Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Every State

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Montana: Forest and conservation technicians
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 14.2 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 860
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $45,490 (nationwide: $45,860)
> Share of all US forest and conservation technicians in Montana: 4.5%

Forest and conservation technicians work to conserve soil, water, forests, and other natural resources. Such workers are about 14 times more concentrated in Montana than they are nationwide. Montana is home to 15 protected wilderness areas that span more than 3.4 million acres. Healthy forests are a critical part of the state’s identity, as over 80% of state residents regularly engage in outdoor recreation — and much of it on public land.

The average annual wage for forest and conservation technicians in Montana is just $45,490, in line with the national average.

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Nebraska: Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 8.9 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 9,200
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $34,720 (nationwide: $28,810)
> Share of all US meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers in Nebraska: 6.0%

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers are about nine times more concentrated in Nebraska’s labor force than in the U.S. labor force. The state led the nation in commercial cattle slaughter in 2020 at nearly 7 million head. Farming and ranching are possible in the state as much of the landscape makes for ideal grazing pastures for cattle.

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers tend to have slightly higher incomes in Nebraska than they do on average nationwide. The average annual wage in the occupation is $34,720 in Nebraska, compared to $28,810 across the U.S. as a whole.

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Nevada: Gambling dealers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 24.1 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 22,580
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $18,750 (nationwide: $23,980)
> Share of all US gambling dealers in Nevada: 22.8%

Las Vegas and its casino industry is the lifeblood of Nevada’s economy — and gambling dealers are the state’s most iconic occupation. There are over 22,500 gaming dealers working in Nevada, operating card tables and other casino games and distributing winnings. Nearly 23% of all American gaming dealers work in Nevada.

Gaming dealers are not highly compensated in Nevada, however. Their average annual wage is just $18,750. Nationwide, the typical gambling dealer earns nearly $24,000 a year.

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New Hampshire: Log graders and scalers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 4.7 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 70
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $40,310 (nationwide: $39,110)
> Share of all US log graders and scalers in New Hampshire: 2.1%

About 84% of New Hampshire is forested land, and partially as a result, forestry is a $1.4 billion industry in the state. New Hampshire is a relatively small state, and though there are only about 70 people working as log graders and scalers in the state, the occupation is still about five times more concentrated in New Hampshire than it is nationwide. The 70 log graders and scalers, who inspect logs to estimate their value, make up a small share of the roughly 1,700 people working in the state as loggers or foresters.

The average annual wage for loggers and scalers in New Hampshire is $40,310, about $1,200 more than the average income among all log graders and scalers nationwide.

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New Jersey: Biochemists and biophysicists
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 8.3 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 7,280
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: N/A (nationwide: $108,180)
> Share of all US biochemists and biophysicists in New Jersey: 23.2%

In New Jersey, biochemists and biophysicists are 8.3 times more concentrated than they are nationwide. Generally, these occupations consist of studying the chemical and physical qualities of living things and of biological processes. Many working in the field are employed by pharmaceutical companies — and, home to 14 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies, New Jersey has been dubbed “The Medicine Chest of the World.”

Pharmaceutical companies operating in the state include Bayer Healthcare, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Novartis. Of the 31,400 Americans working as biochemists and biophysicists, 23.2% work in New Jersey.