List of Presidents of the United States by previous experience

Last updated on 22 May 2017

Although many paths may lead to the Presidency of the United States, the most common job experience, occupation or profession of U.S. presidents has been lawyer. This sortable table enumerates all holders of that office, along with major elective or appointive offices or periods of military service prior to election to the Presidency. The column immediately to the right of the Presidents' names shows the position or office held just before the Presidency. The next column to the right lists the next previous position held, and so on. Note that the total number of previous positions held by an individual may exceed four; the number of columns was limited to what would fit within the page width. The last two columns on the right list the home state (at the time of election to the Presidency) and primary occupation of each future President, prior to beginning a political career.

By the numbers

Of the 44 different people who have served as President:

26 Presidents had previously been lawyers

22 Presidents had previous military experience; 9 were Generals in the US Army.

18 Presidents previously served as U.S. Representatives; 6 of 18 held this office prior to the four 'previous positions' shown in this table. Only two - James A. Garfield and Abraham Lincoln - were Representatives immediately before election as President. Only John Quincy Adams served as a U.S. Representative after being President. Additionally, after being president, John Tyler served in the Provisional Confederate Congress and was later elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, but he died before taking his seat. Tyler had served as a U.S. Representative prior to becoming president.

17 Presidents previously served as state Governors; 9 were Governors immediately before election as President.

16 Presidents previously served as U.S. Senators; only 3 immediately before election as President. Only one president, Andrew Johnson, ever served as a U.S. Senator after his presidency.

14 Presidents previously served as Vice-President. All except Nixon were VP immediately before election as President; 9 of the 14 succeeded to the Presidency because of the death or resignation of the elected President; 5 of those 9 were not re-elected.

8 Presidents were out of office (for at least one year) immediately before election as President.

8 Presidents previously served as Cabinet Secretaries; 6 as Secretary of State; 5 of the 8 served immediately before election as President.

7 Presidents had previous experience in foreign service.

7 Presidents came from the state of New York (8 if Grover Cleveland is counted twice), 7 from Ohio and 5 from Virginia; 4 from Massachusetts; 3 each from the states of Tennessee, California, Texas and Illinois. Presidents have come from 9 other states, 18 different states in all.

5 Presidents were close family relations of previous presidents: John Quincy Adams (son of John Adams), Benjamin Harrison (grandson of William Henry Harrison), Zachary Taylor (second cousin of James Madison), Franklin Roosevelt (nephew-in-law and distant cousin of Theodore Roosevelt), and George W. Bush (son of George H. W. Bush).

5 Presidents had never been elected to public office before becoming President: Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump. Hoover had formerly served as Secretary of Commerce, an appointed office. Taylor, Grant and Eisenhower had never held political office prior to their presidencies, but they had served as leading American generals in the Mexican-American War, American Civil War and World War Two, respectively.

1 President had never served in elected public office, the military, or government before becoming president: Donald Trump. Trump was a real estate developer, businessman, and television personality who served as chairman of the Trump Organization.

George-Washington.jpg
George-Washington.jpg
Johnadams.jpg
Johnadams.jpg
02 Thomas Jefferson 3x4.jpg
02 Thomas Jefferson 3x4.jpg
James Madison.jpg
James Madison.jpg
James Monroe White House portrait 1819.gif
James Monroe White House portrait 1819.gif
John Quincy Adams.jpg
John Quincy Adams.jpg
Andrew Jackson.jpg
Andrew Jackson.jpg
MVanBuren.png
MVanBuren.png
William Henry Harrison.jpg
William Henry Harrison.jpg
Johntyler.jpg
Johntyler.jpg
Zachary Taylor restored and cropped.png
Zachary Taylor restored and cropped.png
Millard Fillmore.jpg
Millard Fillmore.jpg
Mathew Brady - Franklin Pierce - alternate crop.jpg
Mathew Brady - Franklin Pierce - alternate crop.jpg
James Buchanan.jpg
James Buchanan.jpg
Abrahamlincoln.jpg
Abrahamlincoln.jpg
Andrew Johnson.jpg
Andrew Johnson.jpg
Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg
Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg
President Rutherford Hayes 1870 - 1880.jpg
President Rutherford Hayes 1870 - 1880.jpg
James A. Garfield.jpg
James A. Garfield.jpg
Chester A. Arthur.jpg
Chester A. Arthur.jpg
Grover Cleveland.jpg
Grover Cleveland.jpg
Benjamin Harrison.jpg
Benjamin Harrison.jpg
Grover Cleveland.jpg
Grover Cleveland.jpg
William McKinley by Courtney Art Studio, 1896.jpg
William McKinley by Courtney Art Studio, 1896.jpg
President Theodore Roosevelt, 1904.jpg
President Theodore Roosevelt, 1904.jpg
William Howard Taft.jpg
William Howard Taft.jpg
President Woodrow Wilson portrait December 2 1912.jpg
President Woodrow Wilson portrait December 2 1912.jpg
Warren G Harding portrait as senator June 1920.jpg
Warren G Harding portrait as senator June 1920.jpg
29 Calvin Coolidge 3x4.jpg
29 Calvin Coolidge 3x4.jpg
FDR in 1933.jpg
FDR in 1933.jpg
Harry S. Truman.jpg
Harry S. Truman.jpg
John Fitzgerald Kennedy.png
John Fitzgerald Kennedy.png
37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg
37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg
Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg
Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg
Gerald Ford.jpg
Gerald Ford.jpg
JimmyCarterPortrait2.jpg
JimmyCarterPortrait2.jpg
Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg
Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg
George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait.jpg
George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait.jpg
44 Bill Clinton 3x4.jpg
44 Bill Clinton 3x4.jpg
George-W-Bush.jpeg
George-W-Bush.jpeg
Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg
Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg
Donald Trump official portrait (cropped).jpg
Donald Trump official portrait (cropped).jpg

See also

Content from Wikipedia