The times, they are a-changin’… and so are the jobs. These 20 creative jobs didn’t exist 20 years ago, but now, they’re viable ways to make a great living.
Social Media Manager
[Average Base Salary: $56,609]
The idea of brands simply handing off their social media accounts to its young-and-online employees has long been debunked as naive, the kind of thing you’d see in a J. Lo career woman vehicle than in an actual company. Now, brands have long since realized this role requires strong copywriting chops, crisis management/PR skills, plus a data-driven mindset with the ability to generate and apply analytics reports.
[Average Base: $61,168]
Audioblogging has existed in various forms since the 1980s, even if podcasting didn’t catch on until the early 2000s. First popularized as a method of reporting with fewer barriers to entry and less regulation than traditional broadcasting, the art of the podcast democratized audio. Now, thanks to emerging podcasting companies, big ad dollars, and improved tech to deliver the audio, there’s a myriad of ever-developing positions in the field. Those include jobs in production, audio engineering, hosting, and writing.
[Average Base: $91,428]
When Steve Jobs first launched the iPhone in June 2007, he didn’t expect normies to develop their own apps for his revolutionary device. Just a year later, the Apple App Store launched with over 500 apps readily available for download, and most were created by outside developers. As of 2019, the App Store contains over 2 million apps, according to The New York Times. Consequently, career opportunities in app development and engineering have exploded. App designers collaborate with an assortment of team members—product managers, analysts, marketing strategists, and more—to create positive user experiences on mobile devices.
AI Chatbot Copywriter
[Average Base: $62,593]
Chatbots have been around since the 1960s, yet they’ve only recently experienced ubiquity through advances in tech—like increased processing power and the invention of artificial intelligence. From customer engagement (its most ubiquitous application), to the development of practical solutions (Capser’s Insomnobot 3000 guides you through sleepless nights), to clever novelties (Disney’s Zootopia bot has kids solve fictional crimes), chatbots are taking over. And although tech has advanced to the point that these bots can now write their own, original work, it’s not perfect—a human touch is often needed as a baseline. Enter chatbot copywriters, the human backbone of many of these AI-powered bots, who craft personable messaging aimed at increasing customer satisfaction and robot fluency.
[Average Base: $82,011]
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying influencer marketing is now a viable career path. And whether you’d rather be the one “influencing” or the one behind the scenes, there’s likely a place in the mix for creatives. In 2019, brands no longer solely rely on the content creators’ personal channels to generate sales and brand awareness. They may actually look to repurpose the influencers’ content for the brand’s owned channels and existing marketing efforts.
[Average Base: $63,970]
Motion graphics as an art have existed for nearly a century, but the field has seen significant progress due to advanced digital sophistication. In 1995, Disney’s Toy Story heralded in an age of computer-generated movies, as the first feature-length film that was fully animated by computers. Now, animation is not only used in film, but also television, advertising, web design, and digital renderings. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) illustrators are often skilled in computer graphics, fine art, graphic design, and web development—with fluency in several editing softwares.
Gig Economy Freelancers
[Most Etsy and Fiverr earners made less than $100 a month from the side-gig]*
Craigslist, the first platform for gig work, was founded in 1995 as an attempt to connect professionals in the Bay Area. Now, products and services from the gig economy are everywhere you look, from your refrigerator (Instacart, Postmates) to your commute (Uber, Lyft). And for better or worse, creatives have joined the hustle as part-time or full-time contractors. Many of these online freelance-finders have been under fire since their inceptions. For example, Fiverr has been accused of devaluing creative workers, as their services start at $5. Additionally, Upwork announced earlier this year that they’d start charging freelancers to “bid” for jobs—essentially paying the company for each job they apply to, while also competing with other workers. So, although this is a recent trend, we don’t necessarily subscribe to it.
SEO Content Writer
[Average base: $54,895]
Search engine optimization (SEO) has been around since the early ’90s, but it didn’t take off until the 1996 founding of BackRub, the search engine that would eventually become Google. SEO writers boost website rankings to increase site traffic and conversions. To do this successfully, they’ll incorporate strategic keywords and phrases into their client’s work to “beat” the search engine algorithm gain a favorable ranking.
[About $3 – $5 per 1000 video views] †
According to a recent study by Lego, the number one career aspiration for U.S. and U.K. children between ages 5 and 12 is to be a YouTuber or vlogger. But can you blame them? 18-year-old Emma Chamberlain, who has a massive YouTube and social media following, reportedly earns between $120K and $2 million per year, sans college degree. And while Emma isn’t the only one raking in cash from YouTube, the chances of becoming a high-earning YouTuber are about the equivalent to becoming a professional athlete. So, make sure your kid has a back-up plan.
[Average Base: $56,679]
Drones first became available for non-military use in 2006. Now, they can deliver packages right to your doorstep and perform elaborate Super Bowl-worthy light shows. Drones can also capture incredible photo and video content that us mortals physically cannot. Two popular drone marketing efforts are in real estate, where the devices are used to capture dramatic aerial shots of houses on the market, and in travel, to show off epic views of cities and places from your bucket list.
Website UX Designer
[Average Base: $52,998]
The fundamentals of user experience (UX) design have always centered around how to make your digital experience as intuitive and positive as possible. By combining product research, psychology, information architecture, and programming, UX designers create enjoyable experiences with tech. The modern-day UX expert, however, has shifted its focus to innovate wearable technologies, websites, and apps, rather than solely personal computers.
