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The futurist: 101 endangered jobs

Thomas Frey //November 11, 2014//

The futurist: 101 endangered jobs

Thomas Frey //November 11, 2014//

Business owners today are actively deciding whether their next hire should be a person or a machine. After all, machines can work in the dark and don’t come with decades of HR case law requiring time off for holidays, personal illness, excessive overtime, chronic stress or anxiety.

If you’ve not heard the phrase “technological unemployment,” brace yourself; you’ll be hearing it a lot over the coming years.

Technology is automating jobs out of existence at a record clip, and it’s only getting started.

Yes, my predictions of endangered jobs will likely strike fear into the hearts of countless millions trying to find meaningful work. But while crystal balls everywhere are showing massive changes on the horizon, it’s not all negative news.

For those well attuned to the top three skills needed for the future – adaptability, flexibility, and resourcefulness – there will be more opportunities than they can possibly imagine.

As an example, for people who lived 150 years ago, having never seen a car, the thought of traveling 1,000 miles seemed like an impossible journey. But today, 1,000-mile trips are not only common, they’re trivial.

This is precisely the shift in perspective we’re about to go through as the tools at our disposal begin to increase our capabilities exponentially.

As I describe the following endangered jobs, understand there will be thousands of derivative career paths ready to surface from the shadows.

We live in unbelievably exciting time, and those who master the fine art of controlling their own destiny will rise to the inspiring new lifestyle category of “rogue commanders of the known universe.” 

Cause of Destruction:  Driverless Cars

When DARPA launched their first Grand Challenge in 2004, the idea of autonomous driverless vehicles for everyone seemed like a plot for a bad science fiction novel about the far distant future. The results of the first competition even bore that out with few of the entrants even getting past the starting blocks.

The 2005 contest, however, was far different with five teams completing the 132-mile course through the dessert, setting the stage for the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. The Urban Challenge proved for all that these vehicles were rapidly coming up the acceptance curve.

Over the past few years, Google’s involvement has made driverless cars a common water cooler topic, causing virtually every transportation company in the world to launch their own driverless research team working on autonomous features.

Between now and 2030, driverless features will pave the way for fully autonomous vehicles and the demand for drivers will begin to plummet. On-demand transportation services, where people can hail a driverless vehicle at any time will become a staple of everyday metro living.

Endangered Jobs


  1. Taxi Driver
  2. Limo driver
  3. Bus drivers
  4. Rental car personnel

Delivery Positions

  1. Truck drivers
  2. Mail carriers

Public Safety

  1. Traffic cops
  2. Meter maids
  3. Traffic court judges
  4. Traffic court lawyers
  5. Traffic court DAs
  6. Traffic court support staff


  1. Parking lot attendants
  2. Valet attendants
  3. Car wash workers

Cause of Destruction:  Flying Drones

Flying drones will be configured into thousands of different forms, shapes, and sizes. They can be low flying, high flying, tiny or huge, silent or noisy, super-visible or totally invisible, your best friend, or your worst enemy.

Without the proper protections, drones can be dangerous. The same drones that deliver food and water can also deliver bombs and poison. We may very well have drones watching the workers who watch the drones, and even that may not be enough.

Even though drones will be eliminating huge numbers of jobs, they will be creating tons of new opportunities for professions that haven’t been invented yet.

That said, here are a few of the jobs that drones will help disappear.

Endangered Jobs

Delivery Positions

  1. Courier service
  2. Food delivery
  3. Pizza delivery
  4. Postal delivery


  1. Crop monitors/consultants
  2. Spraying services
  3. Shepherds
  4. Wranglers/herders
  5. Varmint exterminators


  1. Land and field surveyors
  2. Environmental engineers
  3. Geologists

Emergency Rescue

  1. Emergency response teams
  2. Search and rescue teams
  3. Firefighters

News Services

  1. Mobile news trucks

Remote Monitoring

  1. Construction site monitors
  2. Building inspectors
  3. Security guards
  4. Parole officers

Cause of Destruction:  3D Printers

3D printing, often described to as additive manufacturing, is a process for making three dimensional parts and objects from a digital model. 3D printing uses “additive processes,” to create an object by adding layer upon layer of material until it’s complete.

Manufacturing in the past relied on subtractive processes where blocks of metal, wood, or other material has material removed with drills, laser cutters, and other machines until the final part was complete. This involved skilled machine operators and material handlers.

3D printing reduces the need for skilled operators as well as the need for expensive machines. As a result, parts can be manufactured locally for less money than even the cheapest labor in foreign manufacturing plants.

This technology is already being used in many fields:  jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction, automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.

Endangered Jobs


  1. Plastic press operators
  2. Machinists
  3. Shipping & receiving
  4. Union representatives
  5. Warehouse workers

Cause of Destruction:  Contour Crafting

Contour Crafting is a form of 3D printing that uses robotic arms and nozzles to squeeze out layers of concrete or other materials, moving back and forth over a set path in order to fabricate large objects such as houses. It is a construction technology that has great potential for low-cost, customized buildings that are quicker to make, reducing energy and emissions along the way.

A few months ago the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company used contour crafting to “print” 10 houses in a single day using a massive printer that was 490 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. 

Last week, an Italian 3D printer company named WASP, demonstrated a giant, three-armed printer filled with mud and fiber to build extremely cheap houses in some of the most remote places on Earth.

This type of technology will have major implications on all construction, building, and home repair jobs.

Endangered Jobs

Home Construction

  1. Carpenters
  2. Concrete workers
  3. Home remodeling
  4. City planners
  5. Homeowner insurance agents
  6. Real estate agents