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15 Jobs That Didn’t Exist 15 Years Ago

These emerging careers offer new ways to use skills you may already have

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If you’re looking for a job, there are many new opportunities available now as unemployment remains low and hiring demand stays high. In fact, some are so new that the occupations didn’t even exist 15 years ago.

Some of these newer occupations already have become popular among older adults. For example, 84 percent of Uber drivers are age 41 and older, according to a report from Brainvire, a technology industry consulting firm. Ride-hailing service Uber launched in 2009, and since then has quickly become an accessible job opportunity for workers of all ages.

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The following 15 jobs, listed alphabetically, show just how much the types of career opportunities available can change in just a few years. Average wage data is from salary.com.

Budtender

Why it started: Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

Average wage: $18 per hour 

If gardening is one of your favorite hobbies, this occupation gives you the opportunity to earn money too. In little more than a decade, recreational marijuana has been legalized in 21 states and the District of Columbia, and 38 states have approved the drug for medical use. That legalization boom has created demand for people who can help grow the plants.  

Cloud computing specialist

Why it started: Google announced its use of cloud computing in 2006.

Average wage: $47.26 per hour

Cloud computing is the backbone of most of today’s internet technology. Movie streaming, photo storage and online shopping are among the many everyday services that are powered by cloud computing in some role. As more businesses shifted to operating remotely during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring demand for cloud computing experts increased.

Contact tracer

Why it started: The United States declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency in March 2020.

Average wage: $21.54 per hour

While contact tracing has existed as an occupation for many decades, the coronavirus pandemic put a new spotlight on the job. Contact tracers are responsible for reaching out to people who may have been exposed to a contagious illness to provide them with information and resources and to determine who else may have been exposed. While many contact tracers got their start through on-the-job training, some people in this field have certifications or degrees in epidemiology or other related disciplines.

Cryptocurrency adviser

Why it started: Bitcoin launched in January 2009.

Average wage: $50.55 per hour

In little more than a dozen years, more than $804 billion globally has been invested in cryptocurrencies. That marketplace continues to evolve rapidly, meaning that investors need guidance from someone who closely follows the field. In addition to overall experience with providing investment advice, cryptocurrency advisers also should have professional certifications in digital assets management.

Delivery driver

Why it started: Amazon launched its Prime membership in 2005, offering free two-day delivery for most orders.

Average wage: $22.60 per hour

Whether it’s fresh-cooked meals from a favorite restaurant or discount merchandise from an online store, we’ve come to expect our orders to arrive quickly. Demand for delivery drivers continues to be high, though it has decreased slightly from the peaks during the first two years of the pandemic. Many of these positions are gig work or contract positions that offer flexibility but typically don’t provide benefits.

Drone plane operator

Why it started: The Federal Aviation Administration issued the first commercial drone permit in 2006.

Average wage: $27.55 per hour

It typically takes four to six weeks to learn how to become a drone operator. Once you have a license, you have access to a field that is growing rapidly as government agencies, filmmakers and businesses discover new ways to use these aerial devices. For example, Amazon recently has been testing the use of drones for deliveries of small packages in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas.

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E-sports coach

Why it started: Twitch, a streaming service that originally focused on people watching other people play video games, launched in June 2011.

Average wage: $29.39 per hour

Video games are steadily becoming an actual sport, with several professional leagues now available and hundreds of college scholarships for students who join e-sports teams. These teams need coaches who can help players develop skills and compete better in tournaments.

Mobile app developer

Why it started: The first iPhone debuted on June 29, 2007.

Average wage: $48.67 per hour

In less than 20 years, mobile apps — just like the smartphones on which they typically are used — have become an essential part of our daily habits. When a business decides that an app is the best way to connect with its clients, it usually hires an external app developer company to design and launch the software. As developer, you need both the soft skills to understand what the client wants and the technical skills to create software that brings that vision to life. While many mobile developers have a degree in computer science or a related field, coding boot camps also are accessible ways to get started in this career.

Online crafts merchant

Why it started: Web marketplace Etsy launched in 2005.

Average wage: $21.40 per hour

Prior to the arrival of Etsy, setting up your own business online could be difficult. Today, that website — and others like it, such as Amazon Handmade, and website builders like Weebly and Wix — have made it easier for artisans to sell their crafts nationwide. While you’re still responsible for the manufacturing, marketing and shipping of your crafts, these tools can make it easier to connect with customers online.

Online fitness instructor

Why it started: Many people stopped going to fitness centers after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Average wage: $21.59 per hour

One of the early success stories of the pandemic was the spike in sales of Peloton fitness bicycles, which allow users to virtually re-create the experience of taking a spinning class at their local gym. But that product wasn’t the only option that surged. The online fitness market grew from $11.39 billion in 2021 to $16.15 billion in 2022, according to the Business Research Company. Those numbers are projected to continue to grow over the next three years.

Podcast producer

Why it started: The true-crime investigation Serial brought podcasting to mainstream audiences in 2014; the format overall first arrived in 2004.

Average wage: $30.90 per hour

Many podcasts aim to make you feel like you’re listening to a good conversation between friends. The truth is it takes plenty of work to make those discussions sound so natural, and producers are the ones responsible for managing most of that preparation. Depending on the show, a producer’s responsibilities can include booking the guests, giving the hosts guidance on topics of conversation, helping with the technical side of recording the show, and assisting with finances and promotion.

Ride-share driver

Why it started: Uber launched in March 2009.

Average wage: $18.22 per hour

Driving for ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft offers the flexibility to work when you want, an option that appeals to many older adults. For example, according to one report, 84.8 percent of Uber’s drivers are 41 or older. To qualify as a driver for most ride-booking services, you will need a driver’s license with a clean record, automobile insurance and a car that is less than 10 years old.

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Social media influencer

Why it started: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter launched in the mid-2000s.

Average wage: $33.15 per hour

If you’ve been building up followers on your social media accounts, as many “grandfluencers” have, it might be time to consider making some money from them. You will need some entrepreneurial skills because there are several ways to earn money as an influencer. For example, some influencers with large followings negotiate deals with companies to promote their products in sponsored posts. Some sites also enable you to receive some revenue from advertising that runs alongside your posts.

Social media manager

Why it started: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter launched in the mid-2000s.

Average wage: $23.75 per hour

Social media platforms can be among the most effective ways for businesses and organizations to connect with customers, but it takes savvy to make that communication happen. Social media managers plan, design and schedule posts for platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to promote a company’s products, services and overall identity. For example, having created a sassy identity with the memorable “Where’s the beef?” commercials in the ’80s, Wendy’s has translated that type of irreverence into a Twitter account with more than 3.9 million followers.

Virtual assistant

Why it started: The term first appeared in 1996, but the COVID-19 pandemic made the role more popular.

Average wage: $21 per hour

If you have experience working as an administrative assistant but would prefer not having to go into the office, virtual assistant could be the job for you. In addition to being able to work from home, most virtual assistants can choose whether to take the role as gig work, an independent contractor or in a part-time or full-time staff position.

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