Unless you work in one of these fields, you probably haven’t encountered many prosthodontists, radio operators, or animal breeders in your lifetime—and there’s an even slimmer chance you know a private household chef.
That’s because these are some of the least common jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates survey.
The BLS survey reflects May 2011 salary and employment data gathered from nearly 1.2 million businesses in all industry sectors (for about 800 occupations) across the country. Data from self-employed workers are not collected and are not included in the estimates.
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There are only 370 private household chefs (associated with an establishment) in the U.S., making this the rarest job of all. According to the BLS, they make $31,080 a year, on average. The mean annual pay across all professions in the U.S. is $45,230.
The second rarest profession: prosthodontist. There are only 560 of these dental specialists who are devoted to restoring and replacing teeth. They earn $130,820 per year, on average—but that number exceeds $185,000 for the top 10%.
Radio operator is another extremely uncommon profession, with only 1,220 in the U.S. They receive and transmit communications using radiotelephone equipment in accordance with government regulations, and they make about $45,190 a year, on average, doing it.
The BLS data shows there are only 1,460 animal breeders in the country. They make $37,670 a year, on average, breeding animals according to their genealogy, characteristics, and offspring.
Chances are there are even less common jobs than these out there—but it would be nearly impossible for the BLS to find those professions using their methodology.
The most common job is a retail salesperson. There are a whopping 4,270,550 people selling merchandise, such as furniture, cars, appliances and apparel in the U.S. Retail salespeople earn about $25,130 a year (or $12.08 per hour), on average.
Businesses also need employees to ring up those sales–which is why there are 3,314,870 cashiers in the country. They make $9.73 per hour, on average—or about $20,230 annually.
The third most common job is general office clerk. According to the BLS, all 2,828,140 of these professionals perform duties that are “too varied and diverse to be classified in any specific office clerical occupation, requiring knowledge of office systems and procedures.” Common tasks include answering telephones, bookkeeping, typing or word processing, stenography, office machine operation, and filing. They make $28,920 a year, on average.
The Rarest Jobs in the U.S.
1. Private Household Cooks
# of employees: 370
Prepare meals in private homes. Includes personal chefs.
# of employees: 560
Construct oral prostheses to replace missing teeth and other oral structures to correct natural and acquired deformation of mouth and jaws, to restore and maintain oral function, such as chewing and speaking, and to improve appearance.
3. Fishers and Related Fishing Workers
# of employees: 640
Use nets, fishing rods, traps, or other equipment to catch and gather fish or other aquatic animals from rivers, lakes, or oceans, for human consumption or other uses. May haul game onto ship.
4. Fabric Menders (Except Garment)
# of employees: 760
The job: Repair tears, holes, and other defects in fabrics, such as draperies, linens, parachutes, and tents.
5. Patternmakers (Wood)
# of employees: 820
Plan, lay out, and construct wooden unit or sectional patterns used in forming sand molds for castings.
6. Farm Labor Contractors
# of employees: 960
Recruit and hire seasonal or temporary agricultural laborers. May transport, house, and provide meals for workers.
7. Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters
# of employees: 1,000
Perform precision assembling, adjusting, or calibrating, within narrow tolerances, of timing devices such as digital clocks or timing devices with electrical or electronic components.
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The Most Common Jobs in the U.S.
1. Retail Salespeople
# of employees: 4,270,550
The job: Sell merchandise, such as furniture, motor vehicles, appliances, or apparel to consumers.
# of employees: 3,314,870
The job: Receive and disburse money in establishments other than financial institutions. May use electronic scanners, cash registers, or related equipment. May process credit or debit card transactions and validate checks.
3. General Office Clerks
# of employees: 2,828,140
The job: Perform duties too varied and diverse to be classified in any specific office clerical occupation, requiring knowledge of office systems and procedures. Clerical duties may be assigned in accordance with the office procedures of individual establishments and may include a combination of answering telephones, bookkeeping, typing or word processing, stenography, office machine operation, and filing.
4. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food
# of employees: 2,799,430
The job: Perform duties which combine preparing and serving food and nonalcoholic beverages.
5. Registered Nurses
# of employees: 2,724,570
The job: Assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. May advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required. Include advance practice nurses such as: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nursing is practiced by RNs who have specialized formal, post-basic education and who function in highly autonomous and specialized roles.
6. Waiters and Waitresses
# of employees: 2,289,010
The job: Take orders and serve food and beverages to patrons at tables in dining establishment.
7. Customer Service Representatives
# of employees: 2,212,820
The job: Interact with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints.
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