Where are the High Paying Jobs?

January 5, 2007 · Posted in economics, innovation 

The big complaint in all the industrialized nations is they’re losing high paying jobs. But where are those jobs going? The quick response is the high paying jobs are going overseas or foreigners are coming in and “stealing” jobs. This is an easy explanation but it’s totally false.

High paying jobs aren’t moving overseas or somehow being stolen. The high paying jobs are gone. No one is getting the old high paying jobs, those jobs don’t exist.

There is a fundamental rule of human nature. We always want More, Better, For Less, with Less Hassle. That continuous drive to get more for less has caused tremendous increases in productivity. 100 years ago it took thousands of people to do what one person does today.

As recently as 50 years ago telephone companies had operators manually connecting calls. This person’s job was to plug wires on a board of connectors to make the connection between telephones. It could take 15 minutes for a call to be connected across the country. Today a device that costs $100 can make thousands of connections a second. Only a few years ago telephone companies charged extra for long distance calls. Today almost every cellular plan offers free long distance.

The job of telephone operator wasn’t stolen, or shipped overseas. That job is gone. If someone did want to do that job today they wouldn’t get paid very much. Plugging and unplugging wires isn’t valuable. No one wants to pay for a manual telephone operator.

The creation of automated switches led to new high paying jobs managing the switches. As the switches became more reliable and easier to manage even those jobs went away. Now one person can manage thousands of switches that connect thousands of calls every second. Today one person can do the work of millions. That one person does have a high paying job. But that will go away as well. It will get easier and easier to do the job and it won’t require special training.

I don’t think anyone wants people to spend all day unplugging and plugging in wires to connect telephone calls. I don’t think anyone wants to go back to paying for long distance either.

The same scenario I described with telephones applies to every industry, agriculture, manufacturing, banking, even medicine. The high paying jobs aren’t being stolen by lower paid workers. All jobs are going away. When you look around your house there are lots of jobs you don’t want to do that you are glad have gone away. Dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, prepackaged food, and microwave ovens have eliminated live-in servants. It used to take all day every day to keep a home operating. Now it only takes one hour a week. Oddly enough the job of maid is a high paying job for the small business person. A self employed maid gets paid between $25 and $50 per hour.

When you think about what a job is, do you really want one? A job is something you have to do. The instant a task is something you do for pleasure it’s no longer a job, it’s a hobby.

Jobs are being performed by machines. In the past people were the machines. People did the heavy lifting, now machines do the drudgery. We’ve moved past people being machines, through people using machines and now machines performing work all on their own. Each step created new technology that produced new higher paying jobs. But now that the machines are eliminating jobs altogether we are seeing those high paying jobs disappear.

You might accept that the high paying jobs are going away but you still need to pay bills. How can you survive if all jobs are going away?

First off, it will be a long time before all jobs go away. And until that happens there will be lots of new high paying jobs. All these new jobs will come from innovation and will be in one of three general categories.

  1. Build, Repair or Operate Machines
  2. Discover, Interpret, or Communicate Information
  3. Personal touch

We all understand building, repairing or operating machines. This could range from high tech such as a computer programmer to very old tech such as a plumber. The key that makes these jobs high paying is how much it reduces works for others and adds to enjoyment.

Notice I didn’t describe computer programmer as an information job. Computer programmers deal with machines, they don’t discover, interpret or communicate information although the machines they build do.

We all know about scientists, professors or TV personalities as discoverers, interpreters or communicators of information, but so do marketers, and artists. Marketers help communicate solutions to people that want them. Artists interpret feelings and communicate those feelings to people. This is information. The more people you can server the high your pay and more reliable your income.
People are social creatures. Sometime just having a real person there is what people want. Things like a masseuse, a doctor, or a hairdresser could all be done other ways but we want to interact with the person. The boring repetitive aspects will go away but the most service oriented will become increasingly valuable.

What do I think is the best job of all? Be an innovator!

You might say, “I can’t earn a living being an innovator, I’m just not innovative. I don’t have a degree in engineering or design. I’m not creative. I’m just a normal person. How can I be a professional innovator?” Let me assure you. You can.

You don’t need special engineering or design training. And you don’t need to be creative. All you need is a system. Fortunately there is an easy to use rock solid system that uncovers hundreds of innovations on demand, its called OutCompete Predictive Innovation Method.

Once you learn the system you can always create job for yourself or others anytime you need or want.

Action Items

  • Search job listings for your talents
  • Count the number of available jobs
  • Determine the pay rate
  • Search jobs based on technology from 10 years ago. Number? Pay?