With the recent developments in AI technology, there’s been a lot of talk about certain jobs becoming obsolete in the near future.
CBC / Via giphy.com
This isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, though — for as long as technology has advanced, certain professional roles have fallen to the wayside.
Fox / Via giphy.com
Here are 17 such jobs, courtesy of BuzzFeeders and redditors:
1.“I was a prepress tech and learned how to strip film just in time for it to become obsolete. I worked in small print shops where I couldn’t even get a raise, never mind any retirement money. Left that line of work in 2008.”
“I was also a desktop publisher and proofreader, but nowadays, nobody cares about accuracy or grammar, and you can slap something together with templates in about 30 seconds. I still do a little freelancing, though.
Mostly I’m in the gig economy. C’est la guerre.”
2.“I worked in one industry for 15 years that became greatly impacted by the internet: magazine distribution. It was a nationwide company that eventually ceased operations. I was still young enough to transition into another career easily. After 17 years with the new company, I was comfortably working toward retirement. One day I looked around, and everyone was in their 20s and 30s. Then, one day we got a new VP. The day I met her I knew it was over.”
“She was in her mid 30s. I lasted two months before she told me she had no place for me on her team. I was out of work for three months and took a job for a third of my former salary. Worked that job for three years and retired. Fortunately, the wife and I were comfortable at that point and didn’t need to really worry about paying bills.”
3.“Not me, but my dad got laid off from Chrysler in his late 40s. He sewed seat covers. While not obsolete, there isn’t much call for industrial sewing machine operators. He pretty much just worked through temp agencies until he was 71 (last summer) and couldn’t physically work anymore.”
4.“I have a degree in broadcast communications — specifically radio broadcasting. I was a professional on-air host from 2011–2014, but I could tell it was dying so I left the industry. My top skill was being proficient in pop culture knowledge, so luckily, I got a job doing something else pop culture-related…working at BuzzFeed. I’ve been here since 2015; still paying off that radio degree, though.”
5.“In my 20s, I was a secretary. I took dictation and typed letters on a typewriter. As time progressed, I did word processing and then programming. I ran a software company and wrote a book. Then, Microsoft put us out of business. Some other stuff happened. Now, I am freelancing at age 67.”
“Every time I lost a job, it was an opportunity for a better job, even in my 50s. The trick is to always be learning new things.”
6.“I was replaced by a minicomputer. I thought, ‘If I can’t beat them, join them,’ and went to university, got a computer-science degree, and now, I command the annoying things.”
7.“Not personally, but I dated a girl who was an elevator operator.”
“Later, I married a woman that used to work at a Fotomat drive-up kiosk.”
8.“I was a comptometer operator. There were a lot of us, because we could key in the numbers and sequences required for wage calculations, invoices, and so on. Then, computers came in, and we were not required. Except that we were recruited to work in the computer industry because of the same ability. We worked on paper tape, on keying in long sequences of codes and numbers. From there, we could learn programming and progress as computers became more sophisticated.”
9.“My dad used to bend glass and make neon signs. He was an artist, and he was good at it, and he loved his job. Now, everyone uses LED, and he gets maybe one or two custom neon jobs a year. He installs vinyl and LED signs in extremely hot and cold weather and dangerous conditions. It has worn him down, and he hates it, and it has been so sad to grow up watching that transition.”
10.“My dad engineered components for the Saturn V rocket. When the space program collapsed, everyone had to make other plans. The neighbor was laid off in his 40s with a house full of children and went into real estate. My dad went to work for other companies. Then, in his 50s, the company he was working for wanted to get rid of him. He advised them that age discrimination was illegal, which bought him time to find another job. That’s what everyone does. Get another job and start over. My dad did that at 50.”
11.“I was a call center collections worker for a pager service. If you didn’t pay your bill, you’d get our number scrolling on your device instead of the page. Got cussed out by a LOT of drug dealers. Now, I still work in a ‘contact’ center, but manage a team of corporate finance and benefits specialists. They get cussed out by a lot of old people.”
12.“The job may have become obsolete, but the skills weren’t. It pays to have skills that apply to more than just the job at hand. Pay was notably less on the new gig, but we’d concentrated on living debt-free and paying off the house, so no painful adjustments were required. (Lack of children helped.) And the new job came with a pension and other retirement benefits. Which are all helping now.”
“The thing about the transferable skills is very true. I’ve spent my whole career (20 years) as an IT project manager. About four years ago, we turned into an agile shop. In agile, there are no project managers, so I was able to become an agile coach and trainer because my skills as a PM could still be applied.”
13.“Our managing agent got laid off from a stock market job that was lost to automation. He went into property management because the skills were the same. He keeps a million balls in the air at the same time.”
14.“As a software programmer, I’ve worked for a couple companies that went obsolete in the last 30 years.”
“First I was a business telephone vendor. This was just before small business phones had really gone digital. I wrote supplemental software for them. None of it is at all applicable today. They’re now a small business network company.
I also worked a writing job, estimating software for printing companies. Printing companies used this to know how much to charge for a printing job. Then, cheap computer printers killed most of the small printing industry. The company is totally gone.
Luckily, my part in each business was a general-purpose skill. It’s amazing how fast these businesses can vanish.”
15.“I am an accountant. Three weeks ago, my company rolled out new query tools, data consolidators, bots, and process automators, and an AI that can copy your process and let your run the entire process in a click.”
“For operations and accounting, we were to take two hours, one day a week, and try to work on automating processes. We meet every Wednesday to go over our successes and achievements. Last week, they gave out two $100 gift cards to the two people with the biggest accomplishments.
I had some idea of what these tools could accomplish. I was not prepared for the progress some people have made in the last week. I did not expect certain things to be so easy to automate. Based on what I have seen, at least half of the work done by my entire department will be automated by the end of the year if not quicker. Possibly 90% in 3–5 years. Time to move on and find something else to do.”
16.“I got laid off from a well-paid, very specialized job that I had done for 25 years when I was 50. The industry — oil and gas exploration — is disappearing, so I and many other colleagues have been unable to find well-paid work.”
“I discovered that my wife of 30 years was only with me because of the money. She left with the kids. This started a five-year court battle for custody, which I finally lost because I couldn’t afford lawyers, and my ex successfully alienated the kids from me.
I lost just about everything except my pension fund, which I can’t access for at least another three years.
Now, I live alone and do gardening for a living. I have not seen my children in two years.
The only thing that is keeping me going is the small chance that my kids will need me again.”
17.“A friend of mine worked in microfilm. At age 64, his company went under. He lost his job, and he lost his retirement because it was all with that company, somehow. At least they owned their house. Last I saw him, he was 75 and had been working at a Home Depot store for 10 years. Felt bad for the guy.”