What Types of Jobs do Americans Have?

L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

Americans have jobs in pretty much every sector. The country’s workforce is diverse, and so are the opportunities; there aren’t many jobs that no Americans have. Certain careers and professions are more numerous than others, but people of almost any talent or ability can find some form of employment somewhere within the United States. One way to think about the types of jobs that Americans have is in the context of census data. In the United States, the government collects statistical information on residents periodically, usually every 10 years, and this is called the census. The information is usually pretty wide reaching, but typically includes employment status and title along with things like sex, age, and family structure.

A commercial fishing boat.
A commercial fishing boat.

According to the 2000 census, the most common jobs for Americans are in the category of sales and office work; professional jobs like lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other subject matter experts are also popular, followed by jobs in production and transportation. People also frequently work in service, which can include things like restaurants and hotels. Management, financial, and business professionals are also very numerous, particularly in big cities. Jobs in construction and maintenance are quite common as well, and employment in the agricultural, forestry, and fishing sector usually rounds out the top categories.

Millions of Americans work in farming, fishing, or forestry.
Millions of Americans work in farming, fishing, or forestry.

Understanding Employment Dynamics Generally

Job trends in any country are often somewhat cyclical in nature, and though the US is quite large, it generally follows this trend. In periods of prosperity, jobs in service, in construction, and in manufacturing are often some of the most popular and easy to get, and professional and high-paying jobs usually also grow during these times. During recessions or economic downturns, jobs are often harder to get, and people often accept employment in sectors that doesn’t necessarily match up with their training or schooling — and sometimes they actually return to school to re-train for something that’s more in demand.

Many Americans have office jobs, especially those whom live in or near a city.
Many Americans have office jobs, especially those whom live in or near a city.

Different trends can also influence American job popularity. During the expansion of the American West, for instance, jobs on rail lines and as forestry experts were in high demand; in the mid-1990s, the high tech industry was exploding, paving the way for jobs in coding and computer technology. Location can also be a big driver, with communities that are largely rural having a stronger agricultural sector while those that are densely urban needing more in the way of services, transportation, and professional opportunities.

Graphing Trends Numerically

One of the best ways to get a snapshot of the employment trends of the country as a whole is to look at census data. The results aren’t entirely precise, and they only usually capture the most popular or common jobs. People who have more unusual work situations or who have more unique titles aren’t always reflected, but looking at the data as a whole can give a good general sense of the sorts of jobs that most Americans have, at least.

It’s important to note that the data collected isn’t usually comprehensive of Americans universally; Americans sometimes also work abroad, and the jobs they’re able to find on a more global scales are virtually limitless. For the most part, census gatherings reflect only the job trends of those living in the US. Since not everyone living and working in the US is an American, and since not all Americans live in the US, the results must be taken more as an estimate than an exact reading.

The following chart is based on published data from the 2000 census and reflects a broad view of the makeup of the U.S. workforce and American jobs. The blue component of the horizontal bars represents men and the green component represents women.

type of job number of workers
sales and office 34,621,000 sales and office jobs in the united states
professional and related 26,199,000 professional jobs in the united states
production and transport. 19,968,000 production and transportation jobs in the united states
service 19,277,000 service jobs in the united states
mgmt, financial, bus. 17,448,000 management, financial and business jobs in the united states
construction and maint. 12,256,000 construction and maintenance jobs in the united states
farming, fishing, forestry 952,000 farming, fishing and forestry jobs in the united states
Some Americans work in the nation's many national parks.
Some Americans work in the nation's many national parks.

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Discussion Comments


@Anon168463 -I understand that the population is significantly higher than this, but I think that the data used in the article is based on the 2000 Census data.

I think that many Americans have government jobs. As a matter of fact, more people are employed by the public sector than work in the private sector. This is a first in the United States as the growth in government jobs has expand and the unemployment numbers for those in the private sector has increased dramatically.

I also think that the field of information technology employs a lot of people and has been a constant source of new jobs since 2000. Lately, Social Media jobs have been on the rise and people with this expertise are in demand in America.


these are roughly 118 million jobs, not even half the population. can you post the entirety of jobs or even put them under "other" ? this can't be all of them.

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