Post-industrial age occupations

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Geary Johns
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As a result of a conversation my wife and I had on what career path to follow when I retire in the next four years, I began to wonder what “occupations” would be viable in the future. Now assuming (I know, I know) that everyone starts gardening in their backyard, and as Heinlein suggested learns to do as much for themselves and does not specialize, what do you think the jobs, guilds, and so on are going to be? I have made it a point to try to learn at least passably any skill I have had a chance to. I keep thinking of the small village concept, yet considering how populations have centralized in large urban areas and dang it there are no models that I can think of for what the future is going to be like, I keep getting hung up on the “Blacksmith, Potter, Weaver, and so on middle ages skills” and can’t conceptualize past that. What are your thoughts and ideas? Blessings Geary

Sophie Gale
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A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs

Forgive me if I go all New-Agey on you this afternoon, but sometimes you just gotta follow your bliss.

A Hollywood Writer's Second Act: Gongs

But Borakove was serious about the gong business. He did some research and found that people were searching for gongs online, but there weren't many places to buy them. It's not like you could walk into Target and buy a gong, he says.

So he moved his family from Los Angeles to San Diego and set up shop. Immediately, his new business began to grow. Soon, Borakove was working 10 hours a day, running his website from a Starbucks and spending $800 a month on storage units for his gong supply....

"Is it ever going to make me rich?" Borakove asks. "No. But I sold $450,000 worth of gongs last year. That's heavy metal."

bmega
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Jobs for mature post-industrial age individuals

I am past the half century point and contemplating which skills would best serve me in the next 20 years.  I am fortunate already be teaching Horticulture  and am an avid food grower, cook and preserver.  I think we all will be needing to learn this and might be good to also have another trade for added income.  I am also a long time re-user/collector and re-seller of vintage goods.  Last year, I actually made more money reselling quality household,  food prep items and well crafted dinnerware.   I hope to beging studying antique and vintage  hand tools as they will be essential for the next decades ahead. 

My journey into buying most everything "vintage" - even for myself came from:

1) necessity- to save money, and be a work at home Mom of special needs children... I couldn't afford new stuff..   

2) quality-  anyone who has bought an appliance, towels,, even clothing in the last 5 years will likely note stealth inflation ie- steep quality -decline from new manufactured goods, particularly goods made in asia.  I won't argue there aren't still some goods well made in the USA, england, Germany, Scandinavia.. problem is, I cant afford them!

  I am on a mission to buy good, vintage ( preferably 25 years or older) products for myself and now have a list of clients wishing the same.

If I had a garage, i would be stocking up on the following for sale/trade etc,,,,, Antique  cast iron cookware, woodworking tools, handtools, garden tools, food prep, housewares.... especially  1984 and older Corning ware and their associated goods....  the Pyro-ceramic - cookware developed using space age technology.. designed to be placed in an oven, over an open flame, in a microwave, stored in a freezer..   they are no longer being produced using this old formula.   Fine china, many ceramic,  plasticware and even some stoneware will degrade if stored in a non-climate controlled space, exposed to rain or sunlight..   none of this happens with Corning ware.  

I am collecting a few sets just to pass along to my children, and am actively seeking sets for close and valued clients family's.  There is already a small local market for the extra's I come across.

i also have some sets of vintage hand crank  sausage makers, tomato saucers, food graters., cast iron cookware. I think these will be the gifts from the past to pass along to my great grand children..

I would like to open a shop that buys, sells, refurbishes and trades for these proven utilitarian goods.    They may not be cheap or easy to obtain in the next few years, and who knows if USA will ever be on track to produce them again..  but now,, can be had at sales and auctions for less than any new high end pieces.  It is a temporary but potentially useful market for the next 10- 20 years or so, In my Humble opinion.

Folks back home-  in Rural/amish PA have been doing this for ages.

Waddaya think?

Cathy McGuire
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Good plan!

Thanks for the comments about useful vintage - I see some of that stuff around here (OR) in Goodwill and thrift stores still... I don't know if I have space to store much, but I might look into some things, if they are good buys. I appreciate your list - I'll keep it with me as I cruise the 2nd hand stores. Wish I had more time to buy/refurbish, but I've committed myself to a rather large garden, chickens and rabbits, plus all my own housekeeping and yardwork! :-}

Sophie Gale
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One Job Nobody's Listed Yet (LOL!)

I Want Your Job: Nathan Enkel, Medieval Times Falconer

We grilled a Medieval Times falconer about what it's like to wrangle birds of prey for a living.

 

Ok, I laughed when I read it, but I saw this feature on African game hunting in Texas two weeks ago--and I've been watching Downton Abbey on PBS.  How long before the rich set up their private deer parks again?  "The keeper did a shooting go, and under his cloak he carried a bow..."

How soon before the next superstar rapper or sports giant decides he needs to accessorize with a falcon, eh?  Falcons like big city living...we have had a nesting pair in downtown Peoria.  Who knows, maybe penthouse mews will be part of our future.

fungusmudgrub
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equipment

There is a need now, and will be more in the future, for makers of small scale agricultural equipment, both for human powered and draft animal powered farms. Think wheel hoes, forecarts, etc. The amish are doing some innovative things now, but they are not widely distributed.

 

Also, biogas producers, once we cannot just call for a propane refill.

