Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Common Jobs

The Least Common Jobs

10. Geographers
> Total number of jobs: 1,480
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 29.0%
> Average annual income: $75,070

Geographers study land and its features, including lakes, mountains and volcanoes. They also study natural phenomena such as tsunamis and earthquakes, as well as the natural history of land. Nearly half of all geographers in the U.S. were employed by the federal government in 2012, and on average, earned fairly lucrative salaries. The average annual salary for geographers was over $75,000, while the top 10% of Geographers earned at least $105,070. According to the BLS, geographers need at least a master’s degree in geography, although some entry level positions in geography require just a bachelor’s degree. The number of geographers is expected to increase by 29% by 2022, among the highest growth percentages among all professions.

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9. Timing device assemblers and adjusters
> Total number of jobs: 1,460
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: -2.6%
> Average annual income: $31,410

Timing device assemblers and adjusters construct precision timepieces such as clocks and watches. The number of jobs in this occupation is expected to shrink by 2.6% between 2012 and 2022. The number of total jobs in the U.S., by comparison, is expected to grow 10.8% during that time. The average salary for someone working in this job was $31,410, lower than the majority of all other occupations in the country.

8. Animal breeders
> Total number of jobs: 1,240
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: -23.4%
> Average annual income: $40,310

Animal breeders can focus on breeding either household pets or livestock, such as pigs, chicken and sheep. Breeders keep track of animals’ genealogies and traits, and they use this knowledge to produce desired traits in their offspring. Animal breeders usually have prior relevant experience working with animals, and they must learn to utilize breeding equipment for some animals. The average animal breeder took home more than $40,000, somewhat lower than the average for all occupations, although pay can range widely. Some breeders made less than $18,000 per year, while top-paid breeders made more than $60,000 as of last year.

7. Wood model makers
> Total number of jobs: 1,240
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 5.5%
> Average annual income: $33,910

Wood model makers create wooden replicas of products. On top of woodworking skills, they should be able to read blueprints. A high level of formal education is not necessarily required, but vocational training and on-the-job experience are frequently important for model makers. The craft is not especially high paying, with an average salary of just $33,910. The profession is also projected to grow just 5.5% from 2012 through 2022, about half of the expected growth rate for all occupations.

6. Radio operators
> Total number of jobs: 1,160
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 1.2%
> Average annual income: $45,210

Radio operators maintain equipment and send radio communications. They often must monitor emergency frequencies, and in some cases, communicate with ships, aircraft and mining crews. The projected growth rate of radio operator jobs by 2022 is 1.2%, one of the lower growth rates in the country. While the average salary of a radio operator was similar to the average salary for all U.S. occupations, many radio operators were actually relatively well-paid. The median annual salary as of 2013 for radio operators was $44,620, which was above the median annual salary for all occupations in the U.S. of $35,080.