Jobs in Chinese – Complete List of 250 + Mandarin Professions & Job Titles

professions in Chinese

If you are anywhere in the Chinese-speaking world, chances are you’ll get asked what your job is in your first interaction with a native speaker. To discuss your profession in Chinese, you’ll need a new list of vocabulary. Whether your job is as an architect, a doctor, a lawyer, or if you’re still a student, there are many unique names of occupations to learn in Chinese.

If you haven’t fully got your head around them yet, don’t worry! We got this entire post dedicated to jobs and professions in Chinese. Our guide will take you through 250 + Chinese job titles starting from the most common ones leading up to industry-specific occupations.

Moreover, we’ll talk about the grammar rules behind Chinese jobs, share some pro tips on how to effectively memorize them, and go over some useful phrases and sentence constructions for talking about professions in Chinese – in both formal and informal styles.

But first and foremost, let’s learn how to say “job” and “profession” in Chinese.

Job in Chinese

The word for “job” in Chinese is:

  • 工作 (gōngzuò)

It’s a typical compound word in Chinese. If you break the word into characters, 工 (gōng) stands for “work”, and 作 (zuò) means “do”. Together, they express the idea of “job”.

You can also use 工作 (gōngzuò) to talk about working as an action. For instance, 我在…工作 (Wǒ zài … gōngzuò) – “I work in/at …” (more on this later)

It’s a good idea to add 工作 (gōngzuò) to your staple Chinese vocabulary, as many other job-related terms in Chinese are built around this word. For example,

  • job opportunity – 工作机会 (gōngzuò jīhuì)
  • workplace – 工作单位 (gōngzuò dānwèi)
  • workday – 工作日 (gōngzuò rì)
  • job hunting – 找工作 (zhǎo gōngzuò)

Profession in Chinese

The word for “profession” in Chinese is:

  • 职业 (zhíyè)

If you take the characters literally, 职 (zhí) means “job”, and 业 (yè) means “occupation”. Together, they express the idea of “profession”, which is essentially an occupation for which you trained.

You can also use 职业 (zhíyè) as an adjective to talk about what you do for a living on a professional basis. For example,

  • 职业作家 (zhíyè zuòjiā) – professional writer
  • 职业歌手 (zhíyè gēshǒu) – professional singer

Just like in any language, you have to learn each job title for Chinese professions separately as neither the word 工作 (gōngzuò) nor 职业 (zhíyè) is attached to any of them. Even so, they are useful for you to learn as you’ll need them to ask someone else what they do for a living.

A Grammar Note on Chinese Professions

genders in Chinese

Unlike many European languages where occupation names have a masculine form and a feminine form ending in different letters, Chinese profession nouns do not distinguish between the masculine and the feminine

In fact, Chinese has no concept of “feminine” or “masculine” words. And you won’t have to bother what article to use when stating your profession – Chinese has no articles at all! You simply learn the name of the job title or profession as it is, without any need for extra memorization.

For instance, the word 演员 (yǎnyuán) can be both “actor” and “actress”. The only way to tell if someone is referring to a man or a woman is by having a look at the name of the person or the context.

If you really have to be specific about the gender, you can add 男 (nán) – “male” and 女 (nǚ) – “female” before the profession noun. For instance,

  • 男护士
    nán hùshì
    male nurse
  • 男保姆
    nán bǎomǔ
    male nanny
  • 女服务员
    nǚ fúwùyuán
    waitress (female waiter)
  • 女警察
    nǚ jǐngchá
    policewoman (female policeman)

Complete List of Jobs & Professions in Chinese

Whether you work in China or want to discuss your job with Chinese speakers, there’s a lot of ground to cover. To help you out, we’ll start with a list of job titles for the most common Chinese professions that can serve as a launching point before moving on to more industry-specific vocabulary.

