Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Every State

Source: usfsregion5 / Flickr

41. South Dakota
> Most iconic job: Forest and conservation workers
> Employed in job statewide: 610
> Median salary: $25,390
> Share of all U.S. forest and conservation workers in S.D.: 8.6%

A heavily forested state, South Dakota is home to an estimated 573 million trees across nearly 2 million acres of forest land. Much of that land is managed by forest and conservation workers, who work under the supervision of foresters to measure and improve the quality of forests. Forest and conservation workers are 29 times more heavily concentrated in South Dakota’s labor force than they are across the total U.S. labor force.

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Source: twilightproductions / Getty Images

42. Tennessee
> Most iconic job: Forging machine operators
> Employed in job statewide: 2,740
> Median salary: $54,090
> Share of all U.S. forging machine operators in Tenn.: 15.0%

Manufacturing is critical to Tennessee’s economy, generating $55.7 billion in output in 2017 alone. Forging machine operators — workers who use machines to shape metal and plastic parts — are seven times more concentrated in Tennessee than the U.S. as a whole. Tennessee’s manufacturing sector grew by 32.3% between 2010 and 2017 — and the industry is making a rapid comeback in several cities in the state.

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Source: Kerkez / Getty Images

43. Texas
> Most iconic job: Petroleum engineers
> Employed in job statewide: 17,840
> Median salary: $149,150
> Share of all U.S. petroleum engineers in Texas: 55.7%

Texas is the top crude oil and natural gas producer in the country, accounting for over a third of all U.S. crude production and nearly a quarter of all natural gas. Energy giants ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, and ConocoPhillips are all headquartered in the Lone Star State. A resource-rich state, Texas is home to over half of all petroleum engineers in the country.

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Source: Joecho-16 / Getty Images

44. Utah
> Most iconic job: Forest and conservation technicians
> Employed in job statewide: 1,380
> Median salary: $29,360
> Share of all U.S. forest and conservation technicians in Utah: 4.5%

Utah is home to several national parks, including Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Zion, all of which have federally managed forests and vegetation. Partially as a result, forest and conservation workers — who measure and improve the health of natural ecosystems — are about five times more common in the state than they are nationwide.

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Source: Sean Reid / Getty Images

45. Vermont
> Most iconic job: Solar photovoltaic installers
> Employed in job statewide: 370
> Median salary: $37,670
> Share of all U.S. solar photovoltaic installers in Vt.: 4.1%

Vermont became the first state to codify into law a renewable energy standard in 2015, requiring 75% of all retail electricity sales come from renewable sources by 2032. Today, nearly all the electricity Vermonters use comes from renewable sources — which includes both residential solar panels and industrial solar farms. Partially as a result, solar photovoltaic installers — or solar panel installers — are 19 times more concentrated in Vermont than they are nationwide.

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