Most Common Jobs in America

The 20 most common jobs in America + what they pay and more
 
Andrew Fennell photo Andrew Fennell | January 2024

Across the U.S. there are certain occupations that dominate the workforce, with huge numbers of workers taking on these roles. They may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a ‘typical’ job.

In this analysis, we’ve used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to put together a list of the most common jobs in America, including the most popular jobs in each state. We’ve also analyzed average salaries, typical responsibilities, and predicted employment changes for these popular occupations.

 

 

Key Statistics

  • The most common job in America is retail salesperson, with over 3.76 million people in this role across the U.S.
  • Retail salesperson is the most common job in 14 states, with the highest number of these workers (298,000) working in Florida.
  • Of the top 20 most common jobs in America, general and operations managers had the highest median salary at $98,100, while fast food and counter workers had the lowest at $27,930.
  • Fast food and counter worker is the most common job in nine states, with most workers in this role working in Ohio (136,220).
  • The average salary across all 20 of the most popular jobs in the U.S. is $45,309.
  • While retail salesperson is the most common job, it comes 16th out of 20 in terms of salary compared to the rest of the most popular jobs ($30,600).
  • The role of nurse practitioner is expected to grow the most over the next few years, with a predicted employment increase of 44.5% in this occupation by 2032.
  • Data entry keyers are expected to see the largest decline in employment between now and 2032, with a predicted 26% reduction in workers in these roles.
  • Retail salesperson has been the top most common job in the U.S. since 1997.

 

The top 20 most common jobs in the U.S.

The most common job in America is retail salesperson, with 3.76 million people in these jobs. These people work in a variety of retail environments, interacting with customers and demonstrating merchandise.

Other popular jobs include fast food and counter workers, office clerks, and elementary and middle school teachers.

 

The top 10 most common jobs in america

 

The table below shows the full list of the top 20 most common jobs in America.

RankOccupationNumber of workers
1Retail salespersons3,765,600
2Home health and personal care aides3,715,500
3General and operations managers3,507,800
4Fast food and counter workers3,410,100
5Cashiers3,365,200
6Registered nurses3,172,500
7Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers2,988,500
8Customer service representatives2,982,900
9Stockers and order fillers2,851,600
10Cooks2,729,300
11Office clerks, general2,668,200
12Waiters and waitresses2,194,100
13Elementary and middle school teachers2,061,600
14Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive2,030,200
15Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks1,735,800
16Miscellaneous healthcare support occupations1,661,700
17Maintenance and repair workers, general1,607,200
18First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers1,567,200
19Accountants and auditors1,538,400
20Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators1,500,400

Source [1]

 

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Responsibilities of the most popular jobs

We know what the most common job roles in the U.S. are, but what exactly do these jobs entail? And what requirements are there for entering these occupations? Let’s take a look at the responsibilities of the top five jobs in more detail.

 

Retail salespersons

A retail salesperson’s job involves interacting with customers and demonstrating and explaining merchandise like clothing, electronics, furniture, and motor vehicles. Someone in this role could work in an environment like a retail store or an auto dealership.

Usually, there are no formal education requirements to become a retail salesperson, and most training takes place on the job.

 

Home health and personal care aides

The role of home health and personal care aides is to help people with disabilities or chronic illnesses by monitoring their conditions and helping them with day-to-day activities. This can include personal care, arranging transportation, organizing appointments, and performing housekeeping tasks. These workers may work in clients’ homes, group homes, or at day service programs.

Someone wanting to work as a home health or personal care aide will usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, and those working in certified agencies may need to complete formal training.

 

General and operations managers

A person working as a general or operations manager will typically plan, direct, and coordinate the operations of a business, usually overseeing multiple locations or departments. Responsibilities include creating policies, and managing the company’s daily operations but can be much more varied and involve management of other staff members.

Training and qualifications required to be a general or operations manager can vary greatly depending on different industries and employer preferences.

 

Fast food and counter workers

Responsibilities for fast food and counter workers involve taking orders and serving food and drinks at counters or steam tables, as well as preparing food and drinks for customers. These workers usually work in fast-food restaurants and other eateries, they could also work in school cafeterias or similar establishments.

Most food counter workers will learn their role on the job, and there are typically no requirements for formal education to enter this occupation.

 

Cashiers

The work of a cashier involves processing payments from customers who are buying goods and services. They will usually work in retail establishments like grocery stores, gas stations, and other stores selling a variety of merchandise.

Cashiers are trained on the job and you generally don’t need any formal qualifications to become a cashier.

