Nonprofessional vs. Professional Jobs: What’s the Difference?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a professional job is one that requires a specific level of college education, typically a bachelor’s degree or higher, for someone to perform its duties and responsibilities. Examples of professional jobs include doctors, teachers, accountants, lawyers, scientists, and authors. According to the EEOC, non-professional jobs include craftspeople, plumbers, electricians, installers, and food service workers or, in general, positions that primarily entail manual labor duties and trade skills learned through an apprenticeship or training program.

nonprofessional vs professional jobs

What is a nonprofessional job?

A nonprofessional job is a career that an individual can start with little training or education. Often, these are entry-level positions that offer on-the-job training and allow professionals to develop skills to advance their career. Here are some examples of nonprofessional jobs:

What is a professional job?

A professional job is a career that requires a specific amount of advanced training and education. These jobs often require some level of post-secondary education. Some examples of professional jobs include:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) classification

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the organization that makes the distinction between nonprofessional and professional jobs. This distinction is important for tax, salary and other employment classifications. The EEOC recognizes the key difference between nonprofessional and professional jobs to be that professional jobs require a college degree, while nonprofessional degrees do not.

Because there are exceptions to this classification, its important to consider the other differences between professional and nonprofessional jobs.

Nonprofessional vs. professional jobs

The differences between a nonprofessional and a professional job include:

Experience and education level

Many professional jobs rely on advanced education, while many nonprofessional jobs value experience. For example, to become a surgeon, a professional must complete a doctorate program. Meanwhile, if an individual is pursuing a career as a plumber, they need to earn many years of experience and hands-on training.

To earn career advancement opportunities, individuals working in a professional field often need to continue their education or earn an additional certification, whereas an individual working in a nonprofessional field may need to gain a certain level of work experience to earn a promotion.


Many nonprofessional jobs focus heavily on training and often provide on-the-job training. While professional jobs sometimes require training periods, such as internships, and offer orientations, most individuals who work in a professional job acquire the skills necessary for their position through their education instead of their training.

Because nonprofessional jobs require more training, these careers often offer different levels of employment. For example, a professional working in the food service industry may start a job as a restaurant host and later become part of the restaurants waitstaff once they earn more experience.


Most nonprofessional jobs offer hourly pay, while many professional jobs offer salary pay. While this is not always a clear distinction, as some professional jobs also offer hourly pay, its uncommon for a nonprofessional job to offer a set annual salary.

Because professional jobs generally require a college degree, many individuals working in these types of careers have the opportunity to earn more than individuals in nonprofessional careers. Still, an individuals earnings often depend on how many hours they work, their experience level and their career. This means that individuals who have nonprofessional jobs still have the opportunity to earn more than those in professional jobs.

Responsibilities outside of work

Individuals who have professional jobs often find themselves with more career-related responsibilities outside of work than those who work in nonprofessional jobs. For example, even outside of their scheduled work hours, a doctor may need to be on call, which can affect how they spend their free time. Similarly, a teacher may take assignments home to grade after their regular work hours. Individuals working nonprofessional jobs rarely have any work-related responsibilities after they complete their shift.

Tax status

Professional and nonprofessional job holders have different tax statuses, specifically in regards to whether they are exempt or nonexempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates compensation aspects such as minimum wage and overtime pay. The FLSA determines individuals with professional jobs to be exempt, while individuals with nonprofessional jobs are nonexempt.

A key effect of this status is whether the law requires a company to pay an employee for overtime hours. Since nonprofessional jobs are nonexempt, employees must pay their employees overtime pay for working over 40 hours within one week. Inversely, since many individuals in professional jobs have salaries, companies dont have to issue overtime pay when the professional works over 40 hours.

How to choose between a professional and nonprofessional job

If youre in search of a career, you may need to decide between a professional and nonprofessional job. Here are some factors to consider when making this decision:

Work-life balance

While most professionals can still maintain a healthy work-life balance regardless of their career type, individuals who work in nonprofessional careers may find it easier to keep their professional and personal lives separate. This is because many individuals who work in professional jobs have to complete job-related responsibilities at home, while individuals in nonprofessional jobs dont. For example, a receptionist wouldnt need to answer business-related calls outside of business hours, as the company phone likely directs any customer or client calling after regular operating hours to a voicemail system.

If keeping your profession completely separate from your home life is important to you, you may want to consider a nonprofessional career. However, you can still work in a professional career and have a healthy work-life balance, though you may need to make adjustments at work and home to achieve this.

Earning potential

When choosing between a professional and nonprofessional job, you may want to consider the earning potential of each. Many professional jobs offer a higher earning potential than nonprofessional jobs. However, your earning potential also mostly depends on your employer, industry, location and qualifications.

The process of trying to increase your earning potential differs depending on the type of job you have. For many nonprofessional jobs, you can increase your earning potential by gaining more experience and training. For professional jobs, you may have to complete a certification course or obtain a higher-level degree program in order to increase your earning potential.

Education preferences

Though there are exceptions, most individuals who are pursuing a professional career complete a post-secondary degree. Because of this, you may want to consider your education preferences when choosing between a nonprofessional and a professional job. If you dont enjoy going to school or taking educational classes or youre a hands-on learner, you might consider pursuing a nonprofessional job instead of a professional one. This allows you to receive on-the-job training instead of completing a degree program.

Living costs

Its important to consider your living costs and financial responsibilities when deciding on a career type. Because nonprofessional jobs often offer entry-level positions, it can be easier for an individual to find work sooner. This may be important to those who have higher living costs or dont receive any financial assistance from others. Some individuals who are pursuing a professional job may seek temporary employment while attending post-secondary school, as they cant start their professional career until they finish their degree program.


What is the difference between professional and nonprofessional?

Jobs tend to be deemed professional if they require specialized knowledge and advanced skills in an area. Teachers, engineers and doctors are all considered professionals. Jobs classified as nonprofessional are often manual or repetitive in nature. Dishwashers and cashiers are often considered nonprofessionals.

What is considered a professional job?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a professional job is one that requires a specific level of college education, typically a bachelor’s degree or higher, for someone to perform its duties and responsibilities.

What is the difference between professional and job?

One’s field of work is referred to as a profession, whereas your job is the specific tasks you perform. – Thus, a person who has received a degree in computer engineering performs the job of a software developer being in the IT profession.

What is a nonprofessional employee?

The FUTA classifies as nonprofessional, positions that do not involve instruction, research, or principally administrative work for the school employer. Therefore, work in “any other capacity” is work that is not instruction, research, or administrative.

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