Jobs that Are in Danger of Dying Out

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Dead-End Degrees That Will Get You Nowhere

How to avoid careers that are at risk of automation and switch to a safer field.

Are you worried that you might one day lose your job to a computer? The chances are greater than you might think, according to a 2013 Oxford Study entitled "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?"
The study suggests that a whopping 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being phased out due to mechanical alternatives in perhaps the next decade or two. Some careers have as high as a 99 percent chance of computerization in the coming years. Is your job or a job you are considering one of them?
To protect yourself, you may want to consider focusing your skill development and education on careers that are safer from computerization, according to Matthew Walden, a partner at Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS), a recruiting and staffing resources firm.
"Automation is a threat to job security in almost everything, but continuing your career development, mastering your current skillset and learning new ones will keep you in demand and employed long term," says Walden.
Want to avoid going after a job that might be computerized in a few years and concentrate your efforts on the safer ones? Here are the jobs that may be going by the wayside, and ones with more staying power for you to consider pursuing.

Career at Risk:
Retail Salesperson

Risk of Computerization: 92 percent
The jobs of retail salespersons are at a high risk of disappearing, the Oxford study points out. This is because, with automated service, "one employee can be responsible for up to 20 checkout machines compared to traditional cash machine operators, where you need one member of staff per machine, plus additional staff members to cover sickness and holidays," explains Chris Delaney, a career and life coach and the author of "The 73 Rules of Influencing the Interview: using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques."
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor points out, online sales have hurt some in-store retailers. Although most consumers will continue to do their retail shopping in stores for some time, consumers are increasing their online retail shopping, which does not require traditional live salespeople.

Safer Career Alternative:

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: 1.2 percent
While computers can provide detailed reports of inventory, record manifests, and track the progress of shipments, someone must be able to respond to changes that are not part of the routine, explains George A. Boyd, an academic and vocational counselor in private practice in the Los Angeles area.
"Shipments must be re-routed, orders must be fulfilled when suppliers fail to ship, and discrepancies in orders must be reconciled," he explains. And this, he adds, requires the human decision-making of a logistician.
Prepare to Play It Safer: Getting into the logistics field isn't as education-intensive as you might think. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an associate's degree may be sufficient for certain jobs in this field.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Program.
That being said, more companies prefer to hire people with a bachelor's degree as logistics become more complex. Many logisticians have a bachelor's degree in fields such as business, supply chain management, process engineering or industrial engineering.

Career at Risk:
Loan Officer

Risk of Computerization: 98 percent
While analyzing financial information from applicants to see if they qualify for loans is still often done in person, there is an expanded use of underwriting software to analyze the information, the U.S. Department of Labor points out. This software can analyze applications almost instantly, which may give them a big advantage over human underwriting professionals.
"This process quickens up the applications process for the applicant and decreases overhead cost of the loan company or bank, including the need for space and building cost as well as the loan officer's salary," explains Delaney.
According to the Department of Labor, firms often use a hybrid of computer software and a human loan officer to decide on an application, having the software analyze the application to generate a recommendation, and then using the human loan officer to provide additional information to make a final decision.

Safer Career Alternative:
Human Resources Manager

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: <1 percent
What makes this career safer from automation? Basically, "we need these professionals to sense and respond to the non-verbal cues that potential job applicants and current employees share," says Kate McKeon, who offers consulting on business school applications and career decisions.
According to McKeon, the judgment provided by humans during interviews cannot be pre-programed in an algorithm, so computers can't offer an effective replacement.
Prepare to Play It Safer: A bachelor's degree in business administration or human resources is usually needed to pursue a position in this field, the U.S. Department of Labor says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Human Resources Program.
It should be noted that according to the Department of Labor, several years of related work experience is also needed, and some higher level jobs require a master's degree in labor relations, human resources, or business administration.

Career at Risk:
Library Technician

Risk of Computerization: 99 percent
Because much of their work can actually be done through computers and automated catalogs, library technician jobs are at risk, according to Delaney.
"Libraries are becoming more automated with the introduction of library software which allows customers to search for the book they require by author or title, before being told what aisle the book is on and how many books are in stock," explains Delaney. He adds that even research newspapers and old documents are available online, so people can have access to thousands of references without having to leave their seat or ask the library technician.

Safer Career Alternative:
Elementary School Teacher

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: <1 percent
If we just relied on a computerized platform for learning, elementary school students would never truly learn the dynamics of interpersonal communication, says Joseph M. Davis, a nationally board-certified career and technical education teacher and a business curriculum designer for the Maryland State Department of Education.
"I use technology every day in the classroom," Davis explains. "Most of the students are capable of independent learning for simple concepts, but what if they have questions? This is why instant, in-person feedback from a teacher is vital." It's also why teaching at the elementary level is likely to stay a safe career choice, according to Davis.
Prepare to Play It Safer: Public elementary school teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in elementary education in all states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They are also required to have a state certification or license.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.
Elementary school teachers are also required in some states to major in a specific area of study, such as science or math.

