The average person spends 40 hours a week doing their job. Since work is such an important part of our lives, it is a good idea for you to know how to talk about this topic in English. In this blog post, we will go over a list of jobs and occupations in English, as well as going over some vocabulary to help you talk about duties, pay, working hours, and other aspects of your working life. Keep reading! Be sure to check out the jobs in English list at the end of this blog post and check your understanding with games and exercises!
Jobs, professions, occupations: what’s the difference?
These three words are widely used when talking about work. Let’s go over each one of them. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, job refers to, among other meanings, “a regular remunerative position”. In other words, something you get paid to do. The examples given by the dictionary are:
- She got a part-time job as a server.
- He quit his job.
The definition for profession is “a principal calling, vocation, or employment” and “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.” Meanwhile, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines occupation as “the principal business of one’s life.” The example given by them is:
- Teaching was her occupation.
Considering these definitions, take a look at the list below to understand the difference between jobs and occupations in English:
|Job||Job is a more general word, used to talk about unskilled and skilled labor.|
|Profession||Profession refers to skilled labor. You need a college degree in order to work in the field.|
|Occupation||This can also be used for unskilled and skilled labor. It’s the principal business of one’s life.|
When talking about jobs, people will also use the terms full-time and part-time. Full-time refers to a job to which you devote full attention, usually called the 9-5 (pronounced as nine-to-five) job. This is a job in which you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A part-time job, on the other hand, refers to a job where you work less than the standard eight hours per day.
Besides these terms, you will also hear the word gig when talking about working life. Gig workers usually work as short-term, temporary, or independent contractors for one or multiple employers. You can also hear the term side gig. People take on gigs for different reasons, such as to earn extra cash or to pursue a passion they have. Common gigs are customer service representative, translator and/or transcriber, photographer, virtual assistant, tutor, Uber, and delivery driver, among many others.
You can also work as an intern or as an apprentice. An internship is a short-term work experience offered by companies for students to get some experience in a particular industry or field. There are paid and unpaid internships. An apprenticeship is a system in which workers train on-the-job while taking courses. Usually, apprenticeships take between one and six years to complete and you get paid while you train. There are several types of apprenticeships available, such as accounting, business, construction, IT, media, and transport apprenticeships.
What do you do? Talking about your job in English
When getting to know people, this is one of the first questions you will be asked. There are three questions that mean the same thing essentially:
- What do you do?
- What’s your job?
- What do you do for a living?
In the same way, there are different ways to ask this question, there are different ways to answer it. Take a look at the list below of possible answers to these questions about your job:
|What do you do?||I’m a/an [insert job]. Examples: teacher, engineer, nurse, doctor, journalist, and so on.|
|What ‘s your job?||I work in [insert place or general area]. Examples: a bank, a department store, marketing, education, and so on.|
|What do you do for a living?||I work for [insert name of the company]. Examples: Apple, Facebook, Bank of American, and so on.|
Talking about job duties in English
Whether you want to explain your job to a friend or write about it on your resume, it is important to be able to tell people what you do at your job. You can talk about your main responsibilities or you can go deeper and tell them about your daily routine at the job.
When talking about your main responsibilities, you can say something like:
- I’m in charge of (….)
This means you are responsible for something.
- I run the (….)
This means you manage/control something.
- I have to deal with (…)
This means you take all necessary action towards something.
Let’s take my job as an example. I’m a content writer here at PrepEng. If someone asked me about my main responsibilities, I would say:
- I’m in charge of writing content for the PrepEng blog.
Now, if someone asks me about my daily routine at my job, I would say:
- I have to write 5 blog posts a week.
- It involves writing content, designing artwork, and drafting blog posts on WordPress.
- I meet my manager once a day to go over the blog schedule.
Talking about pay
Let’s talk money. Most people get paid monthly, and we call salary the amount a worker receives at the end of the month. The company can make a direct deposit into your bank account or you can get a check that you will eventually cash out at the bank.
