13 Jobs That Will Be Gone Within 20 Years

NEWS & TRENDING - JOBS & CAREER NEWS
Explore the vanishing careers facing obsolescence in the next two decades.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Technology is one of the greatest forces of change in our lives. By all accounts, we can expect even more advancements in the future.

On the one hand, that should be great for consumers. However, technological advancements are sure to shake up the economy, which could mean the end of certain jobs.

Here are 13 careers that could disappear in the next 20 years. If you work in one of these fields, there's no need to panic. However, it might be time to begin investigating other ways to make money in the future.

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Travel agents

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe senior women wearing headphones smiling

Technology has undermined the role of the travel agent. Internet search engines from Google to Bing let people work out their own travel plans. Sites like Tripadvisor also offer guidance. You can even tell your phone to book a flight or hotel for you.

The power is now in the consumer’s hands. There is little reason to use a travel agent when an internet search will help you make decisions.

Cashiers

Gorodenkoff/Adobe women explaining something to a cashier in a retail store

With more than 3.3 million people working in this capacity, the cashier job isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of people with this job is projected to drop by 10% through 2031.

Automation is a big reason for the projected decline. Customers can grab what they want off the shelf and pay for it at a kiosk — and they never need to talk to a single person.

Bank tellers

New Africa/Adobe man giving money to a teller

Tellers are another job that is expected to decline through 2031, losing more than 43,000 openings as automation grows, according to BLS.

If you need cash, you probably head to an ATM — literally an “automated teller machine.” You can check your balance online or on your phone. 

Paychecks are typically automatically deposited into your checking account. We simply don’t go to the bank anymore unless we need specialized service.

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Drivers

ungvar/Adobe driver driving a truck white talking on radio

Drivers are in demand today, so this is another job that won’t disappear quickly. However, people in this job can expect a rougher road over the long haul.

Automated vehicles will eventually arrive. When they do, they may reach a level of sophistication that means there will be less need for drivers.

Newspapers

K/Adobe a pile of newspapers stacked on a table

Egon Spengler, portrayed by the late Harold Ramis in 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” succinctly predicted: “Print is dead.”

And it’s true. The rise of digital media has been catastrophic for newspaper publishers. There will always be a need for reporters and editors, but overall, print is a ghost town.

Fast-food workers

korchemkin/Adobe woman holding a burger

Labor shortages and higher wages are accelerating the drive toward automation in the fast-food industry.

There’s already Flippy, a burger-grilling machine that White Castle plans to use in some locations. Delivery robots are also on the way.

Telemarketing

DC Studio/Adobe employees in an office wearing headphones

Telemarketers are another sales-oriented occupation expected to lose out as the years roll on.

The big reason is web-based advertising. According to BLS, digital ads reach more people and allow companies to target users based on their browsing history and what they’re looking for.

Warehouse workers

fizkes/Adobe worker scanning boxes in a warehouse

Warehouse jobs will be among the first to disappear as robots take over. According to management consulting firm Bain & Co, at least 70% of warehouse job roles could be lost through automation.

The Brookings Institution projects that 92% of forklift operator jobs and 80% of package-handler jobs could disappear.

Accountants

Pixel-Shot/Adobe a young businessman using calculator in office

This one seems a bit out there, but software increasingly handles the role of basic accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll.

There isn’t much use in having a human around when computers and algorithms — or even an Excel spreadsheet — can do it for you. However, accountants will still be needed for more complicated tax issues.

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Typists

VAKSMANV/Adobe african american woman working on a laptop

Data entry and typist jobs are still around, but they probably won’t last much longer. As voice recognition and dictation software improves, there’s a good chance those roles will be automated.

This is a career path to avoid. Or, if you’re already in it, find something else.

Taxi dispatchers

Radu Razvan/Adobe salesperson smiling using headphones

Hailing a taxi was once a common occurrence in big cities like New York or Chicago. Now, Uber and Lyft have taken over, and traditional taxi drivers are struggling.

The dispatchers who send those cabs where they're needed are also in less demand.

Machine workers

NVB Stocker/Adobe a hard working asian man in a factory

The men and women who set up and operate machinery that cuts and forms metal and plastic materials are at high risk of being replaced by robots.

BLS says the job market for machine workers will shrink by almost 67,000 through 2031.

Postal workers

Matt Gush/Adobe usps worker getting inside the van

The U.S. Postal Service motto is that nothing will stop the mail from getting through, but automation could put a dent in postal employment. 

According to the BLS, USPS “likely will need fewer workers because new mail sorting technology can read text and automatically sort, forward, and process mail.” 

Overall employment at the Postal Service is expected to decline by 8%.

Bottom line

panitan/Adobe frustrated man working while holding a pen

There’s no stopping technology. It will continue to advance. Some jobs will fall by the wayside — either because automation has replaced workers or because they simply aren’t needed anymore.

But the human touch will always be necessary. Just try to avoid these jobs if you want to stay relevant and earn enough money to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

Instead, you may want to consider a career as a wind turbine service technician, nurse practitioner, data scientist, statistician, or information security analyst — all of which are on the BLS list of fastest-growing job occupations.

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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.

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