When you think Silicon Valley workers, it’s likely that software developers, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs spring immediately to mind. But in the multi-hundred-billion dollar industry built on constant innovation, a huge and varied workforce has emerged. Many job titles that were unheard of even a decade ago have become de rigeur for startups and other tech agencies.
The jobs you’ll find below remain outside the realm of most professional schools, even if you might need a PhD. certification to get hired for a couple of them. Others are wholly invented by the industry, requiring a certain type of social acumen, weird skills, and, occasionally, not even a four-year college degree. @@Read on to discover the five most unusual jobs in the tech industry.@@
When you think about hacking computer code, prison bars might come to mind. But companies need ethical hackers -- “white hats” in industry parlance -- to combat the slew of black hats flooding the internet. By hacking into one’s own company’s database, salaried hackers can identify weak points, flaws in the system and possible back doors accidentally left open. Finding potential risks before the bad guys do can save the company billions of dollars. The biggest loss to a business, even more than sensitive data leaks, is it's reputation. Once data files have been breached, customers are wary to trust that company with their sensitive information in the future. That makes this kind of hacking perfect for thrill-seekers who want to remain above-board in their professional pursuits.
With the rise of importance of the “triple-bottom line,” which refers to social, environmental and financial results, @@companies are being forced to see the value not only of producing good products, but also of being good citizens.@@ A sustainability technician -- they are called different things by different companies, but this title is most common -- manages a company's strategies in this department, to ensure it acts as a responsible corporate citizen at every step of production and distribution. Sustainability specialists monitor operations to keep the business financially sustainable while minimizing its carbon footprint.
Welcome to the age of the CLO: Chief Listening Officer. Companies want to know what their customers are really thinking. With the advent -- or curse, depending on how you look at it -- of social media, smartphones and universal internet access, people are expressing opinions on a larger and more frequent scale than ever before. Many companies have started hiring employees with the express directive of monitoring social networks for feedback on their new products, app updates or other services. Before, customer feedback was typically limited to complaints, via comment cards and, later, sites like Yelp. Now, everyone can express an opinion, positive or negative, on an array of services. Now, you can get paid to find, track and organize that feedback.
Chief Happiness Officer
Another previously unheard of C-suite position is Chief Happiness Officer. The HR manager for 21st- century tech and other forward-facing companies, the CHO essentially evaluates the happiness quotient in his or her office, adjusting the levers to maximize employee “happiness,” aka “personal fulfillment and professional productivity.” Pioneered by model companies like Google and Zappos, the @@Chief Happiness Officer is becoming a must-have for many tech agencies@@ founded in their image.
User Experience Designer
The average user might find navigating a clunky website insanely frustrating. To preserve the sanity of customers, and prevent them from leaving your website, these problems must be eliminated. A user experience (UX) designer makes websites more useful, easier to use and more intuitive. How you do this depends on the problems of the site. You have to put yourself in the mind of a novice, and change anything that might make the site awkward or hard to use. The good news? Unlike most other influential positions in tech -- engineers, product managers, marketing experts -- UX designers require very little high-level education. With this kind of work, it’s all about the experience.
Finally, that elective-fulfilling Linguistics 101 class you took back in college is going to come in handy! Well, sort of. Computational linguists are those who help build responsive technology like Siri and other forms of predictive text. While this can be labor-intensive and require a high technology IQ, the ability to build in some wit and intelligence into artificial intelligence is highly unusual and, once you’re done, highly rewarding.