Nonprofessional vs professional jobs (including differences)

Updated 30 September 2022

The corporate world classifies careers into two categories, including professional and nonprofessional. Professional and nonprofessional jobs vary significantly in pay, responsibilities and education, and knowing these differences can help you select the right career path. It also gives you insight into the various career options and fields available, allowing you to explore job opportunities that are a good fit for you. In this article, we define what professional and nonprofessional jobs are and provide examples of professional and nonprofessional jobs.

Explore jobs on Indeed
Part-time jobs
View more jobs on Indeed

What's the difference between a nonprofessional vs professional job?

The main difference between nonprofessional vs professional jobs lies in the level of education required. Nonprofessional jobs typically don't require a high level of learning or training, while professional jobs require a specific level of advanced education, such as a bachelor's degree or certification. Being familiar with both professional and nonprofessional jobs and their requirements allows you to apply for the right roles and increases your chances of landing a job.

Professional and nonprofessional jobs differ in the following ways:

  • Education: Professional jobs require formal qualifications, while nonprofessional jobs don't necessarily require formal qualifications. This means you can apply for a nonprofessional position without education or certification.

  • Training: With professional jobs, you receive training after you're hired so that you acquire the skills and abilities necessary for performing tasks in that field or job position. With nonprofessional jobs, prior training is vital since most roles are hands-on and manual.

  • Skills: Professional jobs focus more on hard skills, while nonprofessional roles focus more on interpersonal skills. It's essential to note that professional jobs also require you to possess specific soft skills alongside your technical skills.

  • Payment: Professional jobs pay annually and they're often contractual, while nonprofessional jobs pay hourly and tend to be non-contractual. Professional jobs also typically pay more than nonprofessional jobs.

  • Working hours: With professional jobs, on-shift duties extend outside normal working hours, while in nonprofessional positions, on-shift duties remain during working hours only.

What is a professional job?

Professional jobs are popular and commonly the first option for people seeking employment. You can find them in numerous fields and industries and they offer a range of growth and networking opportunities. A professional job is a role that requires a certain level of learning, specialised knowledge and advanced skills. Normally, if a job requires a bachelor's, master's or PhD, it's considered a professional career. Common examples of professional jobs include:

  • teachers

  • nurses

  • accountants

  • lawyers

  • scientists

  • surgeons

  • dentists

  • engineers

  • designers

  • architects

  • programmers

  • IT technicians

  • artists /authors

It's essential to note that what constitutes advanced learning is a bit subjective, and some professional fields require a higher level of education and training than others. For example, a doctor is only required to complete a bachelor's degree in medicine to practise, while a surgeon requires more advanced learning, including:

  • a five-year degree in medicine

  • a two-year foundation programme

  • a two-year core surgical training programme

  • a six-year speciality training programme

Related: 10 important professional skills to develop (including tips)

What makes a job professional?

Here are some traits that make a role a professional job:


Professional jobs normally require applicants with advanced learning. This is why in your CV, you list your education to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the field. If you're applying for a professional job position but don't meet the level of education and training required, consider completing the necessary courses to qualify. Alternatively, you can apply for other roles that meet your education and learning level.

Related: Types of degrees and how they can influence your career


Professional jobs require training periods, such as orientations, apprenticeship, onboarding and internships. During training, you acquire the skills necessary for the specific job position or field. Companies often conduct training programmes after employing applicants, so having no prior training in a particular role isn't a problem for all professional jobs.

Hard skills

Hard skills are job-specific technical abilities acquired and enhanced through education, practice and training. Professional jobs typically require applicants with certain hard skills relating to the job position. A good example is an IT technician having advanced math skills and an understanding of computer hardware and software. Other examples of hard skills include:

  • coding

  • bookkeeping

  • SEO marketing

  • proficiency in foreign languages

  • literacy in programming

  • analysis

  • cash flow management

  • surgical skills


Professional jobs usually pay at an annual rate and their earning potential is high. An annual salary is the total amount of money you earn from an employer in a year. The figure is typically calculated per calendar year and it covers the period from January to December, though this varies. This means that if you start a job part way through the year, your employer reduces your salary proportionally to the remaining months of the year. When working in a professional role, you may receive payment every month or twice per month.

Responsibilities outside of work

Individuals with professional jobs often find themselves doing career-related tasks outside of work. For instance, it's common to find doctors and surgeons answering work phone calls at home and being available off-duty to tend to emergencies. Teachers also take assignments home to grade while artists and authors work outside the regular working hours to finalise projects.

What is a nonprofessional job?

A nonprofessional job is any career you can start with little education or training. These job positions normally involve manual labour and are repetitive in nature. These positions allow people to develop skills to advance their careers. They also make for great career options for people looking for part-time work or extra income. You can find nonprofessional jobs in entry-level positions in various fields and industries. Common examples of nonprofessional jobs include:

  • plumbers

  • electricians

  • installers

  • food service agents

  • cashiers

  • waiters

  • salespeople

  • customer service agents

  • mechanics

  • carpenters

  • medical assistants

  • machine operators

  • EMTs

What makes a job nonprofessional?

Although nonprofessional jobs require little training and education, they require specific skill sets and knowledge. For example, if you call 999, you expect the operator to possess excellent communication and listening skills. The same goes for an electrician, who's required to know and understand electricity and its components. So, it's not uncommon to find nonprofessional job positions seeking applicants with specific skills and knowledge relating to the role. Here are characteristics that make a role nonprofessional:


Nonprofessional jobs accept applicants with little education and some positions may even accept applicants with no education. For instance, while a diploma in hospitality can help to land a waitressing job, it's not mandatory. Therefore, most nonprofessional jobs don't require formal qualifications.


Nonprofessional jobs are manually-intensive and hands-on, so receiving training in the field is usually vital. Although some positions offer on-the-job training, others only accept applicants already trained in the field. For example, to land a job as a plumber, it's essential to complete training and certification in plumbing. But for a waiter position, you can receive on-the-job training and learn as you earn money.

Soft skills

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. In nonprofessional job positions, it's essential for applicants to possess certain soft skills and abilities. A good example is a customer service agent having exceptional communication and problem-solving skills. Other common examples of soft skills include:

  • creative thinking

  • teamwork

  • time management

  • adaptability

  • leadership

  • attention to detail

  • work ethic

  • interpersonal skills

  • multitasking

  • organisation

Related: Q&A: What is customer service and why is it important?


Nonprofessional jobs normally pay at an hourly rate and their earning potential is, in most cases, low. An hourly salary is the amount of money you earn for an hour of work. If your hourly rate is £10 and you work eight hours a day, your salary is £80. Most nonprofessional employers pay hourly rates in wages and they can pay daily, weekly or monthly. This means you get your money quicker and can budget accordingly.

Responsibilities outside of work

Individuals working in nonprofessional positions rarely perform career-related duties outside working hours or carry tasks home. Once your shift is over or you complete a job, you won't perform any more tasks until the next working shift or until someone new hires you. For example, as a cashier, you only work the cash register and process payments when at work.

Explore your next job opportunity on IndeedFind jobs

Explore more articles

  • A guide to what you can do with a psychology degree
  • What is a special educational needs teacher? (Plus salary)
  • How to become a prosecutor (with skills and duties info)
  • How to become a family support worker in 8 steps (plus tips)
  • A guide to 19 dance careers (With responsibilities)
  • What can you do with a chemistry degree? (With tips)
  • How to become an EMT in 5 Steps
  • The Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup
  • Jobs in Australia for foreigners (With tips)
  • 9 types of detectives (with primary duties and salary info)
  • How to get a job in admin with no experience (with skills)
  • How to become a nurse