In America, we define ourselves by our jobs. If you go to a party and meet a cop, doctor, teacher and gardener, just their career names paint a picture of these people in our minds.When is the last time you took an elevator and found an elevator operator manning it? Learn what occupations are shedding employment, and where not to work, if you want a long career. Many of these careers will never die, they’ll simply fade away:

dead end job image

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The digital revolution

From a high of 213 billion pieces of mail in 2006, the post office projects that it will handle just 127 billion in 2020. That number is suspect. How many people now pay their bills through online methods and only communicate via text or email?

For many, the U.S. Postal service was a ticket to the middle class. Postal service clerks earn a median annual wage of $53,090.  As the USPS states, “our highly competitive compensation and benefits packages are outstanding.”  They include generous overtime, shift differential, and 25 percent Sunday premium pay. Postal workers get health insurance, life insurance, as well as tax-free flexible spending accounts, to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses and dependent day care.

Workers can contribute to a thrift savings plan on a tax-deferred basis, and get matching contributions up to 5 percent of pay. Paid vacations begin at 2 weeks off a year, increasing by a week with every five years of service rising to 4 weeks off after 15 years. That’s in addition to the 10 federal holidays the post office doesn’t work. It’s still true that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” but there will be far fewer of them. By 2022 clerks are projected to fall by 31.8 percent, mail sorters by 29.8 percent, and letter carriers by 26.8 percent.

Other dying professions

When is the last time you saw a boss ask a stenographer to take a letter and told a secretary to type it? Executives have their own computers and do the typing for themselves, even if some fumble with hunt and peck. Word processor and typist jobs will decline by 26.2 percent come 2022.

Not only are an additional number of movies being shot digitally, they’re been seen that way too, on a wide array of screens, from smartphones to 3D IMAX. Americans still love their films, but celluloid itself is fading as a medium. With a digital projector, a movie theater no longer needs a projectionist to keep from napping while watching a film for the umpteenth time, just to notice the two clear circles in the up right corner of the frame that flash on, signally that it’s time to change reels by switching to the other projector. By 2022 projectionists will watch their numbers fade by 26.5 percent.

Who among us still uses film for snapshots? Photo pioneer Eastman Kodak no longer sells camera, film or photo processing. It emerged from bankruptcy last September as a commercial printing company that sells nothing to consumers. Compared to 2006, by 2016 photographic processing machine workers will drop by half.

Rugged individualism won’t be as rewarding by 2022

For those with dreams of becoming a lumberjack: now is not the time. Fallers who cut the trees will see their numbers fall by 43.3 percent. The number of log graders and scalers will be sliced by 31.6 percent. Trains don’t need as many people to run them. Locomotive firers will be fired (or let go) by 42 percent. Don’t aim to be a cowboy. Ranchers and farmers will drop by 19.3 percent.

Where are the new jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 of the top 20 occupations that will see growth are in health care.

Related stories:

10 Common Jobs With Low Pay

Horrible Wages For America’s Most Common Jobs

15 Grad-Friendly Occupations That Pay Over $50,000

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