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Your opposite job


The New York Times has used Labor Department descriptions of what skills you need to do a particular job to create a web thingy where you can supposedly figure out what the opposite job to your own might be.

For a cheap laugh at Erik’s expense, type in Historian.

In case you’re wondering, the opposite job to a lawyer’s is an agricultural grader, which is a person who sorts agricultural products according to their size, quality, and type. This is a profession which requires maintaining excruciating attention to detail while performing essentially the same mind-numbing task over and over again, so obviously it is the exact opposite of proofreading a 320-page financial document, that looks a whole lot like the previous 77 320-page financial documents you reviewed this month.

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  • NewishLawyer

    The opposite of lawyer is agricultural gardener.

    The opposite of producer and director (closest I could get to theatre director) is model.


    • billcinsd

      Interestingly?, Model is also the opposite of Materials Engineer

    • sam

      I entered both “lawyer” and “accountant” (since I’m a finance lawyer). Both times I got “agricultural grader”.

      I think maybe agricultural grader is just the opposite of ANYONE who sits at a desk all day and reads things?

      • epidemiologist

        The opposite of epidemiologist is also agricultural grader.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Jenny McCarthy is an agricultural grader?

      • thomas

        Yeah, ag grader seems to be the go to for many things white collar. I received the same.

      • JKTH

        The opposite of social scientist is car washer, so not quite.

    • Lord Stoneheart

      Opposite of a biochemist is also model.

  • you should do trial work like I have for 40 yrs. Every case is unique.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    well, I guess the Times has done worse things

  • Bloix

    It’s really disappointing.
    It says, The opposite job of a kindergarten teacher is a physicist. But the opposite job of a dancer is a physicist, too. So kindergarten teacher and dancer are the same job?
    And the opposite of a CEO is an agricultural grader. But the opposite of an epidemiologist is an agricultural grader. And lawyer. So CEO’s and epidemiologists and lawyers have the same jobs?
    Not even amusing when you try to use it.

    • gmack

      Curiously, the opposite of “political scientist” is also agricultural grader.

      • bw

        Also the opposite of physicians and surgeons. Seems like the model used here thinks that agricultural grader is the heaviest on brawn and thus it contrasts with anything brain-heavy…

        • FOARP

          “Seems like the model used here thinks that agricultural grader is the heaviest on brawn”

          More likely it’s the minimum one for analytics. Though someone who just straight-up packs things in boxes requires even less in the way of analytical skills. I’ve done both.

      • scott bates

        The opposite of a wildlife biologist is also a model. I think a Koch brother would be more apropos.

      • majeff

        Sociologist as well.

    • njorl

      I’m a physicist, and it told me that my opposite job is model.
      I’m not too sexy for my shirt,
      Not too sexy for my shirt,
      So unsexy it hurts.

      • xenology

        I binned myself as “biological scientist” for lack of anything closer, and we, too, are the anti-models. It might have something to do with the “cargo shorts and headlamps” uniform…

        • Mike Lommler

          It’s odd how the Labor Department’s conception of wildlife biology is of a very physically sedentary job… whereas in the last three years I was hiking about 10 miles a night while surveying for spotted owls. They must be thinking of people who just work on Biological Opinions and Environmental Impact Statements.

          • whereas in the last three years I was hiking about 10 miles a night while surveying for spotted owls.

            That’s the opposite of lumberjack!

            • BiloSagdiyev

              But very close to bigfoot researcher, which I assume isn’t in there…

    • Sharon1W

      The opposite of my job, art director is a physicist too. Although, when I read the list of job skills for my opposite job, there were a couple that matched up with things I do everyday. Plus, in what world do designers not use math? OK, maybe not advanced math skills, but still.

  • wjts

    I don’t need a fancy website to tell me that the opposite job of “museum security guard” is “international art thief”.

    • NewishLawyer

      I thought it was an inside job!

    • tsam100

      You get to hang out with Teddy Roosevelt. That’s bully.

    • Hogan

      Before he went into music, Sting taught secondary school for two years. He once told an interviewer that they’re basically the same job–you entertain hoodlums for fifty minutes.

      • LeeEsq

        You get less in trouble for certain, consensual, extracurricular activities with your hoodlums as a musician though.

        • thomas

          Adults having sex with minors is always a good basis for a joke.

        • epidemiologist

          Seriously wtf

    • njorl

      So your opposite job is museum security guard.

    • LeeEsq

      I’m only a domestic art thief at this point.

  • mnuba

    the opposite of “business operations specialists, all other” aka “generic office job” is…”model”.


  • solidcitizen

    There are not enough union organizers to have an opposite, apparently. I assume my opposite job is “union disorganizer.” There are loads of those.

    • Hogan

      Tell me about it . . .

