I would love to think of a game and design one I would not qualify. I got my degree in Public Relations and still can't get into my field and that was 8 years ago. I went to school at middle age and worked to get my degree just like the young students but now I'm too old and I know I have a lot to contribute to society even at the ancient age of 52.
    Just trying to change the subject because their were other positions listed in the article.

  23. mjpower says:

    Forgive some of my spelling errors. I just caught my mistakes and I don't want to sound ignorant. "them" should be "they". And I just used the masculine part of speech to as an example.

  24. Jack William says:

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