Cathy McGuire
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Yes - gathering plans and instructions now would be good.

Good point - even though there will be a lot of salvage, I'm guessing once machines are either unavailable or too expensive due to supply problems, there will be a niche for handmade tools. I have a great book "Build It Better Yourself" by Rodale and it's full of helpful plans!

Sophie Gale
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System D

I just finished reading Stealth of Nations:  The Global Rise of the Informal Economy by  Robert Neuwirth.  I recommend it heartily. 

From an interview with Neuwith in the December 16, 2011 article on Wired.com:

Robert Neuwirth:There’s a French word for someone who’s self-reliant or ingenious: débrouillard. This got sort of mutated in the postcolonial areas of Africa and the Caribbean to refer to the street economy, which is called l’économie de la débrouillardise—the self-reliance economy, or the DIY economy, if you will. I decided to use this term myself—shortening it to System D—because it’s a less pejorative way of referring to what has traditionally been called the informal economy or black market or even underground economy. I’m basically using the term to refer to all the economic activity that flies under the radar of government. So, unregistered, unregulated, untaxed, but not outright criminal—I don’t include gun-running, drugs, human trafficking, or things like that.

Platy
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Traveling musicians & dance teachers

Traveling musicians and dance teachers.  Even in the old days people weren't born knowing how to play local music and do folk dances. They had to learn somewhere from some teacher.   According to a Wikipedia article on Irish Stepdance,

Traveling dancing masters taught all over Ireland as late as the early 1900s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_stepdance

I don't know exactly how this business worked, but searching for the phrase "traveling dance master" returns an interesting assortment of articles.

Another itinerant profession with a similar business model might be traveling singing teacher.  Depending on the local cultural heritage it might involve group singing of religiously themed music in conjunction with religious revivals, which would be an obvious thing to organize in the southern United States.  That kind of group folk singing is described at

http://fasola.org/

Sophie Gale
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Neighborhood Rat-catcher

This could be a good job for a retiree or self-employed person:  patroling the back streets and alleys with a few terriers.  It could be funded by a grant through a neighborhood association, church, or merchants group.  --Of course a neighborhood sweep could be rough on outdoor cats and little lapdogs innocently doing their duty in the yard, so the patrols would probably have to be scheduled and publicized to let people know when to keep their animals inside.

The rat-catcher might also do basic home repair to keep rats out of buildings. 

Jennifer Riley
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Previous Mention: Shoemaker

in a previous thread, intelligent poster had stated Paris 1292 Occupations. Shoemaker was at the top. Remember my own small town had a shoemaker, a hole in the wall tiny shop. Was re-skimming JMG's TLD this morning and saw energy. Seems we'll need sole makers and upper makers. Paris 1292 sounds urban to me. I'm thinking American small towns will need soles, bottoms of shoes, moccasins, leather lowers and hand-made uppers.

Will we also see the re-birth of correspondence courses and will they replace community colleges (similar to the Green Wizard courses)? I think so. If you take a correspondence course, maybe a master in the field will drop by and assess your learning, then report your score to the main office.

McThick
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I didn't see 'librarian'

I didn't see 'librarian' mentioned anywhere.  Certainly, I think, someone with a large collection of books could charge a small fee for their use.  This would be especially true of textbooks and the better works of fiction.  Even better, this is a very passive job in most cases and requires little or no skill beyond the ability to read and to hoard and organize books.

Before anyone gets upset, there will also be a relatively few positions in actual libraries.  This position WOULD require a great deal of skill and training.  It would also garner significant respect in the community and be a difficult position to attain.  Librarians are trusted with the knowledge of a people, that is not a trust to make lightly.

-McThick

  • There's a lot of wisdom in a pint, and a lot of stupid in a quart.
  • Platy
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    Private libraries

    I think a privately owned library could reasonably maintain a collection of about 10,000 books in a structure more or less the size of a residence.  A private library might not provide a large money income, but it could very well establish the owner as a scholar or a public spirited citizen.  I'd imagine that such people would naturally be invited to participate in a community's discussions and decisions about education, information resources, culture and arts.  In a small community, the library might also be used for committee meetings, lectures, shows, and classes.  Some historical examples I am thinking about are the Nantucket Atheneum, and the private book collection of Swante Palm in Austin which served Texas scholars before the University of Texas was established.

    Justin Patrick Moore
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    I work in a public library

    I work in a public library now, for the past 11 years, as a shelver. There have been a lot of job cuts due to budget issues. So far I've been lucky. But I've been working, as a complete and utter bibliomaniac, to build my own library. I'm nowhere close to 10,000 volumes yet, but it is an ongoing concern.

    I think these private libraries could be organized along guild lines, and their could be an affiliation between private libraries. (Speaking of guilds, I hope to see their general reemergence as part of the response to collapse.)

    A librarian could really be trained under an apprenticeship without the costly need of a Masters Degree. It seems to me this training would include: mending & repair of books as well as bookbinding, and more esoteric, but practical arts such as the Art of Memory. Many other skillsets would serve the librarian as well.

    Libraries have traditionally been places for readings, discourse & other cultural events -and they can continue to be so in the short and long term. They could also serve as places for workshops on various skills that will help humanity weather the coming times. This is a subject I am passionate about...

