The future is here, everybody. We ask robots to help us avoid traffic, order pizza and clean our carpets — and that’s only the beginning.
Whether you’ve seen it yet or not, robots taking over jobs is becoming a reality. How will automation affect you, based on your industry and job requirements? Read on to find out which jobs will likely be replaced.
- Average Salary: $39,640
As proofreading software and fact-checking programs become more advanced, we’ll likely see a decline in the amount of copy editor jobs in the U.S. However, for the time being, it looks like we still have a way to go. This could partly be because the English language has so many rules and exceptions to them.
Copy editors and proofreaders typically hold at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism or a related field. Someone in this line of work is detail-oriented, deadline driven and excellent at communicating. Should robots start taking over, their education and skills coupled with creativity will help them land a new job.
- Average Salary: $53,180
Paralegals and legal assistants are some of the highest-paying jobs that only require an associate degree. These are very document-heavy positions — they gather, organize and analyze data to help support legal proceedings. Different job functions — like sorting through documents and writing legal memos — are already being automated by technology. Experts already using one type of software note that it certainly reduces the number of documents being read by humans, but a total robot takeover will be a slow process.
The education and training requirements aren’t universal for paralegal jobs. Though some have bachelor’s degrees, others have associate degrees and/or a paralegal certification. Regardless of education, paralegals are highly organized, discreet and innately familiar with the legal system. If displaced, a paralegal’s skills would lend themselves well to a career in contract management, which has a more positive job outlook.
- Average Salary: $33,010
Robots are already starting to replace receptionists in hospitals, offices and other business settings — and they’re doing a lot more than just checking people in. One particular robot, named “Pepper,” is capable of recognizing human facial expressions and determining how to respond to them.
Human receptionists should take comfort in the fact that they typically have the invaluable skill of relationship building. No matter how automated society gets, we all still crave human connection. Receptionists who find themselves replaced by a robot could easily transition into a relationship-based field. Jobs best suited for such “people persons” include teachers, hair stylists, fitness instructors and sales representatives.
- Average Salary: $29,730
In the interest of safety — as security guards are putting themselves at risk each day — robot automation seems pretty likely, with an 84 percent chance in the near future.
Currently, robot security guards can patrol grounds, detect intruders and scan license plates. However, they cannot apprehend suspects or maneuver through small spaces, which makes them less valuable than a human guard in these circumstances.
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- Average Salary: $26,790
Did you know these are some of the jobs facing extinction? Cab drivers, bus drivers and those in related positions will almost certainly see some robot takeover in the coming years. According to recent reports, self-driving cars will be widely seen on roads in a matter of years not decades.
“Humans will gradually be eased out of these roles as regulations allow driverless vehicles on the roads,” says Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future. Talwar also notes we’ll likely see robot drivers operating trucks and rescue vehicles as well.
- Average Salary: $28,060
Banking is another industry at risk of robot automation — but it might not necessarily mean replacing jobs altogether. Robotic process automation is “complementary to systems that a bank might already have in place to further improve processes,” said Bill Galusha, senior manager of product marketing for Kofax Kapow.
“Leveraging robots to collect and catalog information versus relying on highly paid and skilled compliance officers is a win for the bank,” said Galusha. He also notes that it’s a win for “these employees who no longer have to spend hours performing manual data collection but can instead concentrate on analyzing the data to make smart decisions and take necessary action to ensure compliance.”
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Call Center Agent
- Average Salary: $27,170
Those working in customer support call centers see their paychecks most at risk — with a 99 percent chance of robot takeover in the near future. Rebecca Vogt, of Facebook Chatbot company Bots by Vogt, believes this is the next step of automation.
Vogt credits recent improvements in technology. “We used to have the automation built into the phone systems, but the technology was frustrating and users did not have a good experience,” she said. “Personalities like Siri and Amazon’s Alexa showing that we can speak to our devices and have them understand our needs.”
As for job outlook for existing call center agents? “These reps could transition to the management running the chatbots,” said RaShea Drake, Communications Specialist with Verizon, “because there will be times when the chatbots cannot satisfy the customer’s needs. With their knowledge of how to speak to customers, they’d be fantastic assets to PR or marketing teams as well.”
- Average Salary: $20,460
Within the entire retail industry, more than 6 million jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots in the next decade. Among these jobs, cashiers are likely the next victims for one simple reason: self-checkout lines.
These are no new invention, but they could soon be outnumbering human-operated checkout lines. As far as robots replacing jobs overall, this could be one of the first to go.
