It’s no secret that technology is becoming essential to many jobs. While we figure out how to coexist with new and emerging technologies in the workplace, some jobs won’t survive the digital shift.
With many jobs at risk of automation today, it’s tough to pinpoint specific jobs that will be automated within the next decade and which are anticipated to grow. However, it’s estimated that 25% of jobs in the US alone will be threatened by automation, so concerns over job security are valid.
We’ve compiled a list of the top jobs at risk of automation so you can have a better idea if the industry you’re working in (or are thinking of working in) is on the way out.
Why is Your Job At Risk?
Unfortunately, money is the driving force behind many job losses. Companies want to find ways to increase productivity while simultaneously cutting costs. Nothing is better for this than technology and automation.
Unlike humans, robots are less likely to make mistakes, and also can’t quit unexpectedly or take sick days. When it comes down to it, companies are looking for ways to be more efficient in their day-to-day operations, but unfortunately efficiency comes with a cost.
Jobs That Will Survive Automation
There are a number of jobs at risk of automation, but there are many that are safe, as well as new jobs that will be created because of it.
Some jobs simply can’t be done by robots or AI because they demand a level of human emotion or interaction. Professionals like psychologists require face-to-face human interaction and personal knowledge of human experience. Other jobs like dentists and medical professionals need to be able to physically examine their patients.
Then there are the jobs that require creativity and ingenuity, something that robots aren’t able to accurately mimic. Artists of all types along with marketers rely on their creative skills to perform at their jobs.
10 Jobs At Risk of Automation
If you’re curious to know what jobs will be automated by 2030, keep reading. This is a non-exhaustive list of the jobs that will see less demand or that are at risk of completely disappearing.
1. Retail Employees
As retail shopping itself has seen a significant decline in the past few years, you can also expect to see less retail employees in stores. Retail jobs are highly at risk for automation considering machines are already doing employee’s jobs. There are self-service checkout counters replacing cashiers, and with the availability of information and product reviews online, salespeople will also be less in demand.
2. Manufacturing Employees
It’s no secret that manufacturing and assembly line employees are less needed these days. If you take a look at the automotive industry, a lot of assembly work is now done by robots and machines. Cars aren’t the only thing being assembled with technology. Many factories have either moved to countries with cheaper labor or introduced automation technology to bring down labor costs.
3. Food Service
While some food-related jobs, like executive chefs, aren’t going away any time soon, other food service jobs, particularly those in the fast food industry, are likely to be automated. Fast food restaurants are always looking to do things more cheaply in order to offer their clients the most competitive price. While this seems appetizing to consumers, it comes at a cost.
Fast food cooks can already be replaced by AI-powered robots that know how to flip burgers, and cashiers at places like McDonald’s are replaced by self-service touch-screen ordering stations.
4. Travel Agents
Just a couple of decades ago, you wouldn’t imagine booking a holiday without visiting a travel agency first. Nowadays, it’s quicker, easier, and often cheaper to book things like flights and hotel rooms all on your own. Using comparison or search sites like Expedia, Kayak, or Priceline is helping the average traveler save on each booking, but it’s also slowly putting travel agents out of work.
There are probably very few people who enjoy getting calls from telemarketers, so the loss of this job may not be so sad to everyone. That being said, instead of getting calls to entice you to buy something or sign up to a service from a potentially friendly operator on the other line, this job is now being replaced by robo-calls. It’s a lot cheaper to automate robo-calls and a lot more calls can be made in a shorter period of time, making telemarketers nearly a thing of the past.
6. Delivery and Postal Workers
There are two main reasons why delivery and postal workers are quickly disappearing: a lack of demand and a change in the way we use these services.
Postal workers used to be essential as they were responsible for delivering packages as well as letters and important documents, but now they make up one of the fastest-disappearing jobs in the US.
Since the invention of emails and online communication tools, less and less people need to send things by post. Additionally, as more private companies take over deliveries like FedEx, DHL, or UPS, postal workers aren’t seeing as many packages. Furthermore, some private delivery companies, like Amazon, are using cutting-edge technology such as drone delivery to send packages, eliminating the need for delivery and postal workers altogether.
7. Printers and Publishers
With online news hubs instead of newspapers and ebooks instead of print books, it’s no wonder that printing and publishing jobs are at risk. For those who long for the old days of physical books and newspapers, you’ll be glad to know that these industries aren’t likely to completely disappear. However, the demand is surely declined as society adopts digital alternatives to paper.
8. Professional Sport Referees
This one may come as a surprise to some, but sport referees are on the way out. In-person umpires or sport referees won’t be as needed in the near future with the introduction of video technology. Organizations like FIFA are already using video assistant referee systems to regulate games. These technologies provide a smaller margin for error and completely eliminate any human bias, making them a preferred method of refereeing.
Once upon a time, there were centers for dispatchers who used to tell people such as taxi drivers where to go to pick someone up. However, with the rise of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber, dispatchers are becoming obsolete. As more and more people eliminate the middleman and go straight to order services directly or even using things like online maps, there is little need for dispatchers to tell people where to go anymore.
Fishermen are seeing their jobs threatened on three fronts. First, a lot of fish and seafood is being imported from farmed fish and cheaper countries. Second, the effects of climate change and overfishing is a global phenomenon that is affecting fishermen and their quotes. Finally, the technology used to fish is becoming more sophisticated, leading to a drop in employees needed to run an operation successfully.
The Bottom Line
Even if you’re currently working one of these jobs at risk of automation, there’s no need to panic yet. You’ve likely picked up some transferable skills that can translate to other jobs.
Alternatively, it’s never too late to go back to school or learn something new. At University of the People, we offer online tuition-free distance learning, so you can earn a degree to prepare for a career in a new field while still working at your current job.