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
  • @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
  • @Nagarajan Shanmuganathan My understanding is that interns may or may not receive a salary but working students and student employees receive a salary in almost all cases. This is why I'm not considering intern in this particular case, although I agree that it is a related term. Another difference is that for intern positions there is often no experience required, whereas for student employee positions there is mostly some experience required and they might not get as much training on the job.
    – Quasar
    Sep 8, 2016 at 18:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.