Are you curious about what jobs will look like in a few years? You’re not alone. Tech and AI are shaking things up, for better or for worse. Some jobs are on their way out, but hey — new gigs are popping up too.
Is your own career on the chopping block? Stick around, and we’ll break down which jobs are at risk of becoming extinct by 2030. I’ll also share how to pivot if your job is one of those heading toward redundancy due to technology.
Ready to find out which jobs are disappearing — and which have already disappeared?
So, you’ve heard the buzz about how tech and AI are flipping the job market upside down, right? Well, it’s not just talk. A McKinsey study found that, by 2030, almost a third of jobs worldwide could be taken over by automation. That is a massive change in the workplace.
That’s not just factory work; it’s creeping into all sectors. Fields like healthcare, retail and even creative industries are feeling the impact. AI is not some distant future thing; it’s right here, right now, wiping out some jobs.
But it’s also a job creator. New fields are emerging that we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. But the catch? These new gigs usually need some pretty specific skills. So, if you’re not keeping up, you could miss the boat.
Being proactive is key. Don’t just hope for the best; equip yourself with skills that are harder to automate. Consider a career path that’s less likely to become extinct due to technology. As you plan your future, take these shifting sands into account. It’s not all doom and gloom, but awareness is your first line of defense.
If you’re thinking “This can’t happen to me”, think again — some jobs have already hit the “extinct” list. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see which jobs don’t exist anymore:
- Elevator operators
- Video store clerks
- Travel agents
- Switchboard operators
- Payphone repair technicians
- Milk delivery workers
- Film developers
- Bank tellers
See what we mean? Technology giveth and technology taketh away. While it makes life easier and can create new opportunities, it can also make jobs disappear faster than you can say “obsolete”. So, if you don’t want to find your job title in a list like this, pay attention. Stay ahead of the game by continually updating your skills. Your future self will thank you.
If you’re still reading, you’re keen to know which jobs might not be around much longer. Let’s jump into 25 jobs that are starting to be impacted by AI and could become obsolete due to technology and automation.
1. Tax preparers
AI algorithms and tax software are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making human error a bigger liability. More people are starting to file their own taxes with the help of software, which is predicted to impact 20% of jobs in this field by 2030.
2. Locomotive engineers
Train technology is getting smarter, requiring fewer humans at the controls. With advances in automation, traditional locomotive engineers are becoming less needed. By implementing automation, it eliminates human factors such as stamina, dexterity and fatigue. Technology can be used to detect breaks or cracks in the wheels, which could be deadly if overlooked by human error.
3. Parking enforcement workers
Smart parking systems are taking over the traditional way of monitoring parking spaces. These systems are not only more efficient but also less prone to human error. As cities become smarter and adopt these technologies, parking enforcement jobs are likely to vanish, allowing municipal governments to redirect their budgets away from human enforcers.
4. Warehouse stockers
Robots equipped with advanced sensors are making their way into warehouses. These machines can sort, place and manage inventory without breaks or errors, putting traditional warehouse stockers at risk. The rise of eCommerce, which demands rapid fulfillment, amplifies this trend.
5. Watch repair technicians
The rise of high-quality smartwatches and durable digital timepieces is eroding the traditional watch repair industry. Additionally, Millennials and Gen Zers are less likely to own traditional watches. Even luxury brands are starting to incorporate digital features, making old-school repair skills less relevant.
Self-checkout systems are becoming the norm in many retail stores, from grocery chains to tech shops. Experts project that, by 2030, automated checkout will be so prevalent that most traditional cashier roles will no longer exist.
7. Meter readers
With the advent of smart meters that can send data directly to utility companies, the need for human meter readers is dwindling. These digital devices make the process more efficient and eliminate the risk of human error. It’s likely that smart meters will become more widespread to reduce company costs and maintain accuracy.
8. Mail sorters
Automation is hitting the postal service hard. Advanced sorting machines are not only faster but also more reliable than their human counterparts. These machines can also be designed to scan each piece of mail being sorted, as well track and notify the recipient. With the ongoing decline in physical mail due to digital communication, there’s less need for manual sorting.
9. Data entry keyers
The automation of data entry tasks is a game-changer. Modern AI and software systems can input data with impressive speed and lower error rates. As businesses look for efficiency and accuracy, the value of human data entry simply cannot compare.
10. Casino dealers
AI dealers offer non-stop service, lowering expenses for casino operators while catering to players across various time zones. Moreover, these AI-powered dealers can study how players interact with the game, tailoring rewards for a more individualized gaming experience. In addition, it reduces the risk of human error, theft and other misconduct.
11. Prepress technicians
With automation taking over, prepress technicians are seeing their roles become less vital. Automated systems can handle layout and other prepress tasks more efficiently. As digital publishing continues to increase in popularity, more people are transitioning into self-publishing with platforms. Amazon and others make it very easy to bypass the traditional methods.
