The first jobs of 11 dictators


Dictators are remembered as larger-than-life political and military rulers.

From teachers to artists, here’s what 13 despots did before they came to power.

Benito Mussolini first worked as schoolmaster, and then turned to political journalism.

Benito Mussolini 'for a time worked as a schoolmaster but soon realised that he was totally unsuited for such work,' according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

He then left Italy for Switzerland where he worked odd jobs until he became well-known as an intellectual political journalist.

Source: Encylopaedia Britannica

North Korea's Kim Il-Sung was a major in the Soviet army during World War II.

Three Lions/Getty Images

In the 1930's, Kim Il-Sung joined a Korean guerrilla resistance against Japanese occupation.

He later led a Korean contingent as a major in the Soviet Army during World War II.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Joseph Stalin studied at a seminary, but later worked as a tutor and clerk after he dropped out.

Stalin's religious mother wanted her son to become a priest, and so he attended the Tiflis Theological Seminary. Although he excelled in his studies, he left school in 1899. (Some records say it was because he could not afford tuition, others say that it was due to his anti-tsarist political views.)

He then worked as a tutor and clerk at the Tiflis Observatory.


Adolf Hitler was a watercolor painter.

Hitler was interested in fine art, although his father disapproved.

He worked as a casual laborer and watercolor painter in Vienna, but was ultimately twice rejected by the Academcy of Fine Arts.


Pol Pot taught history, geography, and French literature at a private school.

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Pol Pot studied radio electronics in Paris on scholarship. However, he spent most of his time involved in revolutionary activities, and his scholarship was nipped in the bud after he failed exams.

He taught at a private school when he returned home.

Source: New York Times

Uganda's Idi Amin was an assistant cook, boxing champion, and talented swimmer.

Keystone/Getty Images

Idi Amin joined the King's African Rifles of the British colonial army in 1946 as an assistant cook.

He was later a light-heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, and was reportedly a great swimmer.

Source: New York Times,

Haiti's Fran├žois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier was a physician.

Keystone/Getty Images

Duvalier graduated from the University of Haiti School of Medicine in 1934. He served as a hospital staff physician until 1943.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Nicolae Ceausescu started out as an apprentice cobbler.

Ceausescu only received an elementary school education. He started out as an apprentice cobbler after he left his village.

Source:, Telegraph

Francisco Franco joined the army and became the youngest captain in the Spanish army in 1915.

Franco graduated from the Infantry Academy at Toledo, and after that volunteered for active duty in the colonial campaigns in Spanish Morocco.

He 'soon won a reputation for complete professional dedication' and 'paid more attention than was common to the troops' well-being.' In 1915, he became the youngest captain in the Spanish army.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Maximillien Robespierre made good money as a lawyer.

Robespierre was a lawyer, and later appointed a judge at the Salle Épiscopale, a court with jurisdiction over the provostship of a diocese.

'His private practice provided him with a comfortable income,' according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

Augusto Pinochet taught geopolitics at a the War Academy.

August graduated as an infantry officer in 1937, and later taught geopolitics at the War Academy.

Source: The Guardian

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