Outdated Occupations: 15 Dying Professions That Aren’t Worth Pursuing

These once-thriving careers are now on the brink of irrelevance in today's fast-paced world.
Updated Sept. 7, 2023
candidates sitting on chairs waiting for job interview

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While some jobs show signs of growth in the future, more and more professions are starting to die. 

Whether because a specific industry is changing dramatically or part of a job is being replaced by automation, those looking for new careers should be mindful of the employment outlook.

If you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck and want a more secure financial future, here are 14 professions you should avoid.

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Factory workers

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe female factory worker standing near production line

Robots have already replaced some factory jobs, even as simple as moving a box from one area to another. 

This means there’s potential for machines to take over jobs, particularly those that might be considered dangerous to human workers.

However, replacement rates might not be as high as we think. A 2022 study by Brigham Young University found that 14% of workers surveyed had their jobs replaced by robots, but those workers tended to exaggerate the rate at which they're being replaced.

Travel agents

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe senior women wearing headphones smiling

Travel agents can be a great asset when you need someone to help you plan an all-inclusive vacation to an area you might not be familiar with.

However, algorithms are becoming savvier, and sometimes all a traveler needs to do before a trip is a quick search online to discover what’s available at a particular destination. 

Many travel sites also take advantage of ChatGPT through virtual assistants who can help customers answer questions about airfare or accommodations.


Christian Schwier/Adobe journalist taking down notes

The news industry as a whole has seen rounds of layoffs in recent years in part because advertising and subscription revenue has dried up for newspapers and other forms of media.

The Pew Research Center found that newsrooms have lost more than 25% of their workforce since 2008, and news organizations like CNN and BuzzFeed have made major cuts in the past year or so.

As layoffs become more and more expected in the news industry, it’s becoming clear that reporters may have fewer job opportunities.

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Administrative assistants

Pixel-Shot/Adobe female secretary talking on telephone in office

Executives rely on administrative assistants to schedule appointments, take notes, and plan travel arrangements. Previously, many executives expected someone to be by their side to do all of this, but remote work has changed the landscape.

A virtual administrative assistant, for instance, can help an executive from anywhere in the world. This also means that someone can potentially serve as an assistant for more than one executive, meaning there could be more supply than demand for the role.


pathdoc/Adobe young woman and man in headphones learning different languages

Translators are essential in many professional settings, including hospitals, schools, and international businesses.

However, technology is making translation services readily available, bumping humans out of positions in favor of programs that can often translate more than one language.

Bank tellers

hedgehog94/Adobe businesswoman giving cash money to male customer

It’s nearly impossible nowadays to find a bank that doesn’t have an app or offer online access to your accounts. 

Whether you’re looking to set up direct deposit or transfer money from one account to another, most banks usually offer an online feature to get started. And some banks operate entirely online.

Online features also mean you have access to your account 24/7, resulting in less need for bank tellers.

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Odua Images/Adobe happy asian male shopkeeper

You may have noticed more self-checkout lanes in your grocery store or other retailers like Target, Walmart, and Costco. Perhaps your local McDonald’s has touch screens to place your order.

These self-checkouts may be easy and convenient for a quick shopping trip, but they’re also replacing cashiers who are no longer needed. 

There may still be someone who can help you when your self-checkout kiosk isn’t working, but the number of humans working the checkout section continues to decline.


Liubomir/Adobe young successful financier accountant at work

Bookkeepers used to be a vital part of tracking expenditures and income for companies and other entities. However, like many other administrative jobs, software now exists that can automate financial tracking.

In fact, the positions are declining so much that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the number of bookkeeping and accounting jobs will decrease by 5% by 2031.

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Postal workers

Drazen/Adobe black postal worker delivering packages in the city

Everyone gets mail, but how that mail arrives at your home and what is in your mailbox is changing. For instance, many companies now offer online bill pay instead of sending paper bills.

At the post office, postal workers are also being replaced with automated sorting machines. Because of these factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that this profession will see a 6% decline by 2031.

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Customer service representatives

Bojan/Adobe customer support operator with hands-free headset

Another career that has seen an increase in automation is customer service. Many companies now have virtual chatbots on their websites that can help answer specific questions for customers.

Job outlook also doesn’t make this career path seem favorable. The BLS projects a 4% decline in these positions through 2031.


Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe dispatcher speaking by microphone on navigation board

Dispatchers help organize and plan routes for a variety of industries, including ambulances and taxis.

Drivers used to connect with dispatchers to learn where they need to head next, but the rise of personal GPS apps has eroded the need for dispatchers. 

In particular, companies like Uber and Lyft have fundamentally changed how transportation dispatch works for car services and cabs.

Computer programmers

Tasty Content/Adobe programmer girl works at the computer

A career in information technology or IT can be quite lucrative, but the overall need for programmers is declining as automation makes computer programming faster and more efficient.

This improvement in efficiency requires fewer workers overall, and with more positions becoming remote, many companies are finding less of a need for multiple programmers. 

Because of these factors, the BLS estimates that computer programming will see a 10% decline in jobs by 2031.

Corrections officers

Anna Kosolapova/Adobe prison guards smile as they stand with batons near cells

Working in a prison as a corrections officer can be a difficult job, and while there's always a need for corrections officers, the number of positions needed is on the decline.

One reason for the cutback of corrections officers is the reduction of inmates, which was declining for several years before the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the decline started around 2014. And although the total number of inmates might increase, prisons have learned to operate with less staff.

Retail workers

Kalim/Adobe female customer receiving shopping bags in boutique

Nearly anything you want can be bought online, especially when it comes to big online retailers like Amazon. With online shopping increasing in popularity, this isn’t great news for retail workers.

The BLS projects little to no job growth for retail sales workers through 2031. If you’re considering a job in this industry, it's likely a good move to find a corporate position for a big brand.


filins/Adobe projectionist at work in the room

Movie theaters are great places to be entertained while enjoying snacks and sitting in comfy modern movie seats. Many theaters have also upgraded to include reclined seats and dinner service.

But these upgrades also extend to the projection booth, where a traditional projectionist has been replaced with a digital movie projector. Many of these new projectors operate with just the click of a button, meaning not many people are required to operate a multi-screen theater.

Bottom line

prachid/Adobe accountant is calculating tax

If you want to get ahead financially, you need to find a job that will maintain some growth.

If you find yourself in one of the jobs above, consider pivoting and pursuing a more lucrative field less prone to going under.

It’s also a good idea to stick to a strict budget if you’re planning to change jobs and prioritize a well-stocked emergency fund in case you suddenly find yourself unemployed.


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Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.