42 popular jobs for Millennials that didn’t exist for their parents

Millennials are now the largest generation in the American workforce, but what jobs do these young employees drift toward?

Once upon a time, people got their milk from the milkman and urgent news from the telegram delivery boy. Today milk comes courtesy of Instacart and Telegram is an instant messaging service. Yes, times have changed—most notably because of how profoundly the internet has altered our lives in the last quarter-century. Few people would have guessed in the 1990s that Instagram influencer and Twitch broadcaster would be considered viable career paths, let alone ones that would earn six figures.

We decided to research jobs Millennials are taking on today—jobs that didn’t even exist when their parents were entering the workforce. We compiled our list from reports and studies released by LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other employment websites, as well as from news reports and trend stories from major news outlets like Forbes and CNBC. The resulting list is 42 jobs, all of which provide Millennials with gainful employment—but good luck explaining to older generations how exactly some of these careers provide an income.

Web designer

Few of us can imagine a world without the internet now, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the general public got wind of this newfangled thing called the world wide web. Soon after, people felt compelled to make their own websites, which were rudimentary at best and in many cases just plain ugly. Naturally, those with a knack for design began charging for their services, much to the relief of eyeballs around the world. Today web design is a thriving industry, as is the education to become one—there are no shortage of courses, certificates, and degrees to choose from if you’d like to get into the field

eBay store owner

When eBay came online in 1995 as an auction site, thrift store shoppers and bargain hunters suddenly got access to an entire world of virtual yard sales. The online marketplace still has its share of people trying to turn their household junk into cash, but it’s also home to many enterprising sellers who make a living off of their stores. In fact, Sophia Amoruso of #GIRLBOSS fame got her start as a vintage apparel vendor on eBay before going out on her own and launching the Nasty Gal brand.

Online business manager

With the internet came a new crop of online businesses with a host of new decisions to think about, from web advertising choices, to shipping fulfillment, to email marketing and click-through rates. Today, even primarily brick-and-mortar stores often have a web storefront—and need a business manager with online sales savvy.

Genetic counselor

With the rising popularity and dropping cost of genetic testing services, more people than ever are examining their DNA to find out about everything from their risk for inherited health conditions to their bodies’ ability to process caffeine. Genetic counselors—who generally need a master’s degree in the field—interpret tests and provide counseling and guidance to individuals and families.

Virtual assistant

The internet made virtual offices possible, and in turn opened the door for virtual administrators. A business could have a CEO in Los Angeles, a web designer in Moscow, a project manager in Dublin and a virtual assistant in India. These remote professionals are hired to do everything from basic administrative duties to transcription to business bookkeeping.

Offshore wind farm engineer

The push to develop environmentally-friendly alternative energy sources have given rise to offshore wind farms—turbines located in bodies of water that generate power from nautical gusts. It’s also increased the need for specialized engineers, who put their civil or mechanical engineering degrees to use as they scope, develop, and execute plans for new projects.

Wind turbine service technician

All those new wind farms—both on and offshore—require technicians to make sure they’re running properly. The job generally requires just some technical education or on-the-job training—and is currently recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as one of the fastest growing occupations.

Cloud computing worker

The phrase “cloud computing” was brand new in 2006, when Google’s Eric Schmidt mentioned it at a company conference; today it’s an ubiquitous term used to describe online data storage and sharing. Careers in this field include engineers, data strategists, database managers, and other related roles

Sustainability expert

With even major oil companies claiming a commitment to sustainability, experts in the field are high in demand. Businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations seek guidance from these professionals to make products and processes more environmentally-friendly, or in less sincere cases, at least appear to be doing so. Today there are several MBAs that focus on sustainability – even Harvard offers a sustainability program through its extension school.

User experience designer

What makes a new app addictive, or a piece of software attractive to loyal fans? User experience design—better known as UX design—can be a big part of the equation. UX design is a methodology behind creating user-friendly (usually digital) products and services, and UX designers are tasked with considering all factors that related to a customer’s needs and desires, ranging from ease of use to delightful surprises.

E-commerce consultant

It’s a scenario that haunts online retailers: customers filling up their virtual shopping carts, then abandoning them instead of checking out. For businesses trying to improve their online sales, e-commerce consultants can offer helpful directives, whether it’s redesigning the checkout experience, to improving product images to increase sales conversion rates.

Big data analyst

With more computing power came an influx of information—known today as Big Data. Today, analysts in this complex field collect, study, and interpret data to find patterns, trends, and other useful information for companies and organizations.

