It’s impossible to see into the future, but it’s not impossible to forecast what will happen. Think back to your past. How was the world different? Could you have forecasted any of the changes that now affect your life on a daily basis? That’s what a futurist does.
Futurists are social scientists that forecast what may happen in the future. It sounds like a job out of a science-fiction movie, but it’s very real. Futurists study the future so that they can advise businesses and individuals about potential scenarios, trends, and opportunities. The goal is to set companies up for success by preparing for the changes that could be coming.
There are many skeptics when it comes to future studies, but it is an important job. Consider how the world will change when drones, driverless cars, space travel, robots, automated homes, 3D printing, and other technologies becomes mainstream? How will the world prepare for global warming, nuclear war, increased poverty, or virus outbreaks? If we aren’t ready for these things, the future will be interesting.
Futurists don’t have super powers where they can tell what will happen in a year or a decade. Instead they forecast the future based on in-depth research on technology changes, social trends, environmental issues, politics, and global issues. They are kind of like economists, except with a future-focused, broader view of the world.
It’s important to note that futurists don’t predict the future. They look at what is possible, probable, and preferable plus they factor in any wild cards. Before they can forecast the future, a futurist must understand the present. Futurists travel the world, meet with businesses, crowd source information, follow the news, study the outliers, and research data, so that they can formulate “what if” scenarios.
There’s a constant factor of uncertainty in their job, but futurists consistently make fairly accurate educated guesses as to what might happen next year or a decade from now. It’s kind of like forecasting the weather.
No one wants to be blindsided by the unexpected. People and businesses rely on futurists so that they understand and are prepared for what comes next. This helps employers make decisions, solve problems, invest wisely, adapt to changes, and identify potential.
Most futurists have a university level degree in a subject like history, economics, or future studies. There are some schools, like the Hawaii Research Center For Future Studies at the University of Hawaii that offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in future studies. But you don’t have to have a futures studies degree to be a futurist.
There’s no defined career path for this cool job. You can literally have a background in practically anything. Some futurists are self-taught or have worked under a mentor. The one common theme is that almost all professional futurists are members of the Association Of Professional Futurists and the World Future Society. These professional organizations were established a few decades ago to bring legitimacy to this unique profession.
Futurists can find jobs with big businesses, governments, non-profits, educational organizations, think tanks, or consultancies. Employers like Intel, Procter & Gamble, or the National Intelligence Council all employ futurists. It’s an important role that can help companies find success.
Currently, there are about 1,000 futurists working in the United States. Those futurists make between $33,000 and $111,000 per year with an average salary of $83,000 per year.
What does the future hold? No one really knows, but ask a futurist. They probably have a very good guess. If you’re intrigued by the future, find a job as a futurist. You won’t look back.
Quick Facts About Futurist Jobs
Job Title: Futurists aka Futurologists
Office: The World
Description: Forecast the future
Certifications/Education: Degree in Future Studies, APF Membership
Necessary Skills: Analytical Research, Forecasting
Potential Employers: Businesses, Governments, Consultancies, Think Tanks
Pay: $33,000 and $111,000 per year