12. Taxi drivers
Ride-sharing apps like Uber and the rise of self-driving cars are a real threat to traditional taxi drivers. Industry trends suggest that many of these jobs could vanish by 2030 due to advanced autonomous vehicle technology. Some larger cities are already testing the concept. Over time, more places will likely adopt it as well.
13. Engine and machine assemblers
Robots equipped with precise sensors and tools are taking over the task of engine and machine assembly. They work faster and with fewer errors, casting a shadow over the future of human assemblers. Robotics are increasingly seen as a cost-effective and efficient alternative. According to an Oxford report, an estimated 20 million jobs will be replaced by robots by 2030.
14. Fast-food workers
Automated kiosks and even robot chefs are becoming more common in fast-food restaurants. These technologies can take orders, cook and serve food, reducing the need for human staff. Customer preferences are increasingly leaning towards faster and more streamlined services, and automation is meeting those needs. With advanced voice-recognition AI, the entire process could soon be automated.
Technology like AI-assisted video refereeing is changing how sports games are officiated. This raises questions about the future role of human referees. As video-assisted referee systems gain wider acceptance, human error in officiating becomes less tolerable to fans and teams alike. AI and sensors could soon be making more accurate calls than decades of human-based referees.
Advanced AI algorithms can now conduct sales calls, often without the customer realizing they’re not human. These automated systems can also analyze consumer data in real time to make more effective sales pitches. Many top brands have shown large increase of sales and ROI using AI because they don’t need breaks or pauses between calls.
17. Farm workers
From drones monitoring crops to automated tractors, technology is doing more of the heavy lifting on farms. Precision agriculture techniques are also enabling farms to manage resources more efficiently, further reducing the need for manual labor. In farming, AI is already being used through driverless tractors, intelligent irrigation and fertilization systems, smart spraying technology, vertical farming software, and robotic harvesters.
AI-based translation tools are getting better at capturing the subtleties of language, once solely a human skill. As machine learning advances, these tools may handle even complex translations, raising questions about the long-term demand for human translators. AI translation tools can handle multiple texts in various languages at once and improve their own translation quality over time.
The surge of digital libraries and AI-managed catalog systems has made visiting a physical library less necessary. People can own and organize digital books much easier than physical books that take up space. The carbon footprint of publishing physical books to fill libraries vs digital libraries is also a factor. Essentially, digital libraries will save trees.
20. Computer programmers
The threats to computer programmers aren’t just from offshoring. Automated coding tools are becoming more advanced, thanks to open-source AI libraries. These tools can potentially automate routine coding tasks, shaking the foundations of traditional computer programming roles. AI can already assist with automating specific jobs, from testing and debugging to basic coding.
AI-driven language platforms are becoming more sophisticated at catching not just spelling and grammar errors, but also issues of tone and style. While human expertise in language nuance is hard to replace completely, simpler proofreading tasks are already being automated by software such as Grammarly.
22. Textile workers
Textile factories are increasingly turning to computer-controlled machines for tasks like cutting and sewing. These automated systems can operate at all hours and are more precise than human workers. As this technology becomes more affordable and widespread, more factories are likely to adopt these new methods to reduce overhead costs and ramp up overall production without sacrificing quality.
23. Toll booth operators
Automated toll collection systems, like RFID tags and license plate recognition software, are becoming the standard on highways. These systems are not only faster but can also operate 24/7 without human help. The E-ZPass is one of the ways this is already impacting these types of jobs.
24. Legal secretaries
AI-powered tools are revolutionizing tasks like legal research and document automation in law firms. These advancements mean legal secretaries are less essential for routine tasks, prompting law firms to rethink their staffing needs. While unlikely to fully replace these jobs, it could drastically reduce the workload per company and, therefore, the number of paralegals hired.
The adoption of advanced GPS and real-time tracking systems is making human dispatchers increasingly obsolete in logistics and emergency services. AI is able to handle tasks more efficiently, and some large cities already implement AI for non-emergency calls to help with staff shortages. It can also be used to instantly calculate rates or answer questions in most industries.
So, what did we learn today?
- Technology and AI are rapidly changing the job landscape, making some roles obsolete.
- Certain jobs, like warehouse stockers and dispatchers, are disappearing due to automation.
- A host of other roles, from textile workers to taxi drivers, may not exist by 2030.
- Many positions have already been greatly, if not fully, replaced by AI, including video store clerks.
It’s a wake-up call. If you’re in one of these jobs, it might be time to pivot. Think about skilling up in areas that are less susceptible to automation. Companies of the future will change, and job security will likely require a mix of adaptability, tech-savvy and skills that AI can’t replicate easily.
Do you have thoughts or questions about which jobs are becoming redundant or extinct? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your perspective.
Originally published on November 7, 2017.