Technology advances at the speed of light all around us - just watch a movie from five or more years ago, and you'll see how tech gear like phones and computers have changed. With the emergence of new tech come new habits, particularly when it comes to shopping: we now buy books and airline tickets off the web, and download the latest movie without ever leaving the house. Ever wonder how technological advances have changed the job market? Here are seven careers fading away because of technology. (For related reading, also take a look at 9 Careers On The Way Out.)
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1. Toll Booth Operator
Sure, you'll still find some toll booth operators, keeping warm with their cups of coffee, space heaters and friendly smiles but not for long. Toll stations are becoming increasingly automated, with many now sending the bill to the address associated with your license plate. Why pay a toll booth operator an average of $27,100 a year to do something a computer can do more safely and for less money?
2. Travel Agents
Remember the days when you would drive to the travel agency and sit down with an agent to book your vacation? Travel agents are going the way of the dinosaur as consumers are able to book their own trips using online travel sites, making it easy to find the best deals in a snap. It's hard to earn a living as a travel agent, once at an average of $31,400 a year, when the internet makes shopping for vacations so easy.
3. Stock Brokers
Things haven't been easy for the financial industry, and they're not getting any better for stock brokers. Not only do people have less money to save and invest, they're increasingly investing via the internet rather than using a broker to sort through investment options. With the convenience of online trading and increased control, jobs are tougher to come by for stock brokers.
4. Mail Carriers
When was the last time you wrote a letter, put it in an envelope and dropped it in the mail? Maybe you still send a few cards and packages, but much of today's communication in done via email or text messaging, shrinking the mail carrier's load and job opportunities along with it. A career as a mail carrier, making an average of $50,600 a year, used to be that stable job to get you to retirement, but with advances in technology, this career is on the endangered list.
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5. Video Store Clerks
Long ago, Friday nights were for trips to the video store, where you browsed the aisles for the latest movie rental. Video stores are just about extinct now; with Netflix, RedBox and online video content, you can pick up a movie on your way out of the grocery store, get it delivered by mail or even download one with the touch of the remote. Video store clerks only make about $9.30 an hour, but for a college student or second-job seeker vying for retail jobs, this one is just about extinct.
6. Photo Processors
It seems like a lifetime ago that we took photos on vacation and had to wait until they were developed to see how they turned out. Today, digital cameras are even on our phones, and that snapshot is just a click away. You can print your own photos at home, or use one of the printing machines at your big box stores. There are still studios that employ photo processors - at roughly $10 an hour - but this job is definitely on the way out.
7. Book Binders and Printers
There's nothing like flipping the page in a good book, though these days, reading is increasingly done with use of tablets or e-readers. Where we used to get all our advertising, correspondence and billing on paper, we now go green - which means paperless. Less paper means less printing, putting the printing trade in danger of extinction. Now on its way out, a career as a printer used to be a good, stable trade to work your way to roughly $14 an hour.
The Bottom Line
This list of endangered careers may be a bit depressing, but thankfully, new technology also creates new careers. Just think of the jobs created by technology for computer network specialists, software developers and other computer and internet-related professionals. As for these disappearing careers, if you still have a video store in your neighborhood, stop by for nostalgia's sake - they're not likely to be around much longer. (For additional reading, also check out The 9 Worst Career Choices Right Now.)
Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, hourly rates or annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience. Annual salaries include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.