[Average Base: $79,494]‡
Although initial development of what we know today as augmented reality (AR) began in the 1960s, the actual term was coined in 1990 by a Boeing researcher. A major breakthrough in AR technology came in 2000 when a Japan-based technology institute created software that became the foundation of flash-based apps that are still in use today. Since then, AR has been used in sports, car manufacturing, print media, wearables, and more to completely shift how we interact with the world around us.
[Average Base: $74,455]
A creative’s time in the sun used to be limited to the relative end of a project’s road: the execution. Thanks to creative strategy, you can be involved from day one. In some shape or form, creative strategy has been around for a while, but its ubiquity and necessity was solidified this year when the Cannes Lions Festival created the first-ever award for creative strategy. Creative strategists come from nearly every background and discipline. We’ve worked with ones who have degrees in philosophy and past careers in government work, but they all have something in common: innate curiosity and a drive to solve problems through creativity.
Cloud Computing Strategist
[Average Base: $120,000] §
“The Cloud” may seem like a nebulous aggregate of the world’s data, seemingly floating in space. And it is, sort of. But it’s also a rapidly expanding and refining field of work, where strategists are starting to play an intricate role.
“Cloud computing will become the dominant design style for new applications and for refactoring a large number of existing applications over the next 10-plus years,” said a vice president and analyst at Gartner in 2016.
Strategists work to optimize cloud services in order to decrease costs and increase security, while creating new ways to engage and grow the software’s customer base.
[Average Base: $61,980]
Perhaps one of the most critical titles on this list is that of the sustainable (or green) designer for physical products or industrial projects. First brought to public attention in 1987, sustainable design was slow to gain traction but has become more salient in the world’s consciousness as we’ve come to accept the realities of climate change. This practice’s ethos stems from the desire to create ecological sustainability through the basis of a product’s or structure’s very architecture. Whether designing a building that doesn’t require the use of fossil fuels, fashioning clothes made from recycled materials, or creating fully biodegradable packaging, this career is relevant to every single facet of life, all around the world. No pressure, right?
E-commerce Product Design
[Average Base: $98,266]
According to Statista, e-commerce sales increased by 934% from 2000 to 2019. Consequently, existing brands are shifting their entire makeup, and entirely new ones are popping up. However, as a fresh DTC emerges to transform an existing category (Casper, for example), droves of copycats pop up (Allswell, Leesa, Nectar), causing sudden clutter and confusion in the marketplace. In fact, experts believe there to be about 175 bed-in-a-box companies now in business. As en e-commerce product designer, your role is to create and constantly innovate your company’s shining product(s). Not only do you have to keep up with a rapidly shifting marketplace, you must develop trust with your consumers so they’ll want to buy your product without even having to test it out.
[Average Base: $75,078]
Newsletters have existed in some iteration for centuries, but as a form of direct-to-consumer advertising and news dissemination, the concept is relatively new. An evident example is branded email newsletters that get blasted out with an incessant amount of promotions and hyperbolized ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ sales. But, there’s a new-ish subcategory of newsletters centered around journalism that has seen a more recent boom.
Take The Skimm, for example. Two NBC employees quit their jobs to create a product that they believed would make the news they had been previously reporting truly accessible to the masses. Thus, The Skimm was born: a skimmable, digestible newsletter that’s actually filled with news. As of 2018, the company had generated over $20 million in funding with advertising dollars that translated to about $70,000-$350,000 per newsletter send. Now, plenty of major new organizations, like The New York Times and Cheddar, have realized the vitality of investing in a solid newsletter. They’re hiring editors, writers, and marketers to expand their reach and keep their product relevant.
[Salaries vary widely]
This is a relatively niche market, but it contains many different specialties, like research, writing, public speaking, and data science. In order to keep up with the modern consumer, brands may hire a specific expert or institute with whole divisions dedicated to the cause. For example, Barkley, an advertising agency in Kansas City, created “Futurecast” as a think tank that specializes in millennial and Gen Z research and media consulting. Authors have also been writing entire books demystifying these generations, like The Selfie Generation by Alicia Eler that explores the power of the selfie in shaping an entire generation and their self perception, and Kids These Days by Malcom Harris that examines the generation through the lens of human capital.
[Salaries vary widely]
Hybrid creative roles are certainly a trend, and those with the title of “innovators” are a prime example of that. Depending on the hiring company, this could mean a number of things. But it usually means having a multidisciplinary background that fuses a diverse set of skills. Plus, a typical job description for this career may center around experimentation and breaking the status quo. They’re the risk takers, ideators, and aren’t scared to dip their toes into virtually every pool in the company—and beyond.
[Salary not public]
Yes, this is a real thing. No, we couldn’t find this position at more than one company. But nevertheless, this job certainly wouldn’t have existed 20 years ago. The first recorded position, “emoji researcher and interpreter,” was listed in 2017 at a firm in London that specializes in professional translation services. Keith Broni, who holds the job, says an emoji translator “provides expert service regarding the use of emojis in various contexts.” His everyday tasks range from translating other languages to emojis to assigning particular emojis to accompany text, as requested by clients. And if it sounds trivial, think again. We believe Broni’s role is critical for brands (especially those highly active on social) to broaden their communication abilities and more thoroughly understand cross-cultural nuances.