Which Shoes Are Best for Which Professions?

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As a foot wellness company, we know the importance of a good pair of work shoes -- they need to be comfortable, supportive, and suitable for your profession. Inspired by the history of Labor Day, here at FitMyFoot, we’ve rounded up some of the best shoes you can wear for which profession, why shoe choice is important, and what your shoe choice says about you. Let’s get started.

Why America’s workforce needs good shoes

As of July 2021, there were 128.86 million full-time employees in the United States. We’re a hardworking nation. For 10.3 percent of America’s workers, their job involves physical labor. Some examples of this include housekeepers, landscapers, construction workers, and more. Manual labor is a common profession, and it involves being on your feet for the majority of your work day.

Work boots and hard hat

These types of jobs require a good pair of sturdy and durable shoes. Otherwise, the worker is going to struggle to keep up with their workload. The last thing you want on an eight-hour shift is blisters, bunions, and arch pain! If you’ve been struggling with these common foot issues, check out this article we wrote with the best holistic methods to reduce foot pain and swelling naturally.

But even for the workforce that doesn’t spend the entire day on their feet - shoes are essential! For the 863, 953 office workers are currently employed in the U.S., having the right shoes conveys professionalism, while supporting your feet and feeling comfortable throughout the workday.

While you may not have to worry about whether they’re going to absorb impact from walking all day like you would if you were a manual laborer, you still have to make sure your shoes are suitable for your own needs. If you’re an employer in a professional setting, who are you going to hire - the person with smart and suitable dress shoes, or the person with tatty, dirty sneakers? The former is exactly right!

Whether you work at a building site or in an office, you need to choose the right footwear.

The dangers of wearing the wrong shoes at work

We’ve already covered professionalism. But what about safety and enjoyment? If you’ve ever ventured out in shoes that don’t fit, you know the feeling. Your feet are hurting with every step you take, but there’s nothing you can do about it. When you get home your feet are swollen, blistered, and achy. Even if you had a great day, your painful feet are all you can think about.

Woman rubbing sore foot

If your feet are hurting at work, it may interfere with your ability to do the job properly. So that you can solely focus on the task at hand, it’s vital to wear comfortable shoes. That’s the same for manual labor jobs and office jobs. Comfortable shoes mean you can focus on what matters, and between your working hours, what matters most is work!

But it’s not just about your own personal comfort. There are dangers of wearing improper footwear in certain professions. For example, construction workers are on their feet for many hours, working in conditions that can expose them to dangerous situations like moving concrete or laying bricks. If a brick were to fall on your shoes, you need to make sure they are providing adequate protection so as to not injure yourself.

Finally, did you know that a lot of people judge a person based on the shoes they wear? According to a study conducted at the University of Kansas, researchers found that people can make accurate predictions about a person’s personality traits just based on the type of shoes they wear (this goes for U.S. Presidents, too). So, what do your shoes say about you? What first impression do you want to make on people? Are your shoes doing you justice?

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The best shoes for each profession

Now that we’ve talked about the dangers of wearing improper footwear at work, let’s move onto the specifics of which shoes are best for each profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 821 recognized legal occupations, from accountants and auditors to zoologists and wildlife biologists. We’d be here for quite a while if we were to go through each profession, so for your time consideration, let’s just separate into two separate groups; those who work on their feet, and those who don’t.

Standing professions

If you’re a:

  • Nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Bartender
  • Restaurant server
  • Paramedic
  • Chef
  • High school teacher
  • Maintenance worker
  • Police officer

You’re going to be on your feet all day. The shoes you wear are paramount! Your shoes need to support your body from the stress of standing, absorb shock from the ground, and feel comfortable.

The types of shoes you should be looking for have plenty of cushioning, arch support, and a wide toe-box to accommodate feet as they naturally expand throughout the day. For certain standing professions, like police officers, it’s also important to find shoes that allow you to run.

Seated professionals

Woman suffering foot pain in an office

If you work in an office or at a desk, you’re going to be used to spending your days seated. While the type of shoe you wear has more flexibility in terms of style and less about function, it’s also a good idea to get shoes that are comfortable.

For many professions that request a business casual attire, conservative athletic or walking shoes, loafers, clogs, sneakers, boots, flats, dress heels, and leather deck-type shoes are considered acceptable for work.

Women who opt for heels might want to choose shorter, thicker heels to place less tension in the Achilles tendon and feel more comfortable throughout the day. For men who opt for dress shoes, make sure they are clean and buffed, to give the professional edge that your employers are looking for.

Final thoughts

What you wear on your feet matters. It’s always about knowing the balance between function and style, but you don’t have to choose. With millions of shoes to choose from, you can find the right pair. To enhance your comfort, try out a FitMyFoot custom insole to help your shoes fit just right.

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