Is there a separate technical term for professions that produce an end product and professions that produce a raw material?

For example (let's simplify things):

  • A miner produces copper. Copper cannot be used just like that - it needs to be processed, first.
  • A guy who makes cables uses the copper from the miner to make a copper cable. The cable is now an end product that you can use right away.

Is there a technical term for the type of profession the miner and the cable guy have that illustrates one makes raw material and the other a finished product?

  • Metals are easy: (mining) smelting and smithing. You're looking for resource extraction and consumer products ... in not so many words?
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 14:58
  • @Mazura something like that, yeah. For example in biology you have a term like "Reducers" that describes all creatures that reduce dead matter to minerals (basically bacteria that eat dead animals, I hope I am using the correct terms). So I thought there'd be similar terms in the industry to describe or encompass all professions that produce raw materials.
    – mathgenius
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 15:43
  • I think part of your problem is the limitations to the possible classes of consumer. Cables are used in houses; houses are used in suburban housing complexes; cities make states; et c. Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 20:27

3 Answers 3


They're known as [the] extractive and manufacturing industries.

From the BusinessDictionary

extractive industry: Any processes that involve the extraction of raw materials from the earth to be used by consumers. The extractive industry consists of any operations that remove metals, mineral and aggregates from the earth. Examples of extractive processes include oil and gas extraction, mining, dredging and quarrying.

And from Nasa.gov:

manufacturing industry: The branch of manufacture and trade based on the fabrication, processing, or preparation of products from raw materials and commodities. This includes all foods, chemicals, textiles, machines, and equipment; all refined metals and minerals derived from extracted ores; and all lumber, wood, and pulp products. [slightly reformatted]

  • This is spot-on for his miner and copper cable guy example.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 15:52
  • Not so spot-on for, say, a farmer and a cook, though. Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 20:39

The best I've been able to do is find that your two people mining the copper and manufacturing the copper pipe work in the primary and secondary industries of the economy.

Primary: involves the retrieval and production of raw materials, such as corn, coal, wood and iron. (A coal miner, farmer or fisherman would be workers in the primary sector.)

Secondary: involves the transformation of raw or intermediate materials into goods e.g. manufacturing steel into cars, or textiles into clothing. (A builder and a dressmaker would be workers in the secondary sector.)
Wikipedia article

I've had a little luck finding names for people who work in the primary sector:

Primary producer A person or organization producing basic agricultural commodities, such as a farmer or cattle producer.

A primary producer is an individual, partnership, trust or company operating a primary production business if they undertake:

plant or animal cultivation
fishing or pearling
tree farming or felling
Australian Taxation Office

The problem is these terms are no good. I've only found very few of these, and none for secondary producer. Also, primary producer usually refers to biological organisms, such as photosynthesising plants etc.

So the best I can come up with is:
someone working in the primary sector of the economy
someone working in the secondary sector of the economy

Also the producer/manufacturer distinction doesn't work, because you can produce copper pipes. Hopefully someone can find a term for "gatherers of raw materials" and another for "those who turn raw materials into goods/products."

  • Thank you for your effort! I was sure there'd be such a term, it seems fitting.
    – mathgenius
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 15:44
  • @mathgenius But I didn't identify any titles or names for the workers, which is what you asked. Apart from those really long ones I mean. Oh well, you're happy, I'm happy.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 15:45
  • Uh, yeah, you didn't but I appreciate the effort is what I meant. :)
    – mathgenius
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 18:11

The copper miner would work in the refining or refinery industry. They produce wholesale raw materials. The cable manufacturer works in the retail industry, or business to consumer or B2C industry. They produce products that are used by individual consumers. The biggest distinction is between wholesale and retail. However, wholesale products can sometimes be used by consumers. For your metals example, refiner is a better term.

In finance, the sector for your miner is called basic materials, and the industry is copper. Other industries under basic materials are gold, aluminum, etc. For more general examples, other sectors could apply, like industrial goods (machinery, textiles, aerospace parts), or technology (microchips, electrical parts).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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