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15 Jobs on the Endangered List

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

February 24, 2017

During the decade of 2014-2024, U.S. employment is projected to increase 6.5 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s a jump from 150.5 million jobs in 2014 to 160.3 million jobs in the year 2024. Even just this year, wages have gone up 2.5 percent year-over-year and Glassdoor data show that median U.S. pay for full-time workers has grown by 3.2 percent from just a year ago.

While employment and pay are on the rise, the BLS reports that there are two buckets that occupations fall into these days: occupations projected to grow, and occupations projected to decline.

Trends have shown that healthcare and technical occupations are on the rise, and Glassdoor has worked hard to show job seekers a variety of companies hiring for those roles. However, BLS says there are about 200 occupations that are projected to see decreased rates of employment. Yes, sadly, there are jobs that are going extinct much like the black rhino, thus we’ve put them on an endangered list.

“Two major occupational groups are projected to see employment decline: production occupations and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. Together, these two groups are projected to shed 339,300 jobs during [2014-2024],” according to the BLS site.


So why are we telling you this? Are we trying to throw a wrench in your week?

Not at all. We want to equip you with information so that you have everything you need to endure rough waters or to make a career change.

In that vein, we are highlighting 15 jobs that the BLS have deemed as “fast declining” and have seen significant job losses. Plus, we suggest roles that employees may want to consider transitioning into and that are on the rise. We recognize and respect that many of the roles that are being phased out have required certification and years of practice. However, these alternative jobs—even if not obviously translating your current skills and may require a bit of training and a pivot—can lead you to start a new chapter in your life. For example, employment of phlebotomists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations and the median annual wage for phlebotomists was $31,630 in May 2015.


1. Locomotive Firers
Job Description: Monitor locomotive instruments and watch for dragging equipment, obstacles on rights-of-way, and train signals during run. Watch for and relay traffic signals from yard workers to yard engineer in railroad yard.
BLS Projection: Loss of 69.9% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Truck driver, Industrial maintenance

2. Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles
Job Description: Install, diagnose or repair communications, sound, security or navigation equipment in motor vehicles.
BLS Projection: Loss of 50% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Wind turbine service technician, Solar photovoltaic installers

3. Telephone operator
Job Description: Provide information by accessing alphabetical, geographical or other directories. Assist customers with special billing requests, such as charges to a third party and credits or refunds for incorrectly dialed numbers or bad connections. May handle emergency calls and assist children or people with physical disabilities to make telephone calls.
BLS Projection: Loss of 42.4% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Customer service representative, Call center representative

4. Postal service mail sorters, processors and processing machine operators
Job Description: Prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution. Examine, sort and route mail. Load, operate and occasionally adjust and repair mail processing, sorting and canceling machinery. Keep records of shipments, pouches and sacks; and other duties related to mail handling within the postal service.
BLS Projection: Loss of 33.7% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Lyft driver, Shipping coordinator

5. Switchboard operators, including answering service
Job Description: Operate telephone business systems equipment or switchboards to relay incoming, outgoing and interoffice calls. May supply information to callers and record messages.
BLS Projection: Loss of 32.9% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Call center representative, Executive Assistant

6. Photographic process workers and processing machine operators
Job Description: Perform work involved in developing and processing photographic images from film or digital media. May perform precision tasks such as editing photographic negatives and prints.
BLS Projection: Loss of 32.9% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Photographer, Phlebotomist

7. Shoe machine operators and tenders
Job Description: Operate or tend a variety of machines to join, decorate, reinforce or finish shoes and shoe parts.
BLS Projection: Loss of 30.5% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Shoe sales associate, Designer

8. Manufactured building and mobile home installers
Job Description: Move or install mobile homes or prefabricated buildings.
BLS Projection: Loss of 30% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Solar photovoltaic installer, Contractor

9. Foundry mold and coremakers
Job Description: Make or form wax or sand cores or molds used in the production of metal castings in foundries.
BLS Projection: Loss of 27.7% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Cartographer, Solar installer

10. Sewing machine operators
Job Description: Operate or tend sewing machines to join, reinforce, decorate or perform related sewing operations in the manufacture of garment or non-garment products.
BLS Projection: Loss of 27.1% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Home health aide, Personal care aide

11. Pourers and casters, metal
Job Description: Operate hand-controlled mechanisms to pour and regulate the flow of molten metal into molds to produce castings or ingots.
BLS Projection: Loss of 26.6% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Metal worker, Truck driver

12. Postal service clerks, postmasters, superintendents and mail carriers
Job Description: Perform any combination of tasks in a post office, such as receive letters and parcels; sell postage and revenue stamps, postal cards and stamped envelopes; fill out and sell money orders; place mail in pigeon holes of mail rack or in bags; and examine mail for correct postage.
BLS Projection: Loss of 26.2% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Shipping coordinator, Customer service supervisor

13. Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators and tenders
Job Description: Set up, operate or tend machines that knit, loop, weave or draw in textiles.
BLS Projection: Loss of 26.2% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Phlebotomist, Interpreter and translator

14. Fabric and apparel pattern makers
Job Description: Draw and construct sets of precision master fabric patterns or layouts. May also mark and cut fabrics and apparel.
BLS Projection: Loss of 26% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Fashion designer, Stylist

15. Watch repairers
Job Description: Repair, clean and adjust mechanisms of timing instruments, such as watches and clocks. Includes watchmakers, watch technicians and mechanical timepiece repairers.
BLS Projection: Loss of 25.7% of jobs from 2014-2024
Alternative Jobs: Computer technician, IT support


Source: Fastest declining occupations, 2014 and projected 2024 data, and job descriptions are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Projections program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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