Q&A: What Is an Occupation?

Why do we get jobs and pursue our individual career paths? Is it simply to earn our livelihood and enhance personal and professional development? Every individual has a role to play in society; a way they can contribute and make a difference. In addition to keeping ourselves busy, disciplined and self-dependent, an occupation contributes to socio-economic growth and development, thereby making a difference in society.

Read on to see what is meant by occupation, its types and various examples. Additionally, let’s explore how the meaning and scope of occupation have changed over time and various ways to stay on top of such changes.

To understand what is meant by occupation, we need to go back to basics and explore where the term comes from. The dictionary defines occupation as an activity that occupies a person’s attention. In professional settings, it refers to someone’s work situation or their role within an organization.

It can be said that the word occupation is an umbrella term, used to define someone’s role or industry or work where they can display skills that benefit that field. If a person is looking for a job within a specific occupation, they are likely to build a career in that occupation. If an occupation requires certification and licensing, people can pursue it as a profession.

In a nutshell, our occupation is a pillar of our role in and contribution to society. Here are some examples of occupation:

Different types of occupation are usually defined in general terms and not in specific job titles. For example, we say consultant and not Senior Consultant, when describing our occupation to someone.

What is an occupation?

The difference between occupations, jobs, careers and professions

It is difficult to define what an occupation is without also discussing other terms that contribute to its definition. Below we’ll examine the nuanced differences between occupations, jobs, careers and professions:



A job is a specific position you hold within an organization. Jobs are the most narrow way to describe your professional experience, and they may refer to something an individual does on a full-time, part-time or freelance basis.


This is a macro way to define the series of positions you’ve held during your working life. Often a career takes place in a single industry, but work experience across industries can also contribute to an overarching career. For instance, someone who has worked in recruiting for a proprietary college could use that experience to become a volunteer manager for a nonprofit. The two work experiences are in different industries, but paint the picture of a strong career in recruitment. Experiences that don’t relate to one another usually indicate a career change.


A profession typically refers to a path that mandates individuals have specialized skills or knowledge. Professions often require education, certification or licensing. Professions are broader than job titles but not as broad as an occupation. For example, your job title may be assistant district attorney, but your profession is a lawyer.

What is an occupation?

Occupation is a general term that refers to the field or industry you are a part of or the work you are interested in. It can also refer to your role within an organization. Stating your occupation in an interview holds implications for you, your job, your profession and your career in a single answer.

An occupation is a work situation had by a person who has a specific field of interest and distinct skills that benefit that field. That person could look for a job within a specific occupation, they could be interested in continuing a career in that occupation, and if the occupation requires licensing and certification, they could pursue it as a profession.

Occupation categories and job examples

The BLS views occupation in terms of 23 categories that are used to determine data about the occupational outlook and career growth in America. Those categories are listed on their website as follows. In the next section, we’ll look at the categories and provide an example of a job and salary for each. All salary projections are based on a 40-hour workweek:

Example occupation titles

Primary duties: A marketing manager creates, develops, implements and manages all aspects of marketing campaigns. They often lead a marketing team and are responsible for the growth and visibility of a company’s brand.

Primary duties: A cost analyst creates and monitors business against several metrics that show company cost effectiveness and resourcefulness. The analyst is responsible for keep businesses on a path to achieve revenue goals by estimating and analyzing costs for projections.

Primary duties: Software developers play an important role in an IT team because they are responsible for all parts of the software development life cycle. Developers can program in many software programming languages and can seek certifications and education to advance their careers in the profession of information technology.

Primary duties: Chemical engineers work with chemicals in labs to create proprietary products and compounds, including things like plastic and pharmaceuticals.

Primary duties: A food scientist tests food to determine makeup, nutritional value and screen for things like bacteria and toxins that should not be consumed.

Primary duties: Substance abuse counselors work with chemically addicted clients to help them overcome addiction and lead healthier lives with better coping strategies and behaviors.

Primary duties: Paralegals assist attorneys with performing their specific type of law. This includes being highly organized and working with a variety of data, and can also entail investigations, witness interviews and other activities that help attorneys build cases.

Primary duties: A kindergarten teacher educates primary education students and providing a safe and healthy environment for them to grow.

Primary duties: Floral designers create floral arrangements for special events, typically for retail sale.

Primary duties: RNs specialize in patient care. They can work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, home care, at nonprofits or in other settings where people seek medical care. They are licensed to practice their profession and can handle most medical operations activities involved in patient care.

Primary duties: Massage therapists are licensed professionals who provide a therapeutic and relaxing experience specializing in different massage techniques.

Primary duties: A private investigator works with clients offering detective services independently of law enforcement. This includes investigating people and incidents and providing feedback to the client. They can work for individuals or corporate clients.

Primary duties: A bartender can work in several hospitality or recreational establishments from restaurants and bars to hotels and golf clubs. They serve customers by mixing drinks and often serving food, and taking care of other customer requests. Sometimes bartenders are certified mixologists, and this distinguishing factor can make a difference in the establishment that they work in.

Primary duties: Pest control technicians can work with commercial or residential clients using chemicals and other methods to eradicate pests.

Primary duties: Cosmetologists specialize in hair and makeup services for clients and can work in several establishments and industries, but commonly work in hair salons where they are employed or rent a space.

Primary duties: An account executive role combines account management and sales to service existing clients and gain new ones.

Primary duties: Human resource assistants work with human resource management and general employees to implement human resource initiatives and perform clerical duties.

Primary duties: Wildlife specialists are environmental care workers who specialize in several topics having to do with animal and plant biology like conservation, rehabilitation, behavior and support education on such topics.

Primary duties: Stonemasons design, implement and construct projects out of stone. They specialize in bricklaying and work with several tools required for the job.

Primary duties: Primary duties of automotive technicians are to repair all aspects of a vehicle, or to specialize in an area like tire replacement and repair. Automotive technicians sometimes only work with certain makes and models while others are more general. This role often requires certification.

Primary duties: A welder is an essential part of a fabrication team. They apply heat to metal to construct objects necessary in several industries like construction, automotive and manufacturing.

Primary duties: Boat captains operate boats in several industries like government, fishing and wildlife and recreation.

Primary duties: Infantry officers command the infantry and play an essential role in developing missions and strategies according to standard operating procedures.


What is an example of occupation?

An example of occupation is when you are a doctor or a lawyer. An example of occupation is when the United States maintains military troops in Iraq to keep control and order. The act or process of holding or possessing a place. An activity that serves as one’s regular source of livelihood; a vocation.

What is occupation simple answer?

Definition of occupation

a person’s usual or principal work or business, especially as a means of earning a living; vocation: Her occupation was dentistry. any activity in which a person is engaged. possession, settlement, or use of land or property. the act of occupying, possessing, or settling.

What qualifies as an occupation?

Occupation is a general term that refers to the field or industry you are a part of or the work you are interested in. It can also refer to your role within an organization. Stating your occupation in an interview holds implications for you, your job, your profession and your career in a single answer.

What does occupation as means mean?

Occupation as means, according to Catherine Trombly, “refers to occupation acting as the therapeutic change agent to remediate impaired abilities or capacities”. Examples: Various arts, crafts, games, sports, exercise routines, and daily activities that are systematically selected and tailored to each person.

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