According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, robot automation will "take 800 million jobs by 2030."
The transition will be so monumental, the report compares it to transformation seen in the early 1900s, when the world switched from farming to factory work.
Richer countries with more money to invest in automation will be more affected than poorer, the BBC reports.
After surveying 46 countries and 800 occupations, the McKinsey Global Institute found that up to one-fifth of workers worldwide will be affected.
One-third of workers in the U.S. and Germany may need to retrain for other jobs, while machine operators and food workers will suffer the most.
In the U.S., 39 to 73 million jobs may be gone by 2030. But the report offers some good news.
"The United States and Germany could also face significant workforce displacement from automation by 2030, but their projected future growth -- and hence new job creation -- is higher," the report says, adding that 20 million of those displaced workers could easily transfer to other industries. "The United States has a growing workforce, and in the step-up scenario, with innovations leading to new types of occupations and work, it is roughly in balance."
In about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of work activities could be automated.
For example, tasks performed by mortgage brokers, paralegals, accountants and some back-office staff may become automated. But that doesn't necessarily spell disaster for workers.
"It is important to note, however, that even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline but rather workers may perform new tasks," explains the report.
Jobs requiring human interaction -- such as doctors, lawyers and teachers will likely be immune. Care workers and gardeners may also be safe.
"Jobs in unpredictable environments -- occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare -- will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition," the report states.
In preparation, the report's authors urge governments to take action now by retraining their citizens.
"We should embrace these technologies but also address the workforce transitions and challenges they bring," they advise. "In many countries, this may require an initiative on the scale of the Marshall Plan, involving sustained investment, new training models, programs to ease worker transitions, income support, and collaboration between the public and private sectors."