12 jobs robots are taking over the fastest

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Robots are already helping do a number of jobs.
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Army medicine

At least for now, surgeons can breathe a sigh of relief. It’ll be 36 years until they’re outperformed by robots in the operating room, according to AI researchers.

But while we have yet to see any completely automated jobs, there are plenty of jobs that are already on their way there.

To find the most automated jobs in America right now, we combed through the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a US Department of Labor database that compiles detailed information on hundreds of jobs.

O*NET rates the “degree of automation” for each job on a scale from zero to 100, where a higher rating signals more automation. Jobs with scores around 50 are considered moderately automated, while jobs with scores around 75 are considered highly automated. (A score of 100 has yet to be attained, but it would indicate that a job is completely automated.)

Here are 12 jobs with the highest degrees of automation, as well as what they pay and how much the job will grow or decline by the year 2024 (where the average projected employment change is 6.5% growth), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These jobs earned a degree of automation rating of 65 or higher and are ranked in order from lowest to highest automation score.


12. Reservation and transportation ticket agent or travel clerk

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Joshua Lott/Getty images

Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks make and confirm reservations for transportation or lodging, or sell transportation tickets.

Degree of automation: 65

Median annual salary: $35,230

Projected decline by 2024: 1.4%


11. Air traffic controller

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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Air traffic controllers control air traffic on and within vicinity of airport and movement of air traffic between altitude sectors and control centers according to established procedures and policies.

Degree of automation: 65

Median annual salary: $122,410

Projected decline by 2024: 8.6%


10. Telephone operator

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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Telephone operators provide information by accessing alphabetical, geographical, or other directories.

Degree of automation: 66

Median annual salary: $37,000

Projected decline by 2024: 42.4%


9. Chemical plant and system operator

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PEO ACWA/flickr

Chemical plant and system operators control or operate entire chemical processes or system of machines.

Degree of automation: 66

Median annual salary: $59,920

Projected decline by 2024: 9.2%


8. Medical and clinical laboratory technologist

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REUTERS/Mike Brown

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists perform complex medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Degree of automation: 67

Median annual salary: $61,070

Projected growth by 2024: 14%


7. Postal service mail sorter, processor, or processing machine operator

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution.

Degree of automation: 68

Median annual salary: $56,220

Projected decline by 2024: 33.7%


6. Customs broker

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Thomson Reuters

Customs brokers repair customs documentation and ensure that shipments meet all applicable laws to facilitate the import and export of goods.

Degree of automation: 68

Median annual salary: $69,040

Projected growth by 2024: 4.8%


5. Robotics engineer

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Thomson Reuters

Robotics engineers research, design, develop, or test robotic applications.

Degree of automation: 69

Median annual salary: $97,300

Projected growth by 2024: 4%


4. Travel agent

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Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Travel agents plan and sell transportation and accommodations for travel agency customers.

Degree of automation: 70

Median annual salary: $36,460

Projected decline by 2024: 11.7%


3. Property and casualty insurance claims examiner

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Brian Harkin/Getty Images

Property and casualty insurance claims examiners review settled insurance claims to determine that payments and settlements have been made in accordance with company practices and procedures.

Degree of automation: 73

Median annual salary: $63,680

Projected growth by 2024: 3.3%


2. Crop farmworker or laborer

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Thomson Reuters

Crop farmworkers and laborers manually plant, cultivate, and harvest vegetables, fruits, nuts and field crops.

Degree of automation: 74

Median annual salary: $22,000

Projected decline by 2024: 9.1%


1. Etcher or engraver

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Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images

Etchers and engravers etch or engrave metal, wood, rubber, or other materials.

Degree of automation: 74

Median annual salary: $31,110

Projected decline by 2024: 2.7%