18 Jobs Being Replaced by Robots

August 25, 2016 by Evan Comen

Modern robot dressed in a business suit
Source: Thinkstock
The number of jobs in the United States is projected to grow by 7% in the next decade. Advances in technology and evolving consumer demand will certainly create at least some new opportunities for the American workforce. At the same time, these changes will also make many occupations obsolete.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects changes for each occupation over the decade ending in 2024. 24/7 Wall St. identified the 18 jobs that will shed more than 10% of their workforce due largely to advances in technology. These 18 occupations will see a net decline of more than 300,000 jobs from 2014 to 2024.

[in-text-ad]

Most jobs at risk of being replaced are low-skilled positions that require little to no educational background. Of the 18 jobs on this list, only one — statistical assistants — requires the typical employee to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Click here to see the 18 jobs being replaced by robots.

Many replaceable jobs involve simple processes that have been automated by recent technological advances, or can be replaced by existing technology that has become more widely available. For example, while the first mail sorting machine processed 15,000 letters an hour and was nearly the size of a room, today’s mail sorting machines fit on a desk and can process close to four times as many letters. As these machines become more affordable, mail clerk employment is expected to decline significantly.

For most businesses, automation makes economic sense. In a study published in 2015 by the management firm Boston Consulting Group, researchers found that while the typical welder is paid $25 an hour, a robot that can perform similar tasks costs $8 to own and operate per hour. That figure may drop to $2 per hour as technology improves over the next 15 years.

As automation has considerably lowered the need for certain jobs, the use of new technologies by consumers has also driven employment declines in certain industries. A majority of U.S. adults now get their news from digital or television sources, and only 20% read print newspapers. As newspaper circulation rates decline nationwide, the number of printing press operators is projected to decline significantly in the next decade. Unlike manufacturing jobs, these are not likely to be replaced by man or machine.

To identify the jobs being replaced by robots, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the period of 2014 to 2024. Only occupations expected to contract by more than 10% were considered. Based on analysis from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook and other sources, technological advancement is the main cause for the projected employment decline of 18 occupations.

These are the 18 jobs getting replaced by technology.

Statistical Assistant
Source: Thinkstock

18. Statistical assistants
> Proj. loss 2014-2024: -10.9%
> 2014 jobs: 16,600
> 2024 jobs: 14,800
> Median annual wage: $42,700

As computer software becomes increasingly advanced, the demand for statistical assistants is decreasing. Statistical assistant duties often include compiling reports and charts, entering and analyzing data, and running calculations — tasks that are now automated relatively easily by computers. Demand for statistical assistants is projected to drop rapidly in the coming years. The number of people employed in the field is projected to decline by 10.9% by 2024.

[in-text-ad]

Microphone and headphones. Audio recording or radio commentator announcer
Source: Thinkstock

17. Announcers
> Proj. loss 2014-2024: -11.0%
> 2014 jobs: 52,500
> 2024 jobs: 46,700
> Median annual wage: $30,080

Advancing technology is expected to be the primary contributor to the 11% employment decline for announcers through the decade ending in 2024. Demand for radio program hosts will likely drop as more radio stations use pre-recorded segments that can be used in multiple geographies. Also, music radio stations are expected to shed jobs as more people turn to satellite and online stations that play music nonstop.

Family with travel agent
Source: Thinkstock

16. Travel agents
> Proj. loss 2014-2024: -11.7%
> 2014 jobs: 74,100
> 2024 jobs: 65,400
> Median annual wage: $35,660

The first online travel agencies were launched in the late 1990s, and they have since grown to dominate the industry. Today, the ubiquity of booking websites such as Expedia and Priceline have made brick-and-mortar travel agencies fairly obsolete. By 2024 there will be roughly 9,000 fewer travel agents than a decade earlier, an 11.7% decline.

Printing press operator
Source: Thinkstock

15. Printing press operators
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -12.5%
> 2014 jobs: 173,000
> 2024 jobs: 151,400
> Median annual wage: $35,240

About 125 daily U.S. newspapers have gone out of circulation in the past decade, and more are expected to close. As the newspaper industry continues its shift from print to digital distribution, fewer and fewer printing press operators will be needed. Employment in the field is expected to decline by 12.5% by 2024.

