American pioneers were primarily farmers by necessity. Farming was a way of survival and established a claim of land ownership. While farming was their primary occupation, pioneers were also hunters, trappers, loggers and carpenters.
During the 19th century, the American pioneer moved westward away from established areas of society and into unsettled territories. The goal of owning property, and living independently on it, separated the pioneer from other figures moving westward such as the trapper, the miner and the explorer. The expansion of the United States depended on people moving into and occupying western territories. A series of land acts offered free land to anyone willing to risk the journey and caused great migrations, such as the Gold Rush, during the 19th century. The first waves of pioneers needed many skills in order to fend for themselves and create new lives away from the comforts and conveniences of established society. As more pioneers headed west, towns were established and familiar forms of occupation began to appear. Druggists, clothiers, equipment salesman, traders and carpenters were a few types of jobs that developed in towns to support settlers and build communities. Doctors, bankers and saloon owners came soon after, but they weren't considered pioneers.