5 Jobs Where Robots Will Replace Humans

Here's why 445,000 people could easily lose their jobs to computers. Is your career at risk?

Feb 23, 2014 at 1:00PM


Source: Cory M. Grenier.

Feel safe at your job? Think again.

One study finds 47% of all American workers are at "high risk" of losing their jobs to computers, algorithms, and robots. The study from the University of Oxford assigned probabilities to specific careers, seeking to determine the odds that a computer will replace human workers.

Here are the five jobs at the greatest risk, all of which scored 99% probability that computerization will lead to job losses.

1. Telemarketers
This could be good news or terrible news, depending on which end of the phone you find yourself. Sophisticated auto-dialers make it easy for one worker to complete hundreds of phone calls per hour. But complete automation could effectively destroy telemarketer jobs forever. Just remember, SkyNet may be on the other end of the line.

Some 245,000 people currently work as telemarketers, earning a median annual wage of $22,330.

2. Mathematical technicians
This doesn't sound like a job that a computer could do with ease, but it's hardly a unique, automation-safe career path. The job description requires technicians use "standardized formulas" to interpret scientific data. Unfortunately, standardization makes it easy to write software to do the same work, quickly, easily, and without calling in sick.

Currently, only 1,150 people have the job title, but they earn a median annual wage of $64,220.


Source: Humanrobo.

3. Insurance underwriters
Insurance underwriters review applicants to determine the risk profile of people seeking insurance. They're the first line in risk management, and the job relies heavily on computer-created data. Unfortunately, complex algorithms and the availability of data make traditional, simple underwriting for car insurance or home contents insurance easy to price, potentially leading to complete automation.

Insurance underwriting employs just under 92,000 people in the United States, who earn a median annual wage of $62,870.

4. Tax preparers
Interpreting the tax code is a skilled job. Filling out a 1040 form isn't. Tax preparers aren't accountants; they fill out tax documents for individuals using computer software to make their jobs more like data entry than CPA-level tax planning. The explosion of inexpensive tax software like Turbo Tax could make this job obsolete.

There are more than 61,000 tax preparers in the United States, who earn a median annual wage of $33,730.

5. Photographic process workers
In a world of Instagram and quick "selfies," processing and creating printed photos just isn't a great business. This job requires someone to man a photo printer, occasionally editing some prints and photo negatives. With fewer people using film, and even fewer getting prints of their digital photos, this job is quickly becoming obsolete.

The business of photo printing and processing employs 45,760 people, who earn a median annual wage of $23,120. 

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