    Platy
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    Low tech water well driller

    The web page linked below has two embedded videos that show a fast, low-tech way to drill shallow water wells.  It was referred to as the EMAS method.

    http://www.drillyourownwell.com/Other-Well-Drilling-Videos-2.htm

    That page has links to other information about drilling shallow water wells with simple equipment.  The main page of the Drill Your Own Well site is

    http://www.drillyourownwell.com/index.htm

    Sophie Gale
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    Cockroach breeder? And Leeches, too, I guess?

    The Healing Power of Cockroaches

    "The next time you step on a cockroach, think about this: The tiny brain you just crushed is loaded with so many antibacterial molecules that it makes prescription drugs look like sugar pills."

    Until the science is worked out, I suppose you could sell them to pet stores and  aquaculture outfits for pet food.

    But seriously, folks, the August issue of Interbusiness Issues is celebrating family-owned businesses in Central Illinois.  Are there talents or areas of expertise within your family that could be combined to create a sustainable, post-industrial business?  Keep in mind that many of the businesses feature in the magazine have changed over time.  I think members of extended families are going to come through the Long Descent better than individuals and members of small "nuclear families."  

    hyperinflation
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    This is going to be over

    This is going to be over simplified, but I don't believe you really need to conceptualize a model for the economy. You just need to look beyond the border. At least for the next couple of decades, if you want to see the kinds of occupations that might be in demand in the US in the future, simply head down to Mexico or any other poor country and see what the population there does to survive. Before oil and industrial goods become unavailable, a large segment of the population of the US is going to become desperately poor. An economy like the US doesn't change overnight, even when everyone becomes destitute. Most of the rest of your life is simply going to look like extreme poverty.  Your children might see guilds and such, but it is unlikely you will have much of a chance to participate in them.

    Let's take an example of something JMG has mentioned several times.

    Appliance repair. It might be very possible to buy that new refrigerator from the industrial economy  if you are rich, but most are not going to have the money to afford it. Thus, appliance repair is going to be a field fantastically in demand as appliances break down. But there are a few problems. First, technicians today in the US can't actually repair anything. They can only diagnose and replace the part, which is often more expensive than buying something new.  But if you look at appliance repair in 3rd world countries, they don't let the fact that something is not recommended by the manufacturer stop them. Think you can't repair a hermetically sealed compressor without special tools? Guess again. You can't return it to like new condition, but it'll probably work OK for 3-6 months, and then you repair it again. Second, and this is important, people who can not afford to buy new, can not only not afford the new item, but they also can't afford to pay for repairs of their old items. So the only way to get any steady work at all is to work for next to nothing.

    There is an old man who works out of a shop house not far from me here in Thailand. His entire business is taking old automotive alternators and rewinding them. It is an incredibly labor intensive activity. He might spend all day repairing a single unit. And for his effort, he may be able to sell that refurbished alternator for 200 baht (about $6) more than it cost him to fix it. There are other shops in a different area of town that specialize in rewinding fan motors. With some floor standing fans costing upwards of $20, it is well worth spending a day or so to fix them.

    When I tell people of business ideas that work in an environment like this, their first reaction is usually one of horror. They can't possibly imagine working for a few dollars per day. But yet, there are billions of people around the planet who spend their entire lives doing just that. And the truth is, that is likely what is waiting for the US population in the near future, before the industrial economy completely fails and guilds take over. I sometimes wonder if people truly grasp how difficult the coming period is going to be. I get the feeling some people think they are going to be able to charge high prices for these repairs or hand crafted items, just because a repair or new item from the industrial economy will be even more expensive.

    But that isn't what happens in real life.  The economy bifurcates, and you have a group of wealthy people that continue to buy new and throw away because they can, and the rest become peasants that can afford only a tiny, tiny fraction of what the industrial item costs. The gap you will see between rich and poor is staggering beyond your imagination. You don't just have to beat the price of the item new, you have to be willing to repair it for pennies, and do whatever it takes, no matter how menial that task might seem, to make that possible.

    So keep that in mind, and then if you want ideas take a trip to any 3rd world country. Watch what they do, and how they do it. Don't be surprised though at how difficult some of these tasks seem, how long it takes, and how unconventional the process is. This is the reality of life with minimal fossil fuels. The developing world is living your immediate future today. All you have to do is get out and look. I have no doubt guilds and other social structures will eventually evolve to replace the collapsing industrial economy, I just don't think they are going to make significant headway for the next 3-4 decades. I think they are a model for our children, not for us.

    (BTW, my own person recommendation for a career in demand? ...I have a personal bias here but I'll say it anyway... motorcycle repair. Every developing country in the world makes excellent use of motorcycles in their transport infrastructure.  I don't mean big Honda Goldwings....I mean cheap, $1000, 100 cc motorcycles. Bicycles are wonderful and they will certainly be used as well, especially further out as things get really bad, but trying to carry heavy loads on a bicycle is a real chore. In the immediate future, before things get really bad, a few milliliters of a hydrocarbon liquid  in a  motorcycle can make your life alot more enjoyable, and I'm sure Honda and Yamaha will be right there to make sure everyone knows this when cars become impractical for the majority.  No fancy electronic computers here either. Simple carburetors, brake systems, etc. And many of the techniques of repairing motorcycle tires and chains transfers easily to bicycles later on. I make my living in this area though, so be skeptical of my opinion)

    zDavid
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    Thoughtful comment

    And it's a comment that seems long in coming to this thread. After reading through this thread a couple of times, I can't help but wonder why I appear to be so out of touch with a lot of the occupational ideas mentioned here: shaman, teacher, paralegal, etc., are all secondary and tertiary occupations - jobs that depend upon at leat a modicum of supportive infrastructure, which may very well be nonexistent. I sincerely and respectufully do not believe that occupations far removed from primary skills will be needed in the near term. But I could be incorrect. No one really knows, but the post I am responding to seems to offer a sane and predictive analysis. Having visited some of the places where poverty reigns absolute, I'd have to agree that a willingness to work hard for very little in return is a lesson we will eather learn or suffer from.

