Could Automation Take Your Job?

Written by Carly Hallman

The future of employment looks very different from today. If you count only those jobs ranked in the top 10 most popular professions in the U.S., only counting within those the ones with a 90% or more likelihood of automation, there will be 16 million jobs lost to automation within the next few years.

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Could Automation Take Your Job? Transcript

The 50 Most Common Occupations and Their Likelihood of Automation

We ranked the 50 most-held occupation titles according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupation Employment and Wage Estimates in the United States (May 2017), then found their likelihood of automation, which was calculated using a Gaussian process classifier and BLS and O*NET data (

Job Employment Median Hourly Wage % Likelihood of Automation
Retail Salesperson (SOC 41-2031) 4,442,909 $11.16/hour 92%
Food Preparation and Serving Workers (Combined) (SOC 35-3021) 3,576,220 $9.70/hour 92%
Cashiers (SOC 41-2010) 3,588,960 $10.12/hour 97%
Office Clerks (SOC 43-9061) 2,967,620 $15.14/hour 96%
Registered Nurses (SOC 29-1141) 2,906,840 $33.65/hour 1%
Customer Service Reps (SOC 43-4051) 2,767,790 $15.81/hour 55%
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers (SOC 53-7062) 2,711,320 $13/hour 85%
Waiters and Waitresses (SOC 35-3031) 2,584,220 $10.01/hour 94%
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (SOC 43-6014) 2,254,820 $17.11/hour 96%
General and Operations Managers (SOC 11-1021) 2,212,200 $48.27/hour 16%
Janitors and Cleaners (Not House Cleaners) (SOC 37-2011) 2,164,040 $12.02/hour 66%
Stock Clerk and Order Fillers (SOC 43-5081) 2,046,040 $11.77/hour 64%
Personal Care Aides (SOC 39-9021) 2,035,610 $11.11/hour 74%
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers (SOC 35-3032) 1,748,140 $20.42/hour 79%
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks (SOC 43-3031) 1,532,340 $18.87/hour 98%
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Admin Support Workers (SOC 43-1011) 1,458,380 $26.47/hour 1%
Nursing Assistants (SOC 31-1014)/(SOC CODE: 31-1013) 1,453,670 $13.23/hour 47%
Elementary School Teachers (SOC 25-2021) 1,409,140 ** 0%
Sales Reps, Wholesale and Manufacturing (SOC 41-4012) 1,391,400 $27.39/hour 85%
Maintenance and Repair Workers (SOC 49-9071) 1,351,210 $18.11/hour 64%
Assemblers and Fabricators (SOC 51-2098)/(SOC CODE: 51-2092) 1,360,150 $14.75/hour 97%
Teacher Assistants (SOC 25-9041) 1,299,800 ** 56%
Cooks, Restaurant (SOC 35-2014) 1,276,510 $12.10/hour 96%
Accountants and Auditors (SOC 13-2011) 1,241,000 $33.34/hour 94%
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers (SOC 41-1011) 1,200,180 $18.54/hour 28%
Security Guards (SOC 33-9032) 1,105,440 $12.93/hour 84%
Secondary School Teachers (SOC 25-2031) 1,027,230 ** 1%
Receptionist and Information Clerks (SOC 43-7171) 1,014,900 $13.65/hour 96%
Sales Reps, Services, All Other (SOC 41-3099)/(SOC 41-4011) 1,004,020 $25.24/hour 25%
Business Operations Specialists, All Other (SOC 13-1199) 1,001,420 $33.66/hour 23%
Construction Laborers (SOC 47-2061) 962,060 $16.60/hour 88%
Supervisors of Food Prep and Service Workers (SOC 35-1012) 927,440 $15.37/hour 63%
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners (SOC 37-2012) 922,660 $10.99/hour 69%
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers (SOC 37-3011) 912,360 $13.31/hour 95%
Light Truck or Delivery Service (SOC 53-3033) 877,670 $15.12/hour 69%
Software Developers, Applications (SOC 15-1132) 849,230 $48.94/hour 4%
Food Prep Workers (SOC 35-2021) 832,690 $10.93/hour 87%
Home Health Aides (SOC 31-1011) 820,960 $11.16/hour 39%
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses (SOC 29-2061) 702,700 $21.65/hour 6%
Packers and Packagers, Hand (SOC 53-4064) 700,560 $11.27/hour 38%
Carpenters (SOC 47-2031) 693,050 $13.04/hour 72%
Computer and Information Analysts (SOC 15-1120)/(SOC 15-1121) 687,210 $42.92/hour 1%
Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks (SOC 43-5071) 671,780 $15.29/hour 98%
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers (SOC 33-3051) 662,390 $29.35/hour 10%
Management Analysts (SOC 13-1111) 659,200 $39.64/hour 13%
Medical Assistants (SOC 31-9092) 646,320 $15.61/hour 30%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (SOC 49-3023) 639,700 $19.02/hour 59%
Electricians (SOC 47-2111) 631,080 $26.01/hour 15%
Lawyers (SOC 23-1011) 628,370 $57.33 4%
Middle School Teachers (SOC 25-2022) 622,640 ** 17%

If jobs with a 90% likelihood or above in the top 50 occupations are automated, 27,423,789 Americans will be affected. That would represent $372,036,845 in lost wages every hour and $2,976,294,760 in lost wages daily (assuming an 8-hour work day).