jobs in Chinese

Most Common Jobs in Chinese

Here’s the list of the 48 most common jobs in Chinese to give you a foundation. The words are in alphabetical order on the English side and complete with Pinyin Romanization.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
accountant 会计 kuàijì
actor/actress 演员 yǎnyuán
analyst 分析师 fēnxīshī
architect 建筑师 jiànzhùshī
artist 艺术家 yìshùjiā
assistant 助理 zhùlǐ
broker 经纪人 jīngjìrén
business owner 企业主 qǐyèzhǔ
chef 厨师 chúshī
company worker 公司职员 gōngsī zhíyuán
computer engineer 电脑工程师 diànnǎo gōngchéngshī
consultant 顾问 gùwèn
designer 设计师 shèjìshī
doctor 医生 yīshēng
engineer 工程师 gōngchéngshī
factory worker 工人 gōngrén
farmer 农民 nóngmín
freelancer 自由职业 zìyóu zhíyè
housewife 家庭主妇 jiātíng zhǔfù
interpreter 口译 kǒuyì
lawyer 律师 lǜshī
manager 经理 jīnglǐ
merchant 商人 shāngrén
musician 音乐家 yīnyuèjiā
nurse 护士 hùshì
office clerk 办公人员 bàngōng rényuán
photographer 摄影师 shèyǐngshī
policeman/woman 警察 jǐngchá
programmer 程序员 chéngxùyuán
public servant 公务员 gōngwùyuán
ranger 护林员 hùlínyuán
realtor 房地产经纪人 fángdìchǎn jīngjìrén
receptionist 接待员 jiēdàiyuán
sales representative 销售 xiāoshòu
scientist 科学家 kēxuéjiā
secretary 秘书 mìshū
shop owner 店主 diànzhǔ
shop assistant 营业员 yíngyèyuán
software developer 软件开发师 ruǎnjiàn kāifāshī
soldier 军人 jūnrén
specialist 专家 zhuānjiā
sportsman/woman 运动员 yùndòngyuán
teacher 老师 lǎoshī
translator 翻译 fānyì
volunteer 志愿者 zhìyuànzhě
waiter/waitress 服务员 fúwùyuán
white-collar worker 白领 báilǐng
writer 作家 zuòjiā

Arts & Entertainment Jobs in Chinese

Can’t find the Chinese word for your job? Then let’s get started on the industry-specific Chinese professions lists.

Here’s the word list for 17 Chinese professions in arts, entertainment, and other creative fields to start you off on the right foot.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
art designer 美工 měigōng
cartoonist 漫画家 mànhuàjiā
clown 小丑 xiǎochǒu
composer 作曲家 zuòqǔjiā
dancer 舞蹈演员 wǔdǎo yǎnyuán
emcee 司仪 sīyí
fashion designer 时装设计师 shízhuāng shèjìshī
film director 导演 dǎoyǎn
interior decorator 室内设计师 shìnèi shèjìshī
magician 魔术师 móshùshī
model 模特 mótè
painter 画家 huàjiā
pianist 钢琴家 gāngqínjiā
producer 制作人 zhìzuòrén
scriptwriter 编剧 biānjù
singer 歌手 gēshǒu
street artist 街头艺人 jiētóu yìrén

Business & Office Jobs in Chinese

Business and office jobs is probably the most common category among all Chinese occupations. If you are a professional working in the corporate world, you might want to familiarize yourself with the following 35 profession words on the list.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
account manager 客户经理 kèhù jīnglǐ
agent 代理商 dàilǐshāng
auditor 审计 shěnjì
buyer 买家 mǎijiā
cashier 出纳 chūnà
CEO (Chief Executive Officer) 首席执行官 shǒuxí zhíxíngguān
CFO (Chief Financial Officer) 首席财务官 shǒuxí cáiwùguān
customer service representative 客服 kèfú
department manager 部门经理 bùmén jīnglǐ
director 总监 zǒngjiān
distributor 分销商 fēnxiāoshāng
entrepreneur 企业家 qǐyèjiā
executive 代表 dàibiǎo
general manager 总经理 zǒngjīnglǐ
intern 实习生 shíxíshēng
manufacturer 生产商 shēngchǎnshāng
marketing manager 市场经理 shìchǎng jīnglǐ
marketing specialist 市场专员 shìchǎng zhuānyuán
operator 接线员 jiēxiànyuán
partner 合伙人 héhuǒrén
personal assistant 私人助理 sīrén zhùlǐ
president 总裁 zǒngcái
product manager 产品经理 chǎnpǐn jīnglǐ
project manager 项目经理 xiàngmù jīnglǐ
P.R representative 公关代表 gōngguān dàibiǎo
retailer 零售商 língshòushāng
sales manager 销售经理 xiāoshòu jīnglǐ
seller 卖家 màijiā
stockbroker 证券经纪人 zhèngquàn jīngjìrén
supervisor 主管 zhǔguǎn
supplier 供应商 gōngyìngshāng
telemarketer 电话销售 diànhuà xiāoshòu
trainee 培训生 péixùnshēng
vice president 副总裁 fù zǒngcái
wholesaler 批发商 pīfāshāng

