What Is the Difference Between a Profession & an Occupation?

The terms "profession" and "occupation" are often used interchangeably to refer to the job that a person holds or, more generally, the career field in which he's in. However, the term profession refers to a particular category of occupations, ones that require significant training and the use of strict standards. While a profession is an occupation, an occupation is not necessarily a profession.



A profession refers to a type of job in which the person is required to have completed significant higher eduction, often a graduate degree or higher. Some traditional professions are being a doctor, lawyer and engineer, as all require significant study. A person practicing a profession must have a lot of specialized training in his field, which allows him to possess a large amount of specialized knowledge.


A person who holds an occupation does not necessarily have a large amount of specialized knowledge, nor did he necessarily receive a higher education. While the profession of a doctor is a type of occupation, so is the job of a janitor. In addition, the term "occupation" can refer to the thing that a person spends most of his time doing, whether he is compensated for it or not.


Major Differences

There are a number of key differences between an occupation and a profession. Among these are the fact that a professional is paid for his skills and his knowledge, while a person with an occupation is only paid for what he produces. In addition, a professional has most of the responsibility related to his job, while a person with an occupation usually has a supervisor.


The use of the term "occupation" instead of "profession" can actually emphasize the fact that the job being discussed is not a profession, but is another kind of job. An occupation that is not a profession generally allows the person less autonomy. However, the difference between profession and occupation is sometimes unclear. For example, while some people would consider certain white collar jobs to be professions, others would consider them occupations.