Whether a student can be classed as an occupation in the UK is a question that has been the subject of much debate. It is often argued that, due to the fact that studying does not always result in direct income or financial gain, the student cannot be classed as an occupation.
However, this is not necessarily the case. In order to properly answer this question, it is important to take a look at the definition of occupation and consider whether students fall into this category.
What Is The Definition Of Occupation?
Before determining if a student is considered an occupation, we must first establish the definition of “occupation”.
The definition of occupation is:
“an activity that serves as one’s regular source of livelihood or income”
“An activity engaged in especially as a means of passing time”
In the United Kingdom, an occupation is often seen as a career or job that someone works to earn money. The first thing that comes to my mind when someone asks ‘what’s your occupation?’ i would immediately assume they are asking about what job I do, not what hobbies or activities I engage in.
However, the second definition of occupation is related to your hobby or recreational activity and is done for enjoyment and/or fulfilment. But it’s unlikely that someone’s intention when asking what your occupation is is to find out about your hobbies and leisure activities.
We must remember that a student does not earn money when studying, in fact, they are probably placing themselves in a lot of debt. But a student will have the full intention of gaining skills to eventually lead to a career or occupation, so in this sense, yes, a student can be seen as an occupation.
At this stage, it seems that the term occupation is open to interpretation and in the UK the interpretation would be your job role
Is Student An Occupation?
When considering whether or not a student is an occupation, it largely depends on the context of the question.
If someone were to ask what your occupation is and you are a student, then no, being a student would not be seen as an occupation in this situation.
This is because, as previously mentioned, being an occupation requires providing some form of income for oneself. As students typically don’t have sources of income, they cannot be considered occupations.
However, if someone asked what kind of activities you engage in and you replied with ‘I’m a student, this could be seen as an occupation because it fits within the definition of “an activity engaged in especially as a means of passing time”.
The word ‘occupation’ in this context implies that it is something you engage with regularly and as a student, this likely applies.
If you are a student in full time education at university and someone asks you what your occupation or work is, you are more than likely going to respond with ‘I’m a student’ or whatever field you are studying. Being a student is not an occupation in the traditional sense and it does not provide you with immediate income, however, in some contexts, it can be thought of as an ‘occupation’.
The overall answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on the context and definition of what occupation is as to whether or not being a student can be considered an occupation.
What Situations Would A Student Be Considered An Occupation?
A student can definitely be considered an occupation in certain situations.
For example, when filling out a form for car insurance or any other financial service, you may be asked to provide information about your occupation and in this case, you would provide the field that you are studying as a student.
If we look at the image above, the GoCompare car insurance website asks for your occupation when completing your car insurance information. One of the options is ‘full-time education’ which also implies that being a student can be seen as an occupation.
Overall, the perception of what an ‘occupation’ largely depends on the context and definition of occupation as to whether or not being a student can be considered an occupation.
The reason I say this is because, traditionally an occupation is seen as a job which provides you with income and as students typically do not have sources of income, they cannot be considered occupations in this sense.
However, in the situation of purchasing car insurance or completing forms online, it may be easy for these to assume that being a student is an occupation. This makes it easier to simply tick the box or input “student” as the occupation as they are aware full-time students will be looking for car insurance.
In other contexts, such as CVs or job applications, a student may also be considered an occupation as they can provide information about the skills they have learnt while studying which can be seen as relevant work experience.
Is Occupation The Same As A Job?
The answer is that it depends.
The terms occupation and job are not necessarily interchangeable, as there are distinctions between them. An occupation is a type of work that typically requires specialised training, degree or a specific set of skills while a job refers to a particular position within an occupation.
For example, being a doctor is an occupation while being an oncologist in the cancer department of a hospital is a job.
In some cases, however, these terms may be used interchangeably; for instance, when someone says they are working in retail, they could mean either an occupation (retail) or their specific job (assistant manager at the local clothing store)
In conclusion, we can determine that a student I can be considered as an occupation because quite honestly it doesn’t fit anywhere else. A student is not earning an income but is occupying their full time in some form of education.
Ultimately, the interpretation of “occupation” is subjective to multiple factors. Different countries and contexts will have different definitions and interpretations of what occupation means. So in conclusion, it really depends on the context as to whether or not being a student can be seen as an occupation.