A One-Question Survey – Who Are the Mustachians?

bigleafAll right, I’ve been curious about this for a while, and maybe you have been too: Who are you? Who are we in general?

As this blog has grown, the people have come from all corners of the internet. Search engines, newspaper and magazine features, other blogs, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and any number of other places.

While the overall numbers are easy to track with the “see the stats” link I make public down there in the footer, and the mix of countries is nicely displayed in a pie chart, it would be really neat to see a quick breakdown of the types of people we have around here.

Since this is a blog about work and money, I figured we could just share the industries in which we work. From there, it will be fun to look through the data and see what it means. I’ll add a section after the poll once we have enough results.

Don’t worry if you don’t quite fit into one category exactly, just take a guess. For Science!

What type of work do you do?

View Results

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Numbers now updated for June 2017

Wow, this has been a fun poll – most of the responses happened in the early days, but a trickle of later readers have kept contributing to the poll and I encourage you to do so as well. It only takes about one second.

I think the poll has answered my biggest speculation: we are indeed way heavy on engineers. Take software engineers, for example. These are supposed to be only about 0.5% of the population (1 in 200).. but we are 1 in 6 here! I have noticed this while meeting groups of readers in the US and Canada as well, but now with the poll results we can present a few interesting statistics:

There are about 1.1 million software developers in the US these days, according to the BLS.

Over the past 3 months, about 2,130,000 unique visitors have stopped by this site, according to Google Analytics’ best guess. They made 5 million visits and pulled down 22 million page views.

If 16% of these are software people as the poll suggests, that adds up to about 340,800 developers. Of course, only 75% of us are in the United States, so we are down to 225,600.

In other words, if these stats are anywhere close to correct, about 23% of the Entire US Software Engineering Workforce has read Mr. Money Mustache in the past 3 months.

This would explain why existing readers have been telling me that their coworkers spontaneously came up and told them about the blog. Statistics tell us this should be a rare event, as the blog only reaches 0.5% of the US population (1 in 200). But among software engineers, the likelihood of Mustachianism is a solid 50 times higher.

So, nice work, fellow engineers. Now that we’re all hanging out like this, graced with the company of an even larger group of talented people in other fields, I’m sure we can accomplish more powerful things than ever before.

  • Dru September 18, 2013, 4:59 am

    My husband and I are farmers!
    Beef, pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, Thanksgiving turkey, honeybees! We eat like royalty!

  • missles September 18, 2013, 5:03 am

    I live in the Netherlands with my husband who is attending an MBA program. Although I have a degree, due to language fluency and time (living here) constraints, I currently assist a family with their child as well as conduct research for their already patented side project. (Side note: A handful of MBA’s in Europe are taught in English, are only one year, are considerably less expensive than in the States, and are of equal ranking.)

  • Elizabeth September 18, 2013, 5:05 am

    I’m in the “other” category too. Though I could have fit into at least three of the other categories, so perhaps it’s hard to define what I do!

    I’d be curious to know how many people are single versus married. There’s a lot of debate out there about whether married folk have it financially easier than singletons.

  • carissa September 18, 2013, 5:19 am

    Entrepreneur…. Farmer.

  • James M September 18, 2013, 5:19 am

    Like many here, I’m a long time reader, but first time poster.
    I think there should be an auditor/accountant category. I’m going to guess there’d be as many of us as there are engineers. It would also be interesting to have a further two questions, one for savings rate and one for number of years you expect to work. It would show how risk averse / irrational people are in terms of number of years they work considering how much they save, even though they’re mostly highly informed readers of your blog.

  • TOM September 18, 2013, 5:19 am

    I’m a chemist, but not some nerdy engineer ;-)

    • Kenoryn September 19, 2013, 9:04 am

      Ha! High-five for chemists. That’s my educational background but I’m not working in that field now.

  • Mr.Minsc September 18, 2013, 5:26 am

    I voted trades. More accurately I’m a dairy farmer who also does plumbing.

  • JJ September 18, 2013, 5:28 am

    I’m a stay at home dad (worked in IT before I left). Wife is still working but she doesn’t read the blog. Not sure which to select so I picked other.

  • Lisa September 18, 2013, 5:35 am

    I’m an accountant for a Marketing company in Ontario, Canada. I would like to see a breakdown by age category – maybe by decades.

  • Anne September 18, 2013, 5:36 am

    I couldn’t figure out how to vote. I think you need to make it so that you can click all that apply. I think that Mustachians, more than most, have multiple sources of income. I teach math and statistics part time online and do some consulting. Does that make it teaching and education or high tech job?

