I'm wondering if there are more-commonly-than-not held connotations for terms regarding occupation that would differentiate between one's own personal experience in a field versus the description of the field as a whole. E.g. I am an engineer at company A, this is my job, but engineer is my profession.

The example is arbitrary.

To me I associate job, occupation, and career with a more personalized representation of employment while profession or vocation are less so.

NB: I am trying to model certain relationships in code and want to choose the best names for some objects in the hierarchy so that it is at least somewhat evident by their names what the relationships are. I understand that there may not be any one "right" answer to this question.

  • If there isn't any one right answer, this must be "Not constructive". Just use the definitions you have: they seem justifiable (that is, a nurse follows a singular vocation but can be employed in one of any number of jobs).
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 6, 2012 at 9:01
  • Thanks for the feedback! I guess I was just looking for some validation of my justifications. Though I would question the "not constructive" comment; to me language is fluid and any discussion on meanings, connotations, etc. has merit and value. Regardless of whether there is a single right answer or not. Just my outlook on it though.
    – Sean Quinn
    Dec 6, 2012 at 13:35
  • Don't be put off too much by "Not constructive"; it's one of a preset, multiple choice list of possible reasons to close a question. It's shorthand for, "This question may not have a specific answer and therefore could lead to an extended discussion about opinions rather than facts."
    – J.R.
    Dec 6, 2012 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


I'd group career with profession, not with job. Career suggest long-term employment in a certain field, even though one might switch from job to job within that profession or career.

Job, on the other hand, is more temporal. If I get some seasonal work to earn a little extra money, that's an extra job. Career and profession also suggest some kind of entry training or education, such as an engineering degree. To have a career in engineering – or, put another way, to enter the engineering profession – one must first earn an engineering degree. Vocation works in a similar way, although that word is often associated with skilled trades, such as welding, auto repair, or cosmetology (hence the difference between vocational schools and universities).

  • Thanks, your answer helps with resolving my justifications above!
    – Sean Quinn
    Dec 6, 2012 at 13:37

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