Internet marketer

The Mad Men days of advertising are gone. Sure, magazine and newspaper ads are still around, but many brands today reach their customers through more interactive internet marketing—which often includes less-direct brand promotions through vlogs, sponsored social media posts, and other online content.

SEO specialist

If your company doesn’t come up in a Google search, does your business really exist? Perhaps, but probably not for long—which is why companies seek out search engine optimization specialists to tweak their websites and improve their search rankings.

Drone pilot

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration decided to allow consumers to operate small unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones. Now they’re a common sight, used to do everything from delivering packages, to diplaying ads, to taking photos and videos. And behind every working drone, of course, is a busy drone pilot, working the controls.

3D printing professional

With more and more companies switching to digital files, copy machines are not as relevant as they were in previous decades. But 3D printing—which lets users design and produce tangible objects—is going more mainstream, with 3D designers, sculptors, and other professionals applying the technology to industries ranging from fashion, to architecture, to biotechnology.

Blogger

Short for “web log,” the advent of the blog allowed both professional writers and amateurs to immediately share their favorite links, hobbies, or mundane details of their days in a diary-like format. With the rise of more immediate social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, the heyday of blogging may already have passed, but the digital journalism format is still far from dead

Chief happiness officer

It’s a job title that’s still makes many a skeptic raise an eyebrow. Chief happiness officers are tasked with the job of making—or keeping—a company’s employees happy. Why would a company care about that? CHO fans argue happy employees do better work and stay at companies longer.

Chief listening officer

Though chief listening officer is a title that sounds about as touchy-feely as chief happiness officer, the two are actually quite different roles. CLOs are generally responsible for “listening” to the conversations happening about their company, to spot new customer needs and wants, to encourage brand loyalty, and to prevent customer complaints from blowing up into brand crises.

Market research data miner

Who’s visiting your website, from where, and for how long? And how can you make these visitors stay longer, read more, subscribe, or buy products? Web analysts have the job of answering these questions. These professionals are employed to optimize a website, whether that’s for improving web traffic or assessing the effectiveness of an online ad campaign.

Web analyst

Who’s visiting your website, from where, and for how long? And how can you make these visitors stay longer, read more, subscribe, or buy products? Web analysts have the job of answering these questions. These professionals are employed to optimize a website, whether that’s for improving web traffic or assessing the effectiveness of an online ad campaign.

Zumba instructor

Mainstream gyms now regularly offer Zumba classes, but the dance exercise didn’t even exist until the 1990s—a dancer and choreographer in Colombia accidentally invented it when he forgot the music for his aerobics class and had to make do with salsa and merengue tapes. Would-be instructors go through a certified training program before teaching these Latin music-inspired workout classes.

Information security analyst

Hackers and cyberattacks have made online businesses seek out information security analysts, who devise and implement strategies to protect websites and computer networks. The job requires just a bachelor’s degree but boasts a median salary of $92,600 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Driverless car engineer

Forget waiting tables and bartending. Now, people in need of part-time work have the option of becoming amateur taxi drivers—so long as they’ve got a decent car and driving record to do the job. The more enterprising of these gig economy workers don’t just drive, they make fun viral YouTube videos.

Uber/Lyft driver

Forget waiting tables and bartending. Now, people in need of part-time work have the option of becoming amateur taxi drivers—so long as they’ve got a decent car and driving record to do the job. The more enterprising of these gig economy workers don’t just drive, they make fun viral YouTube videos.

YouTube content creator

Video killed the radio star, then YouTube came along and created a new kind of celebrity— the kind that makes amateur online videos that are somehow captivating enough to draw an audience of millions (and serious advertising revenue). Professional YouTubers today make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, posting videos with production values that often rival those found in mainstream media.

Developer evangelist

Are you a bit of a tech geek with a passion for sharing your tech geekery with others? Then you might enjoy being a developer evangelist. Part software enthusiast and part gregarious company representative, the developer evangelist acts as a friendly spokesperson for companies, promoting technologies to get others to test and, hopefully, adopt new products, services, and platforms.

Site reliability engineer

Site reliability engineering is another term created by Google, more specifically by engineer Ben Treynor—who put together a site reliability engineering team in 2003 to make Google’s website run more smoothly and efficiently. Treynor has described SRE in more detailed terms in an interview, but basically, these professionals work to fix information technology operations problems through solutions aiming to “substitute automation for human labor.”