  • JJ September 18, 2013, 5:36 am

    Assuming IT/Engineering makes up the largest percentage of mustachians, does that mean that those types are more mustachian saver/spenders? Or does it mean that this career is awful and people in this field search on the internet for a lifestyle that will allow them to leave the career as soon as possible?

    I loved IT in the beginning but as soon as my employer found out I was really good, they began trying to take advantage. The pay and benefits were really, really good but the work hours, stress and expectations were horrible. This blog tapped into my blossoming hatred for IT and my company. Under no circumstances will I ever work for an employer again.

    • SB September 18, 2013, 11:56 am

      I am EE. I am primarily mustachian because I LOVE efficiency. Money is very powerful and I would have to spend it inefficiently. However equally I LOVE my EE job. I cannot imagine myself not being an engineer or in some sort of technical field.

      • JJ September 18, 2013, 1:22 pm

        Good for you. :o)

      • Doug September 18, 2013, 1:59 pm

        I also enjoy engineering and technical work, it’s enjoyable solving problems and figuring out how stuff works or what’s wrong when it doesn’t work. It’s the other stuff that goes with it I don’t like such as getting up early and commuting, and that it generally takes up too much time I would like to have for other hobbies and interests. The idea of working 40 hours a week with only 2 to 3 weeks off is barbaric in this day in age of such high productivity.

        As SB said above, I also strive for efficiency. It seems pointless to throw something away that’s still in working order, or squander money on junk I’ll never use.

        • JJ September 18, 2013, 9:04 pm

          I would have given anything to have been working only 40 hour weeks in my last year in IT. I was working 60 hour weeks at a minimum. My longest was a 96 hour week (and no paid overtime mind you). Not only that, but I was asked to dial into a conference call every weeknight at 10pm to hand things over to a team I was managing in India.


        • JJ September 18, 2013, 9:06 pm

          Like I said, I’ll never work for anyone other than myself again. My wife left her job only a couple years later and has been self-employed for the last several years.

          The ordinary employer / employee relationship is for idiots, and I was one for far too long.

  • turboseize September 18, 2013, 5:39 am

    Former army officer (signals), now studying architecture. I guess that qualifies as “artsy”.

  • Katie September 18, 2013, 5:51 am

    I’m a teacher- doesn’t appear to be too many of us on here..

    • Elizabeth September 18, 2013, 6:30 am

      I’m a part-time art teacher but a full-time artist, so just selected ‘artsy’.
      If you look at the forums, there are some relevant threads for you and other teachers!

    • Patty September 18, 2013, 6:32 pm

      Another teacher here.
      I was surprised to see the breakdown of professions/jobs. For some reason I thought there would be more teachers. Perhaps many teachers are just waiting for that pension and don’t consider early retirement in the same way as those in other professions.
      I consider this site a godsend and it has given me the tools and the mindset to NOT wait for the pension but to do what I really want to do, before it’s too late.

    • Saskia September 18, 2013, 8:18 pm

      7% of readers isn’t too bad! I’m a teacher, too, but half time. The rest of the time I’m an independent consultant to two nonprofits. Spend lots of time mini-farming our suburban plot, too, in order to eat well and reduce our family’s food costs.

  • Mat September 18, 2013, 5:56 am

    I’m a chemist; your poll needs the ‘scientist’ option!

    • Naners September 18, 2013, 12:25 pm

      Agreed on the scientist category! I’m a professor at a fairly research-oriented university. I put “teacher” but that’s only 1/3 of my job.

    • Alicia September 18, 2013, 12:34 pm

      I’m a chemist working at a university. I chose the “Other Engineering or High Tech Job” but I will be the first to tell you I ain’t no engineer, as evidenced by my lack of pilot-plant knowledge.

    • Scott September 18, 2013, 2:18 pm

      Another vote for a scientist option! Geology here…

      • MH September 18, 2013, 8:40 pm

        Agreed! I’m a public sector environmental scientist. After all, if you tempt us into filling out your survey by saying it is “for science,” you should give the scientists a box to check!

        • R2D2 September 19, 2013, 12:56 am

          Another scientist here (biomedical research) :) We are actually two mustachian scientists in the household.

      • Matt September 19, 2013, 10:41 am

        Another geologist here!

      • h2o_vw March 30, 2014, 2:49 pm

        Geologist here too, though i’m graduating with my MLIS (tuition waived and had a part time salary from a graduate assistantship!) in May. but neither of these really were an option.