Career at Risk:

Risk of Computerization: 99 percent
Certain jobs in the sales field are becoming more and more automated, putting the profession at risk, according to the Oxford study. How? Well, the study points out that some sales occupations, like telemarketer, don't require a lot of social intelligence. The study indicates that there is an indirect relationship between social intelligence and probability of computerization, which puts telemarketers firmly in the danger zone.
Plus, with the rapidly growing role of technology in supporting inbound call-center operations, dramatically fewer people are needed in those businesses, explains Kim Eisenberg,  a career coach and talent management consultant in San Diego, CA. "It's significantly more efficient and profitable to persuade people using automated scripts than live agents," Eisenberg explains.

Safer Career Alternative:
Financial Analyst

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: 23 percent
Although a computer can automate simplistic human behaviors like factory line work and the mundane debits and credits of an accounting ledger, it's still no match for the human brain, explains David Bouta of ICS.
That's because for jobs that require complex financial analysis and drawing conclusions to make strategic decisions, you still need the innovation and creativity of the human mind to solve problems, Bouta explains.
"Until all computers get to the point where artificial intelligence (AI) rivals that of the brightest human mind, jobs in the financial analysis space will be safe," Bouta adds.
Prepare to Play It Safer: You don't need an MBA to pursue a career in this field. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that a bachelor's degree is required for most positions. Appropriate preparation comes from fields such as finance, statistics, economics, accounting, engineering, and mathematics.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
That being said, employers do often require a master's in business administration or finance for advanced positions.

Career at Risk:
Dental Laboratory Technician

Risk of Computerization: 97 percent
While general dentist jobs only have a 0.4 percent risk of being automated, the Oxford study says dental lab technicians have a 97 percent risk of automation.
"Intraoral scanners are becoming popular with dentists, allowing them to take digital impressions of patients which are immediately sent to labs for a quicker turnaround in production," according to Delaney.
"This technological process deletes the need for dental technicians to make castings for the patient's local dentist, creating a central service which requires less staff," he adds.

Safe Career Alternative:
Registered Nurse

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: <1 percent
Nursing is a career path that will always require a human element to be successful, according to Tyra Ousley, dean of nursing at City Colleges of Chicago.
"The knowledge base of a nurse plays an important role in the nurse-patient relationship because human skills are required to fully assess health care issues and educate patients appropriately," Ousley explains. Plus, nurses are also able to interpret health complaints and explain side effects related to a new medical diagnosis, she adds.
Finally, nurses provide things computers will never be able to, according to Ousley: personal contact, compassion, and support to patients. "The nurse-patient relationship is key to maintaining optimal health levels," Ousley explains.
Prepare to Play It Safe: Aspiring registered nurses have three paths they can follow, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They may pursue an associate's degree in nursing, they may pursue a bachelor's of science degree in nursing, or they may seek a diploma from an approved nursing program.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Registered Nursing Program.
In order to become registered, nurses must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination and obtain a license.

Career at Risk:
Mathematical Technician

Risk of Computerization: 99 percent
While the creative intelligence required of mathematicians makes their jobs less susceptible to computerization, according to the study, math technicians might be a disappearing breed because computers can now perform most of the work technicians used to do, says Bill Gorin, account and finance practice lead at ICS.
"The greatest strength and simultaneously the greatest weakness of computers is they are only capable of doing exactly as they are told," Gorin explains.

Safer Career Choice:
Computer Systems Analyst

Find Programs Risk of Computerization: <1 percent
While the computer field is highly automated, computer programmers, analysts and technicians will always be needed to create, maintain and advance systems to keep up with the demands of the market, says Isaiah Belle, a manager of software development and the director of solutions architecture for Huge, a digital business and integrated marketing company.
That's because, according to Belle, "Computer automation allows business[es] to solve problems faster but it also creates new problems, challenges and opportunities. It's in solving those new challenges that programmers will find a pretty safe and lucrative place to be in the future."
Prepare to Play It Safer: This is another area where you don't have to have a lot of schooling to pursue a safer career. The U.S. Department of Labor says that for computer systems analysts, a bachelor's degree in a computer science or information science field is common but not always a requirement.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
That being said, most computer systems analysts do have a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. The Department of Labor also says that it may be helpful to major in management information systems or to take business courses, and that some employers may prefer applicants to the position who have a master of business administration with a concentration in information systems.
Finally, the Department adds that a master's degree in computer science may be more appropriate for more technically complex jobs.

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