Occupation VS Profession- Differences Between them

Occupation VS Profession

Occupation is any activity that is taken up by an individual to earn his living. They generally don’t have set rules of practice and requirements needed to take up the job. The idea of occupation is based solely on earning a living. Profession on the other hand is an activity that requires training and specialization. A lot of the time the line between a profession and occupation may be blurred and is extremely thin. However, there are clear distinctions that help define the two. Today’s topic- Occupation VS Profession.

Some would also say that occupation is the general term for an industry or the field of work. That could also imply your role in the company itself. Profession on the other hand is a more specialized form of work. This would require some sort of credentials such as training, certificates, degrees, and so on. In many cases, occupation is the broad term that professions fall under. 

A few common examples of occupations are drivers, shopkeepers, cooks, accountants, shop clerks, and many more. A few common examples of professions are lawyers, doctors, engineers, psychiatrists, corporate treasurers, and many more. 

The most prominent difference between an occupation and a profession is found within its nature. Occupation is considered to be more neutral and a generic term for certain jobs whereas a profession is more of intellectual pursuit. In simpler terms, we can look at a profession as something that ‘professionals’, people who are extremely competent or skilled in a particular activity or job, in this case, indulge in. 

Key Distinctions

  • Training: In terms of training, not all occupations will require you to have specific education or experience qualifications. In your profession, however, you are sure to be asked for qualifications that will help you back in the position that you take on. 
  • Independence: In a profession, you are given some leeway or given a certain amount of independence when it comes to your line of work. In occupation, generally, your independence is limited and you will have a setlist of tasks to adhere to at all times. 
  • Payment: In both profession and occupation you are paid for your output. The output however differs between the two. In a profession, you are generally paid for your knowledge and the skills that you have trained for. In occupation, you are generally paid for what you produce. 
  • Regulations: In professions, in some cases, you would be employed under a body and work with a code of conduct. In the case of the occupations, you may not have the same regulations to follow.


  • Since professions are more specialized, it allows for growth and improvement. As mentioned above, professions require a better understanding of the field. It requires growth in intelligence and you have (in most cases) the creative freedom to provide efficient results. With that being said, the idea of independence may also be curbed should you be working in an organization that does prefer to work in a set structure. Professions have the opportunity to earn more due to the nature of the field that they work in. 
  • Since professions need some sort of training and educational background, you begin to hone your skills in a certain practice. It is because of this you have more opportunities to earn better. The more you hone your craft, the more likely you are to earn well. 
  • This will make you a professional in your field and so builds trust with the people who you work with and will work for. 
  • The idea is to know enough about your field so that you can be trusted and sought after. 
  • The job market is extremely competitive and so you will have to make sure that you stand out from the rest of the crowd. 


  • Occupations may be dependent on the fact that when you have an occupation you are more inclined to earn a livelihood. You may think less about advancing in your field and more about making sure you have earned for the work that you put out. 
  • They can also be considered as a starting position in any job opportunity. You will be given tasks and there may be times where you will start just to earn the cash in. Your primary concern at this point is to earn money. 
  • There may be other instances however where you will be looking for cash. Many youngsters start a job so that they can earn money and begin their independent standing in life with that. 
  • These are generally good opportunities for you to earn cash and also do not necessarily require any specific educational qualification. 

Examples of Occupations

  • Software Developer: These individuals write, test, develop and maintain computer software. To obtain a job as a software developer, individuals usually need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or even computer science. However, further special training or extensive qualifications are not required for this job hence, rendering it an ‘occupation’. 

Example of Professions:

  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon is a type of surgeon considered to be a physician who specializes in surgical procedures that focuses on the heart and lungs. These ‘professionals’ execute complex treatments for example coronary artery bypass, mitral and aortic valve repair and replacement, lung, and esophageal resection, and many more procedures. Before an individual can become a surgeon, they must first obtain certain qualifications such as a degree in medicine and MBBS or a similar qualification. They would then have to complete a two-year foundation program, and then an extra two years of core training before they can perform cardiothoracic surgeries. 
  • Lawyer: Lawyers are professionals who are trained to advise and represent clients, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues, disputes and criminal and civil litigation, and other legal proceedings. To become a lawyer there are many steps and necessary qualifications an individual must indulge in before practicing law. Certain qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, then a Law School Admission Test (LSAT), completing three years at a law school accredited by a Bar Association, followed by passing the State Bar Exam, then passing the character and fitness review, taking an oath and finally obtaining your license to practice law. 

Other Differences 

We are aware that professions are derived from an occupation however, what separates them in terms of their importance is that a profession requires specialized educational training. 

Another aspect that sets apart an occupation from a profession is that an occupation can be divided into three distinct categories which are employment, job, or business and these are ways through which an individual can earn income. 

However, a profession requires skill, special training, expertise, and even extensive qualifications to earn income. As you can see, a profession requires more effort compared to an occupation therefore, with great effort, comes great stature. 

This means that a profession provides an individual with more respect and status in society compared to an individual with an occupational job. This in turn will affect the income earned by an individual with a profession and an occupation as highly respected professions such as engineers and doctors earn significantly more than occupational jobs such as drivers, civil servants, or even bakers. 

When occupation becomes a profession

  • At some point in time, you will begin to realize that there is something you would like to do or pursue. In this case, you begin to work towards making your occupation into a profession. You generally do this by taking the necessary training and courses that help you develop and improve on skills. You begin to gain more knowledge and as you do that you will look for jobs that are inclined to your skillset. This specialization will help you create your career path. Once you have done this you will be able to use your skills and find greater opportunities.
  • As mentioned before, opportunity and profession overlap each other. Becoming a professional is usually the more desired outcome because of the benefits that can come with it. Once you become a professional you will have responsibilities that you have to bear. There are certain regulations that you may need to follow depending on the organization that you work for. You may be given a certain amount of independence and work in a way that suits you best (as long as it benefits your work and company and if you are allowed to). In a profession, you will be able to advance so long as you continue to collect new skills and improve on the ones you already have.

To Conclude

  • It’s important to know that while there are differences to be made between occupation and profession, it is also important to note that there are similarities between them. They overlap each other in many areas and it is important to note that. As mentioned before the term occupation is broad and is essentially an umbrella that profession would come under. Knowing these demarcations will help when you begin working a job and so on. You will also be able to turn your occupation into a profession once you have found a career path that you would like to go on. 
Occupation VS Profession- Differences Between them

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