Most of us see tremendous career potential developing as a result of the Internet. Yet there are entire career fields that are being slowly killed off as a result of the Internet. Not all are about to disappear from the face of the earth, but many are on a path toward serious decline.
You may want to keep these career fields in mind in choosing a major, if you haven’t declared one already. You don’t want to be preparing for a career that will not exist, either by the time you graduate or shortly afterwards.
The Print Media
This is the most obvious casualty of the Internet revolution. Since it is so easy, convenient and inexpensive to get information online, the need for the print media is heading into its sunset. Many print media outlets have already either disappeared completely, or are on life support awaiting the same fate.
As the Internet grows in popularity, advertisers – the lifeblood of all media – are increasingly choosing the web over the print media. As they do, revenues to the print media decline to the point where a business is no longer economically viable.
The Printing IndustryWhile it has become almost anecdotal that the print media is the first, biggest casualty of the Internet, less well-documented is a similar fate being experienced by the printing industry. There’s simply less need for printed material of any kind since the same information is readily available on the Internet.
We see this not only in the decline in newspaper and magazine circulation, but also the need for printed material across the board. Businesses of all stripes are increasingly going “paperless”, which significantly reduces their dependence upon the printing industry. As more people opt to participate in the paperless revolution, the demand for printed documents – and the jobs of the people who produce them – are following the print media into oblivion.
Travel Agents And Agencies
There was a time when working as a travel agent was one of the most exciting careers a young person could have. Not only did you have an opportunity to work in a fun business, but you could also accumulate rewards as a result of working with airlines, hotels, and car rental companies, that allowed you to travel on the cheap.
But because of the Internet, the air is out of the balloon of the travel agency industry in general. Now that Internet access is nearly universal, consumers are routinely researching and booking their own trips directly with airlines, hotel chains, car rental companies, and even specific travel and vacation venues. There is simply no need for the intermediary function that travel agents once filled.
The banking industry is not succumbing to the Internet nearly so quickly as printing related industries and travel agencies are, but there is a gradual erosion that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Online banking is increasingly proving to be the undoing of traditional bricks-and-mortar banking. As more people embrace the idea of online banking – whether it is through an actual online bank, or a bricks-and-mortar bank that has significant online operations – the need for people working in bank branches is declining.
Online operations simply require fewer employees than a comparable level of business being generated by a physical banking operation. While there will always be a need for banking personnel on location to solve complex customer problems, the public is becoming increasingly comfortable handling their routine banking activity from home.
Retail is experiencing a similar slow decline to the banking industry. While Amazon.com and similar organizations have made significant inroads into retail sales, an even bigger effect is coming about as a result of traditional retailers, like Walmart and Target, expanding their own online sales operations.
Once again, online operations simply require fewer employees than are needed to generate the same amount of business from a physical store location.
Bookstores And Book Publishing
Bookstores and book publishing are experiencing a decline similar to the print media in that people are getting increasing amounts of printed information and entertainment online, rather than from printed sources.
But bookstores and publishers have an additional problem. The Internet is making it far easier for people to self publish. That eliminates the need for publishers. And since self published books are usually sold online as e-books, or through large-scale online retailers like Amazon.com, the need for bookstores is in rapid decline.
This one is a bit of a surprise, because we generally assume that computer programmers would naturally be the safest of all occupations in an Internet dominated world. And there’s actually a lot of truth to that.
But the problem for computer programmers is that they are rapidly becoming a victim of their own success. Because much of the work that computer programmers do is routinely done online, employers can hire people in less developed countries at lower wages to do the same job. That puts downward pressure on the wages paid to computer programmers.
It’s not that this occupation is in decline in terms of numbers, only that it is facing financial pressures as a result of the fact that it is largely Internet-based, and therefore subject to almost limitless competition.
Can you think of any other career fields that are being adversely affected by the Internet, and best avoided as university majors?