You don't need a crystal ball to know that in the not-too-distant future, advances in technology and changing consumer preferences will crush the careers of some people who are very happily employed at this very moment. You can just look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data. If you're in one of these seven shrinking jobs, you can either start looking now for a way to transfer your skills and knowledge into a new job, or tough it out and hope the guy next to you gets the ax instead of you:
Gaming cage workers
Even though new casinos are opening all over the nation, demand for gaming cage workers is actually expected to decline by an unlucky 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.
Since gamblers are using self-service machines to buy and cash in chips instead of going to your cage, a better bet for your career is in a field with a more optimistic employment outlook: health care. A community-college course in medical billing should help you learn the medical terms you'll need to know to land a job as a billing clerk — a field projected to grow 20 percent by 2020, according to the BLS.
Auto insurance claims adjusters
Cars are getting safer, which is good news for drivers, but bad news for auto insurance claims adjusters who have fewer accident claims to work. The BLS projects an 8 percent decline in jobs for auto claims adjusters between 2010 and 2020.
If you believe global climate change will lead to a continued uptick in natural disasters, a shift into property and casualty claims adjusting might be a good move for you. Look for opportunities to cross-train through your current employer or seek out online or community-college classes to pick up knowledge of other insurance lines and the industry's popular software programs.
You can also boost your employability as a property and casualty adjuster by picking up a bachelor's degree in a related field like engineering or construction or by acquiring knowledge of a specialty insurance niche like green building or art.
Every time you buy flowers in the grocery store instead of ordering an arrangement from a florist, you contribute to the decline in demand for floral designers.
With the industry projected to lose 6,200 jobs between 2010 and 2020, up the chances of hanging on to yours by staying abreast of current trends, earning industry certifications and expanding your skill set into special-events coordination, says Thomas Shaner, executive director of the American Institute of Floral Designers. You could also consider teaching flower-arranging classes to all those people buying cut flowers.
Between 2010 and 2020, some 96,100 farmers and ranchers will go out of business, the BLS says. "As land, machinery, seed, and chemicals become more expensive, only well-capitalized farmers and corporations will be able to buy many of the farms that become available," the BLS predicts. "These larger, more productive farms are better able to withstand the adverse effects of climate and price fluctuations on farm output and income."
Farmers can either fight 'em by niche marketing (think organic produce grown for local restaurants) or join 'em by moving into farm management for an agribusiness corporation or, for those who like the business side of farming, agriculture consulting. If you're up for a completely new career, consider agricultural appraising, says Cheryl L. Cooley, communications manager for the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
Power plant operators
If you turn off the lights when you leave the room, you're killing jobs. Along with energy efficiency, new power plants requiring fewer employees to run them will lead to a 3 percent decline in the number of power plant operator jobs between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.
You can try to switch over to water plant management, but the pay over there is worse (the annual median salary for water plant operators is $41,780 compared with $65,280 for power plant operators). Nuclear power plants are where the money is ($76,590 median annual salary), and new nuclear power facilities have gained approval.
Loan interviewers and clerks
Need a mortgage? There's an app for that, and it's putting loan interviewers and clerks out of work. The BLS projects a decline of 5,700 jobs for loan interviewers and clerks between 2010 and 2020.
With the real estate market on the upswing, a move into real estate sales might work if you can afford to live off your savings while you establish your real estate business.
The same skill set you use in collecting and analyzing would-be borrowers' financial information would also come in handy at an IRS job, while your sales skills could apply in an insurance sales job.
Semiconductor processors and electronic equipment assemblers
You can blame it on the robots, efficiency experts or offshoring, but whichever you choose, there are still going to be 14,200 jobs gone from these two fields between 2010 and 2020, the BLS says.
Cover your assets by switching into an assembly job or fabrication job in a more prosperous sector of manufacturing, like aircraft products and parts. If you can handle the math, go back to school for an associate's degree and become an electronic engineering technician. Not only will you be more employable, but you'll boost your paycheck as well. The median salary for electrical and electronics engineering technicians is $56,900, according to the BLS.
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