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These Politicians Had Normal Jobs Before Running for Office

30. George Washington (Surveyor)

Image: Brewminate

Long before George Washington became president of the United States, he worked as a surveyor measuring land, water, and air space. His job allowed him to purchase his first piece of land in western Virginia, where he worked for his county in 1749.

29. John Glenn (Astronaut)

Image: CBS News

John Glenn was an astronaut before he became a Senator and was once called “the last true national hero America has ever had.” Before turning to politics, Glenn was the first American astronaut to orbit the planet in 1962. He also served in the Korean War and World War II before becoming a Senator for Ohio in 1974.

28. Maurice Hinchey (Toll Booth Collector)

Image: Politico

Hinchey served in Congress from 2003-2013 for the state of New York. An avid environmentalist and vocal critic of fracking, Hinchey worked as a toll booth collector before turning to politics. Coming from a family where his father was a cement worker, Hinchey wanted a job where he could make a difference for working families.

27. John Adams (Minister)

Image: History

Our second president, John Adams, originally believed his calling was to be a minister. However, he held off for a few years to teach and eventually became a lawyer. This would lead him into a career in politics. From minister to president, talk about an illogical leap!

26. Rob Wittman (Fisherman)

Image: CBS DC

Before heading to D.C., Rob Wittman worked as a fisherman, as well as in a tomato cannery in Leedstown, Va. His love for fishing eventually led him to a job working at the Health Department’s Division of Shellfish Sanitation before he took office in 2007.

25. Abraham Lincoln (General Store Owner)

Image: Hollowverse

Before Abraham Lincoln became president, he worked as the owner of a general store in 1832. He also became the postmaster for the area he lived in and took work as a county surveyor on the side. Eventually, Lincoln become a lawyer and entered into the world of politics. Sadly, his presidency was cut short when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

24. Shelley Berkley (Keno Runner)

Image: Cloture Club

Former Nevada congressman, Shelley Berkley may have lost her Senate bid in 2012, but she did find a job working as a cocktail waitress in a casino while finishing her political science degree. Berkley served in Congress between 1999-2012 and proved you could be anything regardless of where you came from. From cocktails to congress! Sounds like a great title for a memoir don’t you think?

23. Kerry Bentivolio (Reindeer Trainer)

Image: G1NBC

Now this one is quite “out there” in terms of jobs, but before he was elected to Congress for the state of Michigan, Bentivolio was a reindeer trainer. Pretty cool, right? We wonder if good ‘ole Saint Nicholas used his services?

22. Andrew Johnson (Apprentice Tailor)

Image: History

Working as an apprentice tailor for his mother, Andrew Johnson would go on to become a full-time tailor in South Carolina and Tennessee. He would eventually become the 17th president of the United States.

21. Don Young (Tugboat Captain)

Image: Politico

Considered to be a hard-nosed Republican, Young is not very well-liked in political circles. In fact, he once made Rolling Stone’s list of “The Ten Worst Members of Congress Ever.” Despite all this, Young has remained in office since 1973, when he previously worked as a tugboat captain in the Yukon. Talk about having small and humble beginnings.

20. Jesse Ventura (Wrestler)

Image: The Rhino Den

Before becoming the governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura worked as a professional wrestler. He served as governor from 1999 to 2003, and now has a career as an author where he lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He’s certainly enjoyed a wide variety of careers, that’s for sure.

19. Salvatore Phillip Bono (Musician)

Image: Alchetron

Although Sonny Bono is best known for his work with Cher as a musician, he actually served as a California Congressman from 1995-1998. Sadly, Bono died in a skiing accident before he could really get started. Bono is known for the Copyright Extension Act, which extends the copyright terms to 70 years after an author’s death.

18. Ronald Reagan (Actor)

Image: Heritage Action

Did you know that Ronald Reagan was an actor before becoming the 40th president in 1981? Reagan starred in over 50 films and also served as president of the Screen Actors guild. Some of Reagan’s most popular films are Tennessee’s Partner and Hellcats of the Navy.¬†

17. Jack Dalrymple (Farmer)

Image: Say Anything

Before taking office in 2010 as a Congressman for North Dakota, Dalrymple worked as a successful bonanza farmer, cultivating and harvesting wheat. In 1983, he was named “Outstanding Young Farmer of the United States of America.” Quite the accomplishment and a definite career flip in terms of moving to D.C.

16. Lincoln Chafee (Horse Podiatrist)

Image: Politico

Chafee’s political career has been marred with controversy since he became a Senator in 2000. Labeled as a disloyal Republican after endorsing former President Obama in 2008, he eventually switched to being an independent before officially changing his affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2013. However, long before his political career took off, Chafee worked as a horse podiatrist after graduating from Brown University. That’s quite the career move.

