14 Traditional Careers That Are Least Likely To Be Taken Over by AI

The enduring professions that artificial intelligence can't conquer.

Female technician wearing yellow safety halmet is fixing a part of machinery with screwdriver in factory.
Updated May 28, 2024
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Artificial intelligence isn't going anywhere. In fact, one of the exciting — or possibly terrifying — aspects of AI is how fast it is evolving. More and more people are using it in some way.

Whether you're looking for a new career or a way to make extra money, much has been made of the jobs most at risk. Here are 15 “blue collar” careers likely to resist the AI tide for a long time.

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Lisa F. Young/Adobe electrician working

If you have power in your home, you can thank an electrician. In fact, that power that gets routed to your computer is precisely what keeps AI running.

It should be some comfort to know that humans are still the ones behind the switch. Electricians also make a good living — $28.87 an hour, something that will have you doing better financially.


Graphicroyalty/Adobe  female worker at bartender desk

Bartenders are a staple of film — from 1940s noir to Marvel’s “Deadpool” — for a reason: They're the ones upon whom we lay our woes while imbibing.

Yes, a robot can theoretically serve you a drink in a bar, but that doesn't mean it can listen to you and empathize.

Just remember to tip your bartender well, please.


W PRODUCTION/Adobe  gardener trimming hedgerow

It might sound silly, but short of machines coming to life a la Stephen King’s “Maximum Overdrive,” that lawn ain’t gonna mow itself.

In all seriousness, AI might be able to provide plans for how a landscape should look or present humans with a few ideas, but it certainly cannot do the job.

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Auto repair

Mr. Music/Adobe A mechanic at a car repair service center examines shock-absorbing components such as springs and dampers

AI has been used in car manufacturing since the 1960s, but that doesn't mean robots will take mechanics’ jobs.

In short: Robots might be good at putting vehicles together, but they do not know how to determine what is wrong and take the next step.

HVAC Technicians

vladdeep/Adobe female mechanic engineer

This is another dirty job that is out of the grasp of AI until it can work its way through the crawlspaces and ducts of our buildings.

HVAC techs install, repair, and maintain the systems we take for granted while they keep us cool, warm, or otherwise well-ventilated. It is unlikely in the extreme that a Roomba can handle that.


gpointstudio/Adobe carpenter

Fun fact: Harrison Ford was a carpenter before becoming the much-beloved Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

But in terms of practical matters, while AI might be able to check the blueprints and measurements for a house, it can't actually build that house. 

You need carpenters to work with the wood and construct, install, and repair buildings.


Production Perig/Adobe attractive worker on a construction site

You probably don't want an AI telling you what to do. Nobody does.

Foremen are in charge of construction sites and help the rest of the jobs on this list get done.


Ксения Маслова/Adobe man building brick wall

Masons are skilled tradespeople who work with brick and stone. It's a craft that requires an understanding of the geometry they're working in and what the final product should look like.

Since artificial intelligence doesn't know you, it won't know what you want.


.shock/Adobe soldier fighters standing together

It's hard to overstate how vital U.S. service members are. In fact, you probably can't. 

While there's room for automation when it comes to certain aspects of intel, there still needs to be someone working the role.

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Agricultural equipment operators

Hoda Bogdan/Adobe farmer working on field

This is a broad way of saying farmhands. As the name implies, agricultural equipment operators handle tools used on a farm.

Sometimes that means cultivating, sometimes it means harvesting, and sometimes it means planting. Maybe you bale hay, feed livestock; maybe you heard that livestock, or maybe you clean up after them. 

Whatever physical task it is, an AI is not likely to do it. At least, not until it can walk around on two legs.


Kurhan/Adobe professional plumber

No matter how rich or poor you are, you call a plumber when the toilet isn't working.

There's a nuance to plumbing that goes unrespected. You have to know where a problem is and how to fix it. AI can help identify problem areas, but it can't do the job.


As with masons, roofers need a solid understanding of the physical space they're working with.

But, as usual, there's an art to it and a tactile understanding that robots are unlikely to master. Watching a robot trying to navigate a high-pitch roof would be hilarious, though.


ikonoklast_hh/Adobe welder posing with welding machine

Theoretically, this should go to robots on the assembly line, except welders work in ways robots simply can't.

Technically, the job is about fusing metal parts. But AI doesn't excel in cramped spaces and ensuring that metal pieces are correctly assembled.


LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe woodworker in protective headphones

This is a more specialized version of carpentry, at least in terms of dealing with wood.

While it's unlikely any of us would ask a cabinetmaker to construct a house, nor would we ask an AI to build a chair that will be passed down through generations. 

The emotion and pride attached to something built with our own hands — imperfections and all — is impossible for a computer to replicate.

Bottom line

highwaystarz/Adobe builder working on roof

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence is reshaping nearly all industries.

That said, specific jobs remain resilient. These "blue-collar" occupations rely on human workers' expertise, creativity, and physical skills. 

As we embrace the potential of AI, it's important to recognize and value the unique contributions of these AI-proof jobs. And if you stick with yours, maybe you can retire early.

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Author Details

Will Vitka

Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.