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What Jobs Were Popular in the Elizabethan Times?

Updated February 21, 2017

The career opportunities available to a person in Elizabethan times often depended on the class the person was born into. Lower-class citizens often did labour-intensive, dirty and/or low paying jobs, while the wealthy nobles maintained a healthy abhorrence of work and depended on low-born servants to complete the menial day-to-day tasks. The arts were active during Elizabethan times, as was entertainment, so some also worked full time in these fields.

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Upper-Class Jobs

Members of the royal family were in charge of ruling the country and acting as leaders. The monarchy also handled relations with other countries. Other rulers were known as nobility. The nobility had lesser titles, like duke, earl or baron, and ruled areas of the English empire but answered to the queen. These high-class men owned large tracks of land and were in charge of ruling the people on their property.

Thought Leaders

The gentry were also higher in rank, and members of this class did not work with their hands. Some of the job titles from this rank included knight, gentlemen and squires. Others held professions as explorers, skilled or talented writers and poets and philosophers. Members of this class were the thought leaders and influenced people in other positions.

Middle-Class Jobs

Members of the middle class were responsible for the business of trading and producing goods. Merchants bought items like silk from around the globe and then sold them at market. Cloth and weaving were the leading goods according to the site The Lost Colony. Yeomanry were from among the middle class, whose ranks also included farmers, tradesmen and craft workers. Though some of its members were wealthy, middle-class citizens did not often bear titles.


The labouring class was the lowest of the time. People in this class generally worked long, hard days. People in this group included day labourers, retailers that did not own land and almost anyone who worked with his/her hands, like artisans, carpenters and brick masons.

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About the Author

Kristine Brite worked as a community journalist and public relations specialist before moving onto freelance writing. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Indiana University and has six years of professional writing experience.

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