    • Leisure Suit Lawyer

      Wouldn’t your opposite job be Governor of Wisconsin?

  • MattF

    Oppositeness is apparentlly not reflexive– physicist is opposite to kindergarten teacher but model is opposite to physicist.

    • Hogan

      Model is also opposite to librarian. Although having looked at the skill sets, I’m convinced this web thingy was designed by someone who’s never had a job.

      • wjts

        Looking at the skills biologists use least, I saw “ability to reach with arms, hands and legs”; “performing general physical activities”, “handling and moving objects”, and “ability to coordinate two or more limbs”. All of these came up pretty regularly in the cadaver lab, especially the last one.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Coordinate your own limbs, I think. Not the limbs of some poor stiff. That’s a skill set they may not take into account in the algorithm (although I assume that mob hit man is probably in there somewhere).

          • Presumably choreographers have to coordinate others’ limbs. And porn directors, unless they leave that to the best boy.

            • wjts

              Surely that’s the key grip’s job?

              • Focus puller.

                • wjts

                  Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

            • Hogan

              Bring me my stunt cock!

          • wjts

            I’d like to see Kate Upton sagittally section a cadaver with a bandsaw is all I’m saying.

            • PohranicniStraze

              To each their own kink…

              • wjts

                I didn’t mean it entirely that way!

            • rea

              She’s engaged to a member of the 2017 Tigers–she must be skilled in dealing with the dead.

            • I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              I just want to say that I never thought I would read that sentence in my life but I am really quite delighted that I read it.

      • There is a certain type of librarian that fits into a niche modeling category, you know….

        • Hogan

          SO I’M TOLD.

          • Google can be a harsh mistress. Just like that Librarian…..

              • wjts

                Next, Dan shows me a film commissioned by a client they call Condiments Man. A woman in a swimsuit sits in a paddling pool. Rhiannon stands above her, out of shot on a ladder, holding industrial-sized tubs of condiments. And she starts to pour them over her head: ketchup, relish…

                “Here comes the mustard!” Rhiannon says. “Mustard is probably one of the most difficult condiments for girls to deal with, because of the vinegar.”

                OK, somebody here commissioned that one.

    • Latverian Diplomat

      Technically, I think the missing property you mean is symmetry, not reflexivity (A is the opposite of B implies B is the opposite of A) if you are talking relations.

      If you view “opposite of” as a function, it’s apparently not 1-1 (a.k.a., not injective), and therefore not invertible.

      The opposite of a mathematician is probably Paul Ryan’s budget guy.

      • njorl

        The set of jobs is not a group, evidently.

  • tsam100

    Closest to the description of my job’s opposite: Slaughterer and meat packer. (LOL)

  • KHBuzzard

    Writers and Authors use these skills the least

    5. Quality control analysis

    That would explain a lot, actually.

  • steve

    This is the Times’s version of a Facebook meme where your mobster name is your favorite fast food plus your first pet’s name.

    • wjts

      Ziggy Harolds? I don’t like where this is going – I saw The Wire.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Burrito Scuffy.

      That’s a something name for me — not sure it is mob, though. Maybe more like children’s performer.

    • Dalai_Rasta

      Falafel Bandit. That sounds more like someone’s job than a mobster name, actually.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        That would be a pretty good name for a food truck.

        • wjts

          Or somebody’s high school ska band.

          • whaddaya mean, “high school”?

            • rea

              whaddaya mean, “high school”?

              They have to teach joint rolling somewhere!

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Sounds like a Bill O’Reilly sex maneuver to me.

          FUCK IT!! WE’LL DO IT LIVE!! (scrub scrub srub scrub scrub)

          • Lost Left Coaster


    • Pseudonym

      Tiger Taco… I like it

      • Dalai_Rasta

        Tiger Taco vs. the Falafel Bandit sounds like a mid-70s, low-budget, well-meaning-yet-culturally-insensitive American International Pictures release about a pair of rival food truck operators who, due to a madcap mix-up, wind up being pursued across the rural South by a series of increasingly yokelish county sheriffs and their even-more-yokelish deputies. Things are eventually straightened out by a pair of young, sexy lawyers (played by two Playboy Playmates in their acting debuts), whose wardrobes inexplicably consist primarily of knotted tops and hot pants, save for the very end, when they appear in mini-skirted suits, and whose own, parallel hijinks have been followed over the 80 minutes of the film thus far (the movie tops out at 87 minutes total). Valuable lessons are learned all round.

        That sounds like either one of the worst films ever made, or one of the most fondly remembered comedies of the 1970s. Possibly both.

        • Owlbear1

          I know I wished remembering seeing it.

    • Hogan

      Hot Beijing Noodles Snoopy. What the fuck kind of mob is this?