Some argue that, for those who already have trouble finding well-paying jobs, this could mean trouble. Others argue the opposite, stating that because retail jobs aren’t confined to a geographical location and turnover rates tend to be high, workers might have a better outlook.
- Average Salary: $57,910
Gone are the days when only the rich and powerful get to have personal assistants. Now, just about anyone can have a robotic personal assistant.
“Future generations of Siri, Cortana and Alexa will do everything from determining which news to show us, personal shopping and screening incoming calls, sorting and responding to email backlogs and sharing our health and allergy information with a restaurant prior to our visit,” said Talwar.
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Already, some of these futuristic assistants are capable of turning out lights, managing social calendars and even reading bedtime stories. Just like with receptionists, personal assistants must be highly personable and organized. If they find themselves displaced by technology, they might be great candidates for teaching, PR or other relationship-based positions.
- Average Salary: $37,690
Garbage collection is in a sense already automated, though not through robotics — collectors perform the same duties and travel the same routes day in and day out. Because of this streamlining, they likely won’t need to innovate or provide personal service — making them susceptible to further automation.
Though robotic waste collection prototypes are nowhere near perfect, garbage collection will almost certainly be completely automated by robots in the coming years.
- Average Salary: $24,410
Human restaurant servers can often get too overwhelmed, which leads to mistakes. This can make for an unpleasant and inefficient dining experience for all involved. Robot waiters, apps and other technology are planning a takeover of the restaurant industry.
Chosen for the flexible hours, cash tips and relatively little experience required, restaurant server jobs are favorites among students and full-time workers alike. The idea of robots making these jobs scarce is not good for those who need to pay their way through school or take on an extra part-time job to pay the bills.
However, it’s good to note that these jobs require the ability to multitask, adaptability and plenty of patience. These skills are invaluable in customer service positions, so those displaced by robots might be turning toward jobs requiring people skills.
- Average Salary: $76,730
Working a job requiring a college degree and plenty of technical knowledge, accountants prepare taxes, audit spending and tackle many other financial duties. Unfortunately, these well-paying jobs might be harder to come by in the next few years.
Robots — instead of accountants — might be filing your taxes, doing your bookkeeping and auditing your records. Though this doesn’t sound great for accountants, their technical experience, financial knowledge and mathematical skills could prove useful in higher-level positions like financial management or fraud examiners.
- Average Salary: $36,560
Fashion models are already touted for their superhuman looks and the unrealistic body standards they set. It appears even the most “perfect” among us also might be getting replaced by robots. Seen in a 2016 Chanel fashion show, robot models walked down the runway and displayed the latest designs.
In a role that’s almost certain to be replaced by non-human alternatives, models are left with many questions without clear answers — being beautiful doesn’t make you incapable of any other job. Models finding themselves out of work in the future will likely be seen doing just about anything.
Warehouse and Assembly Line Worker
- Average Salary: $30,910
In a field that’s always been about automation, it’s no surprise that assembly jobs will become scarce in the years to come.
“We have implemented automation and robotics in our fulfillment centers, and I can easily see a path in the next few years in which conventional picker/packer roles are lost to automation,” said Jan Bednar, CEO of ShipMonk. “Jobs in the warehouse such as receiving — moving the inventory to bins — will likely also be either partially or entirely automated soon.”
Bednar notes that we’ll likely see this process unfold gradually. “What you’ll see at first, more than total elimination is partial job elimination,” she said. “Pickers and packers will move more towards a quality assurance role, ensuring that the picks and packs are accurate. You’ll have members in receiving who will still need to process the inbound packages, you just won’t need quite as many.”
“Warehouse workers with a penchant for technology might look into robotics maintenance,” she added. “We will need to ensure that these machines are working properly, which will likely be no small task.”
- Average Salary: $26,370
Currently, robotic arms and fully robotic devices can whip up dishes in a fraction of the time as a human chef. Though these are being tested for fast food or other restaurant use, the idea of robots in cafeterias makes sense.
Think back to your high school cafeteria — it probably served a limited number of dishes in large quantities, all without the need for much customization. This alone makes a cafeteria an ideal setting for robotic automation. Technology is rethinking the way we order and receive our food — even in non-cafeteria settings, like Postmates.
As for job outlook, because cafeteria cooks will “probably be replaced by robots” in the near future, those being displaced have plenty of marketable job skills. These include quality assurance, time management, customer service, stress tolerance and more. Whether they want to remain in food service or not, these skills should be applicable in many other positions.
About the Author
Kaitlin Willow is a copywriter currently living in Los Angeles. She writes for clients by day and works on her novel and collection of short stories by night. She has written website copy, blogs, emails, and social media campaigns for clients in more than 100 different industries.