What resources are available about jobs and trades? Since 1841, the British Census has asked about occupation so find your ancestor in all the censuses you can. If you do not understand the term used for his occupation or you are not sure what that job entailed, you can google it or consult one of these references:
Culling, Joyce. An Introduction to Occupations: A Preliminary List 2nd Edition. Federation of Family History Societies, 1999. ISBN 9781860061035
Stuart, Raymond. Trades and Professions: The Family Historian’s Guide. Family History Partnership, 2011. ISBN 9781906280253
Waters, Colin. A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations. Countryside Books, ISBN 9781853066016
The first two are sold at the National Archives Online Bookshop, but the high cost of postage may be prohibitive. (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk Try www.amazon.com.
The Society of Genealogists publishes a series of books, each title beginning with the phrase, “My Ancestor was a ___________” A private company, Pen and Sword Books, have a series whose title all begin with “Tracing Your _______Ancestors.” I would consult either the National Archives or Amazon as listed above or directly at www.sog.org.uk or www.pen-and-sword.co.uk.
Here are examples from both series:
“My Ancestor Was a Merchant Seaman”
“Tracing Your Railway Ancestors”
You will probably wonder whether your ancestor was the only person in his trade in the parish where he lived. You can consult historical directories of the era which are the equivalent of a U.S. city directory. Read more about them in my blog post on 9 Jan 2013. The website www.historicaldirectores.org is changing and was having technical difficulties in mid-November, as I write this post. Generally, the entry for the parish describes it and lists the gentry, professionals and tradesmen living there.
Finding and using apprenticeship records
The National Archives – National Register of Archives