Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Every State

A range of factors as disparate as the presence of major research universities, a state’s natural resources, and access to coastline shape a state’s economy — and consequently its labor market. The most iconic job in many states will not come as a surprise — for example, petroleum engineers in Texas; gaming workers in Nevada; and extraction workers in North Dakota, to name a few.

While certain jobs, like teachers, police officers, and mail carriers, are ubiquitous nationwide, every state is home to a uniquely large share of people working in a certain profession. For example, more than one-third of all fashion designers employed in the United States work in New York. Similarly, nearly half of all logging workers nationwide are employed in Oregon.

In Alabama, the concentration of people working in tire manufacturing plants is 7.4 times higher than it is nationwide. Manufacturing has long been a pillar of the state’s economy, and a number of tire makers have production facilities in the state, including a BF Goodrich and Michelin. The BF Goodrich plant in Tuscaloosa employs over 1,000 state residents and the Michelin plant in Dothan employs hundreds.

In addition to the presence of major employers, the level of access to natural resources helps explain concentrations of energy extraction jobs in several states. In Louisiana, for example, a state with a considerable coast line along the Gulf of Mexico and a border along the Mississippi river, boat captains are the most iconic job. The concentration of boat captains in the Louisiana workforce is 15 times greater the comparable concentration nationwide.

To identify the most iconic job in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the occupation with the highest location quotient in every state using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics survey. Only occupations that comprised at least one of every 2,000 jobs statewide were considered. State and national employment figures and median salaries for each occupation also come from the BLS. All data are for 2016, the most recent period available.