When Barack Obama assumed office, he joined a long list of presidents who had previously been lawyers. In fact, 25 U.S. presidents have had careers in law—more than any other profession.
However, not all presidents have followed the traditional path to the White House (see: Theodore Roosevelt). InsideGov looked at the former jobs of presidents and found some of the most surprising.
From men’s haberdasher to movie star, here are some of the most interesting jobs held by future presidents, listed in chronological order:
#25. Thomas Jefferson
Interesting Job: Architect
Like many of the Founding Fathers, Jefferson was a land speculator and plantation owner. As a renaissance man, Jefferson also dabbled in other professions before assuming the presidency, such as architecture.
#24. John Quincy Adams
Interesting Job: College Professor
The younger Adams actually quit politics before returning to serve as president. In 1808, Adams resigned from the Senate to be a professor at Harvard.
#23. Abraham Lincoln
Interesting Job: Postmaster
When he was 24, Abraham Lincoln served as the postmaster of New Salem, Ill. According to U.S. Official Register records, Lincoln received a total of $55.70 in 1835 for his work.
#22. Andrew Johnson
Interesting Job: Tailor
Johnson’s rise to the presidency is nothing short of remarkable. Born in a log cabin in backwoods North Carolina, Johnson worked as a tailor before deciding to enter local politics.
#21. James Garfield
Interesting Job: School Janitor
While studying at the Eclectic Institute in Ohio, Garfield worked as a school janitor to earn a living. He also served as a part-time teacher.
#20. Chester Arthur
Interesting Job: Tariff Collector
Arthur made a lucrative living as the official Collector of the Port of New York. In addition to his salary, Arthur augmented his income with salary kickbacks from customs house employees.
#19. Grover Cleveland
Interesting Job: Sheriff
Famous for his stubbornness and strong sense of fairness, Cleveland was an intimidating sheriff of Erie County, N.Y. After personally hanging two criminals, Cleveland came to be known as “the hangman of Buffalo.”
#18. Benjamin Harrison
Interesting Job: Reporter
Harrison served as the state reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, but later decided to enlist in the army at the start of the Civil War.
#17. Theodore Roosevelt
Interesting Job: Cattle Rancher
An avid outdoorsman, Teddy Roosevelt left New York City to become a cowboy. Roosevelt owned and operated a cattle ranch in the wild Dakota Territories.
#16. William H. Taft
Interesting Job: Law School Dean
Unlike many young aspiring politicians, Taft did not dream of becoming president. Instead he wanted to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—a position he would eventually hold. Before that, though, Taft had served as a professor and dean of the University of Cincinnati Law School.
#15. Woodrow Wilson
Interesting Job: President of Princeton University
Highly academic in nature, Wilson was a natural fit as the president of Princeton University.
#14. Warren G. Harding
Interesting Job: Newspaper Editor
Harding was the publisher and editor of a newspaper in Marion, Ohio. Harding’s wife, Florence, also played a pivotal role in running the paper.
#13. Calvin Coolidge
Interesting Job: Toymaker
To help pay for his high school education, Coolidge took a weekend job making doll carriages at the Ludlow Toy Manufacturing Company. Post-college, Coolidge followed the more mainstream path to politics and became a lawyer.
#12. Herbert Hoover
Interesting Job: Geologist/Mining Engineer
A trained geologist, Hoover worked for a gold mining company in Australia as an engineer. Although he started out in the mines, Hoover quickly rose in the ranks and made a small fortune as an executive.
#11. Harry S. Truman
Interesting Job: Haberdasher
Before entering politics, Truman and his military friend Edward Jacobsen started a men’s haberdashery in Kansas City. The initial success of the store was short-lived; Truman closed the shop in 1922, less than three years after its opening.
#10. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Interesting Job: President of Columbia University
Aside from his eight-year presidency, Eisenhower is best known as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. But between those two jobs, Eisenhower also served as president of Columbia University from 1948-1953.
#9. John F. Kennedy
Interesting Job: Journalist
JFK had a short run as a political journalist before deciding to enter politics himself. He also authored two successful books before becoming president, "Why England Slept" (1940) and "Profiles in Courage" (1956).
#8. Lyndon B. Johnson
Interesting Job: Schoolteacher
Born in rural Texas, Johnson left his family farm to become a classroom teacher. He began teaching at an impoverished Hispanic school in in Cotulla, Texas.
#7. Richard Nixon
Interesting Job: Grocery Clerk
Richard Nixon grew up on the edge of poverty. His family owned a small grocery store in Whittier, Calif., where he worked as a clerk and washer.
#6. Gerald Ford
Interesting Job: Park Ranger
In 1936, Gerald Ford worked as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. One of Ford’s more interesting assignments was serving as an armed guard on the bear-feeding truck.
#5. Jimmy Carter
Interesting Job: Peanut Farmer
Following the Nixon and Ford administrations, Carter appealed to the public as being a Washington outside. His background as a peanut farmer in Georgia was certainly a nontraditional starting place for a president.
#4. Ronald Reagan
Interesting Job: Movie Actor
Reagan had a successful career in Hollywood, starring in over 50 films. He acquired his lifelong nickname “the Gipper” from his role in the film "Knute Rockne, All American."
#3. George H. W. Bush
Interesting Job: Oil Executive
After graduating from Yale, Bush Sr. moved his family to Texas, where he would start his own oil company and later serve as president of the Zapata Offshore Company. By the time he entered politics Bush was a millionaire.
#2. George W. Bush
Interesting Job: Sports Team Owner
Like his father, George W. Bush worked in the oil industry. However, the younger Bush also served as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise for five years.
#1. Barack Obama
Interesting Job: Ice Cream Scooper
One of President Obama’s earliest jobs was working as an ice cream scooper at a Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu. Obama has stated that he lost his taste for ice cream after the job.