    It seems to me that occupations centering around agriculture are going to prevail and be a necessity. There may be some specialization - soil builders, seeders, growers, etc. but near term it may be all of us doing everything. The return of the renaissance men and women - they will likely fare best. Those who can grow a garden AND fix the water pump will quietly go on living or serving a master.

    Water is another thing. Fresh water availability will likely be scarce. Well, I think, actually, we can count on that. Humans can live only 5 to 7 days without water. Once this fact begins to be real to us, perhaps the primary occupation for everyone will be to secure some way of obtaining and resupply of this immediate and ongoing need.

    I realize, as I write and think about this, that it is a struggle for me, emotionally, to acknowlege the rational side of economic collapse. I'm sure this is true for a lot of folks. About the best we can hope for, for our generation, is that it happens slowly, that sanity will prevail, and that future systems will be just and honest. If this is the case, those secondary and maybe even tertiary occupations may play a role afterall sooner than I can imagine at the moment.

    Sophie Gale
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    Ah, We Are Approaching Discensus!

    Good!  The proccess is working.

    Right now we are like those fabled blind dudes trying to identify the elephant.  We are making deductions based on the economic models we know.  It's very interesting thinking about jobs in Thailand.  It definitely offers a fresh prespective.  I don't see The U.S. plunging into Third World economics in the next two decades.  And by then us retirees will (and the original question was about chosing a second profession after retirement) most likely be out of the equation.  I expect younger folks on the list will go thru two or three career changes during their lives--just like people do now.

    If you want to think about Third World careers, you might want to browse Kiva, the micro-lending site.  Yes, most of the people seem to be seeking loans for agricultural improvements, but entrepreneurs are seeking seed money for small grocery stores, taxis, sewing, street vending...  They are also looking for money to pursue higher education.  It's been a while since I've looked at Kiva, but I was surprised at how many groups are seeking loans!  This strikes me as new and very encouraging.  I've been involved with the Fair Trade movement for eight years, and I've been saying for the last year that it's time to bring FT principles home.  No, I don't see "guilds" springing up in the immediate future, but we have plenty of models for enviromentally sustainable, democratically run farmer and artisan co-ops.

    I will be the first to admit that I suck at prophecies, but I thinking that Third World models are not going to be helpful for a generation or more because their situations are so different.  Most of the so-called "Failed Nations" are struggling with post-colonial issues:  stripped of natural resource,  coping with staggering environmental degradation, tribal wars, political despotism and little or no experience with democratic government, large and very young populations, families decimated by epidemics and war.  While we will surely experience The Long Descent, we are starting from a very high perch!

    Right now, thinking about careers, I'm thinking 1780 and 1860.  What career choices available now are analogous to careers in those times?  So I'm going to stand by "paralegal."

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    Fermenter Zym
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    Wow

    Wow, wonderful idea looking at microloans, Sophie. Certainly most of us would do better raising livestock and growing food for our neighbors during the long descent (that is, if our neighbors don't take them first --- it depends on the rate of collapse I suppose). I would love to learn how to raise and breed chickens. That seems like a very lucrative trade in the future that I would enjoy doing now.

    Sophie Gale
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    Getting Past the Either-Or

    FZ, there's nothing to preclude owning a gypsy cab AND growing vegetables.  Between owning a bodega AND raising chickens.  Between living in a city AND providing food for the neighbors.  People in the "Third World" do it all the time.

    There also seems to be a pervasive mindset in Post-Industrial discussions that we will be walking our chosen paths alone or with members of the nuclear family.  I think a lot more thought should go into organizing and sustaining workers cooperatives--especially with the "First World" economy tanking.  It's obvious that neither Wall St. or Main St. or the U.S. government is prepared to create jobs.  I'm thinking that the grass roots coop model of job creation needs to be part our economic plan.

    The United Nations has declared 2012 International Year of Cooperatives.

    International years are declared by the United Nations to draw attention to and encourage action on major issues. The International Year of Cooperatives is intended to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The Year will also highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model as an alternative means of doing business and furthering socioeconomic development.

    neogenics3
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    I'm shocked

     I'm shocked no one has mentioned a community shaman type occupation yet. It seems that as local communities become more  locally inter-dependent, traditional spiritual roles which combine multiple skillsets will become more needed. Even if a person doesn't call themself a shaman or druid or wise woman per se, green wizards may have a respected postion as just that: green wizards.

    Sophie Gale
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    Make a chart

    There's all kinds of stuff about working after age 50 on the AARP site.  Read through some of their articles, make a chart, and rate the jobs you read about.