  • Sara September 18, 2013, 5:57 am

    I’m a librarian in the British NHS so I went for education as that’s the main aim of my job even if I am employed in health!
    I love this blog even though my Mustachian qualifications are probably average (I own a car – sorry). But for sheer motivation and reminders not to be complainypants, this is where I come.

  • lhamo September 18, 2013, 6:00 am

    Manager in an international non-profit. I suppose that could fit under “cubicle jockey” but I actually have my own office — most likely soon moving from one without a door to one with a door (official promotion likely in the next few months).

  • graduateliving September 18, 2013, 6:06 am

    Graduate student in the humanities. I put teacher, since that’s the ultimate goal (to be in a classroom) and I teach for my stipend.

  • Patrick September 18, 2013, 6:18 am

    Grad student here… Was pro-bike and car-free before discovering MMM, so I’m a reader because I like when I’m not alone. On my commute, I’m the only bike and I share the road with hundreds of cars. This city isn’t mustachian by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Mike Parrott September 18, 2013, 6:26 am

    A curiously missing segment … management consulting. This blog fits in pretty well with us!

    • Kit September 18, 2013, 12:43 pm

      Agreed, management consulting should be added. I selected Entrepreneur as that seemed to fit best as I am self-employed in real estate analysis.

  • Despondent Millionaire September 18, 2013, 6:28 am

    I’m unemployed and have been for over two years. I used to be in the transportation industry.

    FYI, I would say to advise your kids not to get into the transportation industry. Margins are too low. Dominated by unions (except for the white collar workers that make less than union blue collar workers) and it’s a changing industry that is off shoring, cutting back, using more and more automation.

    Hey, just my little opinion. Im sure there are others who would say it’s great.

    • Kenoryn September 19, 2013, 9:27 am

      I would advise kids to get into whatever they’re passionate about. :) I’ve never met anyone who was passionate about the transportation industry but I’m sure they exist…

      • Despondent Millionaire September 19, 2013, 11:31 am

        You are right about that. Unless they are transporting themselves out of it.

  • Chruznic September 18, 2013, 6:52 am

    I work technical support at a company making financial software in Norway.
    Im 22 and have saved about 45% of my after tax income this year.

  • Rich Davis September 18, 2013, 6:57 am

    I’m an active duty Navy Officer. 23 years so far. Currently stationed in the 5 sided puzzle palace (Pentagon).

  • Sandy September 18, 2013, 7:11 am

    After 12 1/2 years, I am working my 3rd to last day of employment as a software tester for a major government contractor. Current project is as a sub to another major government contractor who has decided they can make more money by not using us anymore. May they regret that decision!! Since I have worked several different projects for this company I am actually not worried about stepping off into another direction.
    I am HERE, because when I realized the end was really near this time I started looking for people with ideas that are similar to mine. My paycheck is the majority of our under $100 k household income, but we have a plan and actually don’t need me to get back to the same level. I wouldn’t turn down similar offers, but being free to pick and choose is wonderful! Knowing that we aren’t crazy for not “wanting” things we don’t need is sort of nice too.

  • Ellie September 18, 2013, 7:12 am

    I ticked software developer because that was my trade, but currently I’m a PhD student in Human-Computer Interaction. Still writing code though, so I guess it still counts. I am not extreme enough to be saving well on my stipend, but I live comfortably within it which is enough for now.

  • Lucas September 18, 2013, 7:21 am

    My hypothesis is that “non-physical” engineers will be the majority. As engineers we like to solve problems (finances being one of them), but we ultimately like to create value. I know this is what is driving me personally as I get more satisfaction out of working with my hands and creating something tangible then filpping some extra bits in a computer program that may or may not see the light of day.

    I imagine financial services might feel the same about creating “products” or selling things that they know deep down might not be in the best interest of their clients. I did a summer in sales and hated it because I felt like the whole time i was pushing stuff that I know people didn’t need.

    • bd September 19, 2013, 9:00 pm

      i’m an other– professor. I work a lot of hours, but generally speaking they are when/where I want them to be so I don’t feel the need to aim for early retirement especially since my field is very fulfilling and I am able to spend my time on issues that I care about. That being said…. many of my close family members are engineers (mostly software- 5 to be exact) and all of them make a great salary, but maximum 2 weeks vacation per year. 9-5, cube jockey drones. all of them are slogging through the “early” years of their careers trying to hold out for more vacation time and are miserable. I am poorer financially than all of them, but richer in many ways. My guess is the high number of engineers has partly to do with the work environments. I have always found it amusing they are trusted with the most important software in their companies, but not trusted to make adult decisions with their time.

