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List of Occupation Abbreviations

Occupations were often written in abbreviated form in historic documents. This was done to save space and money. For example, old city directories would often abbreviate occupations of residents. This allowed more names to be written on each page. Some census records also abbreviate occupations due to the lack of space on census forms.

Some abbreviations of occupations are self evident. Others are not. In this handy reference list, we provide abbreviations for several hundred occupations. Simply match up the abbreviation found in an old document with the list below.

A couple of things to note:

• The most common way to abbreviate an occupation was to remove the vowels from the word. For example slsmn = salesman.

• For compound occupations, look up each part. For example:
trav slsmn = travelling saleman.

• For a list of first name abbreviations, see the article First Name Abbreviations.

• For a list of street abbreviations found in city directories, see the article City Directory Abbreviations.


a to e | f to o | p to z


acct accountant
act serv active service (in the military)
adj adjuster
adv advertising
ag agriculture
agcy agency
agt agent
ap, app apprentice
appr appraiser, apprentice
arch, archt architect
asmblr assembler
assce assurance
asst assistant
atdt, attdt, attndt attendant
atty attorney
auctnr auctioneer
aud auditor
barr barrister
bgemn baggageman
bkbndr book binder
bkpr bookkeeper
bkr baker
bldr builder
blksmth blacksmith
blrmkr boilermaker
booksel, booksl bookseller
bootma boot maker
btlr bottler
brbr barber
brklyr bricklayer
brkmn brakeman
bt bottle
brkr broker
btchr butcher
cbtmkr, cabt mkr cabinet maker
capt captain
caretkr caretaker
carp, carpntr carpenter
cash, cashr cashier
chauf chauffeur
chem chemist
cheml chemical
chf chef
chkr checker
civ ser civil servant
clk clerk
clnr cleaner
coachm coachman
coll, collr collector
com commission, commercial
comp compositor
compt comptometer
cond conductor
conf, confr confectioner
cons consulting
contr contractor
cors, corres correspondent
ctr, cutt cutter
dea dealer
dec, decrtr decorator
del delivery
delctan delicatessen
dep, depy deputy
dicta dictaphone
dir director
disp dispenser
dispr dispatcher
dlr dealer
dr, drs daughter(s)
dmnstr demonstrator
drftsmn draftsman
drsmkr dress maker
drug druggist
drvr driver
drwrs drawers
&c etcetera
elec, electn electrician
electro electrotyper
elev, elev opr elevator operator
elevmn elevator man
embr embroider
emp employee
eng engineer
engr, engrav engraver
esq esquire
exam examiner
exec executive
exp, expmn expressman