    1) Will this job still be available in twenty years?  In fifteen?  (I  think we can make reasonable guesses about the next two decades.)

    2) Will I be able to do it in a small town or in a big city?  Can I work from home?

    3) Will I still want/be capable of doing this job in twenty years?

    4) Will I pick up skills that will be useful to Green Wizardry?

    5) How much time/money will be involved in preparing for the job?

    6) How much time/money will it give me to pursue Green Wizardry projects I want to do?

    7) Are there related careers to explore?

    I am sure other people can think of more questions.

    Go to the business section of the your library or browse the job section of your bookstore.  Look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Use your chart.

     

     

    Sophie Gale
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    Interim Jobs

    It's not going to be all back-breaking labor--not right away.  You might want to consider learning sign-language and becoming an ASL interpreter. 

    Become a paralegal, maybe with an emphasis on environmental issues or elder care.  Become a notary public.  When TSHTF, you may be the next best thing to a lawyer in your neck of the woods.

    I think, as health care costs continue to rise, there will be a demand for palliative health care professionals.  "The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for people facing the pain, symptoms and stresses of serious illness. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage of an illness, and it can be provided along with treatments that are meant to cure."  A palliative health care team may consist of a specially trained doctor, nurse, social worker, and clergy person working out of a hospital or clinic.

    http://www.getpalliativecare.org/stories

    And then there will be a need for bus drivers, as people give up driving and use public transportation.

    Cathy McGuire
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    Good suggestions!

    Those are good suggestions,Sophie. I especially like that they are not feeding into the system that is crashing... I have struggled to find jobs that don't "contribute to the problem" (like working at a fast food place, or a huge shopping mall, or even in some hospitals, where you're constrained to the company dictats and feel like you're just mouthing the common illusion). Paralegal might be tricky, depending on where you get hired.

    Of course, the other issue is debt - this isn't a good time to run up a lot of school debt, unless you're prepared to ditch the loans... this is a tricky time...

    Sophie Gale
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    Paralegals

    I did look into training as a paralegal not quite two years ago.  There are a couple of different levels:  an AA degree, a BA degree, and for folks who have a BA in another field, there is a paralegal certification program.  I already had an AA from our local community college, so I had all the basics out of the way.  Because I was a dislocated worker, the state would have paid most of my classes.  Because certain classes were only offered in spring or fall semesters, it would have taken about a year and a half to finish the program.  Now would there have been a job for me when I finished?  Life intervened, and I never followed that research. 

    I always try to think about the cost of taking up a new career.  I try to think about "stair steps."  A CNA can work at that job while studying to be a nurse, a nurse can segue into palliative nursing or elder care.

    I also think, down the road, we might have to rethink how students finance education.  We've really gotten used to doing it alone.  In the future a communtiy/extended family may decide to fund a college education for one member of the community, who uses that career to the benefit of the whole group and to fund the next student up the ladder.  But that's a whole 'nuther topic.

    Folks considering a career change may want to consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Bureau will tell you what kind of education is needed for different types of jobs, give you a job outlook through 2018 (they are projecting a 28% increase for paralegals), projected wages, related careers...

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos114.htm#outlook

    Cathy McGuire
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    Interesting graph of types of jobs 1850-present

    I just came across this; it's an interactive graph of the prevalence of types of jobs and gives a quick visual of how our labor force has changed. Move the cursor over the thin lines to see what jobs they are. Blue for boys and pink for girls, unfortunately. Wink

    http://flare.prefuse.org/launch/apps/job_voyager

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    Autonomy Acres
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    "Night Soil" Collector

    So this is definitely a less than sexy post- industral age occupation, but will be highly needed - "Night Soil Collector".  Just like today's garbage collectors, In the future after modern sewers and sewage treatmant has downscaled or all together disappeared, the need to collect human manure from the remaining cities and towns and return them to the soil as fertilizer will be highly important.  It is only in modern times with cheap fossil fuels that we regarded our waste as garbage.  Human manure holds a place within the biological process of fertilizing gardens and farms, and this is a skill that will have to be relearned.  Human manure, when composted correctly, is safe to use, low odor, and totally abundant.  As we move into the uncertain future, remembering how important sanitation and cleanliness is to human health should be the main reason for this profession, along with the added benefit of fertilizing our food.   

    Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon. - Masahide - http://autonomyacres.com/

    ray.duckling
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    Health care anyone?

    I am rather surprised that so few people is considering a craft as Healer.

    Sure, most of the healing in the distant future will be absorbed into the domestic economy in the distant future. But for the generations currently alive, the skillset is simply not there. Even a basic first aid class will take you ahead of the pack.

    Now that I think about it, this may be a good circle, doesn't it?

    #Shameless plug

    I am in my mid thirties, and I have just enrolled in a 2 year program to become a Certified Acupuncturist (Chinesse style). The tuition is affordable and will not go into debt for it. The classes are in the evening, so I can keep on the day job while styding. I am even planing to put some savings into 0% interest boxes of needles, which are cheap and compact. Smile

    The beauty I find is that, right away, it lets me be of use to people. No need to wait until after TEOTWAWKI to get noticed. Unlike my hobby, which is tinkering with passive solar.

