Job smarts: Does your IQ relate to your occupation?


An occupational study done by Robert M. Hauser at the University of Wisconsin Madison several years ago is causing a buzz. Why is a study on jobs so interesting? Because the researcher laid out the average IQs of people involved in over 50 occupations. See how much these fit the stereotypes you hold in your own mind.

On the lower end of the IQ spectrum on his chart were workers in blue collar occupations like janitor, machine operator, truck driver, carpenter, assembler, and construction craftsman. On the upper end of the IQ spectrum were typically white collar professions, such as engineers, social scientists, legal occupations, college professors, doctors, and accountants.

Does this tell us anything we don't already know? Probably not. Those with higher IQs likely have an easier time in school and perform better on tests, and are therefore probably more likely to pursue a college education, which is required for most of these occupations listed for the higher IQs.

Should this be viewed as a dig to the blue collar workers? Of course not. While they may have a lower measured IQ, they may have a very high level of skill in their area of specialty. This skill level might not be captured by an IQ test, and therefore not reflected in this study.

The results of this study, however, seem to be worth more than just the bit of trivia demonstrated in the graphic. The author of the study comes to an important conclusion that traditional measurements of IQ aren't all that useful and it might be good to develop a different tool to measure abilities than just standard tests. He says that education reform should include reform of traditional testing tools in order to measure other important skills and abilities. I agree.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.