A long time ago, I wrote two posts listing dozens of entry level jobs in the grim darkness of the near future - not the dreamy tech-graduate aspirations conceived in optimistic futurist blogs but the street level roles left behind as every low income career gets automated out of existence.
These are the roles your 'runner characters found so horrifying they chose a life of shooting computer programmers and chopping off their own arms to fit ugly metal replacements. These are the jobs their relatives scrabble for. These are the jobs their fixers and mob contacts pretend to hold in their front offices. This is the sprawl and the people in it.
Wage Slave 1 covered everything from 3D Printshop Attendants and Chicken Little Trimmers to Industrial Origamists and Intercourse Trainers.
Wage Slave 2: The Restructuring began with Kelp Strainers and followed up with Persona Bums, Ractors and Scop Scoopers.
A year and some later, Wage Slave 3: The Redundancy finally presents thirty more dead-end careers for your cyberpunks to aspire to when they finally choose to retire from the 'runner biz.
Apprentice Nostalgist: the great mass of elderly people, unable for their all collective political efforts to return the world to an imagined 1950s, can at least remake their own living spaces. With the aid of historical textbooks, vast databases and few 3D printers, you help your employers turn their home into something resembling whatever idealised prior-century year they care to wallow in.
Architectural Beta-Tester: every new physical and virtual environment is now carefully designed according to nudge theory and the architectural precepts of a generation brought up on video-games, where every element is designed to channel the human
Depending on circumstances you may find yourself testing physical architecture in a virtual environment or virtual architecture in a physical mock-up, because the near-future is nothing if not painfully meta.
Bard: first people lost faith in the big news networks, because they were run by oligarchs and too eager to prostate themselves before governments in exchange for access. Then they became cynical about the smaller, more "personal" information sources (Drudge, Breitbart, etc), too obviously partisan during a time of rapidly shifting political allegiances. Having abandoned trust in the vast corporations and the smaller social network mobs, the inevitable final step for news consumers was to place their confidence in individuals.
As a rogue's gallery of social media personalities and kooks scrabbled for their audience, many adopted gimmicks or humour to stand out. They took their cues from Consciousness Rap and other politicised musical forms.
This is how you came to be standing in a neo-tavern, strumming a neo-lute and singing about government neo-tax policy.
Bespoke AR-Environment Developer: use a network of The Sims-esque tools to build AR environments for customers who want to spend their days in a new, saner reality. Wait for the day you can join the ranks of the superstar designers to the oligarchs.
Bio-Tech Distiller: spend your day brewing modified rat-brain computers in bubbling yeast vats. An enormous growth industry in the slums and rebel enclaves.
Coffin Hotel Attendant: spray down the plastic sheets and chase the rats away from sleeping criminals and paranoids.
Drone Polisher: after it took your job, you became its butler.
Fashionista: a cross-between a barista and a personal shopper, fashionistas work in the AR Fashion Cafes where gangs of teenagers go to drink milkshake and design outfits for printing there and then.
As a side-note, this is by far the most common after-school occupation for the protagonists of 202X teen coming-of-age movies.
Feedstock Hound: feedstock for 3D printers is a vital resource, especially in low income communities. You'll hunt down untapped sources - usually unclaimed garbage - for reprocessing back into usable material. You might even work for a legitimate, licensed business.
Or you might loot "empty" houses, strip parkland trees of their biomass or fight it out with other Hounds on the flooded streets of dank slums. Shoot a cyborg down over an empty crisp packet or a few green leaves!
Implant Painter: paint or sculpt designs onto cyberware, ranging from geometric patterns through Hokusai print designs to the inevitable Santa Muerte icons. This career will certainly have a much cooler name than written above.
Industrial Bonsai Apprentice: in the future, many structures and devices are grown, not built. Trim the smart-wood or neo-coral as it blooms into some solid and beautiful.
Insect Rancher: cultivate a swarm of locusts, a deluge of flies or a pile of meal-worms, possibly in your own house. Sell them to local restaurants or school cafeterias.
Interpersonal Trainer: in a world of social isolation and complex identities, you train people how to interact with other humans in the real world. A working knowledge of pronouns is mandatory.
