Rapid advances in technology have already wiped out certain industries and technologies. And these technological advances are only accelerating. There will be profound changes coming to certain industries in the next two decades, and many Americans will find themselves without a job.
Never before has it been so critical to stay well trained and educated in the technologies of the new economy.
The following careers are becoming obsolete, and if you are in one of these industries, it may be time to get trained in a new skill.
1. Postal Mail Sorters and Carriers : When was the last time you got a birthday card in the mail? Do you even send Christmas cards any more? Today, people communicate on-line, through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or just boring old email. People even pay their bills on-line now. The United States Post Office is attempting to stop the bleeding by selling greeting cards and packaging services, but the long-term trend is still bleak if you work for the USPS.
2. Truck Drivers and Bus Drivers : According to the investment firm Money Morning, by 2027, nearly 2 million truck and bus drivers will have been replaced by autonomous, driverless vehicles. Same goes for taxi and Uber drivers. Big name tech and automobile firms are aggressively jumping into this technology, including Google, Uber, General Motors, Toyota, and Tesla.
3. Pharmacists : While the need for pharmacists will not entirely disappear, the need for so many of them will subside. Today, many hospitals are starting to use robots to dispense and deliver medications throughout their facilities. As their technology becomes more reliable, these robots are proving to make far fewer mistakes than their human counterparts. Also, today, manage care companies are requiring physicians to use on-line “e-scripts”; soon paper prescriptions will no longer exist. Your physician will enter your prescription on-line, and it will get automatically filled by a robot at your local retail pharmacy, where it will be waiting for you.
4. Cashiers : Companies like McDonalds, Amazon, and Home Depot have already been aggressively replacing their cashiers with automated pay kiosks. Have you been to a WalMart Superstore recently? There are often more self-pay check-out lines than those with a staffed cashier. Within the next 10 years, it is estimated that 7.5 million cashier jobs will be replaced by machines.
5. Fast Food Cooks : Money Morning reports that robot-powered restaurants are popping up all over the country. These restaurants can standardize a meal with programmable precision, while no longer having to worry about employees’ payroll, healthcare benefits, sick days. While the upfront costs for these machines is high, one robotic “cook” can replace as many as three human line cooks.
6. Security Guards : With video cameras becoming ubiquitous throughout our society, there will be less need for security guards to be hanging out at every mall, school, and municipality. Less security guards does not mean less safety in the future. Quite the opposite. What will be compromised, however, will be your privacy. Someone will always be watching your every move. Welcome to 1984.
7. Waiters and Waitresses : Like fast-food cooks, waiters and waitresses are on the verge of becoming a quaint anachronism. Many restaurants, including McDonalds, Chilis, and Shorty’s now have iPad-like devices on tables waiting for customers to enter what they want for dinner. Once the meal is prepared, it is quickly brought out to the customer. Yes, this lacks the warmth of a family restaurant, but Americans have made it clear that their priority is cheap and fast food.
8. Switchboard Operators : According to Forbes, there are still over 140,000 telephone switchboard operators working in the United States. But their numbers are declining quickly. With voice-recognition technologies, and less need for callers to speak to operators, this is another career with little future.
9. Agricultural Workers : Most American farming today is done by giant agricultural conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland. And gone are the days when workers roam the fields picking berries or carrots. Today, enormous machines move up and down the landscape, harvesting huge quantities of food with each pass across the field.
10. Bank Tellers : As more Americans do their banking on-line, the need for small community banks and bank tellers continues to wane. Employees today have their paychecks automatically deposited into their bank accounts. And more Americans are paying their bills on-line, and don’t even use a checkbook (preferring instead to use their on-line accounts as a virtual checkbook).
What other professions will be at risk in the decades ahead? Share your thoughts in the comments section.