    #End of shameless plug

    --- Are you kidding? If they can’t, they're five masters, I’m just one me!

    solarbobky
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    Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

    Alternative plumber (cisterns, gravity feed, composting toilets), harness maker,  hand tool sharpener - saws, chisels, planes, beekeeper, horse logger

    Jonni
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    Retail opportunities, too

    I think that stores selling useful stuff will be a part of life for a very long time. Here in our town I'd love to see an actual butcher shop that sells fresh meat from nearby ranches. I would get really excited about a local dairy that delivers milk from local cows. Both of these items would have unsurmountable legal hurdles now, of course, but that might change. We could use a store that specializes in wood stoves and other low-tech technologies, like hand-cranked grain mills. We already have many used book stores in town, and several used clothing and "junk" stores have opened recently, so things are on the right track.

    As for teaching, a local group tried to get program started that would train people in useful skills like woodworking and weaving, but it doesn't look like they got the funding. However, the Carnegie library has been turned into a community arts school. And the FHA and 4H programs are strong. There are several people and groups that teach piano, violin and other musical skills, and that's something that we'll need more of in the future.

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    Autonomy Acres
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    I don't know if it has been

    I don't know if it has been mentioned already, but here it goes - ice harvester.  Considering we are all going to be so busy in the (future) summer procuring all or most of our own food, we might want a way to store our more precious cuts of meat and veggies and fruits without having to use salt, vineagar and drying.  Harvesting ice was done up until refrigeration was invented (not all that long ago) and will hold a place in the future.  To go along with harvesting ice, knowing how to build an ice box will also be a valuable skill.  Plus it will get all of us northerners outside in the winter when we would rather be huddled up by the fire reading books!  

    Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon. - Masahide - http://autonomyacres.com/

    christ mark
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    Hi

    Agreed..! All 15 questions are necessary to answer before designing a logo, i will focus on the first question is to know the nature of business.

    logo design | custom logo design

    seagen
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    sadly

    Coffin maker

    Seagen

    Platy
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    A well equipped wood shop

    A well equipped wood cabinetry shop should be able to make other useful products.  One famous coffin maker of a hundred years ago in Vermont also manufactured clothes drying racks and baby carriages (although their big demand was for coffins).  Some other possibilities in the area of finely joined upholstered cabinetry might be Japanese kotatsu tables (which keep people warm in winter); and box-beds, closet beds or canopy beds (enclosed beds which efficiently retain heat and which could possibly be cooled as well).  If globalization recedes in the future, local furniture making may become economic again in some areas.

    dtrammel
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    There are two parts to this

    There are two parts to this question in my opinion, skills and occupations which will be back in use after the Descent, and more importantly, those which we should learn now to be useful in our own lifetime.

    Given that a person in their 50s will have different options than someone in their 20s, I see the number one skill set is learning to grow food. Something touched on here and at TAR extensively.

    Beyond that, what occupations or skills can you learn now and be of use in the near future to both help you survive and maybe make some coin to barter with?

    Besides repair of things like appliances and small engines, one that stands out to me is bricklaying, especially where it pertains to building fireplaces. As commercial supplies of natural gas and electricity grow scarce, someone who can convert scavenged brick into a way to warm your home and cook your food should be in high demand.

    Or knows how to build a rocket stove to heat your shower water. I don't know about you but thinking about having to go to cold showers or sponge bathes out of pans doesn't appeal to me much.

    Also bicycle repair. Once gasoline goes sky high, a bicycle with perhaps three wheels or a trailer will end up being the preferred mode of transport until we get back into living and raising horses.

    And knife making and sharpening. Knives will be THE tool everyone carries and shaving with a dull razor sucks...Smile

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    risa b
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    A trade

    A trade that will potentially respected and in demand for some time to come, and that would buy you no end of both barter and protection and ensure something like current middle-class entitlement, would, I think, be gunsmith.

    Scrimshaw
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    Repair

    Geary, Most of the comments so far have focused on the needs of a fairly thoroughly deindustrialized future. That's fair; you did frame your question that way.

    However, you also say that you are retiring in four years. Given that, I don't think the future you will live to see is going to be all that deindustrialized. The Long Descent will take time. I would expect that, unless a disaster occurs, you will live and work in something a lot more like the 1930s than the 1840s. (It will be somewhat different if you're living in a small remote town or intentional off-grid community, of course.)

    This isn't perhaps a very greenwizardly answer, but I would suggest you consider repairing small mechanical and/or electrical equipment. There will be a lot of repair work to be done, and, as long as your hands are steady and you have the knack, you could do very nicely.

    To take a pretty powerful example: repair sewing machines, especially the antique kind that were designed to be repaired. People will need sewing machines increasingly as cheap slave-labor clothes from Indonesia become progressively unavailable. The home economies that will grow as we start deindustrializing will be using sewing machines quite a bit. Making new clothes, yes, but probably more patching, altering, and so on.

    This kind of repair work is definitely a niche business, with significant but not daunting barriers to entry. You would need a workbench, tools (including small specialty items, magnifiers, and so on), and a lot of well-organized storage space for keeping spare parts. While the Web is still going great guns, you would probably want to use it mercilessly to learn as much as you can, and get as many obscure parts as you can. You would also want a rich collection of general small-mechanical parts, not necessarily gleaned from sewing machines, so that you'd have resources when you want to cobble something together to get a sewing machine working again.

