Difference Between Occupation and Profession

Main Difference – Occupation vs  Profession

Occupation and Profession are two words that are often used interchangeably. While there is no fault in using these words as synonyms, there is a slight difference between occupation and profession. Occupation is a neutral term which is used broadly. But profession refers to an occupation that requires formal qualification or long training. This is the main difference between occupation and profession.

Difference Between Occupation and Profession- infographic

What is a Profession

A profession is a paid occupation, one that especially requires a long training and formal qualifications. Traditionally, it refers to intellectual pursuits which involve gaining a recognized qualification. By this definition, Teaching, law, medicine, engineering, writing, etc. are professions. The term profession is also used to refer to the field of a specific occupation. Look at the following examples to understand this concept more clearly.

She was a lawyer by profession.

He was determined to do well in his chosen profession of teaching. 

Most professions in the field of law require hard work.

The hospital organized a special lecture for the students who want to enter the medical profession.

According to The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, an occupation becomes a profession through “the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship, and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights.”

Main Difference - Occupation vs Profession

What is an Occupation

The term occupation refers to the work that a person does. This is similar to job or employment. This is usually a neutral, broad term indicating any activity that takes up a noteworthy quantity of time. However, the term occupation is generally used to refer to an activity that earns money. Since occupation is a broad term, it can be used to describe many jobs. The term occupation is also used on official documents and forms to refer to one’s job title. The following sentences will help you to understand the meaning and usage of this word better.

What is your occupation?

Please state your occupation on the top right corner.

Jake knows a lot about wildlife due to his father’s occupation.

I am thinking about changing occupations and becoming a writer.

Difference Between Occupation and Profession

Difference Between Occupation and Profession


Occupation refers to the work that a person does.

Profession is a paid occupation, one that especially requires a long training and formal qualifications.


Occupation is a neutral, generic term.

Profession implies an intellectual pursuit.


Occupation may not need formal qualifications or training.

Profession requires formal qualifications and training.


Alan Bullock & Stephen Trombley, The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought, London: Harper-Collins, 1999, p.689.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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