We also use the term wage to talk about your payment. The difference between salary and wage is that we use salary to talk about a fixed amount one gets per month and wage refers to the hourly pay rate. Most jobs offer holiday pay, which means you get paid on holidays, and sick pay, which means you get paid when you are ill.
The day you get your pay is called payday. Paycheck refers to the piece of paper that details your gross pay, deductions, and net pay. The total amount of money you receive in a year is called your income. When talking about your payment, it is also common to use the verb “to earn”. One could say “I earn $60,000 a year”, for instance.
List of common jobs in English and responsibilities
Before we dive into this list, I need to remind you that some terms we used to say in the past are now considered demeaning and outdated. Here are terms you can use to talk about some specific jobs in English:
|server (gender-neutral term)|
|actress||actor (gender-neutral term)|
|hostess||host (gender-neutral term)|
Now, let’s go ahead and learn more about the most common jobs. Check out the table below for 46 job descriptions. Most of these descriptions are provided by the website betterteam.com. You can check this website for more job descriptions. Here’s the jobs in English list:
|accountant||Accountants are employed by organisations or private clients to audit accounts, provide financial advice and undertake accounts administration.|
|actor||An actor’s primary duty is to effectively communicate the character that they are playing to an audience, using their voice, body, actions and reactions.|
|administrative assistant||Administrative assistant duties and responsibilities include providing administrative support to ensure efficient operation of the office.|
|architect||Architects design new buildings and suggest alterations to existing buildings.|
|author||The responsibilities of an author include writing original stories for novels, plays, television scripts, and movies.|
|baker||Bakers use their understanding of ingredients and food preparation to craft recipes and create baked goods.|
|bricklayer||Bricklayers are skilled craftsmen responsible for constructing brickwork by laying bricks using the correct mortar mixture.|
|butcher||Butchers take larger wholesale sections of meat and break them down into smaller portions or custom cuts which can be sold to customers.|
|carpenter||Carpenters are skilled artisans who construct, erect, install and renovate structures made of wood and other materials.|
|Besides their primary responsibility of preparing food for a restaurant/coffee shop, cooks often prep ingredients and ensure cleanliness of their working area.|
|cleaner||Cleaners ensure that the spaces to which they are assigned remain tidy and orderly. Cleaners work in a variety of settings including offices, homes, and public spaces.|
|dentist||Dentists diagnose and treat dental issues and help patients develop better oral hygiene regimens. They clean teeth, correct bite issues, perform surgeries and extractions and perform other duties to ensure that the teeth and mouth are healthy.|
|doctor||Doctors, also known as physicians, are licensed health professionals who maintain and restore human health through the practice of medicine.|
|electrician||Electricians work on electrical equipment and in homes, factories, businesses and buildings, both existing and under construction, to install, repair and maintain power, lighting, communications and control systems.|
|engineer||Engineers work in a variety of fields to analyze, develop and evaluate large-scale, complex systems. This can mean and improve and maintaining current systems or creating brand new projects.|
|factory worker production worker||They produce and assemble products in factories. They operate and maintain machinery, ensure production standards are met, finalize products, and prepare them for shipping.|
|farmer||A farmer manages farms, ranches, greenhouses, nurseries, and other agricultural production organizations.|
|Firefighters protect and rescue people from fire and emergencies. They respond to a variety of emergency calls including fires, car crashes, chemical spills, and flooding.|
|fisherman||Also known as fishers, fishermen use various fishing equipment to catch fish and other aquatic animals that are consumed by humans and animals or used as bait.|
|florist||Florists create traditional and tailor-made floral arrangements for subsequent purchase.|
|gardener||The responsibility of a gardener is to maintain the beauty of plants, outdoor grounds, and trees in a garden.|
|Also known as hairstylists, hairdressers may be self-employed or work for salons, spas, hotels, and resorts where they provide various hairdressing services.|