15. Barack Obama (Community Organizer)


Former president, Barack Obama, worked many different jobs before he was elected the first African-American president in 2008.  Obama worked as a community organizer for three years at a church-based organization in Chicago. This would become cannon fodder for the Republicans and something former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin would use in her rallies during the 2008 election.

14. Al Franken (Comedian)

Image: Minnpost

Who would have thought that comedian and former SNL alumni, Al Franken would eventually become a Senator in 2009? Franken has become a very outspoken voice in the Democratic party, opposing President Trump every step of the way. He’s received much criticism over his political satire sketches from the past, which may have foreshadowed his current career in politics.

13. Jim Jordan (Wrestling Coach)

Image: USA Today

Before heading to D.C. to serve as a congressman for Ohio, Jim Jordan worked as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Wrestling has played a huge role in the congressman’s life, starting when he became a wrestling star in high school. He would go on to be a two-time NCAA Division I champion, before eventually transitioning into politics.

12. William Taft (Judge)

Image: Politico

Taft was involved in politics and the legal field before becoming president in 1908, working as a prosecutor before being appointed a judge to the Ohio Superior Court. President Harrison would go on to appoint Taft as solicitor general of the United States, prepping Taft to take on D.C. when he took the oath of office.

11. Woodrow Wilson (College Professor)

Image: American Renaissance

Woodrow Wilson was a visiting professor at Cornell University in 1886, and also taught at Bryn Mawr College and Wesleyan University. Before being elected president of the United States in 1912, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University from 1902-1910.

10. Theodore Roosevelt (Police Officer/Inventor)

Image: Snopes

Before serving two terms as the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt worked as a police officer, as well as an inventor. In case you didn’t know, Roosevelt invented the light bulb, as wells the mirror. Impressive, right? Roosevelt would also win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 before assuming the office of the presidency.

9. Lyndon B. Johnson (Teacher)

Image: History

Growing up on a farm in Texas, Johnson worked as a teacher prior to becoming president. He graduated from the Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1930 and took over a small Hispanic school during the Great Depression. Throughout his years teaching, Johnson would do volunteer political work, which eventually brought him into the world of politics.

8. Justin Trudeau (Bouncer)

Image: BBC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau worked as a bouncer, snowboarding instructor and even a teacher before moving into politics. At one point, Trudeau even attempted to be a professional boxer, winning a few matches before realizing he wanted to enter into the world of the Canadian government.

7. Dennis Skinner (Coal Miner)

Image: BBC

Known for being a political firebrand, Dennis Skinner worked as a coal miner before moving into the political arena. Skinner spent over 20 years in the mines, even becoming the youngest chairman of the Derbyshire National Union of Miners.

6. John Langley (Porn Star)

Image: Bristol Post

Before John Langley became the vice chairman of the Ukip party in Bristol, he worked as a porn star using an alter ego named Johnny Rockard. According to Langley, he kept his normal life separated from his adult performing, but considered himself to be just like anyone else. We think the members of Parliament may disagree.

5. Tony Abbott (Priest)

Image: The Australian

The former Prime Minister of Australia thought he had a divine calling long before he ventured into the world of politics. Studying as a Catholic priest for three years, Abott realized he didn’t belong in the profession and would move on to studying politics later in life.

4. Harry Truman (Retail Manager)

Image: History News Network

After the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, Truman would take the oath of office to become the 33rd president of the United States. However, long before he entered the world of politics, Truman worked as a retail manager for a haberdashery, which he founded after being discharged from the military at the conclusion of World War I.

3. Jimmy Carter (Peanut Farmer)

Image: ABC News Go

Jimmy Carter grew up in Plains, Georgia and took over the family business of peanut farming long before he took the oath of office. He would eventually transition into politics, serving as a member of the Georgia Senate before becoming governor of the state and eventually our 39th president in 1977. He would only serve one term before he lost to Ronald Reagan.

2. George W. Bush (Baseball Team Owner)

Image: The Hill

Before running for president, Bush was the partial owner of the Texas Rangers. He also started his own oil business, working with a research company to find the best drilling sites throughout the world. Oil would become a huge issue throughout his presidency, with many claiming he took us to war for the oil fields in Afghanistan.

1. Herbert Hoover (Geologist)

Image: History

Graduating in 1895 with a degree in geology, Herbert Hoover worked as a mining engineer while searching for gold in western Australia in 1897. At the young age of 23, he was given the job of mine manager and would continue this career until 1908. He would eventually go on to be elected president of the United States in 1928, only serving one term before being ousted by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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