Finding out about the occupations of your ancestors is prudent if you want to add more details about their lives to your family tree rather than just birth, marriage and death dates.
You are likely to find out more about a person's job if they were involved in a trade which was well documented, such as an apprenticed trade.
They would have needed a local magistrate's licence, issued for a year, if he was in a position that was licenced, such as a gamekeeper or innkeeper.
The records usually state the applicant's name along with the location and period for which the licence was valid. Unfortunately you are less likely to find out much information about a person's career if they were a servant or farm labourer.
Some other documents that may yield more information about your ancestor's career are wills, directories and taxation records. It is always nice to learn a specific talent you have today may have come down through the generations of your family.
All limited companies have been required by law since 1844 to register their details with Companies House and you are able to study the register in London and Cardiff after paying a small fee.
A computer database is also available, which you can search for details of existing companies and also for those dissolved in the last 20 years.
The first guilds and trade associations, which promoted skills and standards, was established in the 12th Century. They regulated their specific trade or craft, and new entrants and apprentices were often asked to complete training which often lasted for seven years.
If they were in a skilled trade it is likely they first started out as an apprentice and you may be able to find their apprenticeship record at the local Record Office. The National Archives hold a central register of apprenticeships in England and Wales, covering the period from 1710 to 1811. The books give the masters' name, addresses and trades and the name of the apprentice along with the date of their indenture.
Family Tree Resources > Occupations