      • wjts

        Alls I know is Onion Rings Floofywhiskers told me to tell you he don’t want your excuses, he wants his fuckin’ catnip.

  • Greg Wellman

    My job doesn’t seem to exist. Type “compu..” and none of the options look like software design. Type “soft..” and there are no options. “Data..” and it gives data entry, but nothing in databases, data design or data science.

    • Mike Schilling

      Yup. I wonder if that’s the people who built the system trolling us.

  • DAS

    Biochemist and Biophysicist has, as its opposite, model.

  • encephalopath

    Grading lumber is a terrible, mind numbing job.

    Pulling chain is much preferred to sitting in the grading shack all day.

    • N__B

      I enjoy pulling chain, but I thought we were talking about work, not play.

    • thomas

      The green chain is the hardest job in the mill. Respect.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I got agricultural grader too, for anthropologist. I was surprised. I thought it would be economist.

    • wjts

      The fact that “model” is the opposite of biologist puts physical anthropologists in a weird position.

      • And as to metaphysical anthropologists—well!

        • wjts

          I think they prefer to be called “post-processualists” these days.

  • CJColucci

    I plugged in “historian” and that’s OK.

  • keta

    Huh. The opposite of “flim-flam man who plays at real estate” is “president of the United States.”

    Didn’t see that one coming.

    • SomeTreasonBrewing

      currently coterminous

  • HugeEuge

    “Professor” and variations don’t work in the box where you list your occupation so presumably there is no opposite job. Which makes sense if you believe that being a professor isn’t a real job anyway, so presumably the opposite would be something like “having to work for a living.”

    • DAS

      When professor didn’t work, I just used my specialty.

  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    DAMMIT I’m overqualified to be an agricultural grader too?! I thought my magic million dollar degree was supposed to be versatile!

  • Aubergine

    I’m retired. The opposite would be “employed.” That would suck.

  • stepped pyramids

    “Computer programmer” isn’t in there even though it’s definitely in the original dataset. That’s a shame. I’m going to assume the reverse is, uh, “oil driller”.

    • njorl

      The opposite of computer programmer is insect exterminator.

      • Hogan

        Of course. Programmers *create* bugs.

    • Pseudonym

      The (actual) opposite of “computer operator” is “model”, but I’d rather be a controller anyways.

  • Journalist isn’t in there. El. Oh. El.

    • LeeEsq

      They had too much pride to reveal the opposite.

      • N__B

        American Gladiator contestant?

  • As a historian of logging, it’s nice to see the Newspaper of Record trolling me.

    • rea

      He’s a historian and he’s okay
      He works all night and he sleeps all day

      • Thom

        This could be true, except for the sleeping part.

      • Pseudonym

        He’s a historian and he’s okay
        He works all night and he blogs all day

        • Origami Isopod

          He mocks the right
          He shuns ketchup
          He goes to the cemet’ry

          • DAS

            On Wednesdays he hates vodka
            And posts dead horses in history.

    • LeeEsq

      So when can we purchase your upcoming Lincoln Logs: The History of an American Toy on Amazon?

      • wjts

        Check out his chapter on that topic in Radical (Re)Constructions: Leftist Ideology in Children’s Building Toys from Barère’s Blocks to Trotsky’s Tinkertoys.

    • Hogan

      Would the opposite of “lumberjack historian” be “someone who chops down historians”?

    • Yeah, I thought he was a ‘Historian of Blogging’….

  • liberalrob

    When I first saw “agricultural grader” my mind immediately flashed back to an old joke about the guy who took a proficiency test and it came back saying the his best job match was “chick sexer.”

    • John F

      On one segment of the show Dirty Jobs, they did in fact interview a chick sexer, worst part of the job? The birds are pretty much defecating on you non-stop.

  • John F

    Agricultural Graders use these skills the least:

    1 Information ordering
    2 Far vision
    3 Pattern recognition
    4 Near vision
    5 Making decisions and solving problems
    6 Reading comprehension

    Ummm, if an Agricultural Grader ” is a person who sorts agricultural products according to their size, quality, and type.” You are gonna need 1,3, 4 and 5….

    • Pseudonym

      Came here to post the same. Are agricultural products only graded at midrange or should we be even more concerned about our food supply?

  • Brad

    Apparently the opposite of software engineer is a poorly designed mobile site that lacks a submit button for the form

  • kateislate

    I can’t come up with a name for my job that the box recognizes – I’m a ‘policy analyst’, but I have no clue what else to type in. I work in public health (not a health care worker) and that doesn’t pop up either. I work in international affairs, but it doesn’t have anything I can seem to pull up relevant to that. I’m trying not to draw any broader lessons as to the usefulness of my job.

