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Career Change Suggestions For The Fastest-shrinking Industries

Each new year brings a shift in shopping behavior, consumer trends, and technology innovation. These shifts result in changes in the job marketplace; some careers thrive while others decline as a result. I analyzed employment figures from 2006 to 2015 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the 25 fastest declining industries. If you’re in one of these 10 industries, it’s time to consider a career change. For each of the fading industries, check out up-and-coming and high-paying career change options.

Career Change Suggestions For The Fastest-shrinking Industries

#1. Textile Manufacturing

The textile industry has been declining for years. Since the early 1990s, employment has declined within the textile and garment manufacturing industry at a faster rate than all other manufacturing industries. Outsourcing and advancements in robotic automation are the main drivers of decline of this industry. Both of those factors have also led to significantly decreased wages for this industry as well.

Career Alternatives: textile buyer, pattern designer, project scientists, analytical textile technologist, computer-aided design (cad) systems designer, production managers, clothing manufacturing engineer, garment technologists, carpet designer, dry-cleaning, or laundry worker.

#2. Specialty Construction

Masonry contractors or other specialty construction jobs are in decline due to the housing recession, moderate economic growth (mini mansions aren’t popping up like they used to), and technology improvements in pre-fabricated housing elements including fake architectural details. Employment declined by 15.3% in the broader construction industry, framing contractor hiring declined by 55% in the past decade while masonry contractor hiring declined by -43.5%.

Career Alternatives: urban planners, construction designer, residential designer, 3-d modeler, virtual-reality designer, semi-automated mason operator, construction software, data input, maintenance technician, supply chain manager, design analyst, mep revit/ cad technician, 5-d modeler, digital asset management, or light-detection-and-ranging (lidar) technician.

#3. Banking: loan and mortgage brokers, tellers, and banking operations

Loan and mortgage broker employment is experiencing one of the largest industry declines (45% in 10 years). The mortgage and housing crisis caused many smaller firms to fail and new, strict regulation of the industry resulted in fewer hires and limited earning potential.

The digitalization of many banking operations has led to a sharp decline in bank operation employment, including tellers.

Career Alternatives: digital or app-based financial service jobs, VC firms or other alternative financing brokerage options, commercial mortgage and loan brokers, life insurance broker, franchising, or other customer service jobs.

#4. Personal Service

Modest economic and wage growth has led to declines in private family personal service such as cooks, dedicated maids, nannies, butlers, or groundskeepers. At the same time, consumers have an adapted an on-demand approach to personal service- only ordering a maid or a cook when they need them and usually through a service. App-based ordering services are increasingly available across the country, once only available to the largest metropolitan areas.

Career Alternatives: app-based personal services, hospitality-related service jobs, business-sector service jobs, office manager, logistics coordinator, healthcare, personal trainer, childcare, or nursing/physician’s assistant.

#5. Print Publishing

Between the decline in print newspaper usage, mail, and print advertising tactics, publishing jobs are declining. Employment for this industry has decreased by more than 47% since 2005. Luckily, all forms of print media are shifting to online forms, so the transition for publishing employees should be straightforward and readily available.

Career Alternatives: digital publishing and media, advertising, production editor, web designers or developers, textile production, or PR specialist.

#6. Human Resource Firms

Firms once dominated the human resources needs of corporations- overseeing payrolls, taxes, and handle former employees’ unemployment claims. This industry is experiencing rapid decline thanks to improved software capabilities that eliminate the need for manual processing of these business operations. Luckily, this industry’s digital boom can easily translate to a transition to a digitally-focused career.

Career Alternatives: Human resource software or apps, Human resource consultant, sales representatives, office manager, marketing, advertising, or public relations.

#7. Photography Related

The proliferation of mobile phones with quality cameras and digital cameras has resulted in drastic cuts to the photography related industry. From camera or film production, to photo production, to professional photographers, decreased demand and increased automation or alternative photography options have led to drastic employment declines for this industry. In the past ten years, jobs in this industry have decreased by more than 60%

Career Alternatives: advertising or marketing, photo editing, graphic designer, healthcare or industrial technologists, chemist, engineer or architectural drafter, gallery assistant or curator, collection manager, art consultant (especially for interior design), or infrared photography.

#8. Technology Manufacturing

Shifts in technology usage, media consumption habits, and the automation of the production process have led to decreased employment in this industry. Many types of technology have fallen out of favor with consumers, including computer hard drives, DVDs, CDs, video cassette tapes, landline telephones, and other telephone components.

Luckily, while some technology fades, others rise. Consider manufacturing jobs within rising technology categories.

Career Alternatives: sales engineers, forensic science technicians, healthcare or industrial technologists, welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders, or rotary drill operators.

#9. Department Stores

Consumers are increasingly shopping online or at local stores, closer in proximity to residential areas, that now carry department store products in smaller quantities. This has led to a projected loss of 10.2% of industry jobs- significant given the size of this industry across America. Department store employment should be easy to parlay to online shopping opportunities or to supply chain jobs that emphasize small-scale, widespread distribution of products.

Career Alternatives: supply chain coordinator, customer service representative, clothing design, shipping and receiving clerk, or merchandise display designer.

#10. Paper products and goods

American business and employees are increasingly turning to digital or software option, reducing the need for physical paper products in the workplace. Similarly, paper products are used less around American homes due to increased awareness of environmental impact and fewer people writing traditional letters for communication.

Career Alternatives: metal worker, plastic production, data warehouse technician, Sales engineers, medical technician, autoworker, computer systems designer or lab technician.

If you’re looking to make a career change, remember to highlight excellent transferable skills from each of these industries, including project management, budgeting and customer service. Be sure to check out the industries that are expected to grow the most in the next few years.


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Erik is a master’s level career counselor with a specialization in sales and marketing. He is internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International and have been recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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