What Jobs From the 1920s Can Teach Us Today

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The labor market has been ever-dynamic, adjusting to changes in technological and other advancements. However, there haven’t been many significant changes to the jobs in the Roaring 20s and the ones we have now. Some faze out over time, others evolved, while countess new jobs have made their debut.

Job laws and ethics have also seen their fair share of changes, but many of the practices now have been with us since the 1920s.

This article will educate you on what jobs in the 1920s can teach us today. You’ll learn about the jobs that were around then compared to now and some essential lessons we can learn from them.

What Were the Most Popular Jobs of the 1920s?

1. Farmers

Farming was one of the most popular jobs in the 1920s, no matter where you go. The world wasn’t as populated nor environmentally contaminated as it is now, and there were fertile lands to grow different crops. They also reared many animals for food and other domestic purposes, with chickens, cows, and pigs being the most dominant.

2. Factory Workers

Factory work was also one of the most popular, and this was due to the growth of industrialization. Investors acquired patents during this era, and entrepreneurs established factories to produce different goods. People worked in the sewing, food processing, or car-making industries.

The car-making industry was where we got one of the 8-5 9-hour working days we still use today. Henry Ford, the owner of the largest automobile-making manufacturer of the 1920s, introduced it. This advancement was largely experimental. However, it increased productivity so much that it’s still in use.

3. Teaching

Of course, teaching has existed for long. However, the mode of teaching as the world advances. Teachers were well respected in the 1920s, and their job wasn’t only to teach in classrooms. They usually have a cordial relationship with the parents of their students and the community, to teach the students morals and shape them into respectful citizens.

4. Nurses

Nurses tend to the sick and keep the entire populace healthy. It has always been a well-respected profession, and the 1920s wasn’t different. The respect for them even grew during the flu pandemic that ravaged the world in 1918-1920.

5. Coal Miners

Coal mining was popular in the 1920s. It was the primary fuel source to power the stationary and locomotive engines that existed at that time. The job wasn’t any less dangerous than it is today, and the miners had to go into the mines with the dangers of it caving in or the highly inflammable end goal catching fire, which is often fatal. However, it was a dirty and risky job that commanded fair pay, and that was why many people did it in the 1920s.

How do the Most Popular Jobs of the 1920s Fare Now?

Most of the most popular jobs of the 1920s are still popular today. However, their practice has undergone significant changes due to global socio-political advancements. This section will look at some of the most popular jobs in the 1920s (also among the most popular now) and how they fare in the current world.


The 1920s was when farmers started using machinery on a large scale to produce crops. Using machines to replace manual labor made it so simple that farmers grew more than the population needed, which resulted in food prices dropping.

Fast forward to now, the number of farms has reduced from around 6 million in the 1920s to 2 million. The introduction of many other jobs due to technological advancements is a huge contributor. Many would go to college and get decent employment rather than go to the farm.

Thanks to these same technological advances, farming is more productive now. Farmers now have access to mechanized farm equipment, and they barely ever need to make contact with the soil or their farm animals anymore. The introduction of AI, automation, and precision farming will make things simpler for farmers in the future.

Factory Workers

The term “factory work” is broad, as there are different kinds of companies. Compared to the 1920s, many more companies are set up now to meet the ever-increasing population demands. People still work in these companies, although some job descriptions have changed.

In the automobile industry, robots now assemble some of the parts of the vehicles, eliminating the need for the human workforce.

Therefore, we get a reduction of employment in the field that used to produce one in every six jobs in the US. Technology also took its toll on how things are done in many other factories, reducing the number of hand-employed factory workers.

However, it’s imperative to understand why it took some jobs; it created others, as people need to operate some machines to make things work. Technology only eases the work in the sewing machine or food processing industry.


Teaching has its fair share of evolvement, and teachers only need to be updated with the latest trends in the profession.

There have been changes in the teaching methods, and teachers now have to be more engaging and focus more on the individual performance of their students. Social media has also created new instruction methods, and teachers can now teach students who are thousands of kilometers from them.


Nurses also didn’t experience much difference in how things used to work in the 1920s to now, albeit the job gets more respect. More people want to do the job now, and as discoveries advance in the health sector, nurses must be skillful. Therefore, the standards at colleges have gotten higher, making nurses better.

Coal Miners

Coal Mining is another job that has seen production soar in this era compared to the 1920s. However, the occupation in the 1920s was ravaged by controversies, as the miners regularly fought to be treated fairly due to working conditions. Thousands of miners died annually, which makes the job one of the most dangerous then.

Fast forward to now, the introduction of open-cut and longwall mines has reduced the number of bodies that enter mines. Machines like conveyors, draglines, and hydraulic jacks do the job instead.

Legislation and workers’ protection rights have also made mining more controlled and safer. Miners now have to undergo a compulsory instruction class before they go into the before they can enter the mines.

What Jobs Existed in the 1920s but Not in the 2020s?

Some jobs existed in the 1920s, but not anymore. Also, many jobs exist now that you can’t find 100 years ago. Jobs like switchboard operators, leech collectors, radio actors, typesetters, and many others have become obsolete with time.

Many jobs exist that aren’t present then, or even 20 years ago–they’re a product of the 2020s. These jobs include AI Engineers, wireless car engineers, data scientists, cloud architects, user experience designers, social media managers, or fintech analysts. All these jobs are tech-related because it has been one of the most significant differences between the 1920s and 2020s jobs.

What do Jobs from the 1920s Teach Us Today?

Just like some jobs in the 1920s don’t exist now, some jobs we have now will disappear soon. AI is one of the biggest challenges to jobs.

However, many future job opportunities will also open due to AI and other factors. You should get a job that gives you security over employment for years. Even if you do, always be open to change if need be.

If you work at any job at risk of going away soon, there’s still time to explore your options, as AI is still at its inception stage.

There are many similarities and differences between jobs in the 1920s and now, which shows the dynamism in the labor sector. Many jobs have become obsolete and replaced, while others have evolved with time.

Despite the difference in this era in the labor market, the world continues to work hard to make itself a better place, and chances are high that many jobs now will be gone in the future. The 1920s and 2020s are remarkable in human history and have significantly impacted future generations.

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