|journalist||The key objective of a journalist is to gather information, write news pieces, and present the news in an honest and balanced manner.|
|judge||Judges interpret and apply laws and precedents to determine outcomes or make rulings on legal matters. They often oversee trials, hearings, and other legal proceedings to make sure they’re handled fairly under the law.|
|lawyer||Lawyers, also known as attorneys, are certified professionals who advise and represent natural and juristic persons in legal matters.|
|librarian||A librarian is in charge of collecting, organizing, and issuing library resources such as books, films, and audio files. They work in a range of settings including public libraries, schools, and museums.|
|lifeguard||Lifeguards work at beaches, rivers, swimming pools, and water parks where they ensure the safety of swimmers and water sports participants.|
|mechanic||A mechanic is responsible for inspecting and repairing vehicles, machinery, and light trucks.|
|model||Models promote, advertise, and showcase clothing, footwear, and other products. They participate in photoshoots, fashion shows, commercials, trade shows, and conventions.|
|nurse||A nurse typically monitors patients, administers medications, keeps records, consults with healthcare providers, educates patients and more.|
|painter||Painters use paint, tools, and materials such as plaster, to change the appearance and texture of buildings, walls, and other structures.|
|pharmacist||Pharmacists are responsible for aiding customers by compounding and/or dispensing prescription medications. They also provide pharmaceutical information to healthcare professionals.|
|photographer||Photographers capture images or videos for clients in a studio, on location, or at an event. The photographer prepares the studio by setting up lights and props and typically performs some editing after a photo shoot.|
|pilot||Also called aviators, pilots operate aircraft in various industries. They can be employed in the commercial sector, work for airlines, the military, or take on private jobs.|
|plumber||Plumbers install and repair plumbing systems in residential and commercial properties. They also install fixtures and domestic appliances associated with heating, cooling, and sanitation systems.|
|police officer||Also known as law enforcement officers, police officers protect the public and their property, enforce laws, and investigate all manner of crimes.|
|real estate agent||Real estate agents assist clients in buying, selling, and renting properties.|
|receptionist||Receptionists handle a variety of administrative support tasks, including answering phones, receiving visitors, preparing meeting and training rooms, sorting and distributing mail, and making travel plans.|
|sales associate||Sales associates are most commonly found working for retailers who sell clothing, jewelry, office supplies, and sporting goods. Alternative titles for this role are retail sales associate, sales floor associate, and retail salesperson.|
|server||A restaurant server takes orders, answers questions about the menu and food, sells the restaurant’s food and drinks, takes payment, communicates orders with the kitchen staff, seats customers, and helps with customer service and cleaning.|
|tailor||Tailors are responsible for constructing, altering, repairing, or modifying garments for customers based on their specifications, needs, and preferences.|
|taxi driver||Also known as cab drivers, taxi drivers transport clients to their destinations via automobile. Taxi Drivers are usually paid according to the distance and time taken to complete each trip.|
|teacher||A teacher is responsible for preparing lesson plans and educating students at all levels. Their duties include assigning homework, grading tests, and documenting progress.|
|translator||Translators work with text that needs to be translated accurately from one language to another.|
|travel agent||The purpose of a travel agent is to sell transportation and accommodation to individuals and groups planning trips. They provide advice on travel destinations, plan itineraries, and collect payments.|
|veterinarian (vet)||Veterinarians specialize in treating pets, horses, wildlife or farm animals. Some veterinarians treat fish, marine mammals, and invertebrates. A veterinarian can also teach at educational institutions, or work in research or food safety fields. Also known as veterinary surgeon or vet.|
Now, what is it that you do for a living? We would love to hear more about your job in the comment section below. You can tell us what’s your job, what are your main responsibilities, and what’s your favorite part of your daily routine. Anyways, we hope this blog post about jobs and occupations in English is helpful to you! Be sure to check out this resource page right here to play games and check your knowledge about this topic. Happy studying!