3 Jobs That Didn’t Exist in Westchester 10 Years Ago

Clean energy, cannabis, and tech are three sectors with jobs that people wouldn’t have believed were real 10 years ago.

Ten years ago, if someone mentioned “Instagram Influencer Manager,” “App Developer for Augmented Reality,” or “Drone Operator,” just to name a few, you might have raised an eyebrow in confusion. But this is the 21st-century job market.

These gigs didn’t even exist a decade ago, and now they’re pretty big deals. The modern workforce is completely different from what we’re used to and, with it, brand-new job opportunities are popping up every day. Let’s take a peek at three cool jobs that were just a wild dream back then but are now shaping the way we live and work today.

 

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Clean Energy Manager

Right now, Con Edison is hiring for a full-time clean energy manager, something that we never saw a decade ago. This person will work at the intersection of policy, programs, and strategy to lead development of the company’s electric mobility strategy and have a material role in driving a successful clean transportation transition. They will represent the company to external stakeholders such as the New York State Department of Public Service Staff, while also monitoring clean transport market conditions such as electric vehicles.

Con Edison is leading the clean energy transition in New York City and Westchester County, investing hundreds of millions of dollars annually to integrate distributed resources into its electric and gas systems, support electric vehicle infrastructure, and scale adoption of energy efficiency and clean heating technologies across its customers. 

According to ZipRecruiter, people in energy manager positions can make anywhere between $73,000 and $230,000 per year. New York’s goal is achieving 70% renewable sourced electricity by 2030 and a zero-emission electric grid by 2040. While NYSERDA was founded back in 1975, New York State put its official energy plan into place in 2015 – just eight years ago. Even with the goals in place, jobs like this one weren’t created until further down the line.

Cannabis Workforce Initiative Project Manager

That’s David Serrano’s role at the Workforce Development Institute in New York. Serrano has worked as a consultant focused on the development of the cannabis industry, which includes research, developing a broad network of partners across the industry, and participating in a range of engagements. In the last 12 months, he’s hosted over 150 events, both in-person and online, across the state.

New York State only just legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021 and, as of 2022, recreational cannabis is for sale legally in the state through state-approved dispensaries. This job didn’t come close to existing 10 years ago, but the brand-new industry has a lot to offer, Serrano says.

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“There are a lot of entry-level jobs in the cannabis industry,” notes Serrano, who recommends that those interested take the free 10-week career exploration course on cannabisworkforce.org. Serrano also says the general public tends not to be aware just yet of what jobs are available in the industry, “but there are entry-level opportunities across the entire supply chain from cultivation and manufacturing to selling and marketing.”

He’s found that most people in the industry right now are retired workers like himself – Serrano is a veteran of the U.S. Navy – and others who might have worked in local government or as teachers. 

“They’re coming from all walks of life with no experience in cannabis and pivoting into entry-level roles and having a good time with it,” Serrano explains.

And the younger workforce is just as intrigued, especially because most jobs don’t even require a high school diploma, yet offer solid career growth opportunities with accelerated pathways to supervisory and management levels. 

“The people hired today will be the future bosses and leaders in the next five years,” Serrano says. “The pathway is much shorter than an established industry. We see that.”

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AI Engineer

Engineers definitely aren’t new. But what is new is the first part: AI, or artificial intelligence. The industry has seen a boom ever since generative AI came along, which is what runs platforms like ChatGPT, for example. Today, when you search “AI Engineer” on Glassdoor or Indeed, thousands upon thousands of job listings appear, something that would have redirected you to a different kind of engineer role 10 years ago if you searched for it then.  According to a report by Indeed, job postings for AI-related positions have increased by 119% in the past three years.

As companies increasingly rely on AI technologies for their operations, the demand for skilled AI engineers continues to rise, which is also leading to higher salaries compared to other related roles, a nice plus. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates at least 31.4% career growth for AI engineers by 2030. BLS research shows that AI engineers will experience career growth of 21% between 2021 and 2031, which is more than the average growth for all occupations.

So what exactly does an AI engineer do? An AI engineer builds AI models using machine-learning algorithms and deep-learning neural networks to draw business insights, which can be used to make business decisions that affect the entire organization. They use different tools and techniques so they can process data, as well as develop and maintain AI systems.

To land this role, someone does need to have a thorough background in computer science or engineering. Some organizations may also require a master’s degree with a specialization in areas like computer vision, robotics, or natural language processing. 

Related: The Clean Energy Economy Is Hot for Westchester Job Prospects

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