[in-text-ad]

Print Binding
Source: Thinkstock

14. Print binding and finishing workers
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -13.7%
> 2014 jobs: 51,200
> 2024 jobs: 44,200
> Median annual wage: $30,260

Much like the changes in the newspaper industry, which is moving to digital distribution, changes in the way people consume written material will decrease the demand for those responsible for examining and finishing binded books and magazines for quality control. As a result, the number of Americans employed as print binding and finishing workers is projected to decline by 13.7% between 2014 and 2024. Not only newspapers, but also magazines, and books are being increasingly moved to digital formats such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Handwriting, Correspondence Clerk, writing a letter
Source: Thinkstock

13. Correspondence clerks
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -14.7%
> 2014 jobs: 8,400
> 2024 jobs: 7,200
> Median annual wage: $35,320

Due to advances in technology and computer software, correspondence clerks are quickly becoming a job of a bygone era. The responsibilities of a correspondence clerk typically include composing letters on behalf of a business or organization to notify relevant parties of such issues as damage claims, delinquent accounts, invoices, service claims, to name a few. With advancing computer software often automating such routine correspondences, the number of people employed as correspondence clerks is expected to decrease by 14.7% between 2014 and 2024.

Xerox, Making Photo Copies
Source: Thinkstock

12. Office machine operators, except computer
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -16.6%
> 2014 jobs: 69,600
> 2024 jobs: 58,000
> Median annual wage: $29,010

Office machine operators can have a number of responsibilities. Copy technicians, copy center operators, and print center specialists are all examples of office machine operators. As more industries shift to digital platforms, office machine operators are becoming an antiquated field. By 2024, the number of people employed in the occupation is expected to decrease by 16.6%.

[in-text-ad]

Man reading power meter
Source: Thinkstock

11. Meter readers, utilities
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -18.0%
> 2014 jobs: 37,400
> 2024 jobs: 30,600
> Median annual wage: $38,510

As utility companies upgrade their infrastructure, there will be less of a need for meters to be read manually. Computers today can monitor electric and gas meters remotely from a central location, and this means there will be less of a need for a utilities employee to be on location. By 2024, employment in the field is projected to decline 18%.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

projectionist at work in the room
Source: Thinkstock

10. Motion picture projectionists
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -18.2%
> 2014 jobs: 6,700
> 2024 jobs: 5,500
> Median annual wage: $21,490

With only 6,700 people employed in the profession, motion picture projectionists are one of the most uncommon jobs in the United States. This number is expected to drop much lower in the coming years. By 2024, the BLS projects an 18.2% decrease in the number of such jobs. Like many other jobs with a declining footprint in the U.S. economy, movie projection no longer requires a human’s supervision.

Mail Clerks
Source: Thinkstock

9. Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -18.8%
> 2014 jobs: 104,900
> 2024 jobs: 85,100
> Median annual wage: $28,570

Mail clerks can process an estimated 1,200 letters in an hour, the most basic sorting machines can process 2,000 pieces of mail in the same time, with more advanced models sorting up to 50,000 pieces an hour. As mail sorting machine technology improves and becomes less expensive, more companies are replacing their mail clerks with machines. The number of mail clerks and mail machine operators outside of the postal service is projected to fall by 18.8%, or roughly 20,000 workers, over the 10 years ending in 2024.

[in-text-ad]

Computer operators
Source: Thinkstock

8. Computer operators
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -19.0%
> 2014 jobs: 61,100
> 2024 jobs: 49,500
> Median annual wage: $40,420

Computer operators’ primary tasks include monitoring and responding to computer error messages and entering commands at a computer terminal. Like many disappearing jobs, increasingly sophisticated software is reducing the need for workers in the profession. The number of workers in the field is expected to drop to only 49,500 by 2024, a 19% decline over the span of a decade.

