Outdated Jobs No One Has Anymore

The times they are a-changin‘ — and some means of employment went right out the door with it. While some jobs have evolved over the decades, others have become too obsolete to exists anymore. With help from MSN Money and SFGate, we take a look at 15 outdated jobs no one has anymore.

1. Knocker-upper

Hand knocking on the door
Hand knocking on the door | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Before alarm clocks were a thing, it was actually someone’s profession to wake everyone up in the morning. The knocker-upper’s job was to go around knocking on factory workers’ doors early in the morning with some sort of heavy stick-like object.

Next: Talk about leaving the lights on …

2. Lamplighter

7th October 1935: A lamp lighter at work in Finsbury Park, London. | E. Dean/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Even with electricity, there were still lamplighters in London going around and giving the streets the right amount of light — and ambiance — each night. After the 1950s, though, the job went by the wayside.

Next: Ew, this was a job?!

3. Rat-catcher

Rat in the house on the floor
Rat on the floor | kozorog/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

That’s right — before pest control, it was someone’s job to keep the town’s vermin under control. MSN tells us the job actually created some controversy, with some rat-catchers being accused of raising and releasing rats on their own “to boost their workload.”

Next: Do you know the …

4. Muffin man

circa 1912: A muffin seller carrying his wares on his head | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Talk about breakfast delivery! Like the popular nursery rhyme suggests, there did used to be muffin men in London who would go door to door at breakfast time carrying English muffins on their heads.

Next: No surprise nobody has this job anymore …

5. Buggy whip manufacturer

Amish buggy | David Arment/Getty Images

While you may see a horse-drawn buggy once in a blue moon, there aren’t enough of those things around for there to be a full-blown profession for making buggy whips. (Although making bullwhips and things of that like is still a thing.)

Next: Story time …

6. Newspaper reader

Newspaper
Morning paper| Seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

During the industrial age when factory work was the norm, there was a designated person who would sit or stand on a platform above the workers and read books or the newspaper while they worked.

Next: This job makes us cringe …

7. Leech collector

Leeches | Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s one job we’re happy went out of style. In the 1800s, collectors would use the legs of dead animals to attract leeches and bring them back to doctors who used them for bloodletting, SFGate tells us.

Next: This job would have been interesting …

8. Bowling pin setter

15th May 1961: An expert from Chicago explains the workings of an automatic bowling-pin resetting machine for tenpin bowling | Fox Photos/Getty Images

Before the ten-pin machines you see at the bowling alleys today, a person would actually stand behind the alley and reset the pins by hand. It’s just as well that machines replaced this job — standing in the way of those heavy bowling balls sounds dangerous!

Next: Brrr …

9. Ice cutter

Woman holding ice cubes | maroke/ iStock/ Getty Images

Believe it or not, ice cutting was a booming business in the 19th century. MSN tells us some 90,000 people worked in the ice trade, which meant cutting huge blocks of ice in the winter and storing them in big warehouses until summertime. Of course nowadays, that’s your refrigerator’s job.

Next: This outdated gig wasn’t around all that long ago …

10. Switchboard operator

A Chinese switchboard | Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images

We’re so spoiled by technology these days, it’s easy to forget that just a few decades ago, women were employed as switchboard operators to connect our calls for us.

Next: This job sounds kind of creepy …

11. Resurrectionist

Gravestone
Graveyard | iStock.com/Yogibehr

Really, “resurrectionist” is just a fancy name for a grave robber. These people would take bodies from graves so they could be used as cadavers. Digging through cemeteries for a living? We’ll pass.

Next: Say what now?

12. Whale meat seller

humpback whale
Humpback whale | iStock.com/Annabelle500

True story. Whale meat used to be considered a meal option for the poor folks in New York City. Of course, there are only a few countries left where whaling is legal.

Next: Hear ye, hear ye

13. Town cryer

Town cryer | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Back before text messages and 24-hour news reels, a man with a big booming voice stood in the middle of town and yelled out the news to everyone. As SFGate points out, the only time you ever see a town cryer anymore is if a member of the British royal family has a baby.

Next: Beep beep beep …

14. Telegraph operator

Telegraph operator | Fred Ramage/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nowadays, Morse code is only ever used in the movies. But in the 1800s, it was used on a daily basis by the people who sent and received telegraphs. Once the telephone was invented, though, there wasn’t much use for a telegraph anymore.

Next: Last but not least …

15. Gandy dancer

Monroe, Michigan
Monroe, Michigan | csfotoimages/iStock/Getty Images

This goofy name refers to the workers who laid down the train tracks when the country was developing and moving westward, SFGate tells us. Of course, advancements in transportation forced this job into extinction.

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