      • lurker September 20, 2013, 5:53 am

        “I have always found it amusing…”

        clearly you have not spent much time working for a large corporation.
        count yourself even luckier.

      • NGH September 20, 2013, 8:07 am

        I too am a professor, but I’m also an engineer. I have a PhD in electrical engineering and am employed as a professor.

        I personally think that the high numbers of engineers has more to do with the personality type that is attracted to engineering. Eg., I have a super flexible job with tons of time off that I love, but am also working towards FI and enjoy this site.

  • Joe September 18, 2013, 7:35 am

    I’m retired. ;) Great response.

  • The Only Girl in the Mill September 18, 2013, 7:37 am

    I work in a paper mill as a reliability engineer. I keep machines that are older than my parents running at top efficiency and figure out how to fix them up when they break.

    Yep, I went to school for years to wear dirty jeans everyday and play with machines bigger than your house.

    I love my job, but I want to feel the security of a mustachian fund. If I know I can leave anytime, I would feel a lot more secure in speaking up against the higher ups. If they fired me then…oh well? Retirement time!

    For the record, if the paper machine makes a very loud deep noise….run.

    • CincyCat September 18, 2013, 11:12 am

      Wow – what a small world! The company I work for was recently at the reliability conference in Fla (we specialize in Maximo). I know nothing about Maximo since I am in sales support, but I think that’s really cool!!

  • Tom September 18, 2013, 7:41 am

    I fly helicopters for a life flight company. I guess one could say it’s part of the health care industry but I consider myself more aviation than health care. I love this blog and flying but I’m conflicted. If I retire early (which is certainly possible with my military pension) I won’t be flying…and that would kinda suck. I suppose there are worse problems to have.

    • Jenzer September 18, 2013, 1:55 pm

      Tom, my spouse is a commercial pilot, and he loves flying, too. He doesn’t plan to retire from aviation until the FAA’s age limits force him to do so.

      However, we’re still working to reach FI before he gets to “official” retirement age. He’s seen too many pilots run into health problems that caused them to lose their medical certificates long before they’d planned to quit flying. Said pilots saw their salaries abruptly shrink to zero. Some had few to no other income streams readily available to them.

      Sometimes early retirement from aviation is forced upon you. Might want to keep that in mind as you do your financial planning.

  • Jana Miller September 18, 2013, 8:00 am

    Stay at home mom working by choice in the public schools part time, married to a police officer. Debt free by next year but still driving a car.

  • Scooze September 18, 2013, 8:03 am

    I had to choose “teacher”, which I feel is a bit misleading, since I’m a fundraiser for a major university. There is a big difference between primary/secondary and college staff and faculty.

    I’d also be interested in a poll of % savings and income of your readers.

  • Katie Ostrich September 18, 2013, 8:25 am

    Considering that the poll is for science, it’s ironic that “scientist” (i.e. biologist, chemist, etc.) is not an option.
    – Field Biologist

  • Allison September 18, 2013, 8:34 am

    I put other cubical jockey type job. I am a material management specialist for an engineering firm. Best of both worlds….don’t have to be an engineer but get to work with them everyday!

    FYI – this and purchasing are pretty high demand jobs and pay extremely well.

  • Jeffrey September 18, 2013, 8:36 am

    I marked software engineering, as that is the day job, so to speak. But I have been doing various entrepreneurial throughout the entirety of my 12 year career, so that is almost as applicable. And in 3 to 5 years, when I feel I have reached FI, I am going to take an extended vacation and then probably get into teaching… So many applicable choices! :)

  • Sam September 18, 2013, 8:36 am

    I work in Supply Chain for a Fortune 500 company, which is a glorified way of saying I’m a cubicle jockey.

  • Ed Mills September 18, 2013, 8:56 am

    I wanted to check two boxes: Teacher and I’m Retired! When I work, I work as a teacher. However, I do not anticipate any long-term teaching commitments in my future. Instead, I plan on helping school districts fill positions when they need to fill sudden openings. For example, my last job came open when a teacher had to resign for medical reasons. I accepted the job in January and finished it in June. It was win-win for both the school district and me. The district got a certified teacher to finish the year and I was able to save $33,000. I no longer work for income; I work for savings.

    When I am not working, I live a pretty awesome life. I cook, work out, run, read and work on my projects. As Jeff Yeager would say, “I’m selfishly employed.” The MMM blog has helped me realize that an awesome life doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.


  • Tony September 18, 2013, 9:01 am

    Grad student in the biological sciences here doing basic research. Didn’t know if that counted as high tech so I put down as other. On the average path I will have 3 years left in this mode and from then on, it gets less clear. Trying to work on that now.

