Industries & Professions /
Employment of telephone and switchboard operators is expected to decline rapidly through 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. During the past 30 years, employment of operators in telephone companies has declined sharply due to automation, which increases the productivity of these workers. Direct dialing and computerized billing have eliminated the need for many operators. Voice-recognition technology, which gives computers the capacity to understand speech and to respond to callers, now offers directory assistance and helps to place collect calls. Voice response equipment, which allows callers to communicate with computers through the use of touch-tone signals, is used widely by most large companies. Using a combination of voice response equipment, voice mail and messaging systems, and automated call distribution, incoming phone calls can be routed to their destination without the use of an operator. People now use the Internet and e-mail to communicate, neither of which require operators. Directory assistance services are also available on the Internet and provide phone numbers, addresses, maps, and e-mail addresses.