 

Most common jobs by state

The top job in the U.S., retail salesperson, is the most common job in 14 states, with the highest number of these workers (298,000) working in Florida.

Fast food and counter worker is the most popular job in nine states including Washington and Virginia, with most working in Ohio (136,220).

 

The most common jobs by state in the U.S.

 

The table below shows the full breakdown of the most common jobs in the U.S. by state.

StateMost common job roleNumber of workers
AlabamaRetail salesperson58,770
AlaskaRetail salesperson8,230
ArizonaCustomer service representative106,950
ArkansasFast food and counter worker36,520
CaliforniaHome health and personal care aide773,350
ColoradoRetail salesperson80,000
ConnecticutGeneral and operations manager42,090
DelawareRetail salesperson13,440
Washington DCBusiness operations specialist36,950
FloridaRetail salesperson298,000
GeorgiaRetail salesperson137,880
HawaiiFast food and counter worker20,340
IdahoGeneral and operations manager24,790
IllinoisLaborers and freight, stock and material mover, hand204,710
IndianaLaborers and freight, stock and material mover, hand103,050
IowaCashier47,090
KansasFast food and counter worker34,720
KentuckyLaborers and freight, stock and material mover, hand57,340
LouisianaCashier58,890
MaineRetail salesperson17,420
MarylandGeneral and operations manager78,370
MassachusettsGeneral and operations manager119,850
MichiganMiscellaneous assembler and fabricator118,400
MinnesotaHome health and personal care aides106,640
MississippiCashier33,990
MissouriHome health and personal care aide79,840
MontanaFast food and counter worker15,110
NebraskaFast food and counter worker25,270
NevadaLaborers and freight, stock and material mover, hand42,470
New HampshireRetail salesperson18,730
New JerseyRetail salesperson104,660
New MexicoHome health and personal care aide35,740
New YorkHome health and personal care aide504,160
North CarolinaCashier127,220
North DakotaRetail salesperson11,500
OhioFast food and counter worker136,220
OklahomaRetail salesperson42,410
OregonFast food and counter worker52,490
PennsylvaniaHome health and personal care aide193,930
Rhode IslandRetail salesperson11,800
South CarolinaRetail salesperson63,890
South DakotaRegistered nurse14,360
TennesseeLaborers and freight, stock and material mover, hand91,980
TexasGeneral and operations manager418,050
UtahGeneral and operations manager60,960
VermontGeneral and operations manager8,500
VirginiaFast food and counter worker94,940
WashingtonFast food and counter worker98,870
West VirginiaRegistered nurse21,110
WisconsinHome health and personal care aide76,260
WyomingRetail salesperson8,490

Source [2]

 

Median salaries of America’s most common jobs

Salaries vary considerably across the top 20 most common jobs. General and operations managers have the highest median salary at $98,100, followed by registered nurses with $81,220. Fast food and counter workers have the lowest median salary across the U.S. at $27,930, followed by cashiers at $28,730, and waiters and waitresses at $29,120.

The average salary across all 20 of the most popular jobs is $45,309.

RankOccupationMedian salary
1General and operations managers$98,100
2Registered nurses$81,220
3Accountants and auditors$78,000
4First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers$61,370
5Elementary and middle school teachers$61,150
6Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks$45,860
7Maintenance and repair workers, general$44,980
8Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive$41,000
9Office clerks, general$38,040
10Customer service representatives$37,780
11Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators$37,280
12Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand$36,110
13Stockers and order fillers$34,220
14Miscellaneous healthcare support occupations$33,600
15Cooks$30,910
16Retail salespersons$30,600
17Home health and personal care aides$30,180
18Waiters and waitresses$29,120
19Cashiers$28,730
20Fast food and counter workers$27,930

Source [3]

 

 

Job outlooks for America’s most common roles

While these roles make up the list of most popular jobs right now, the employment landscape in the U.S. is ever-changing, with some of these common jobs expected to surge in popularity over the next ten years, while others are predicted to drop.

Of the top 20 jobs, the role of home health and personal care aide is expected to increase the most over the next ten years, with a 21.7% increase in employment in these roles by 2032. On the flip side, secretaries and administrative assistants (not including legal, medical and  executive) can expect a decrease in employment of 11.6%.

