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10 Jobs to Avoid Right Now

Investopedia logoInvestopedia 28-07-2015 Zina Kumok
These jobs may never recover to pre-recession highs, can easily be outsourced overseas or may disappear altogether as technology intervenes.© shutterstock These jobs may never recover to pre-recession highs, can easily be outsourced overseas or may disappear altogether as technology intervenes.

There's no question that some jobs, though they need to be done, are not worth doing yourself. Luckily, many of these tasks are easily outsourced — something that is well worth considering if you're running a business. And if you're thinking about building skills for your career or obtaining skills for a new career, these might be jobs to avoid. Competing against cheap overseas labor is difficult and working against current job trend is foolish, so it's better to concentrate on unique skills that make you stand out.

Out-of-Favor or Easily Outsourced

  1. Computer programming: The "outsourced IT worker" stereotype is alive and well for a reason. Computer programmers can be found in every part of the world, often commanding much less than their American counterparts for the same work. Software programming is one specialty, like math, where language skills aren't needed; as long as you can code, you’ve got the job. (For more, see: Should You Go Into Biotech Or Computer Science?)
  2. Parts salesman: Even before the financial crisis and subsequent recession, the sales industry was in a downward spiral — in part because it's a job that depends on steady increases in consumer spending. Since the recession, openings in this field have decreased by almost 15%. 
  3. Construction: While the economy has recovered in recent years, the housing crisis struck a permanent blow to the construction industry. Only about a third of the jobs lost by construction workers have been reinstated, and recent unemployment figures for construction workers are north of 20%. (For more, see: Careers in Crisis: Three Industries Hit Hardest by Job Losses.)
  4. Telephone operator: As landline use decreases and voice recognition software becomes more widely used, telephone operators are going the way of the rotary phone. Fewer people use calling cards and many companies find it easier to outsource these types of jobs. (For more, see: 6 Common Subscriptions You Can Live Without.)
  5. Billing clerk/machine operator: Automated technology is displacing these workers. Once mostly employed by doctors’ offices and hospitals, billing clerks lack marketable skills and see slow job growth. The need for machine operators also is declining as manufacturing is outsourced and technology continues to be more efficient.
  6. Computer operator: The smarter technology becomes, the less of a need there is for lower-skilled IT workers like computer operators. Their job responsibilities include updating software and making sure systems are running. If you want to work in IT, mastering more difficult skills is the way to stay relevant. (For more, see: 7 Endangered Careers.)
  7. Data entry keyers: This is another position being supplanted by better technology, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts their numbers will fall by almost a quarter by 2022. Similar to typist and word processor, this job is becoming less necessary as more people learn computer skills and develop more sophisticated programming.
  8. Word processors and typists: The number of typists is expected to decline by more than 25% by 2022, as the need for a "middle man" decreases with the increase in basic computer skills among more people. 
  9. Tax preparers: Only two things are certain, right? Death and taxes. However, the same does not hold true for tax preparers. They are being supplanted by do-it-yourself online tax preparation products, and H&R Block has reported in 2015 a 4.2% decline in returns handled in person compared to 2014. (For more, see: Tax Preparer vs. Software: How to Choose.)
  10. Medical transcriptionists: Doctors are quickly moving toward electronic-based records and thus the need for medical transcriptionists is quickly declining. Some studies estimate a more than 50% decrease in job postings for medical transcriptionists between 2007 and 2013. This is another field where it’s easy for doctors and other healthcare staff to hire someone overseas to do the job at a lower price than would be commanded closer to home. (For more, see: How Big Data has Changed Healthcare.)

The Bottom Line

As technology continues to become more sophisticated, jobs that aren't highly skilled can easily be outsourced — often to cheap overseas markets — or disappear altogether. To succeed in the working world, you need a skill set that can’t be done as well by someone in another country or translates well to a quickly changing market. And if you're running a business, you should concentrate your resources on more difficult jobs that need to be done in house. (For more, see: Outsource This! The Top 10 Jobs for Millennials.)

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