Environmentalism. Growing alarm about global warming is making environmentalism this generation's dominant initiative. The most influential panel on the topic, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the most visible advocate of curbing carbon emissions, former Vice President Al Gore, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for insisting that vigorous action is needed. The environmental wave is creating jobs in everything from sales to accounting in companies making green products, regulatory positions in government, and grant writing, fundraising, and litigation work in nonprofits. Among the more interesting green careers, thousands of engineers are working on such projects as hydrogen-powered cars, more efficient solar cells, and coal pollution sequestration systems. But those jobs require very high-level training and skills and are at risk of being offshored. In contrast, so-called green-collar consulting is offshore resistant and often requires less demanding training (for example, learning how to do green-building audits). It is a worthy option for people who love novelty and don't want to be stuck in the same office every day, for years. Many environmental consultants are peripatetic, solving new and different problems at constantly changing worksites—often blending office work with time in the great outdoors.
Terrorism. The expert consensus is that the United States will again fall victim to a major terrorist attack. Jobs in the antiterrorism field have already mushroomed since 9/11, but if another attack were to occur, even more jobs would surely be generated. Demand should particularly grow in such areas as computer security and Islamic-country intelligence, but their required skill sets are difficult to acquire. More accessible yet also likely to be in demand is emergency planning.
For more career options, consult U.S. News profiles of 31 Best Careers.