A man named Sam Rosenbaum launched the self-service gas station in Omaha, Nebraska in 1958. That "fun fact" fuels the question; what ever happened to gas station attendants?

How about this? When was the last time you called a travel agent in order to make travel plans?

Imagine you're driving down the road and you pull up to a toll booth. Is there anybody there? People ride elevators every day, but when was the last time an elevator operator asked you which floor you wanted? (Ask some older folks and they'll tell you about it.) If you've ever gone to your favorite bowling alley, did you know that the bowling pins used to be set up by someone called a pinsetter? Not anymore!

Sometimes it seems as though the machines have taken over.

According to a 2011 article published on CNN.com, The U.S. Postal Service appears to be the latest casualty in digital technology's slow but steady replacement of working humans. Unless an external source of funding comes in, the post office will have to scale back its operations drastically or simply shut down altogether. That's 600,000 people who would be out of work, and another 480,000 pensioners facing an adjustment in terms.

If technology is not the reason, maybe our career choices need added attention.

I remember attending a hiring conference aimed at recruiting Junior Military Officers (JMOs of the ranks between O-1 and O-3) back in the early 1990s. At that time, several companies within the pharmaceutical industry such as; Pfizer, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb snatched up JMOs faster than kids grabbing eggs at an Easter Egg Hunt. This year, I spoke with a JMO who had just attended a recent hiring conference and he said that not a single pharmaceutical company was in attendance! (Truth be told, one was scheduled to attend and cancelled on him!) Times have changed. Many industries called hot in recent years have cooled down a lot.

You just never know when certain career choices begin to fall out of favor. Whether or not you can identify the root cause or the culprit, your future career choice must be made carefully! Choosing a career that's bound to last for the long haul can be tough. You need to research this carefully before deciding what career is best for you.

Here's what you can do:

  • Pay attention to what the financial analysts say about emerging markets and hot industries. This will give you a good idea as to what's hot and what's not.
  • Check out some schools of higher education to find out what course offerings are in-demand. According to Forbes Magazine reporter Susan Adams, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that business, engineering and computer science diplomas top the list of "in-demand" careers. She also indicated that computer science, general sciences, followed by liberal arts, communications, and lastly, agriculture and natural resources seem to be the most desirable majors companies seek.
  • Use any and all available educational benefits as soon as possible. According to GIBILL.com , in order to use the GI Bill, you must have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard for at least 90 days. Also, you must not have been separated from the military by way of dishonorable discharge. If you do not begin using the GI Bill benefits within 10 years of discharge from the service, under the old Montgomery GI Bill, they are lost. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, you must use them within 15 years.
  • Make sure to check out the eligibility requirements for veterans who choose to transfer their G.I. Bill to their spouses or dependents. You can learn more here.

Maybe you'll be the one to figure out how to keep more jobs available for everyone. Then we can stop asking "What ever happened to...?"

To learn more about some obsolete careers such as the elevator operator mentioned earlier, check out Careerbuilder.com Writer Rachel Farrell's article on 10 Obsolete Jobs We Love.