Most common jobs in America
Keeping America’s economy moving would be impossible without office workers, package handlers, food prep workers, and truck drivers. What would the sick do without the millions of hospital workers, nurses, and home health aides? Whether fixing America’s drinks as a bartender, vehicles as an auto mechanic, or legal problems as a lawyer, the top 50 jobs listed in this article employ more than 74.2 million people. While most of the jobs on the list make less than $20 per hour, 13 jobs had annual salaries above $60,000, with three clearing six figures.
Stacker analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine the 50 most common jobs in America. Jobs are ranked by total U.S. employment (excluding self-employed workers) as of the May 2018 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates report (the most recent data available).
There are 144.7 million total employees in America as of May 2018. The 10 largest occupations in America employ 30.5 million workers, representing 21% of all workers. Most jobs on the list don’t require much beyond a high school diploma, but some can require years of schooling, certification, and state or federal licensing.
Supporting data is also provided around the average hourly and annual wages for most of the roles. The BLS calculates average annual wages for occupations by multiplying average hourly wages by 2,080 hours (40 hours per week for 52 weeks) to represent year-round, full-time workers.
Read on for Stacker’s list of the 50 most common jobs in America.
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- Total employment: 631,480
- Average annual wage: $26,780
- Average hourly wage: $12.88
Bartenders have been serving up spirits since the days of Julius Caesar, going from simple servers pouring ale in public drinking houses to certified mixologists at five-star restaurants. A bartender listens to humanity's problems through all hours of the night while cleaning the bar, checking identification, and collecting money. Though not nearly as glamorous as Tom Cruise in the movie "Cocktail" or Piper Perabo in "Coyote Ugly," there is something to be said for bartending as a cool gig.
#49. Market research analysts and marketing specialists
- Total employment: 638,200
- Average annual wage: $70,960
- Average hourly wage: $34.11
Along with following product and service trends, market research analysts observe sale methods and pricing points to determine productivity, often creating campaigns around consumers’ buying habits. Recruiter reports while the average analyst salary is around $70,000, marketing specialists make up to $82,290 annually in Oregon, with manufacturing considered the most lucrative field of practice. The profession is one of the 15 fastest-growing industries, according to Moneywise, reporting that by 2026, another 138,300 jobs will open up in the field.
- Total employment: 642,750
- Average annual wage: $144,230
- Average hourly wage: $69.34
Long before lawyers were more notorious than celebrated, they were merely Roman orators who pleaded their friends’ cases. Now, becoming a lawyer requires a rigorous academic career and passing the bar exam which is considered extremely challenging. Yet the role is so familiar, even reality star Kim Kardashian vows to be one by 2022.
#47. Automotive service technicians and mechanics
- Total employment: 648,050
- Average annual wage: $43,730
- Average hourly wage: $21.02
As long as there are cars on the road, automotive service technicians and mechanics will not want for work. Your Mechanic reports almost a dozen unique services, including parts specialist, battery mechanic, and brake technician. Meanwhile, Career Addict lists “The 10 Best Jobs for a Car Mechanic,” which range widely from automotive AC repairman to customer service representative. Additionally, the automotive service technician profession is expected to rise by over 14% in the next decade, according to StudentsScholarship.org
#46. Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks
- Total employment: 655,590
- Average annual wage: $34,980
- Average hourly wage: $16.82
Assembling, addressing, and shipping packages is not physically easy and is more widespread than many understand, with stock fillers and order fillers also falling under this category. With FedEx reporting the delivery of over three million packages a day, and UPS claiming over 15 million, the trade is critical to meeting consumer demands. The addition of Amazon Prime and big-box stores like Walmart delivering items has called for even more shipping and receiving clerks to record merchandise and arrange for transportation.
- Total employment: 655,840
- Average annual wage: $59,190
- Average hourly wage: $28.46
In 1882, Thomas Edison suggested starting an electrical engineering course at Columbia University, and by 1889 an entire department was dedicated to the trade. While some electricians attend a technical school, others learn to install, maintain, and repair many types of power; others learn the trade through apprenticeships. Aside from providing residential and commercial services, other specializations include line repairmen and installers; electrical estimators; and drafters, who draw up system blueprints based on engineering and architectural plans.
#44. Police and sheriff's patrol officers
- Total employment: 661,330
- Average annual wage: $65,400
- Average hourly wage: $31.44
The police profession is rather new, according to Time magazine; what first began with night watchmen patrolling the streets later turned to full-time officers by 1838 in Boston. Nearly 200 years later, being a police or sheriff’s officer is considered a risky job, ranking 18 out of 25 on a recent investigation into the country’s most dangerous jobs. The difference between the two types of law enforcement officers is a sheriff works throughout county limits whereas police patrol in one designated town or city in a county.
#43. Packers and packagers, hand
- Total employment: 663,970
- Average annual wage: $26,490
- Average hourly wage: $12.74
Packers and packagers often work on factory lines or in warehouses, where they’re responsible for several procedures including counting, measuring, recording, and inspecting. Like shipping and receiving clerks, packers are in demand in the era of home delivery, but are not highly paid, according to USA Today. The only education required for the labor-intensive job is a high school diploma, with most positions found in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey.
#42. Medical assistants
- Total employment: 673,660
- Average annual wage: $34,540
- Average hourly wage: $16.61
The profession dates back to ancient physicians, such as Hippocrates and Galan, who were always surrounded by student residents who assisted them. While some states require a medical assistant to have a certificate or two-year education, others learn the clinical and administrative duties on the job. The American Association of Medical Assistants details clinical obligations including taking a patient’s medical history, drawing blood, and performing laboratory tests, along with administrative tasks like insurance coding, billing, and updating and filing medical records.
#41. Management analysts
- Total employment: 684,470
- Average annual wage: $94,390
- Average hourly wage: $45.38
Reducing costs and increasing revenue is always the goal of any management analysts, who are ranked #16 in U.S. News & World Reports’ Best Business Jobs. Becoming a management analyst requires a bachelor’s degree and a Certified Management Consultant certification, with top-paid analysts making $110,600. By 2026, the profession’s projected job growth is 14% by 2028, which means 115,200 more jobs according to the BLS.