Minor League Gladiator: new forms of body armour have facilitated a resurgence in the pursuit of western martial arts as a professional sport, with the result that every angry European teenager aspires to be a knight in sponsored armour. Competition is fierce and painful, not least because training is expensive and armour barely affordable.
Artisanal Food Printer: use a 3D printer to extrude food to order, collaborating with the customer to get just the right shade of purple and just the right hint of vitamin D.
Mechanical Turk: complete individual tasks as and when companies require them, paid by the job. When Uber takes over the workplace, everyone will have their 15 minutes of career.
Personal Surrogate: as hikikomori begins to afflict societies outside Japan and many millions descend into internet-enabled agoraphobia, many wealthy hermits turn to professional surrogates when circumstances dictate they must leave the house (to attend functions, meetings, family engagements...).
Person Walker: combining the skills of a dog walker and a personal trainer, the Person Walker walks you. A surprisingly necessary role in the torpid, lonely future.
Plug-in Pod Attendant: in the brain 'jacked mid-century, untold millions spend their lives plugged directly into their computers, floating in fluid pods or stagnating on their dusty sofas. Your job is to keep tongues from being swallowed, waste fluid tubs from being clogged, and drool from pooling on every available surface.
Public Mood Attendant: high unemployment, intersectional tensions and constant heatwaves all conspire to keep the 'plex in a constant state of heightened agitation. The mall or the parking lot could host a riot at any moment. Your job is monitor the feeds for signs of irruption, then direct a variety of sonic and olfactory systems (via directional microphones, advertising board, micro-drone deployed chem-trails, etc) to calm the disturbance before it begins.
Rental Smart-Car Attendant: across the city, travellers rent their driver-less smart-cars by the hour or subscribe to commuter vehicles. For all their efforts, the corporations have yet to create the drone that can reliably pick the used condoms and burger wraps out of the lining between the car seat and the door.
'Runner Shrine Attendant: attend to one of the fanes catering to the deniable mercenary community - tend the zen gardens serving corporate samurai or the shrines to Santa Muerte favoured by cops and criminals alike.
Self Assessment Auditor: everyone in the corporate world now wears a variety of health sensors to monitor their well-being. Get paid to shout at them when they ignore the dictates of their Fitbit.
Smart-House Debugger: when the client is being blackmailed by the armchair, the pest control drone keeps targeting the cat and the cooker is burning the kibble, the company sends you - a mook with six hours of training and an AR guidebook - to save the day.
Smell Artiste: cyber-people spend their time in all manner of tiny spaces frequented by nomadic strangers - driver-less rental cars, coffin hotels, full immersion VR pods. Showering is at a premium and global warming has increased ambient sweat levels by 30%.
Some poor sap has to make sure you don't retch every time you enter a public space, using a full gamut of sensors and chemical sprays to specifically target olfactory menaces (including you, you bum).
Subscription AR GM: a great many people see the 'sprawl through augmented reality systems that change the shape of the city to their liking. A Subscription AR GM ('GM' taken from 'Games Master,' a term from a despised niche hobby) helps personalise AR experiences on the fly, turning the 'plex into the client's interactive playground.
Tear-Down Specialist: welcome to the age of disposable infrastructure, when houses and roads are printed to order and torn down for feedstock as people move on. You specialise in demolishing abandoned paper frame tent-cities, spraycrete houses and other ephemeral architecture.
Waste Data Cleanser: when circumstances require the deletion of large quantities of waste data, people still prefer a human conduct the purge (not realising they are just as capable of accidentally deleting registry items or a grandparent's iGhost as any machine).
Water Attendant: in the flood-zones and the drought-zones, someone has to ensure the pumps keep running - and to keep the thieves and the desperate away.
Welfare Auditor: scrabble for your own faltering standards of living by finding reasons to deny other people theirs.
Not the best options, then.
It's almost enough to make a job-seeker abandon their goals, throw their resume into the sea, and high-tail it to the combat zone for an exciting life of deniable crime, lunatic depravity and the corporate high life...