Special Report

America's Most (and Least) Common Jobs

5. Segmental pavers
> Total number of jobs: 1,110
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 38.1%
> Average annual income: $35,290

Segmental pavers ensure the streets and sidewalks are smoothly paved. Typically, pavers pour, lay out and shape concrete in segments, as well as install bedding and restraining materials, to build surface infrastructure such as sidewalks, runways, and roads. The job does not require a higher education, but it is labor intensive. The average annual salary was $35,290 — among the lower half of salaries in the U.S. for all occupations. According to the BLS, The number of segmental pavers will increase by 38.1% between 2012 and 2022, among the highest growth rates of all occupations.

4. Mathematical technicians
> Total number of jobs: 1,080
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 12.6%
> Average annual income: $60,260

Mathematical technicians apply mathematical principles to technological and engineering problems. With just roughly 1,080 people working in the field as of 2013, and a projected growth rate of 12.6% between 2012 and 2022 — about on par with the expected growth rate for all jobs in the U.S. — openings remain fairly rare. Technicians usually require a bachelor’s degree in a field such as applied mathematics. The ability to transform raw data into meaningful information often requires knowledge of various software programs as well. In addition to technicians, “other workers in mathematical science occupations,” was also among the least common jobs, with 1,240 people employed in the area last year.

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3. Industrial-organizational psychologists
> Total number of jobs: 1,040
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 53.4%
> Average annual income: $87,960

Industrial-organizational psychologists deal with issues of worker morale and productivity. Industrial-organizational psychologists usually require, at a minimum, a master’s degree in psychology. Although the field is small, with total employment of slightly more than 1,000 people, it is a growing field. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS projects the number of such psychologists will grow by 53.4%, driven by employers’ desires to retain employees and keep them productive. The job also pays well, with an average wage of nearly $88,000, although compensation ranges widely. At least 10% of industrial-organizational psychologists earned less than $50,000 last year, while the top-paid 10% earned at least $140,390.

2. Wood patternmakers
> Total number of jobs: 870
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: 0.2%
> Average annual income: $39,940

Wood patternmakers generally plan and construct wooden units or sectional patterns in various types of furniture. Jobs in this field are predominantly located in the rust belt region of the U.S., according to BLS data, while others are located in the furniture capital of America, North Carolina. Last year the average salary of a wood patternmaker was $39,940, lower than the $46,440 average salary in the U.S. that year. The top quartile of wood patternmakers made a median annual salary of $48,530. The job generally requires vocational training, on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree. The number of jobs in the field are expected to grow by about 0.2% between 2012 and 2022, one of the slower rates in the country.

1. Fabric menders
> Total number of jobs: 800
> Pct. change 2012 to 2022: -10.4%
> Average annual income: $27,910

Fabric menders repair defects in fabrics — ranging from linens to parachutes. As part of their work, menders patch tears, clean stains, and install grommets as needed, among other tasks. As of last year, there were only 800 fabric menders. And the BLS projects that the number of menders will decline even further in the next decade. Fabric menders are generally not especially well paid. Less than 10% of all menders were paid more than $40,000 per year as of 2013, well below the national average wage of $46,440.

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