Most Career Paths Stink Now. So How Do You Steer Your Kids?

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The professions that used to provide a good living are no longer so lucrative. So what will your child do when she or he grows up? Will your hopes for your child be dashed?

A parent’s heart has to be big and endure many things, but among the most painful is seeing your young adult child thrash about, unable to find a clear path to happiness.

Jobs aren’t everything, of course, but the 20s are all about finding satisfying work that pays the bills and maybe points toward a relatively comfortable future. Sadly, the obvious paths for those things are all but gone. Every mom (and dad) wants, above all, for their kids to be happy. But that’s a pretty tall order right now.

As the new year begins, and resolutions about making a better life are made, it’s worth some examination.

Lawyer. Doctor. Pilot. Professor. A generation ago, parents might dream that their kids would end up in a prestigious, glamorous and lucrative job like one of those. Today … not so much. 

I was at a conference dinner last year, surrounded by very successful people. Most had kids between 5 and 15 years old. As we rounded out our discussion about the tough, recovering, restless economy, and the trouble of finding a good town with good schools, talk turned to what these parents hoped for their kids’ future. And everyone at the table drew a big, sad blank.

These weren’t parents looking for their kids to become a doctor in the way a 1950s family wanted their kids to become a doctor. These were parents who were swapping ideas on what direction to nudge their kids so they would be fairly assured of a decent life after college. All ideas that came up were quickly tossed aside.

For starters, most of them were well-paid computer security folks, and they brushed aside the prospect of having junior follow in their footsteps. Sure, there’s plenty of money to be made, but everyone I know who works in security is trying to get out of security and feels a bit like Bob Denver from “Gilligan’s Island.” (Wait, who? Exactly. Gilligan.)

When was the last time you saw a chief security officer become CEO? Security folks are the football offensive linemen of today’s world. They only make a name for themselves when something is wrong. So, from U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 jobs, we can knock off a quarter of the top 20 prospects.

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