The face of the American workplace is ever changing. New jobs are created, while old jobs either evolve or slowly fade away. While most predictions about the future of the American job front are educated guesses, there are certain careers that seem all but guaranteed to disappear completely within the coming decades.
Here are ten jobs that probably won’t exist for much longer.
Print media jobs
It’s been clear for a while now that the printed word, including newspapers and books, is on its way out. And while we probably won’t be completely digital for quite some time, the number of jobs within the industry (from typesetting all the way to delivery) is only going to decline.
It wasn’t that long ago (was it?) that getting your photos developed was a thing. (If you ever want to feel old, show the nearest young person a roll of film and see if they have any idea what it is.) As the quality of digital photography has improved (as well as the price and accessibility), the demand for film processing has gone way down. So while professional photographers and hardcore hobbyists probably won’t be dismantling their dark rooms just yet, don’t expect your local one hour photo to make a comeback any time soon.
Archivists and librarians
Another casualty of digitization, archivist and librarian jobs decreased by 80 percent between 2005 and 2014. It’s become easier and easier to scan, store, and search information online, making your friendly neighborhood librarian increasingly obsolete.
Household staff (maids, cooks, butlers, gardeners)
In what could be viewed as both a cultural shift and a further example of the widening gap between the very wealthy and everyone else, the number of people employed as private household staff (maids, cooks, etc.) has fallen by almost half in the past 10 years. And while a good deal of the blame for that reduction could be directed towards the financial collapse of 2008, even with a healthier economy, those jobs don’t appear to be returning.
Video rental store employee
You’d be forgiven if you assumed this particular professional had already disappeared. While the major rental chains have almost all been put out of business (largely by Netflix and Redbox), there are still pockets of resistance where smaller, local stores continue to rent out the latest movies and video games. Unfortunately, resistance, as they say, is futile, and as increased connectivity leads to improved digital streaming options for everyone, eventually we may reach a day when there simply is no physical media left to rent.
There may be no greater job killer than automation. Automated systems have replaced manual labor across an enormous number of fields, including multiple roles within the office. Most phone systems can now route calls, display caller information, record messages, and more, removing the need for a dedicated receptionist.
Growing up, I remember that any significant family vacation always involved an assist from the local travel agent. They found us all the best deals and booked all the tickets. Now there are multiple websites dedicated to serving those exact same functions. And while the website still makes money off your transaction (like a travel agent), since it’s an automated system, that cost is greatly reduced.
Self-checkout kiosks are only getting more popular, so the writing seems to be on the wall for the men and women around the country scanning our purchases and processing our payments. We’re probably still some time away from completely automated stores, but you should expect to see less human beings and more machines behind the counter as time goes by.
Taxi drivers/truck drivers
Uber and other rideshare programs have already taken a significant bite out of the taxicab industry, but there’s an even darker shadow on the horizon – self-driving cars. As self-driving technology becomes more refined and driverless cars receive the necessary thumbs up from lawmakers and insurers, the biggest hit may be felt by truck drivers. Long-haul trucking is a crucial element of our national supply chain. It’s the reason you can buy pretty much anything anywhere. So if truck drivers can be replaced by software that never sleeps, never gets tired, and doesn’t ask for a salary, it’s not a stretch to imagine shipping companies jumping at the chance to save money.
Underwriting a loan or insurance policy is a complex process. It requires a thorough evaluation of potential risk based on a wide set of factors. To underwrite a loan or an insurance policy is to essentially say that you believe the reward outweighs the risk, based on an analysis of the available information. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that underwriting may someday be completely algorithm-based, letting a designated computer program crunch the numbers and make decisions in lieu of an experienced (and costly) human being.