Occupational Baby Names: A journalist named Jonah? An accountant named Adele?

By Mark Edmond

What do August, Hannah, and Jules have in common?  It turns out that people with those names are more likely than others to be playwrights.

How about Casey, Vincent, and Roy?  They’re more apt to be plumbers.

At least that’s what our research at Verdant Labs shows.  While developing the Nametrix app, we analyzed public records to find the most inordinately common names in each profession.

Take Elvis, for example.  There aren’t all that many Elvises out there, but a particularly high percentage of them are musicians.  As a result, Elvis ranks high among musician names.  Elvis isn’t the most common name among musicians — that’s likely to be John or some other very popular name. What’s interesting is that it’s way more common among musicians than you might expect, given how rare it is.  In other words, it’s common in that profession relative to its overall frequency.

Fortunately, the math behind this isn’t too complicated.  Here’s another example, this time with some numbers.  In our sample of two and a half million people, a whopping 1.9% of Arnolds are accountants.  Contrast that with just 0.55% of Shanes.  Arnolds therefore appear to have a much higher tendency to be accountants than Shanes.

Let’s look at some top names for other professions.

AccountantMaribel, Charmaine, Kurtis, Mindy, Adele

Biologist: Stuart, Suzanne, Sara, Cheryl, Janet

Car Salesman: Clay, Travis, Pete, Allen, Bob

Drummer: Joey, Mickey, Billy, Chad, Tommy

Electrical Engineer: Harvey, Eugene, Bernard, Edwin, Charles

Farmer: Duane, Marlin, Delbert, Darin, Mavis

Firefighter: Brandon, Darren, Ryan, Jason, Jeremy

Fitness Instructor: Virginia, Rebecca, Julie, Pamela, Karen

Football Coach: Rich, Mike, Bill, Dan, Jim

Football Player: Reggie, Jermaine, Darnell, Quinton, Nate

Geologist: Henry, Frederick, William, Leonard, Hugh

Golfer: Bud, Willie, Tommy, Bobby, Johnny

Graphic Designer: Vanessa, Alison, Diana, Jan, Kurt

Guitarist: Mick, Richie, Trey, Sonny, Buddy

Hair Stylist: Lori, Raymond, Patricia, Susan, Robert

Historian: Herbert, Adrienne, Henry, Emma, Theodore

Insurance Salesman: Dalton, Garrett, Patty, Brent, Clark

Interior Designer: Elise, Marjorie, Martha, Lynne, Bonnie

Journalist: Alastair, Gideon, Hanna, Jonah, Louisa

Judge: Archibald, Lise, Josiah, Clement, Louise

Lawyer:  Norton, William, Sanford, Cecily, Augustus

Librarian: Nanette, Margot, Abigail, Johanna, Eleanor

Mechanic: DavePatrick, Randy, Fred, Jerry

Meteorologist: Joe, Bill, Scott, Mike, Jeff

Photographer: Zoe, Bruno, Hugo, Annie, Noah

Poet: Celia, Hannah, Edgar, Edmund, Dorothy

Police Officer: Louis, Kevin, Wayne, Kim, Timothy

Rabbi: Chaim, Shlomo, Judah, Meir, Yosef

Race Car Driver: Robbie, Johnny, Bobby, Sebastian, Luigi

Rancher: Boyd, Leland, Leroy, Judy, Roy

Social Worker: Jeannette, Stella, Penelope, Constance, MArsha

Soldier: Zachary, Jacob, Jeremy, Kyle, Joshua

Songwriter: Richie, Mick, Sonny, Benny, Billy

Stuntman: Eddie, Erik, Alex, Ben, Terry

Surgeon: Sherwin, Harris, Barrett, Sanford, Holly

Venture Capitalist: Joanna, Guy, Shawn, Nicholas, Alexander

Veterinarian: Wayne, Sara, Peggy, Tracy, Gene

Waiter: Joshua, Sarah, Amy, Elizabeth, Lisa

So, do our names influence where we go in life?  Or do the social, geographic, economic, and other factors that might have influenced how our parents named us also direct our career paths?

Our hunch is that it’s mostly the latter, but bear in mind that the connection is subtle.  Love the name Erik but don’t want your son to be a daredevil?  Don‘t let the fact that Eriks have a particularly high tendency to become stuntmen stop you from picking that name.

Similarly, naming your daughter Holly doesn’t mean she’ll automatically grow up to become a world-renowned surgeon.  She’ll have to go to med school first.

Mark Edmond is a Seattle-based app developer and founder of Verdant Labs. He was inspired to create the Lullaby Lyrics app when he realized his repertoire was so limited it put him to sleep rather than his daughter. Nametrix was fueled by an interest in the hard data behind names and helped with the naming of his son.

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3 Responses to “Occupational Baby Names: A journalist named Jonah? An accountant named Adele?”

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LauraJ88 Says:

December 29th, 2014 at 10:52 pm

I’d be curious to know what the top names re in the acting profession, considering so many use stage names… Just a thought.

mckaylalove Says:

December 30th, 2014 at 5:37 am

I don’t think they do have that much of an influence. Every profession is going to have a range of different names, some more popular then others; there would obviously be a build up.

Can Your Name Determine Your Career? Says:

August 9th, 2015 at 6:05 pm

[…] Explaining the concept, developer Mark Edmond wrote: […]

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