When planning your career path or deciding on a job change, you should definitely be considering professional jobs. The classification between nonprofessional and professional jobs is determined by many criteria. Since this distinction can affect how much you are paid, it’s indeed important to know the difference when making a new career choice.
What is a professional job? The official answer by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commision defines professional jobs as those that usually require a college degree. However, it isn’t always that simple. The EOEC has a different category for managers and supervisors, both positions which may or may not require higher education.
If a job customarily requires a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D., it’s nearly always considered a professional job. A list of professional jobs titles includes:
- And more
The list above is considered by some to include the best professional careers, because they are the traditional professional jobs and are needed in a society no matter the state of the economy. However, nontraditional professional careers are sometimes more accessible and can even pay higher wages.
However, the actual professional fields list is much longer, because advanced learning doesn’t mean that a college degree is necessarily required. Supervisor and manager positions may have the advanced learning required for professional jobs, whether or not they hold a degree from a university. The training for nonprofessional jobs is usually learned on the job, as an assistant or apprentice, or in a short training or certificate program.
Here is a job title list of nonprofessional jobs:
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Machine operators
- Food service workers
- Medical assistants
- And many others, including the skilled trades
The above positions require extra knowledge and skills, but their training is typically reserved for specific training programs or on-the-job learning.
Another way to distinguish nonprofessional jobs from professional jobs is how the position pays. This doesn’t mean how much the position pays, but rather whether it pays an hourly wage for nonprofessional work or a salary for professionals. Hourly workers are paid for all the hours they work, and if they are full time employees and work more than 40 hours in a week, they’re paid overtime for those hours. Typically, overtime is paid at a rate of 1.5 times the worker’s hourly wage. A salary often means the worker has exempt status, which means the position is exempt from requiring overtime pay. A non-exempt worker must be paid overtime for hours worked over the 40-hour threshold.
If you’re looking for another way to distinguish professional jobs from nonprofessional, an easy way is whether or not you can leave the job at work at the end of the day — literally or figuratively. For example, teachers leave school at the end of the day, but they typically take home tests or homework to grade and materials to prepare for lessons the next day. Doctors and scientists may or may not take home physical work, but thinking about difficult cases doesn’t stay at the office or lab.
Those who work nonprofessional jobs are more able to leave all thoughts of work when they finish for the day — forklift operators can’t take machinery home with them, and plumbers don’t usually worry about the faucets they installed.
List of Careers
While some of the more traditional professional jobs (a college careers list may include positions such as lawyers and teachers) have a simpler track to employment, there is indeed a list of careers you can take advantage of — without tons of higher education. A staffing firm can help you find some of these high paying nontraditional professional jobs.
For example, here is a list of careers that Morales Group staffs:
- Sales supervisor
- Purchasing manager
- As well as other various supervisor and manager roles!
When it comes to a careers list and salaries, on average, professional jobs indeed pay higher than nonprofessional jobs. Plus, earnings typically increase with each additional level of education. In 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for high school graduates with no college degree were $626. This is compared to $761 for associate’s degree holders, $1,025 for bachelor’s degree holders, $1,257 for master’s degrees, and $1,532 for doctorate degrees.
While it’s generally agreed that an associate’s degree is all that’s needed to distinguish a professional job, there is fluidity in the professional identity.
Best Jobs for the Future
While it is indeed true that the professional workforce is hard to define, it’s an obvious truth that professional jobs are playing a greater part in the economy than ever before. Are they the best jobs for the future?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the professional jobs workforce as including all workers in the “management, professional, and related occupations” group. The Bureau divides this wide category into a list of types of careers within the professional workforce:
- Management occupations
- Business and financial operations occupations
- Computer and mathematical occupations
- Architecture and engineering occupations
- Life, physical, and social science occupations
- Community and social service occupations
- Legal occupations
- Education, training, and library occupations
- Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations
- Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations
This job professions list represents the 64 million professionals working in the U.S. in 2018. Indeed, these workers comprised 41.2 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
However, given the fluidity of the “professional jobs” identity, the previous job title list does not include a number of workers we consider to be professionals today. For example, the “sales and office occupations” group also includes many professional jobs. There are approximately 28 million more professional workers if you include those who have at least an associate’s degree in an academic program. Here is a list of careers with nontraditional professional occupations:
- Healthcare support occupations
- Protective service occupations
- Sales and related occupations
- Office and administrative support occupations
- And more
If you are considering your future career or a career change, the best jobs for the future include both nonprofessional and professional jobs.
The fastest growing nonprofessional jobs include home health aides, physical therapy aides, dental assistants, medical assistants, etc. For more on nonprofessional jobs, check out our page on Skilled Trades.
The fastest growing professional jobs include biomedical engineers, network systems and data analysts, medical scientists, technicians and technologists, etc.
Job Title Hierarchy
When it comes to professional jobs, job titles carry a little more weight into the function of a position. In a job title hierarchy, job titles designate a particular role, in one specific position, that has a specific status. Knowing the organizational chart is not only a great way to learn a company, but also to begin charting your own career path and goals.
Leadership job titles typically designate the hierarchy of executive management, while a list of general job titles designates lower-ranking employees within the job structure of an organization. A job title hierarchy also denotes the reporting relationships of staff members. Plus, titles can also designate an individual as an officer with specific responsibilities that make them legally accountable — such as CEO, president, and vice president.
However, it’s important to understand that the same job can indeed have different titles depending on the company, the industry, the location, and company size.
Here is an example of the traditional internal hierarchy of an organization:
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Chief Officers
- Chief Operating Officer (COO)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
- Executive Vice President
- Senior Vice President
- Vice President
- Assistant Vice President
- Associate Vice President
- Senior Director
- Assistant or Associate Director
- Middle Manager (of certain group or location)
- Employees, freelancers, contract workers, temp employees, part-time employees, etc.
This list shows the hierarchy in both leadership job titles and management job titles. For example, the chief executive officer is typically ranked above the chief financial officer, even though both are highly ranked in executive management. After the C-Suite and presidencies, the director positions are next on the list. Management job titles can be muddier, since that hierarchy depends on what workforce is being managed, the industry, and the location.
While the above list shows the traditional job title hierarchy, it’s important to note that in today’s era of innovation and competition for talent, companies have begun to use modern job titles in order to attract workers. More playful, creative job titles are being used, such as:
- Among many others
While these playful titles can attract fresh talent and make job openings memorable, they can also muddy job titles descriptions that are clear with a traditional hierarchy. For example, it can be hard to tell where a “digital dynamo” ranks in a reporting structure, whereas a “digital marketing specialist” is much easier to place.
Regardless of the hierarchy, there are many great professional jobs out there waiting for you to apply. Reach out to Morales Group today to find the perfect placement for you!