This Tech Job Faces a High Risk of Automation in Coming Years

Which tech jobs are at the highest risk of automation? That’s a question of vital importance to technologists young and old. Thanks to a new analysis of job postings, we have a better idea of which jobs are at risk of being overrun by machines.

That analysis comes courtesy of Burning Glass, which crunches data from millions of job postings. And the takeaway is pretty clear: many of the tech jobs available to those without a bachelor’s degree are also in automation’s crosshairs. Just for comparison’s sake, we also pulled up some tech jobs that don’t necessarily need a BA, and come with a much lower risk of automation. Check out the chart:

Medical records and health information technicians are tasked with collecting, cleaning, and storing healthcare data. Depending on the company and title, it can require a more advanced degree and certification; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that employment for this role will grow 11 percent by 2028.

Given that employment growth, it might seem strange that Burning Glass is positioning the role’s risk of automation as “high.” But as with many jobs potentially affected by software and robotics, the nature of a health information technician’s daily duties may change: for example, within a decade, it might be less about data input and more about data analysis—which would definitely require more advanced schooling and degrees.

In a similar boat is “computer operator,” which is someone that BLS defines as monitoring and controlling “electronic computer and peripheral electronic data processing equipment to process business, scientific, engineering, and other data according to operating instructions.” In other words, these are the folks who hit the appropriate buttons on a keyboard to make a system work. You can see how automation could quickly steamroll such jobs over the next several years, especially as companies upgrade their current systems to take new technologies into account.

Meanwhile, Burning Glass considers other kinds of support specialists to be low risk. This is mildly surprising, since companies such as Google are dead-set on automating as much help-desk functionality as they can; just look at tools such as Duplex, which is meant to take over the reservations system at restaurants. But many kinds of support specialists must display a variety of skills to succeed in the position—not only must they have the technical knowledge to solve a client’s big, thorny problem, but they must also have the necessary “people skills” to ease folks through their technology crisis.

Meanwhile, take a look at the fuller Burning Glass list of jobs with the lowest risk of automation in the near future:

Jobs that involve specialized skillsets and a certain degree of creativity, such as software developers and analysts, have a higher likelihood of fending off automation. In order to land one of those jobs, education is key—especially if you’re at the beginning of your career. And that doesn’t always mean a “traditional” four-year degree and/or graduate work; a bootcamp or online learning course can often prove a good first step to obtaining the knowledge you need.