In April of 2020, the U.S. saw the highest unemployment rate ever recorded due to COVID-19. Many jobs were eliminated due to the simple fact that people must stay apart in order to prevent spread of the virus. But there has been a silver lining: the saying “necessity is the mother of innovation” has proven to be true.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have eliminated many jobs, but it also created many more. Once America had a moment to recover from the shock of the pandemic, and perhaps accept that whatever we decided was “normal” wouldn’t be returning for a while, innovators of industries began creating new roles that respond to the current situation. Like so many of the pandemic-triggered changes, for example, schools and meetings moving online, maybe these new jobs will stay beyond the pandemic. Only time will tell, but here are interesting jobs that were created as a result of COVID-19.
Glassdoor.com reports that the annual salary for this job is roughly $55,000, and it typically involves taking oral and nasal swabs of patients. COVID-19 testers are needed at temporary testing sites (like those set up outside of sports stadiums and libraries), pharmacies, nursing homes, offices, hospitals, and places of business where staff must regularly be tested to perform their job. The pay can range based on your experience, but the jobs are commonly filled by registered nurses. To demonstrate how in-demand testing is, know that the University of California San Francisco developed a model for building a testing site in eight days.
While thousands of COVID-19 tests are being doled out daily, it’s easy to forget about those working behind the scenes to process and analyze those tests: the lab workers. Medical facilities everywhere are experiencing a shortage and struggling to keep up with the demand to process tests. Glassdoor.com reports that the average salary for a virus lab technician is just shy of $35,000.
The CDC is well aware of the staffing shortage issue, and issued guidelines on how medical facilities can handle these, including keeping the limited staff that is working healthy, by providing them with resources such as housing or transportation that allows them to socially distance from loved ones.
Social distance layout designer
In order for any sort of business to accept in-person customers, they must make their venue safe for people to navigate during COVID-19. Restaurants must rearrange their seating. Offices must change their desk layout. All of these new social distancing protocols have created a category of job that doesn’t have exactly one title, because it applies to various experts. Interior designers, architects, and other professionals who deal with the layout of a business are being hired specifically to create a layout that is COVID-19 friendly. The CEO of design firm Knoll described in one interview the way office spaces will be changing, with layouts meant to facilitate more airflow and social distancing.
Face mask designer
Grand View Research predicts that the reusable mask market will be valued at $7.08 billion by the year 2027. To provide some context, it was valued at just over $1 billion in 2019. Do a quick search for “face masks” on Etsy and you’ll quickly find dozens of sellers, many of whom have thousands of reviews. One seller explained that before the pandemic he primarily sold home décor, and after the pandemic, 98% of this income has come from the sale of masks.
If you’ve gone to a doctor’s appointment, entered a hotel, gone to a casino, or walked into a number of brick and mortar locations recently, you may have been met with someone holding a thermometer, and a list of screening questions such as, “Have you been in contact with anyone who has contracted COVID-19?” or “Have you experienced a loss of taste or smell?” These are health screeners, and they weren’t around before the pandemic. Glassdoor.com reports that the average salary for a health screener is just above $56,000.
Virtual meeting assistant
Many businesses must now hold meetings, conferences, presentations, and the like virtually. But navigating the platforms available for doing so in an efficient, high-quality manner that offers a user-friendly experience isn’t always easy. The exact duties of virtual meeting assistants will vary according to the platforms used and the salary range is massive. Glassdoor.com says the average salary is about $71,000 but ZipRecruiter.com reports seeing salaries as high as $135,000 and as low as $20,000.
Contact tracing is a job that has actually existed for decades before COVID-19 arrived and is an essential part of tracking and slowing the spread of many viruses. The need for contact tracers has increased recently though, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact tracers must have good communication skills and be detail-oriented as they’ll need to record and report important data, quickly. They’ll be in charge of communicating with those who have come in contact with the virus, providing instructions on self-quarantining, and recommending resources such as clinics and other services. Glassdoor.com reports that the average salary for this job is a little over $35,000.
Whether someone wants to check on an order, get help remotely troubleshooting a product, or ask a question about billing, they need to call customer support. And in a world where everything is shifting, people have a lot of questions. There’s a downsizing of insurance policies, claims being made to unemployment, refunds being requested…customers need more support than usual, which could be why, according to Linkedin, receptionist, and customer assistant jobs have seen over a 90 percent growth recently and are among the most in-demand jobs.
If you’ve ever gone the wrong way down a one-way aisle at the grocery store or stood outside of your designated circle waiting in line to check out, and someone approached you to say, “Please walk over there,” that may have been a compliance monitor. Many businesses now hire individuals for the sole purpose of ensuring that social distancing and other safety measures are being followed. While certification is not required to do this job, it is recommended. According to Glassdoor.com, the job pays well, with salaries starting at $106,000.
Enhanced cleaning positions
Businesses are needing to keep up with customer’s demands to feel safe and, most importantly, clean when they enter the premises. This has inspired the use of interesting cleaning tools, like the electrostatic sprayer, which emits positively-charged droplets of disinfectants that cling to and wrap around non-porous surfaces. It’s also lead to a boom in the cleaning and janitorial services industry.