    This is a fairly low-cost kind of business, and one that doesn't require a lot of energy inputs going forward, just a dry, clean, secure, well-lit shop and storage space. It could be pretty personally rewarding...

    The sewing machine business is only one example. There are lots of things that will need repairing, but that we have grown accustomed to buying new instead. Electric motors, clocks (as someone above mentioned), fans, small pumps, simple kitchen appliances, and so on.

    This kind of repair work could be very helpful to near-term communities, and make for secure employment.

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    risa b
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    It might not matter to people

    It might not matter to people once the hunger reaches gated communities, but golf courses are fairly poisonous.

    One trade might be soil restoration -- but JMG is kind of covering that with his lesson on composting and worms. How to do this on the scale of an 18-hole course -- say, with seventeenth century power levels?

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    Elderberry
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    making pasture

    Hi risa,

    I',m about a year and a half into the process of converting a follow open area with little to no topsoil (its badically a bed of rocks with some grass poking through the clay soil)  into a summer pasture.

    there are a few points that I would raise,

    -Legumes are essential, otherwise there is no net acculation of nirtogen in the soil.

    -dynamic accumulators (plants with deep taproots that bring minerals to the surface in there leaves) and broad leafed plants that produce large amounts of plant material are also essential.

    the mixture of legumes for nitrogen, accumulators fro micro nutrients, and tall/borad plants for carbon and mumous build up  is a good combo.  

    livesotck are a great way to take diffuse resources (spread over a large area) and concentrate them into a body/milk/eggs (which can be eaten) and the manure which can be eated and spread in the garden. In most cases, livestock are better off grazing over a large area. It takes a lot of management to run an intensive grazing operation, and it is only affective so long as you can continuously supply the soil with nutrients. (IE spreading manure). it is less than a zero sum game, since you are mining the soil.

    my 2 cents of experience on the matter.   Smile

    under the shade of Elders.

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    Elderberry
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    composting

    Hi risa,

    I',m about a year and a half into the process of converting a follow open area with little to no topsoil (its badically a bed of rocks with some grass poking through the clay soil)  into a summer pasture.

    there are a few points that I would raise,

    -Legumes are essential, otherwise there is no net acculation of nirtogen in the soil.

    -dynamic accumulators (plants with deep taproots that bring minerals to the surface in there leaves) and broad leafed plants that produce large amounts of plant material are also essential.

    the mixture of legumes for nitrogen, accumulators fro micro nutrients, and tall/borad plants for carbon and mumous build up  is a good combo.  

    livesotck are a great way to take diffuse resources (spread over a large area) and concentrate them into a body/milk/eggs (which can be eaten) and the manure which can be eated and spread in the garden. In most cases, livestock are better off grazing over a large area. It takes a lot of management to run an intensive grazing operation, and it is only affective so long as you can continuously supply the soil with nutrients. (IE spreading manure). it is less than a zero sum game, since you are mining the soil.

    my 2 cents of experience on the matter.   Smile

    under the shade of Elders.

    Dewey
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    It's all about the goats

    Hi Risa - I see that I'm two weeks late to this conversation, but since nobody else has seen fit to offer an answer - if I had to turn a golf course into productive land, without a LOT of inputs and labor, I'd try to overseed it with some legumes, especially clover; let it grow out of control for a bit; then pasture some animals on it. A few years worth of goat, chicken, and/or cow poop ought to do wonders for the soil.

    solarbobky
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    Manure net zero nutrients

    Except for nitrogen which can be fixed by legumes, livestock grazing is a zero sum process. They don't add nutrients, just cycle them.

    "Zero Sum Movement

    Except for legumes or blue green algae in paddies that can fix nitrogen, organic sources of plant nutrients do not represent a new source of fertility. Instead they are primarily simply a movement of very bulky supply of mineral fertilizer within the confines of a production area in what can only be, at best, a zero sum effort. That is there will be a source that will be losing fertility in order to have a field gaining in fertility. Thus to be effective and sustainable it is necessary to determine the ratio of area from which the organic nutrients need to be collected to the area over which they will be distributed. Typically, if a commercial grain crop such as rice removes 2/3rd of the mineral nutrients with the grain and this is sold outside the area or consumed and unless the recoverable nutrients deposited in “night soil”, then if the fertility recovery process is 100% efficient it will require three ha of crop residues to provide sufficient organic nutrients to fertilize one ha of future rice fields. How often will smallholder communities have this much land available for every hectare of cropped land? Likewise, if this land is also being cultivated, how will it be fertilized? It is also unlikely the recovery will be 100% efficient thus additional source land will be required to accommodate the inefficiencies in the recovery process.

    Similarly, it was estimated in an AIT MSc thesis based in Mindanao, Philippines that it would require four animal units to provide sufficient manure to fertilize one hectare of maize land. Each animal unit would require 1.25 ha of unimproved communal grazing lands. Thus, for animal manure to be effectively utilized as the primary source of fertility to produce a commercial crop, it would require five ha of grazing land for each ha of crop land. Is this really very practical in most smallholder communities?"

    http://www.smallholderagriculture.com/

    Dewey
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    Someone [will] correct me if I'm wrong...

    but I believe livestock grazing does have the advantage of helping to concentrate phosphorus and maybe other minerals.  It's usually present in source rocks and subsoil at a concentration considerably lower than is needed in vivo, so plants have to take it up and concentrate it.  After the plants are eaten, the animal wastes, in which phosphorus is likewise concentrated, are broken down into the topsoil and help to raise its concentration of phosphorus to a point where plants can better thrive.  You could argue that the same would happen, if the plant were not grazed, when it died and decayed; however, grazing encourages more plant growth, and so increases cycling of biomass and uptake of phosphorus from subsoil. 