  • randykhan

    As it turns out, agricultural grader also is the opposite of athlete. So, using important principles of logic, lawyers are the same as athletes.


    I got “Dry Cleaner Presser”, which… fine, whatever.

  • Midwest_Product

    I am the opposite of a model. Sounds about right, I guess. (Biological technician; looks like that comes up for a lot of science-y/engineer-y jobs)

  • Dr. Acula

    The closest thing to what I do I could find is “Camera operator, television”, and its opposite is also “physicist”.

  • Heh. The opposite of architect is slaughterer and meat packer.

    That is oddly appropriate….

  • “The opposite job of a mathematician is a mine shuttle car operator.”

  • Gwai Lo, MD

    The opposite of anesthesiologist is model. I am definitely not a model-anesthesiologist nor a model anesthesiologist.

    • I am the very model of an anesthesiologist…


  • JustRuss

    I’m so glad the FTFNYT is working on important stuff like this instead of wasting their time investigating whether those ominous shadows cast by the Clinton Foundation actually amounted to a hill of beans.

  • rfm

    The opposite of an archivist (me) is a physicist. Hmm.

    • That’s also the opposite of a mine shuttle operator (which, as noted earlier, is the opposite of a mathematician).

      Folk oneirocriticism has it that “dreams go by opposites”; I fairly often dream (dream-)mathematics (an old favorite being the one in which I invented the notion of zero-dimensional sculpture, which looks entirely different from each different angle), but so far have never had (or remembered, anyway) dreams of being a mine shuttle operator. Maybe tonight will be the night!

  • Light Rail Tycoon

    The opposite of a buyer and purchasing agent, farm product is an agricultural grader?

  • Andy

    I put in “physical scientist” (the closest I could get), and my opposite is also “agricultural grader”. So that field is kind of a universal opposite, I guess; there’s literally no other job like it?

    This reminds me of an online “You Write Like” test I took years ago, where you submit a sample of your own writing. It turns out that almost everyone (including me) writes like David Foster Wallace. Not very likely.

    • Downpup E

      I remember that DFW quiz. I think I had to submit some fake from a different famous writer to get out of the Foster zone.

      And yes, “Agricultural Grader” is also the opposite of the profession I failed into.

    • Hogan

      If it’s the same one I saw, I kept getting H. P. Lovecraft. Which was odd, because I don’t think I used “squamous” and “rugose” any more than the other guys,

      • wjts

        What about “cyclopean”, “eldritch”, or “filthy miscegenating Dutch subhumans”?

        • N__B

          Speaking of “filthy miscegenating Dutch subhumans,” I’m visiting rural Pennsylvania week after next.

          • wjts

            Remember: as with liquor, in Pennsylvania only state-run stores can sell the Powder of ibn Ghazi.

            • N__B

              I thought HRC had cornered the market on that stuff.

            • Hogan

              We sprinkle it on funnel cake. Mmm mmm mmm.

              • wjts

                Most places out here put it on the fries they put on the salads.

        • Hogan

          OK, you’ve got me there.

      • Andy

        For what it’s worth, I just entered my blog post above into that website:


        and got Kurt Vonnegut.

  • Barry_D

    They are using agricultural grader an awful lot.

  • gwen

    I’m currently a database engineer, which I figure falls into “computer and information systems manager” more or less.

    The opposite of that is agricultural grader, which as noted is also the opposite of being a lawyer.

    The next time my parents nag me about how I’m wasting my law school education, I will tell them I am not wasting it — I am applying my hard-earned skills at “not being an agricultural grader.”

  • N__B

    The opposite job of a civil engineer is a slaughterer and meat packer.

    And yet my partners won’t let me walk around with a cleaver.

    • Origami Isopod

      You should sue the bastards.

    • Hogan

      A white man can’t catch a break in this world.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Sometimes those two jobs achieve synergy:


      • N__B

        In my experience, quoting this skit during client meetings does not go well.

  • Mutaman

    you are aware that some lawyers don’t review financial documents?


    Strangely, I have been an agricultural grader and now am a patent attorney.

    I also studied physics and have taught kindergarten.

  • Linnaeus

    My opposite job (the closest that I could get is “environmental science technician”) is locker room attendant.

  • madmonk

    The NYT built this all on a dataset found at https://www.onetcenter.org.

    Don’t know how much you can trust the underlying data though, as both “Lawyers” and “Law Teachers, Postsecondary” are listed as professions whose numbers are expected to grow rapidly…

  • Machine Earning

    No programmer, software engineer, data scientist, or developer. In fact, not even soft matches on parts of those terms, although there is something about “data entry keyer” and some kind of CNC tool programmer. Not even some glib catchall IT thing. Somewhat ironic given the nature of the utility.

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