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IELTS Conversational Vocabulary: Work

IELTS conversational vocabulary


Many IELTS conversations that you’ll have in IELTS Speaking or hear in IELTS Listening will focus on work and include conversational words about jobs. Below, we’ll look at some important work and job-related vocabulary words for the IELTS.


These terms refer to the amount of time you spend at a job. A part-time job is usually worked less than 30 hours a week, and a full-time job is usually worked at least 30 hours a week. On the IELTS, full-time most often refers to a job that’s scheduled for 40 hours a week.


An occupation is a specific job position you hold. Examples of occupations include firefighter, police officer, teacher, restaurant manager, postal worker, cook, janitor, and so on.

IELTS Conversational Vocabulary


“Career” is a more board term than “occupation.” It refers to the category of work someone does, and suggests a long-term commitment. To help you understand the difference between occupation and career, I will tell you about my career and the occupations I’ve had in it. I have a career as an educator. My current occupation in this career is a Test Expert position here at Magoosh. As a part-time occupation, I am also a language tutor. And earlier in my education career, I was occupied (the verb form of occupation) as a middle school teacher, and then as a university professor.

Shift work

“Shift work” refers to work that is scheduled with a specific beginning and ending time. A shift at a workplace often lasts 8 hours, but can be shorter. Shift work is usually paid on an hourly basis.

Salary work
IELTS conversational vocabulary via Flickr

Salary work may have an expected schedule, a shift where the worker will normally be at work. But the schedule and hours per day for salary work are not as strictly controlled. A salary worker may have to work much longer hours than usual on a given day, or come in on the weekends. Sometimes, however, a salary worker’s situation is the opposite. A salary worker may also work shorter hours and have more freedom to leave the workplace during their normally scheduled shifts. Salary workers aren’t paid by the hour and instead receive a fixed rate of pay per week or month.


Unskilled work is work that requires little or no training, such as fry cook work at a fast food restaurant, or work cleaning and maintaining buildings. Skilled work does require training. Some workers are so highly skilled that they have doctoral degrees — lawyers and doctors for examples. Other skilled occupations require less training. Skilled work as a plumber, computer programmer, or automotive repairman may only require a four-year degree, a two-year degree, or an even shorter certification.

Manual labour

IELTS conversational vocabulary

William M. Plate Jr.

“Manual labour” refers to work that is very physical, requiring a lot of strength and physical activity. Manual labour jobs include unskilled work such as stocking shelves at a grocery store, and skilled work such as welding.

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