What Were the Jobs in the 1700s?

Dennis Jarvis/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The most prevalent jobs in the 1700s were in agriculture and farming. In addition, there were many skilled craftsmen and artisans, which included candlemakers, gunsmiths, brickmakers, blacksmiths, cobblers and hatters. These jobs arose out of a growing demand for household goods. There were also shopkeepers who sold common items like bread, coffee, cheese and candles at their stores.

In the beginning of the 1700s, most people worked as farmers. In the southern United States, tobacco and cotton plantations were the main components of the agricultural economy. Most plantation work was done by slaves. In addition to farming, fishing and whaling were popular jobs. Hunting whales was a dangerous job, but it was also very profitable. As the 1700s progressed, wealthy home owners desired luxury goods such as beautiful carpets and textiles, furniture and fine silver. In response to this demand, skilled artisans began to increase in number. Aspiring craftsmen first had to work as apprentices. Apprentices often left their family when they were as young as 14 years old. They worked for many years under the guidance of a skilled craftsman. The craftsman was responsible for clothing, feeding and housing his apprentice. Apprenticeship was most common in the U.S. colonies and England.