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Your Career

Understand What Career Terms Mean

Ever wondered how a job is different than an occupation?

Learn the meaning of common terms you'll come across in your education and career journey. 

General career terms


The things you're naturally good at. There are 9 personal abilities that most employers look for when hiring. Knowing which abilities you have will help you identify occupations you're likely to perform well in. 


A career is the total of our work activities—at home, at work, at school and in our communities. It is the sum total of your life experiences, including:

  • Education
  • Learning experiences
  • Occupations
  • Jobs
  • Volunteer work
  • Leisure activities

Career counselling

The process involved in helping people gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours that will help them manage their life, learning, and work effectively. You can find career counsellors at your high school or post-secondary institution, or through Alberta Supports.

Career management

Making informed choices to manage the events of your career. A vital part of the career management process is gathering information on learning and work opportunities and applying it to yourself and your situation.


Recognized by a professional association or professional regulatory organization as possessing the appropriate combination of credentials, training, and/or experience. Certified is sometimes used interchangeably with registered or licensed.


Official testimonials or documents showing that a person is qualified to do a particular job. Examples of credentials include professional registration certificates, diplomas, and degrees.


A group of establishments engaged in similar types of activities and producing similar goods and services. Examples are the construction and health-care industries.

Informational interview

A scheduled meeting used to collect up-to-date information about an occupation, company, or industry. Informational interviews are done with someone who has first-hand experience in the occupation or educational program you're interested in.


Activities you enjoy doing. There are 5 ways that people tend to interact with the world around them. A person's top interests can help identify what types of occupations they are likely to enjoy.


A set of specific duties performed for a specific employer. There's many types of jobs. They may be paid or unpaid, part time or full time, and of short or long duration. An example of an occupation is food and beverage server. A job within that occupation is serving at the new local restaurant. People usually change jobs more often than they change occupations. 


Someone who has satisfied all the requirements to be certified in a specific trade, for example, a journeyperson millwright. In order to be certified as a journeyperson, an apprentice must complete on-the-job training, work experience and technical training, and pass a theory and/or practical exam. 

Labour market

Employers offer jobs or work. Employees offer skills and perform work. Along with economic conditions and other factors, they make up the labour market.

Labour market information is sometimes called LMI. It is information about the world of work. LMI will help you keep your career plan focused on what is possible and practical. LMI is all around you! You talk about it with your friends. You read about it in the news. You're finding out more about it with the research you're doing right now. LMI can include:

  • Economic trends
  • Job market forecasts
  • Data about specific occupations
  • Company activity
  • Industries and regions
  • Information about who is hiring and who is downsizing


Someone who shares experience, knowledge, and wisdom about their occupation or about the workplace in general.


A group of similar jobs or fields of interest that require specific training or expertise. Occupation is sometimes used interchangeably with profession or trade. An occupation is a specific category of work. People can have several different jobs within an occupation. They can adapt their knowledge and skills to a variety of positions. Examples of occupations include electrician, engineer and teacher. There are several types of electrician, engineering, and teaching jobs.

Professional association

An organization that represents the interests of members who practice an occupation or profession.

Professional regulatory organization

A professional association that has been granted authority by the provincial government to protect the public’s interest. Its members are certified to work within a regulatory framework established by government. Professional regulatory organizations have the authority to:

  • Set initial requirements for certification and the standards of practice
  • Assess applicants’ qualifications and credentials
  • Certify, register, or license qualified applicants
  • Discipline members

Regulated occupation

A profession or trade that has legal requirements or restrictions with regard to licensing, certification, or registration. Regulated occupations are controlled by law to protect the public.


A group of related industries operating in a specific area of the economy. “Oil and gas industry” is a sector. 


Occupation in which standards have been set to promote quality work, safety, and excellence of skills among tradespeople. Tradespeople are trained through an apprenticeship program.


The task, job or activities performed to reach a goal. Work can be paid or unpaid, and short term or long term. Work is activity with an intended set of outcomes that includes:

Work is not necessarily tied to employment.

Work search

Steps you take to find work or get a job, such as writing your resumé, preparing for an interview, and networking.

Career terms for newcomers to Alberta

English as a Second Language (ESL) training

English language training for individuals whose first language is not English. ESL training is designed to help participants learn English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Immigrant-serving agency

An organization offering general settlement assistance, including information, orientation, English as a Second Language (ESL) assessments and training, interpretation or translation, and employment and referral services.

International mutual recognition agreements

Agreements that set out the terms and conditions for recognizing and accepting the qualifications of workers who have been certified or registered in other jurisdictions.

International qualifications

Qualifications and credentials obtained in a country outside Canada. For some occupations, foreign credentials are assessed to see if the candidate meets the standards needed to perform that job in Alberta. 

Occupational language training

Language training that is specific to a particular occupation. It goes beyond basic language training and may include technical terminology.

Transitional job

A job taken to earn money and gain work experience in Alberta while looking for other opportunities. It can be short term or long term depending on your situation.

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