Which of the two terms − "student employee" and "working student" − is more accurate and more common (in American English) when referring to a student who works for a salary at a private company (not university) alongside their studies? And is there any difference in the meaning?


A Google search I did before posting the question showed similar, high result counts (400-500k) for both terms. I also found both terms in dictionaries. This is part of why I am not sure which one is more commonly used.

1 Answer 1


Working student is the popular one, widely used across all 50 states in the US.

In contrast, student employee is a less used term as it imposes that the student/colleague is under an obligation or contract imposed by law.

  • 4
    What about the word "intern"? "Intern - a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience" (Google online). Sep 8, 2016 at 6:01
  • Welcome to EL&U. Do you have a source from which to quote? This would improve your answer and make it more likely for it to be up-voted. Sep 8, 2016 at 6:01
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    @Peter Point: I am only referring to students who work for a salary. The distinction from "student employee" and "working student" is clear as the latter always work for a salary. I edited my question to make this clear.
    – Quasar
    Sep 8, 2016 at 6:35
  • @Quasar An intern usually gets stipend. You don't want to take that into consideration? Sep 8, 2016 at 11:25
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    To me student employee might lean towards, say, a student on a sandwich course or other work-experience specifically related to his course; working student towards someone on a standard course who has wholly unrelated work, such as waiting at table. Either could be 'a student who works for a salary at a private company (not university) alongside their studies…'. I don't think there rules or guidelines; mine are just personal choices. Sep 22, 2016 at 16:28

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