Job RolePredicted change in employment (2022-2032)
Home health and personal care aides21.7%
Miscellaneous healthcare support occupations10.4%
Cooks6.4%
Stockers and order fillers6.3%
Registered nurses5.6%
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand5.3%
Accountants and auditors4.4%
General and operations managers4.2%
Maintenance and repair workers, general3.6%
Fast food and counter workers1.5%
Elementary and middle school teachers0.7%
Retail salespersons-2.1%
Waiters and waitresses-3.1%
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers-5.2%
Customer service representatives-5.5%
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks-6.2%
Office clerks, general-6.6%
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators-7.5%
Cashiers-10.4%
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive-11.6%

Source [1]

 

Occupations with the largest job growth

We’ve also looked at the jobs that are most popular in the U.S. at the moment, but what about jobs that are expected to grow in popularity in the next few years?

The job expected to grow the most between now and 2032 is nurse practitioners, with a predicted 44.5% increase in workers in this role over this period. That amounts to an additional 118,600 nurse practitioners in the workforce by 2032. This is followed by data scientists (35.2%) and information security analysts (31.5%)

When looking at the increase in employment by the total number of workers, home health and personal care aides come top with an expected 804,600 more workers in these roles by 2032.

OccupationPredicted growth by 2032Additional workers expected by 2032
Nurse practitioners44.5%118,600
Data scientists35.2%59,400
Information security analysts31.5%53,200
Medical and health services managers28.4%144,700
Software developers25.7%410,400
Home health and personal care aides21.7%804,600
Cooks, restaurant20.4%277,600
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors18.4%71,500
Financial managers16.0%126,600
Animal caretakers15.5%52,500
Computer and information systems managers15.4%86,000
Industrial machinery mechanics14.9%59,900
Medical assistants13.9%105,900
Market research analysts and marketing specialists13.4%116,600
Light truck drivers11.5%133,800
Management analysts9.7%95,700
Computer systems analysts9.6%51,100
Lawyers7.5%62,400
Stockers and order fillers6.3%178,600
Project management specialists6.2%54,700
Human resources specialists5.9%51,400

Source [1]

 

Occupations with the largest job decline

The occupation expected to see the largest decline in employment is data entry keyers, with a predicted loss of 26% of workers (or 43,100 workers in total) by 2032. Other roles expecting heavy declines in the coming years are legal secretaries and administrative assistants (-21.8%), and telemarketers (-20.6%).

The role of cashier is expected to lose the most total workers at an estimated reduction of 348,100 from 2022 to 2032.

OccupationPredicted decline by 2032Loss of workers expected by 2032
Data entry keyers-26.0%-43,100
Legal secretaries and administrative assistants-21.8%-35,300
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants-21.1%-108,100
Telemarketers-20.6%-20,100
Order clerks-18.2%-24,200
Payroll and timekeeping clerks-16.4%-27,200
Sewing machine operators-15.2%-21,600
Tellers-14.5%-52,900
Cooks, fast food-13.7%-101,600
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive-11.6%-235,900
Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic-10.9%-20,100
Cashiers-10.4%-348,100
Bill and account collectors-9.6%-20,100
Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks-8.4%-72,200
Chief executives-8.2%-23,000
Buyers and purchasing agents-7.7%-38,000
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators-7.5%-111,800
Correctional officers and jailers-7.5%-28,600
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers-6.7%-94,000
Postal service mail carriers-6.7%-21,000
Office clerks, general-6.6%-175,400

Source [1]

The change in America’s most common jobs over time

The most common jobs in America today have not always been this way. While the retail salesperson has been the top job in the U.S. since at least 1997 (the oldest data available from the BLS), other jobs in the top 10 have changed over time. Cashiers, registered nurses, and waiters and waitresses have all remained in the top 10 most popular jobs during this time, but others have come and gone.

Cashier was the second most common job in America from 1997 until 2017 when it dropped to third. In 2022, cashier was fifth on the list of most popular U.S. occupations.

Largest growing jobs over time

Some jobs, like fast food and counter workers (previously classified as combined food preparation and serving workers) have grown steadily since 1997, with this occupation climbing up the top 10 list. In 2002, there were 2,000,070 people working this job, and this had grown to 3,410,100 in 2022.

 

Most common jobs in America change over time 1997-2022

 

The decline in job roles over time

Certain occupations like general office clerk have declined over time, and these roles may have been recategorized or merged into more defined roles like office manager or customer support roles. Others like secretaries may simply have become less common over time due to decreasing demand for these roles, or they may fall lower on the list due to other jobs becoming much more common.

Note: There may be some variation in job titles and roles included in each list as BLS classifications have changed over time.

 

Sources

[1] Employment by Detailed Occupation: U.S. BLS – https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/emp-by-detailed-occupation.htm

[2] Charts of the Largest Occupations in Each Area: U.S. BLS – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/area_emp_chart/area_emp_chart.htm

[3] Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. BLS – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

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