If jobs with a 75% likelihood or above in the top 50 occupations are automated, 36,174,839 Americans will be affected. That would represent $520,557,206 in lost wages every hour and $4,164,457,646 in lost wages daily (assuming an 8-hour work day).

**Wages are not broken down into mean hourly wage because of unusual work schedules.


Retail sales employees represent nearly a fourth of that number: 4,442,909 workers. The “retail salesperson” job has an overall 92% risk of automation, according to, which pulls data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and uses a report called “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?

Does it seem unlikely that there will be robots taking jobs away from retail workers anytime soon? Well, Lowe’s has already introduced the LoweBot, Amazon has created their almost completely person-free Amazon Go stores, and robotics company SoftBank has nearly perfected Pepper, the world’s first robot able to recognize basic human emotions. Retail, which had been called a dying industry anyway, may soon not be able to provide jobs to a massive swath of the workforce.

That means that the single most-held job title in the United States is about to be rapidly replaced.

The next most popular and often-held jobs in the United States are no less likely to be automated, with food prep and serving workers having a likelihood of replacement of 92% and cashiers having a likelihood of 97%. Replacing cashiers might happen sooner than you think: Walmart’s “Scan & Go” technology and Kroger’s “Scan, Bag, Go” platform have already pushed the envelope for replacing workers with tech altogether. We already see self-checkout kiosks at numerous grocery stores, and management is continuously pushing customers to use them.

Asking “Will my job be replaced by a robot?” may make one think of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey or the bots from Terminator. But after the first shock, most people reason that this has happened many times before. After all, one doesn’t see shoe-shiners or ice deliverers anymore, right? There’s no reason to be afraid, supposedly.

The problem is that the jobs most likely to be automated are also some of the most popular jobs in the U.S., held by some of the poorest Americans. Massive amounts of workers will need retraining at a pace faster than ever before, and extreme poverty is likely for certain groups assuming that no safety net is created.

If you count those jobs within the top 50 most popular professions with a likelihood of automation of more than 90%, 27 billion workers will be affected. That’s nearly 8% of the U.S. population. There will be $372 million in lost wages every working hour and $2.976 billion in lost wages every day (assuming an 8-hour work day).

Expand your estimate to those jobs within the top 50 with a job automation risk of 75% or more and 36 million workers will be affected, or 11% of the U.S. population. That would lead to $4 billion in lost wages daily, assuming an 8-hour work day. That estimate would include jobs such as heavy trucking, which only has a score of 79%, but many companies have already begun work on self-driving trucking technology. Truck drivers are understandably concerned at the estimates that they may lose their jobs within the next 25 years, since these are some of the better-paying jobs one can get without a college education.

The loss of jobs due to technology will be astronomical considering that the jobs most likely to be replaced by technology may affect Americans who have already been hit the hardest by economic hardship. Education is a huge gateway and gatekeeper, but many young people are concerned about the financial risks of student loans. And frequently, seemingly robot-proof jobs, such as journalism jobs, are subject to slowly improving artificial intelligence as well. If we’re looking for jobs that can’t be automated, there are teaching, nursing, therapy, and self-care types of jobs, but there won’t be many of them if people can’t afford these services in the first place!

It’s not a matter of replacement being the problem but the pace of replacement. This is why so many people who see an intensely automated future are also pushing for a universal basic income and cash handouts. But it’s hard to predict how fast these changes will happen or how much aid will actually be necessary.

“Will a Robot Take My Job?”

If you’re asking, “Will my job be automated?” the answer is likely “yes,” but it may be a matter of years or decades. Check out our chart to see the top 50 most popular jobs and their risk of automation. If you don’t see yours there, check out or Of course, it’s impossible to predict the future, but these metrics may help you glean some idea of how likely your job is to be automated within the next few years.

Will a robot take your job? Yes, probably, eventually: On a long enough timeline, your job will be one of the jobs lost to technology. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start working toward learning a new skill that AI can’t yet replicate, making a new plan for the future, or finding a couple of different side gigs that might sustain you better than one full-time job.

Think of it this way: We have already replaced 90% of the jobs human beings have done in the past, from farming to cobbling. Technology replacing jobs isn’t exactly new. Keeping up is just a matter of foresight and ingenuity!

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