What Is The Most Common Job To Have Before Becoming President? It's This Kind Of Experience That Matters
Throughout the election, the Democrats have lauded Hillary Clinton as the most prepared candidate for president ever. But does the kind of experience matter too? George Washington is still considered to be pretty good and he was a land surveyor and then a soldier before taking the top job. Of all the positions that Clinton has held, those are not among them. So to decide if her experience matters, you might want to consider what the most common job to have before president is.
Well, to Clinton's credit it seems she does have a fair amount in common with the past 44 presidents — or at least about 60 percent of them. According to an InsideGov study, two out of every three served as lawyers at some point in their career. That's 26 total presidents. Now that doesn't mean they were practicing law immediately before moving into the White House. It was often a stepping stone in their path, but you can definitely argue that a law degree might come in handy. Of the last several presidents, both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were lawyers.
One of the most famous lawyers to become president was Abraham Lincoln. While not his first profession — he owned a general store for a time and worked as a post master first — his law education was even self taught. Interestingly enough, he served as a politician before becoming a lawyer. He was elected to the Illinois House before a colleague convinced him to read up and take the bar. Lincoln was just 25 when he was given his law license.
After law, the most common positions that presidents have had are in the military. Only nine were generals, but some 22 served in some capacity. Among the most recent to serve were George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush. Younger Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard, while his dad served as a pilot for the Navy. Jimmy Carter was also a Navy man — although he often gets described as a peanut farmer like in this Huffington Post piece: "President Carter eventually took over and successfully expanded his family business of peanut farming."
The most famous military man to have become president in the last 60 years would likely be Dwight Eisenhower. This man, of course, was one of the top generals in Europe during World War II and then served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe following the war. He interestingly is also the president who warned us about the military-industrial complex upon leaving office.
Given the complexities of both the military and the courts, either background makes a lot of sense. Trump has neither legal or military experience, but Clinton has worked as a lawyer and has also held other pre-presidential positions. Some 16 presidents were also once U.S. senators, and of course Clinton served as the junior senator from New York. Then another six were secretaries of state before taking over the top job; she served during Obama's first term. It seems she has at least three of the typical boxes checked. Regardless of the significance behind these trends, the election is a great excuse to dig into some fun and interesting history.