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The 12 Jobs America Can't Live Without

The 12 Jobs America Can't Live Without
Credit: Strizh/Shutterstock

As the United States celebrates another birthday, and American workers enjoy a day off from work, hereꞌs a look at some of the essential jobs that have made our country what it is today.

"While every job plays an important role in making America a successful, thriving nation, our study focuses on 12 careers that provide for our most basic needs: food, clean water, health, shelter, safety and communication," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. "These workers impact our lives every day."

The 12 occupations that CareerBuilder identified as vital to keeping our country running are:

1. Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers

  • Number employed: 494,879
  • Median income: $30,597
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Farms produce the crops and livestock that represent most, if not all, of the food found in our pantries and refrigerators.

2. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

  • Number employed: 113,370
  • Median income: $45,968
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Water and wastewater workers are responsible for the constant monitoring, cleaning and frequent testing of water samples. Without these workers, we wouldn't have the easy access to fresh water that we all enjoy.

3. Teachers

  • Number employed: 4,031,658
  • Median income: $55,557
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Teachers play a vital role of giving our children knowledge, while also preparing them to become successful adults.  

4. Construction laborers

  • Number employed: 1,335,944
  • Median income: $31,658
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Construction workers are responsible for building our cities and communities. They build bridges, skyscrapers, houses and just about everything else.

5. Electrical and telecommunications line installers and repairers

  • Number employed: 238,922
  • Median income: $60,965
  • Why we canꞌt live without them:  We rely on electronic devices today more than ever. These workers are responsible for maintaining the cable lines that keep our electricity and phone lines up and running.

6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors

  • Number employed: 134,250
  • Median income: $34,258
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Without these workers, our streets and neighborhoods would be overrun with garbage. Research from Yale University revealed that Americans throw out 5 pounds of trash per person, every day.

7. Police and sheriffꞌs patrol officers

  • Number employed: 675,939
  • Median income: $60,466
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Police officers help keep us safe. They maintain order and respond to emergency situations whenever they are called upon.

8. Firefighters

  • Number employed: 314,928
  • Median income: $48,859
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: Firefighters keep communities safe from one of the most vicious natural forces on the planet. Research from the National Fire Protection Association discovered that fires were responsible for 3,275 civilian deaths and $11.5 billion in property damage in 2014.

9. EMTs, paramedics and ambulance drivers

  • Number employed: 266,853
  • Median income: $32,510
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: These workers save lives on a daily basis by providing emergency medical treatment and patient transportation to medical facilities.

10. Registered nurses

  • Number employed: 2,870,340
  • Median income: $69,077
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: From hospitals and doctor's offices to nursing homes and home care, nurses are what keeps most medical operations running smoothly. They interact with patients even more than doctors and provide the type of hands-on care most patients require.

11. Military Occupations

  • Number employed: 2,098,652
  • Median income: $35,194
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: These men and women protect Americans on a daily basis. Whether its operating in combat or training capacities, or providing essential services like transportation, medical care and legal assistance, the U.S. military has enough professions to ensure our safety in any situation.

12. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

  • Number employed: 1,926,886
  • Median income: $39,312
  • Why we canꞌt live without them: These workers are responsible for delivering the goods and services our citizens buy and sell each day. Most products and packages are driven on trucks between cities, states or even cross-country.

The data was collected by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company that provides employment information and economic analysis via web tools and custom reports. EMSI data is collected from more than 100 federal and state sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau and state labor departments.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.