    Sophie Gale
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    Agriculture is the New Golf

    Speaking of golf courses:

    Well, in 2008, the New Urbanism evangelist Andrés Duany, of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), architects and town planners, proclaimed that “agriculture is the new golf,” a prescient and deliberately provocative claim that is helping frame the conversation about suburbia’s future. “Only 17 percent of people living in golf-course communities play golf more than once a year. Why not grow food?”

    Good magazine has done an article on retrofitting the suburbs for sustainability. We'll need urban/suburban planners and people to implement those plans.

    http://www.good.is/post/agriculture-is-the-new-golf-rethinking-suburban-...

    (Andres Duany rocks! I got to hear him speak in '02.)

    WalnutWally
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    I'm working on starting a

    I'm working on starting a small rainwater collection/drip irrigation company to help people conserve water, and also a home orchard management company. I'm a furnituremaker by trade, and will try to find a way to open up part of my shop for teaching purposes.

    I think it's most important to love what you choose as an occupation, provide a service (or more likely several services), that people actually need, not just want, and to realize that we may soon be living in a barter economy.

    With that said, I think village idiot is my dream job and I'm highly qualified.

    Apple Jack Creek
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    Oh, Walnut Wally, I think

    Oh, Walnut Wally, I think you've just given me my new tagline!

    Villiage Idiot is my dream job, and I am highly qualified!

    That is absolutely awesome. I'm still laughing. Smile Thanks!!

    Apple Jack Creek
    blog.applejackcreek.com

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    risa b
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    It certainly fits my case,

    Tongue It certainly fits my case, too ...

    Apple Jack Creek
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    Tinker, tailor ...

    I was still giggling over this village idiot thing at dinner when I remembered a rhyme my dad used to use - you'd count the cherry pits on your saucer (after eating home canned cherries for dessert) and see "what you'll be when you grow up".

    It went like this:

    Rich man
    Poor man
    Beggar man
    Thief
    Doctor
    Lawyer
    Merchant
    Cheif
    Tinker
    Tailor
    Cowboy
    Sailor

    ...and then you started over, if you ate more cherries than that. Smile

    It does seem to cover a good number of non-industrial careers, doesn't it?

    Apple Jack Creek
    blog.applejackcreek.com

    Marie
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    much less specialization

    I think there will be much less specialization and it will boil down to people having access to resources versus those who don't. And once the oil is for the most part depleted, there will be a lot less resources. Especially after the last 100 years of population growth and of material frenzy where so much of the natural capital, fisheries, forest, soil, water etc. was dilapidated. There will be some demand for people with the physical stamina to do lots of physically hard work and some for those able to produce essentials like glass, metal tools and medecine. People who live in small communities which rely on exploiting natural resources (farming, logging, fishing) usually have (individually and collectively) an unbelievable set of skills and make most of the stuff they needed for their trade. For example my neighbor who's been a fisherman all his life. Except for his boat, he made all his nets and all lobster traps. He also built his house and does his own garden. His wife does most of their preserves, wine, sewing etc..The farmers in my community do lots of their own repairs and most of their vet cares. They will hire if they think it is not worth their time to do it themselves or the job requires some really extraordinary skills and/or strength like a farrier. Country people used to do stuff like soap, furniture, tanning, weaving etc...on the side, often as a winter activity.

    Up to maybe a hundred years ago, in North America, the majority of the people were not engaged in specialized trades. They were working the land in some fashion or the other. The richer ones hired for hard physical labor such as cotton harvesting. Another chunk was working, like my great-grand-mother, at very low pay, to do tedious, repetitive work in textile mills. So, jobs of the future, if one does not have land or some kind of control over a resource like forest: migrant workers engaged in harvesting, sheep shearing and such...Another avenue is owning and operating a small processing facility like a flour mill or a blacksmith shop. Usually both the shop and the skills were passed on from the father to the son.

    Apple Jack Creek
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    Sheep Shearing

    Marie, you mentioned sheep shering -

    This is a job currently done by powered equipment (clippers that use a bit of electricity) and it is EXTREMELY hard to find a good shearer these days in most of North America!

    If you have a decent amount of physical strength and stamina and are comfortable around animals, a shearing course and a good set of clippers could be an excellent part time job during the transition - you'd still need transport from farm to farm, but in the next few years as people find they are losing 'day jobs', if you live near sheep farms, this might be something to consider.

    The investment up front would be a few hundred dollars (a weekend course + shears) and if you put an ad up in your local feed store or post online you'll almost certainly be kept busy! There are ALWAYS shepherds desperate for a shearer, the poor sheep can't cope with a heavy coat of wool through the summer.

    I shear my own sheep with hand shears (the old fashioned big scissor kind) but I only have a dozen ewes.

    Apple Jack Creek
    blog.applejackcreek.com