Parking Ticket On Car, parking enforcement worker
Source: Thinkstock

7. Parking enforcement workers
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -20.8%
> 2014 jobs: 9,400
> 2024 jobs: 7,400
> Median annual wage: $36,530

There are only 9,400 parking enforcement workers in the United States, fewer than in the vast majority of professions. By 2024, there will be only 7,400 parking enforcement attendants, a 20.8% decline. As is the case with many rapidly disappearing jobs, parking enforcement workers are being replaced by machines and automated systems. Electronic ticketing systems and parking garages with automatic barriers are likely putting a dent in the ranks of parking enforcement workers nationwide.

Desktop Publisher
Source: Thinkstock

6. Desktop publishers
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -21.0%
> 2014 jobs: 14,800
> 2024 jobs: 11,700
> Median annual wage: $39,840

Desktop publishers are responsible for the design of an organization’s printed materials, such as advertisements, brochures, newsletters, and forms. As companies consolidate their internal communications online and publish other materials electronically, the demand for desktop publishers will likely decline. Employment in the occupation is expected to fall by 21.0% through 2024, one of the largest contractions of any job.

[in-text-ad]

Prepress Technician
Source: Thinkstock

5. Prepress technicians and workers
> Proj. loss 2014-2024: -24.6%
> 2014 jobs: 36,500
> 2024 jobs: 27,500
> Median annual wage: $38,270

Prepress technicians are primarily responsible for proofreading, positioning, and arranging text and graphic content that is to be printed. Changes in the way people consume written material will likely decrease the demand for such jobs. Newspapers, magazines, and books are increasingly consumed on digital devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. Ever improving design software is also likely contributing to the dwindling demand for prepress technicians.

Dilevering Mail , Postal Service Worker, Mail man
Source: Thinkstock

4. Postal service workers
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -28.1%
> 2014 jobs: 484,600
> 2024 jobs: 348,600
> Median annual wage: $56,790

While employment at the U.S. Postal Service will suffer due to budget cuts, technological advances will also play a considerable role. In addition to automated sorting machines, which will decrease demand for workers in post offices, a number of other technological advances will further decrease the volume of mail that postal workers deliver and process. Increasing use of everyday conveniences such as online bill-pay services and e-mail will also contribute considerably to the 10-year projected 28.1% decline in employment for postal workers.

Photographer in darkroom

3. Photographic process workers and processing machine operators
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -32.9%
> 2014 jobs: 28,800
> 2024 jobs: 19,400
> Median annual wage: $26,590

Photographic process workers and processing machine operators are essentially responsible for developing film. A profession that used to be found in nearly every corner store and drugstore is now all but extinct because of digital technology. Employment in the field began to decline with the advent of the digital camera. Now that nearly everyone carries a cell phone with a built-in camera, the number of people employed as photo developers is disappearing rapidly. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of people employed in the field is projected to decline by 32.9%.

[in-text-ad]

Answering service
Source: Thinkstock

2. Switchboard operators, including answering service
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -32.9%
> 2014 jobs: 112,400
> 2024 jobs: 75,400
> Median annual wage: $27,440

Advancing technology is largely responsible for the massive projected employment decrease for switchboard operators and answering services. Specifically, voice recognition technology can recognize human speech and effectively direct calls. Cell phones are also now ubiquitous, lowering the demand for hotel switchboard operators, as well as jobs related to collect calls and directory assistance. By 2024, the number of switchboard operator and answering service jobs will be 32.9% lower than a decade prior.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

Telephone Operator
Source: Thinkstock

1. Telephone operators
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -42.4%
> 2014 jobs: 13,100
> 2024 jobs: 7,500
> Median annual wage: $35,880

Like switchboard operators, telephone operators often redirect calls, but they also provide information and assistance to callers. Operators answer emergency calls and are often employed to help disabled individuals and children use the phone. Today, however, voice recognition and other technology allows users to have their calls connected without any human assistance. The number of telephone operators is projected to decrease by 42.4% in the decade ending in 2024, the largest contraction of any occupation.