Scrum master

The word “scrum” may only make sense to rugby fans, but it’s also the name for a software development methodology. A team of developers breaks down tasks for individual work and regroups to reassess and plan next steps, and the scrum master acts as a facilitator.

Machine learning engineer

Can you do the math—and program it too? That’s the job of the machine learning engineer, who must be skilled in both data science and coding. These professionals are in high demand these days, especially in the growing artificial intelligence field.

Airbnb host

Why live in your rent-controlled apartment when you can rent it out—and live somewhere more exotic for pennies on the dollar? Since Airbnb launched in 2008, many homeowners and renters have found side incomes hosting strangers in their living spaces. The service hasn’t been without its controversies, from stories of unfair evictions to guests-turned-squatters, but the site today boasts more than four million listings worldwide.

CrossFit coach

Founded in 2000, CrossFit has taken the fitness world by storm with its intense workout regimens that include weightlifting, plyometrics, gymnastics, and more. Although CrossFit has gotten some flak for causing unnecessary injuries, the regimen is now practiced in more than 13,000 affiliated gyms. Certified CrossFit coaches have to go through a four-level training program.

Twitch broadcaster

Back in the day, people just played video games for fun. But today, many gamers play for money, earned through sponsorship deals and subscriber fees. Because yes, these days, people pay good money to watch other people play video games. The most popular players on Twitch, the biggest video platform and community for gamers, earn “well into seven figures” according to The New Yorker.

Mobile app developer

Smartphone owners now use more than 30 apps in a given month. So it’s no surprise that businesses ranging from restaurants to yoga studios are in a frenzy to find good developers. Of course, many enterprising developers just create apps on their own, hoping to hit it big with the next Candy Crush or Poshmark.

Telemedicine physician

Why spend hours waiting in urgent care when you can consult a doctor from the comfort of your your laptop? Telehealth providers like American Well and Doctor on Demand offer virtual consults with a doctor via phone or video, often within minutes. Doctors are signing up to take advantage of this new source of income, with some doing so well with the long-distance gigs that they’re opting to quit their regular practices.

Poshmark seller

When it comes to second-hand fashion, eBay has fallen out of vogue. Today’s fashionistas find their bargains on Poshmark, the smartphone-based social marketplace for buying and selling clothes and accessories. Savvy sellers are scouring thrift stores and retail store sales racks to flip the fashions for a profit; successful Poshmark entrepreneurs can make up to six figures from the app.

Green funeral director

Committed environmentalists don’t let death part them from their green ideals. Instead, they plan their green burials, reducing the environmental impact of their funerals by, for example, shunning toxic embalming fluids. Green funeral directors guide people and families through tasks like picking out eco-friendly coffins to organizing tree-planting memorial services.

Influencer

Amassed thousands of Instagram fans by posting workout videos? Got a gigantic Twitter following by tweeting funny jokes? Congratulations—you’re an influencer! Brands today regularly reach out to people with large social media followings, offering them free products, fancy trips, and of course, cold hard cash, to promote their products and services. Indeed, seven-figure “brand ambassador” deals with major companies are becoming regular news.

Podcast producer

The word “podcasting” first entered the lexicon in 2004, thanks to Guardian journalist Ben Hammersley. Today, almost everyone seems to have a podcast or to be getting ready to launch one. Podcasters can make money from ads and sponsors, but many have a more diversified income model: using their podcasts as a calling card of sorts to sell books and products, find coaching clients, or book speaking gigs.

Social media manager

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Managing all these social media profiles—and the stream of likes/comments/complaints that come in through them— has literally become a full-time job for the many people who serve as chatty, personable spokespeople for brands. Social media managers work to increase brand awareness and popularity by improving a company’s social media profile with more followers and stronger engagement.

Content moderator

Reading through Facebook posts sounds like an easy enough job, but journalists report the task is tougher than it first appears. Content moderators for YouTube, Facebook, and other social websites are responsible for scrubbing offensive content—and being confronted with inappropriate pics, hate speech, and gory videos day after day is not a job for the faint-hearted. Still, as social media sites grow, the need for content moderators will continue to increase.

Millennial generational consultant

Are Millennials self-absorbed or deeply altruistic? Jaded or optimistic? Materialistic or wary of the rat race? Depending on the news story, Millennials are all of the above—and companies are shelling out big bucks to figure out how exactly to reach the younger generation. That’s created a new crop of Millennial generational consultants, who are cashing in by surveying Millennials’ habits and reporting the trends.

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