  • Goldeneer September 18, 2013, 9:04 am

    Canadian engineer in my early 30’s. My retirement is 4.5 years away when my mortgage is paid off. My husband is retired and is a proud SAHD until kids are in school.

    Retirement income will come mainly from rental properties. Our focus is to make the world a better place in our retirement through social ventures and philanthropy with new careers.

  • Bonnie September 18, 2013, 9:14 am

    You might consider re-doing the survey using the U.S. Dept of Labor standard classifications of occupations http://www.bls.gov/soc/major_groups.htm.
    I’ve worked on financial standards for years, most recently for the federal government, a large category of employer.

  • Geek September 18, 2013, 9:17 am

    I chose Software but I’m a video game producer. It’s the software industry, close enough :)

  • Rand September 18, 2013, 9:20 am

    Other….non-profit conservation

  • JR September 18, 2013, 9:34 am

    Interesting poll results! I am accountant working for an oil & gas marketing company! So, I labeled myself as a cubicle jockey!

  • Michelle September 18, 2013, 9:37 am

    I work in the financial industry but am leaving that in order to be self-employed. Cannot wait! :)

  • Lauren September 18, 2013, 9:38 am

    “Other” here. Currently unemployed but have worked at restaurants as a server for the past couple of years. I graduated with a degree in Sustainable Development in 2010 but have been unable to find a job with it. I also sell soap, lotion, and other natural products on Etsy/at farmer’s markets on the side (oneeyedbuddhacat.etsy.com) but it’s not currently a sustainable income.

    I’m thinking of saving up (my fiancee is a elementary school teacher so we have SOME income — not much but some) to go to school for massage therapy.

  • JCan September 18, 2013, 9:48 am

    tech sales at a cloud start up in silicon valley—living the dream!

  • CB September 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    I’m in Human Resources.

    I’m not surprised at the big numbers of the software and engineering sides. I’ve been exposed to a lot of both types (married to an engineer, have worked whole career in software) they seem like the prime target market for this blog because they make tons of money, they are super practical and pragmatic, and their industry/peer group doesn’t promote flashy spending. There are a lot of high paying industries where all your money seems to go to keeping up with your colleagues – lawyers, financial services, etc.

  • Sarah September 18, 2013, 10:29 am

    HR director at a global non-profit. Would be good to see non-profit as an entry— so often surveys miss us.

  • Jennifer September 18, 2013, 10:45 am

    As a government employee working in historic preservation, I’m another one who doesn’t quite fit these categories! It’s not wholly artsy or desky… I guess I’m an other!

  • Mike September 18, 2013, 10:46 am

    I have to be ‘other’. Today I’ve been a gardener, but I also sell books, write, work casually for Royal Mail, do a bit of ebaying, work as a Poll Clerk during elections, occasionally do delivery rounds (but NEVER for junk mail!) and sometimes doss around all day/week/month when I feel like it … :-)

    I don’t earn a lot, but then I own my home and (20-yr old) car outright, have no debts, and a modest stash. I grow or forage a lot of my own food, have no TV to fill me with ‘wants’ and have never been happier since I quit my last job and took a leap into the unknown.

    I have three sets of letters after my name, but the ‘qualification’ Im proudest of (and find most useful) is my Permaculture Design Certificate. I qualified in a health-care profession but never practiced once I realised it didn’t fit with my lifestyle, and since then I’ve been an electronics technician, full-time eco-warrior, plasterer’s mate, lobbyist, maritime radio officer, warehouseman, renewable energy installer, juggler, barman, website designer, and bathroom salesman – in no particular order.

    So, yeah, ‘other’…

  • Rory & Robin September 18, 2013, 11:05 am

    Not surprisingly, the engineering field seems to be off to an early lead.

    I’m a reformed financial salesmen now earning a living as a commercial credit analyst. It’s honest work, and I enjoy it to boot.

    My wife is a CPA with a large university.

  • Anthony September 18, 2013, 11:07 am

    I second a tab for students or specifically graduate students! Grad students are a group of folks who tend to have very little income coming in and have to commit to this lifestyle for often 4+ years. A lot of grad students are “miserable” because of their “low” income, so this blog would be particularly helpful for them. Gotta learn to love what you have : ), and as it turns out what we tend to have can easily be enough to be happy!

    My total net income is around $19000 CAD/yr which makes me a fairly “wealthy” grad student in Canada, but still “poor” outside of this context. However, I’m still managing to save about 25% ($400/month) using principles from this blog.


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