Ritika is a final-year college student entering her first placement season. She’s enrolled in a specialized graphic design degree because she wants to work in the creative space as a professional.

In Ritika’s case, her profession will be that of a graphic designer while her occupation will refer to her job title. Many of us confuse the two, even though there’s a definitive difference between occupation and profession.

Read on to discover the difference between a profession and an occupation.

  1. What Is A Profession?

  2. What Is An Occupation?

  3. Difference Between Occupation And Profession

What Is A Profession?

A profession requires specialization, training and a specific set of skills to complete your work. Professionals include software engineers, doctors, lawyers, architects and writers. They’ve either received training, like in the case of a medical professional, or they’ve practiced and mastered certain skills, like in the case of a writer. If you’re following a specific career path that requires you to undergo training, you’re a professional. You need a niche level of knowledge and experience to practice your skills. In some cases, you may even need certification from recognized organizations to enter the field.

What Is An Occupation?

An occupation is any work you undertake to make a living. It may not require specialized training or a specific skill set. It could be a variety of things you do, like running your own business, working as an employee in an organization or even working as a freelancer. It has more to do with the nature of work than your actual position. Having said that, you will find that there’s a difference between a job and occupation as well.

A job is your specific work with respect to your job title. For instance, you may be a sales manager or product development head in your organization. An occupation includes a far wider scope of jobs. For instance, civil workers, shop owners, assistants, clerks and employees.

Difference Between Occupation And Profession

You’ll find more than one difference between occupation and profession. Where the former is based on output, the latter is determined by input and resulting output. Your occupation is what you do to earn money and your profession is any occupation that requires special training. You can even say that more than being different, these two are variations of each other.

Here are some questions to highlight the difference between occupation and profession:

  1. Do You Need Specialization?

If the answer is yes, you’re thinking of a profession, not an occupation. The subtleties lie in the fact that a profession is an occupation, but all occupations are not professions. If you need specialized training and skills for the job, you’re thinking of a profession. An occupation doesn’t require training, abilities or experience. You can start your own business today, even if you haven’t completed, say, an MBA degree.

  1. Is It Skill-Based?

A skill-based occupation is a profession. If you’re a doctor or a lawyer, you need years of training, education and practice to finally enter the world of work. You need experience in your relevant fields to build the required level of skills.

  1. What Is The Level Of Accountability?

Your occupation may not have the same level of accountability as a profession would. This is one of the reasons why professions require a certain skill set and experience. For instance, a journalist is responsible for delivering unbiased facts to the masses. This defines their level of accountability.

  1. What Is The Nature Of Work?

One of the most important differences between a profession and an occupation is the nature of work. Even if your occupation is that of a business owner, you may be in the pharmaceutical industry. This assigns the same level of accountability and specialization to you as a profession would.

  1. Can You Diversify Your Scope Of Work?

Occupations are diverse, you can be a freelance writer, designer or marketing expert. Professions on the other hand are restricted to a particular role. You’re either a doctor or a lawyer—unless you’ve been trained for both.

It’s important to remember that the difference between occupation and profession isn’t set in stone. There are several variables at play and it’s more about the nuances of the scope and nature of work that determines whether it’s an occupation or a profession.

If you want to identify whether you want to be in a profession that requires training, skills and abilities, enroll in Harappa’s Learning Expertly course to learn how. Our course will teach you how to develop a growth mindset to continuously push yourself to achieve your goals. There’s no limit to what you can do as a professional; what you need is a self-improvement course to teach you how.


Explore topics such as Study Tips For Students, The Cycle Of Continuous Improvement, Stages Of Learning ProcessHow To Memorize Faster & the Difference Between A Job And A Profession from Harappa Diaries to upgrade your knowledge and skills.

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