AT A GLANCE

  • The ten largest occupations in the country account for more than 20% of overall employment
  • The most common occupation in the U.S. is a retail salesperson, with 4,485,180 people employed in this job
  • The number one least common job – prosthodontists – had an employment of 290 in May 2013, with a mean annual wage of $128,310

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March 01, 2015

The Most Common Jobs in the Country

Have you ever held one of the most or least common jobs in the United States? If you are a retail salesperson, a registered nurse, or a mathematical technician, the answer is yes.

The Occupational Employment Statistics program under the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers employment and wage estimates by geography and across industrial sectors for more than 800 occupations. According to their data, the ten largest occupations in the country account for more than 20 percent of overall employment. The majority of these jobs are low-paying.

The most common occupation in the U.S. is a retail salesperson. As of May 2013, 4,485,180 people were employed in this job, earning mean hourly wages of $12.20.  However, the fifth most common job – registered nurses – had substantially higher earnings at a mean hourly wage of $33.13.

Most of the most common jobs require little training or formal education. Additionally, these jobs offer few opportunities for advancement and are typically not unionized, which can contribute to lower wages.

The Most Common Jobs in the U.S.

The Most Common Jobs in the U.S.

Source: Forbes

While the list of ten most common jobs does not include truck driving, a recent publication by National Public Radio reveals that truck driving is now the most common employment in 29 of the 50 states. This is attributed to the occupation being immune to two of the biggest recent macro-economic trends – globalization and automation. Additionally, the rise of e-commerce has fueled large growth in shipments in the U.S. Commercial truck drivers earn about $17.19 an hour on average, according to PayScale.

Truck Transportation Employment, 2005 to 2015

Truck Transportation Employment, 2005 to 2015

Source: BLS

Meanwhile those who held the least common jobs generally had much higher wages. The number one least common job – prosthodontists – had an employment of 290 in May 2013, with a mean annual wage of $128,310. However not all of the rarest occupations have high salaries. The second least common job – fisher – is held by 480 people and pays just $17.71 per hour.

The Least Common Jobs in the U.S.

The Least Common Jobs in the U.S.

Source: Forbes

Some of the most uncommon jobs are expected to shrink by 2022 according to BLS, such as a 10 percent drop in employment of fabric menders and a 23 percent fall in the number of animal breeders.

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