Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Common Jobs

The Most Common Jobs

10. Janitors and cleaners
> Total number of jobs: 2.1 million
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 12.1%
> Average annual income: $25,140

The number of janitors is expected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS, roughly in line with the 10.8% projected growth rate for all jobs in the U.S. Becoming a janitor typically does not require a college education. The average annual salary for a janitor, however, is lower than most occupations that the BLS examines. The average janitor earned $25,140 in 2012, well below the U.S. average of $46,440.

9. Secretaries and administrative assistants
> Total number of jobs: 2.2 million
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 13.2%
> Average annual income: $34,000

Already one of the nation’s most common jobs, the number of secretaries is projected to grow even larger. The BLS forecasts a 13.2% increase between 2012 and 2022, only slightly higher than the nationwide job growth rate of 10.8%. However, positions are not usually high paying. Secretaries and administrative assistants earned an average of $34,000 as of 2013, less than the U.S. average of $46,440 across all occupations.

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8. Hand laborers and material movers
> Total number of jobs: 2.3 million
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 11.0%
> Average annual income: $26,690

Movers typically work in settings such as warehouses, where they pack, transport, and take inventory of goods that pass through. Oftentimes, the job requirements are based less on education, or training, and more on physical ability. According to the BLS, increasing consumer spending will continue to drive the need for warehousing. While this means increased need for movers, some of the potential increase may be offset by greater automation of some operations. Many of these jobs are often low paying. Movers earned an average of just under $13 an hour — or less than $27,000 — last year.

7. Customer service representatives
> Total number of jobs: 2.4 million
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 12.6%
> Average annual income: $33,370

Customer service representatives handle customer questions and complaints, primarily over the phone. Pay is often low for customer service representatives, who earned an average of $33,370 as of 2013, versus a nationwide average of more than $46,000. Opportunities to earn more in the profession are somewhat limited. The top-paid 10% of all customer service representatives earned more than $50,570, versus more than $88,000 annually for the top 10% of all workers.

6. Waiters and waitresses
> Total number of jobs: 2.4 million
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 5.6%
> Average annual income: $20,880

Waiters earned an average of just $20,808 last year, among the lowest in the country, but the job has its perks. Many restaurants offer their servers free meals. Also, servers often receive gratuities in cash. The job, in many cases, offers flexible hours, which is beneficial to students and individuals seeking extra income from part-time work. Roughly half of all waiters and waitresses worked part-time as of 2012, according to the BLS. The number of waiters and waitresses is expected to grow by nearly 6% between 2012 and 2022.