Few decisions in life are as consequential as choosing a career. Yet one’s career path may be less of a choice than many of us realize. The job market in any state is shaped by factors such as geography, natural resources, and the presence of major companies and universities. And what people do for work often depends largely on where they live.
Due to its ideal climate conditions, California has a $50 billion farming industry. Louisiana has over 7,700 miles of coastline along the Gulf — which makes boating and fishing a pillar of the state economy. Similarly, Nevada leans heavily on tourist dollars generated largely by Las Vegas’s gambling industry.
Whatever the reason, there is at least one occupation in every state that stands out as being uniquely representative of that state.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the location quotient of all occupations by state to identify the most iconic job in each state. The location quotient measures the relative concentration of jobs by comparing how common an occupation is in a state compared to how common it is nationwide. For example, of the 11.9 million workers in Texas, 17,840 are petroleum engineers — nearly seven times the national concentration of 32,010 petroleum engineers of the 142.5 million American workers. No other job in Texas is more concentrated relative to its national concentration.
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 — which do not include the self employed — also came from the BLS. All data are for 2017, the most recent period available. For the sake of clarity, we adjusted the names of several occupations on this list from the official designation used by the BLS.