Media & Publications Jobs in Chinese

Media jobs include news anchors to film directors and everything in between. Here’s how you say media and publications-related jobs in Chinese.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
anchor 主播 zhǔbō
announcer 播音员 bōyīnyuán
columnist 专栏作家 zhuānlán zuòjiā
copywriter 撰稿人 zhuàngǎorén
editor 编辑 biānjí
illustrator 插画师 chāhuàshī
novelist 小说家 xiǎoshuōjiā
reporter 记者 jìzhě
playwright 剧作家 jùzuòjiā
poet 诗人 shīrén
publisher 出版人 chūbǎnrén
web designer 网页设计师 wǎngyè shèjìshī

Construction & Manufacturing Jobs in Chinese

Construction and manufacturing have a big impact on jobs, livelihood, and the economy. Here’s the list of common jobs related to these fields in Chinese.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
blacksmith 铁匠 tiějiàng
carpenter 木工 mùgōng
civil engineer 土木工程师 tǔmù gōngchéngshī
construction worker 建筑工人 jiànzhù gōngrén
electrician 电工 diàngōng
foreman 工头 gōngtóu
inspector 检验员 jiǎnyànyuán
mechanic 机修工 jīxiūgōng
plumber 管道工 guǎndàogōng
surveyor 勘测员 kāncèyuán
technical support 技术支持专员 jìshù zhīchí zhuānyuán
technician 技术员 jìshùyuán
welder 焊工 hàngōng

Education & Science Jobs in Chinese

Whether you’re a 老师 (lǎoshī) – teacher or 科学家 (kēxuéjiā) – scientist, you can find the corresponding Chinese word for your job title with this list.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
biologist 生物学家 shēngwùxuéjiā
botanist 植物学家 zhíwùxuéjiā
chemist 化学家 huàxuéjiā
economist 经济学家 jīngjìxuéjiā
graduate student 研究生 yánjiūshēng
geologist 地质学家 dìzhìxuéjiā
inventor 发明家 fāmíngjiā
kindergarten teacher 幼教 yòujiào
linguist 语言学家 yǔyánxuéjiā
mathematician 数学家 shùxuéjiā
meteorologist 气象学家 qìxiàngxuéjiā
philosopher 哲学家 zhéxuéjiā
physicist 物理学家 wùlǐxuéjiā
professor 教授 jiàoshòu
researcher 研究员 yánjiūyuán
scholar 学者 xuézhě
school principal 校长 xiàozhǎng
sociologist 社会学家 shèhuìxuéjiā
student 学生 xuéshēng
teaching assistant 助教 zhùjiào
tutor 家教 jiājiào
college student 大学生 dàxuéshēng
zoologist 动物学家 dòngwùxuéjiā

Food & Restaurant Jobs in Chinese

There are many roles available within the food industry. Explore how to say a variety of positions within the food industry in Chinese, including kitchen, server, front and back-of-house jobs.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
baker 烘焙师 hōngbèishī
barista 咖啡师 kāfēishī
bartender 调酒师 tiáojiǔshī
brewer 酿酒师 niàngjiǔshī
butcher 屠夫 túfū
head chef 厨师长 chúshīzhǎng
head waiter/waitress 领班 lǐngbān
pastry chef 糕点师 gāodiǎnshī
restaurant manager 餐厅经理 cāntīng jīnglǐ
store manager 店长 diànzhǎng

