He left out a profession

I am quite perplexed. The first thing I thought of when I thought of the “most durable professions” isn’t even on the list:

Durable Trades: Professions That Have Stood the Test of Time for Hundreds of Years:

The top 10 durable professions, according to Groves, are:

  1. Shepherd (rancher, livestock farmer, dairyman)
  2. Farmer
  3. Midwife
  4. Gardener (arborist, vinedresser, landscaper, flower farmer)
  5. Woodworker (cabinetmaker, finish carpenter)
  6. Carpenter (a builder of structures)
  7. Painter (siding contractor, wall covering specialist)
  8. Cook (chef, caterer, restauranteur)
  9. Brewer (winemaker, distiller)
  10. Innkeeper (hotelier)

Groves follows up the top 20 list with dozens of professions that received “honorable mentions.” The author cautions that his research focused on historical data rather than projecting which professions might be important in the future. Still, the longevity of professions that made the list are certain to give the readers pause before writing off trades in favor of more modern professions.

Even if he did purposefully (it had to be on purpose, right? Who could forget it?) ignore the world’s oldest profession, it’s still an interesting list.


17 thoughts on “He left out a profession

    • Both are really sex-neutral, or to use the current obfuscating euphemism, gender-neutral.
      Both are functionally quite similar, too.

      • Not so sure what killing has to do with sex, though I know that some conflate the two.


  1. Heh, reminds me of a saying from when I went through Intel school: “Intelligence, the second oldest profession, with fewer morals than the first.”

    • I like that. Have to steal it some time.

      But given the book I’m reading now, “The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World” by Virginia Postrel, the author of this book appears to have made a really glaring omission in his list. No weavers.

      Postrel makes a solid case for the fundamental importance of the craft to culture and civilization, citing evidence fiber-craft and textiles been around for 50k+ years. Fascinating book. But weavers didn’t make the list even in his “honorable mention.”

      • I did not know she wrote that book. But of course, there are so many new books each year. I recall The Future and Its Enemies”, the one she had just published back in 1999, when I got her signature on it at the Reason Foundation Banquet, when she was the keynote speaker, and Larry Elder was the introductory speaker.

      • I can see why “potter” doesn’t fit into a list of enduring professions, because that profession has been totally automated. Same with basketmakers. There used to be good work in making containers of different kinds, waterproof or not, different materials, different sizes. These professions were suppliers to almost all the professions on that list.

        Not sure why metalworking trades aren’t on the list. We may not have a village blacksmith any more, but banging metal back into shape or putting pieces of metal together is good work.

        • If you read in opening pages in the “look inside” part of the preview on Amazon, several metalworking trades are listed under “honorable mention.” Basically, it’s a “you can’t have a civilization worth calling that without someone being able to do these basic things.”

          The fact that the production of many things we use daily has largely been outsourced, or automated to the point of hardly employing anyone, and what effects that will have long term on society, is grist for another story.

    • The version I saw (hanging on the wall of our warrant officers’ office) was “Intelligence is the second oldest profession. It differs from the oldest in that it is more immoral and more commonly practiced by amateurs.,

  2. John le Carré wrote a book titled “Tinker Tailor Solder Spy.”

  3. I also would have expected “blacksmith”. Or a related one which certainly has been around for millennia: weapon maker. That’s anything from a stone age arrowhead maker though bowyer and fletcher and swordsmith to gunsmith.

    • “Smith” in its various translations, is the most common name in the world. Maybe 2nd most after Farmer.

  4. Food, water, shelter, heat. Wait, “flower farmer”? Whut?

    We had a midwife. She got lost on the way to the blessed event. Strike from the list, please.

    What about “community resource conservationist”, i.e., large guy/gal patrolling the village walls?

    And what pkoning said. I’m not a blacksmith but I took a course once and I know they were once an important community member. May be again someday too soon.

    • Entertainment. his list is things there will always be a demand for. Not things that pay well you can raise a family on.

      • My point exactly.

        It doesn’t pay well (generally), but there is always a demand for musicians & other types of entertainers.

Comments are closed.