Futurists are employed by corporations and other businesses, government agencies, colleges and universities, think tanks, strategic planning organizations, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations.
There are three main ways to break into a career as a futurist:
- Informal/Self Taught. After obtaining years of experience in his or her chosen profession (e.g., business, history, economics, anthropology, technology, marketing, environment/sustainability, engineering, etc.), an individual may get the itch to become a futurist. To obtain experience, he or she would read futurism-related books and journals, become a free member of the World Future Society (WFS), and attend futurism conferences and seminars and network with practicing futurists. Eventually, he or she would begin writing articles about strategic foresight trends, posting white papers on futurist Web sites, and speaking at industry conferences—gradually developing a reputation in the field.
- Formal Education. A growing number of colleges and universities offer degrees, minors, and concentrations in futures studies or strategic planning. Students who complete these programs (and an internship) can land entry-level jobs at consulting firms, companies that use strategic foresight professionals to assist with long-term planning, and other employers.
- Mentor. Some aspiring futurists work with an experienced professional to learn the ins and outs of the profession. The mentor provides advice on what to read, what conferences and seminars to attend, and networking contacts in the strategic foresight industry. You can find potential mentors by reviewing member lists at the Web sites of the World Future Society and Association of Professional Futurists. A mentor may eventually offer a mentee a job, or put him or her in contact with colleagues who have a need for an entry-level futurist.
With experience, a futurist who works for a consulting firm, corporation, or government agency might decide to open his or her own consulting practice. Futurists also advance by becoming well-known for their ideas and publications, which can translate into more earnings and a higher media profile.
Tips for Entry
Consider taking a futurism-related course at your local college or university to see if this field is for you.
Read The Foresight Guide (http://www.foresightguide.com), a free resource that provides more information on futurist career paths and features interviews with well-known futurists.
Attend the World Future Society’s Annual Futurist Summit (https://www.worldfuture.org) to learn more about the field and network.