Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Every State

Hawaii: Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 8.8 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 1,270
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $57,070 (nationwide: $87,420)
> Share of all US captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels in Hawaii: 3.8%

In Hawaii, a group of over 100 islands in the Pacific, separated by the U.S. mainland by over 2,000 miles of ocean, there are nearly 1,300 people working as captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels — nearly nine times the concentration of such workers in the U.S. as a whole.

Hawaii is also home to the port of Honolulu, which is among the 30 largest in the United States. People working as boat or ship captains or pilots are required to hold a license from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Idaho: Nuclear technicians
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 10.4 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 330
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $75,550 (nationwide: $82,710)
> Share of all US nuclear technicians in Idaho: 5.1%

Nuclear technicians are over 10 times more concentrated in Idaho than they are nationwide. When it came online in 1951, the Idaho National Laboratory was the first nuclear power plant in U.S. history. Though it is now strictly a federal nuclear research center and no longer produces electricity, it is one of the largest employers in the state. Additionally, though there are no commercial nuclear power plants in operation in Idaho, by 2026, the INL plans to generate power through 12 small nuclear reactors.

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Illinois: Rail car repairers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 2.9 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 3,120
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $55,510 (nationwide: $56,810)
> Share of all US rail car repairers in Illinois: 12.0%

Rail car repairers are nearly three times more concentrated in Illinois than they are nationwide. The state alone employs about 12% of all rail car repairers nationwide. Their concentration in the state is due in large part to Chicago’s distinction as the most important rail hub in North America.

Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest, is a major interchange point for railroad freight with an estimated 500 trains passing through per day, and is also a major Amtrak hub. The city itself has one of the most extensive commuter rail systems in the United States, serving hundreds of thousands of residents each day.

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Indiana: Engine and other machine assemblers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 8.3 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 7,990
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: N/A (nationwide: $46,570)
> Share of all US engine assemblers in Indiana: 17.4%

Indiana is a major American manufacturing hub, and that reputation is partially driven by engine and automotive production in the state. Over 17% of all Americans working as engine assemblers are employed in Indiana.

Fiat Chrysler has an engine plant in Kokomo, Indiana, and diesel engine manufacturer Cummins also employs thousands in plants in southern Indiana. Other automotive giants with assembly plants in the state include General Motors, Honda, Subaru, and Toyota. Industrial equipment company Caterpillar also has an engine production facility in Lafayette, Indiana.

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Iowa: Wind turbine service technicians
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 7.6 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 480
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $57,510 (nationwide: $56,700)
> Share of all US wind turbine service technicians in Iowa: 8.1%

Over 8% of all wind turbine service technicians in the United States are employed in Iowa. The state produces more energy from wind than every other state with the exception of Oklahoma and Texas. There are about 5,100 wind turbines spread across the state, though most are located in northwestern Iowa where winds are the strongest. Service technicians are needed to install, maintain, and repair wind turbines in the state.

The average annual wage for a wind turbine technician in Iowa is $57,510, in line with the national average of $56,700.