THE BLOG

Inject a Dose of Tech Into Your Career

08/22/2013 10:16 am ET | Updated Oct 22, 2013

Are you a recent grad having trouble finding a job in your area of study? Or perhaps you're mid-career and feeling trapped, unable to move up the ladder. Maybe it's not you -- job descriptions are changing everyday and the job you want today might list some unfamiliar skills tomorrow. Don't be intimidated, but prepare yourself for the next big change in your field. You'll begin to realize that acquiring some technical skills can go a long way and expand your employability. Here are some ways careers are taking a digital shift:

Fine Artist to Graphic Artist

So you're a passionate artist looking to get your foot in the door with a steady job. Why not get a technical boost as a graphic artist? WANTED Analytics states that the number of graphic design jobs is steadily increasing. According to Campus Explorer, graphic designers "are concerned with the most effective way to deliver a message in electronic media and print by using type, color, photograph, illustration, animation and various print and layout techniques." Some of these tasks include designing brochures, logos, branding, magazine and newspaper layouts, and creating other promotional graphics. If you're looking for a job in this field, the best way to start is by developing a portfolio and freelancing your skills. After a few gigs, you can end up with a full-time graphic design job which can pay anywhere between $35,000-95,000 annually. We're in an ever-changing web-based era where graphic design skills are in high demand across multiple fields including marketing, administration, publishing, and more. Being able to claim skills such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign is a huge advantage to your resume, whether or not it's a graphic artist job. You can participate in free online training through sites like TutVid and CartoonSmart. Get more job advice for this field at The Creative Group.

Classroom Teacher to Virtual Teacher

Are you a classroom teacher with children of your own? Just a decade ago, teachers could never imagine being able to do their work from home. Now, the virtual education business is booming. In fact, this field is so new that there's little info about it available online. However, you'll continue to see online teacher jobs posted by companies like K12 and Connections Academy. Virtual teacher jobs are much like regular classroom teacher jobs in a sense that the same requirements apply to both. The advantages, of course, are obvious - staying home with your toddlers, not having to worry about relocating, having everything you need at the convenience of your computer, and the wealth of technical skills you'd be gaining. About.com does share some disadvantages as well - some teachers might prefer the face-to-face interaction, many virtual schools require that you use their curriculum, and sometimes the pay may be less. Indeed.com reports that virtual teachers make anywhere between $30-60K annually, which is comparable to classroom teacher salaries. Hey, a job's a job and you have to make life work while you're at it, right? If you're on the road towards becoming a teacher, you might want to add a virtual teaching job to your horizon.

Administrative Assistant to Virtual Assistant

Do you dread the cubicle office atmosphere? Perhaps you'd rather do your clerical job in the comfort of your own home, or a remote location. According to the International Virtual Assistants Association, a virtual assistant is defined as one who "supports multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services." The job requires a wealth of technical skills such as Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite. Of course, the more you can offer, the better. Most virtual assistants are contracted, or freelancers, and typically don't get hired on full-time, with few exceptions of course. The down side to that is no benefits, but occasionally big business do hire remote assistants, aka virtual assistants. The best way to get your foot in the door is to land a few temp or part-time gigs on Elance or ODesk just to name a few. Payscale.com lists that virtual assistants can make anywhere between $15-60/hour, but of course it takes a while to get higher up on that scale. The most successful VA's are quick, sharp, and efficient, proving themselves as an asset to their employers.

Manufacturing Line Worker to Robot Operator

When many people think of manufacturing, they might assume manufacturing is still like the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are line-workers trying to keep up with a conveyor belt pick and packing chocolate candies. Today, many functions such as welding, painting, assembly, packing, palletizing and pick and place have been replaced by robots. In fact, many factories are almost 100% automated. According to the federal Office of Science and Technology Policy, robots in this field "increase the safety and productivity of workers." Robots are no longer the future - they are the present. Don't let the title of the job scare you though. It really doesn't require much to be a robot operator, and many of these jobs are entry-level, having the same requirements as manufacturing jobs. Sites like Indeed and Monster list salaries in this field as anywhere between $20-50K annually.

Marketing Manager to Social Media Specialist/Digital Marketing Manager

If you're in marketing (and there's many of you out there reading this), by now you should already know the changing trend of the field - everything's gone digital. Wikipedia describes social media as, "the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks." As a matter of fact, more social and professional networking occurs online through avenues such as LinkedIn and Facebook than in person. Also, rather than making cold calls, marketers are now exploring the options of email blasts, Facebook ads, banner ads, etc. This is where technical skills come into play. If you know how to utilize these digital tools, you'll find more success. If not, you might want to acquire some SEO or basic web design skills online via sites such as Lynda.com and MarketingProfs.com. It takes some time to learn these very beneficial skills, but it's necessary to be strong competitor in your game, and the payoff is great. According to Direct Marketing news, social media specialists can expect to earn an average of $76,900 a year, while digital marketing managers can earn up to $82,600 annually.

Are your wheels spinning yet? With all of these changes come a wealth of options. You never know what a few courses might do for your career.

Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on career development. She is the author of ten books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. She is a key advisor for recruiting and outplacement firms. Her most recent book is Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program, researching the impact of technology on future careers. Find Tracey on Twitter and Facebook.