Hospitality & Tourism Job in Chinese

From the travel agent who books your flights and accommodation to the housekeeper at the hotel, and the local travel guide who shows you around, here is everything you need to know for saying hospitality and tourism jobs in Chinese.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
bellboy 门童 méntóng
concierge 礼宾员 lǐbīnyuán
event planner 活动策划师 huódòng cèhuàshī
front desk 前台 qiántái
hotel manager 酒店经理 jiǔdiàn jīnglǐ
housekeeper 管家 guǎnjiā
tour guide 导游 dǎoyóu
travel agent 旅行代理人 lǚxíng dàilǐrén
tourism consultant 旅行顾问 lǚxíng gùwèn
wedding planner 婚礼策划师 hūnlǐ cèhuàshī

Government & Public Service Jobs in Chinese

Employees in every sector of government work for the good of the people. Now let’s delve into government and public service jobs in Chinese.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
ambassador 大使 dàshǐ
chairman 主席 zhǔxí
customs officer 海关官员 hǎiguān guānyuán
detective 侦探 zhēntàn
diplomat 外交官 wàijiāoguān
firefighter 消防员 xiāofángyuán
government official 政府官员 zhèngfǔ guānyuán
mayor 市长 shìzhǎng
police officer 警官 jǐngguān
politician 政治家 zhèngzhìjiā
social worker 社工 shègōng
senator 参议员 cānyìyuán
spokesperson 发言人 fāyánrén
traffic officer 交警 jiāojǐng
urban management officer 城管 chéngguǎn

Healthcare & Medical Jobs in Chinese

The healthcare sector is booming in China, due to a growing population that will require increasing care with age. There are a variety of jobs in the healthcare industry. In the following chart, we list 18 common job titles in Chinese in the healthcare and medical fields.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
beautician 美容师 měiróngshī
chiropractor 正脊师 zhèngjǐshī
dentist 牙医 yáyī
hairdresser 理发师 lǐfàshī
makeup artist 化妆师 huàzhuāngshī
massage therapist 按摩师 ànmóshī
nutritionist 营养师 yíngyǎngshī
optician 眼科医生 yǎnkē yīshēng
paramedic 护理人员 hùlǐ rényuán
pediatrician 儿科医生 érkē yīshēng
pharmacist 药剂师 yàojìshī
physician 内科医生 nèikē yīshēng
psychiatrist 心理医生 xīnlǐ yīshēng
psychologist 心理学家 xīnlǐxuéjiā
stylist 造型师 zàoxíngshī
surgeon 外科医生 wàikē yīshēng
TCM practitioner 中医 zhōngyī
veterinarian 兽医 shòuyī

Legal & Law Jobs in Chinese

The legal field offers many jobs encompassing a diverse range of skills, experience, and education. Here’s how you say legal and law-related jobs in Chinese.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
attorney 律师 lǜshī
judge 法官 fǎguān
legal advisor 法律顾问 fǎlǜ gùwèn
mediator 调解员 tiáojiěyuán
medical examiner 法医 fǎyī
paralegal 律师助理 lǜshī zhùlǐ
prosecutor 检察官 jiǎncháguān

Sports Jobs in Chinese

There are far more employment opportunities in sports today than in years past. We list some of the most popular sports jobs in Chinese here.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
American football player 橄榄球运动员 gǎnlǎnqiú yùndòngyuán
athlete 运动员 yùndòngyuán
baseball player 棒球运动员 bàngqiú yùndòngyuán
basketball player 篮球运动员 lánqiú yùndòngyuán
boxer 拳击手 quánjīshǒu
coach 教练 jiàoliàn
commentator 解说员 jiěshuōyuán
fitness coach 健身教练 jiànshēn jiàoliàn
footballer 足球运动员 zúqiú yùndòngyuán
ice hockey player 冰球运动员 bīngqiú yùndòngyuán
lifeguard 救生员 jiùshēngyuán
personal trainer 私人教练 sīrén jiàoliàn
PE teacher 体育老师 tǐyù lǎoshī
referee 裁判 cáipàn

Services & Other Jobs in Chinese

The service sector, where the vast majority of economic activities occur, is home to occupations that provide services or intangible goods to businesses and consumers. On this list, you’ll find the Chinese words for some of the most common jobs in the service sector. We also included a few other Chinese professions not elsewhere classified.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
cleaner 保洁 bǎojié
doorman 门卫 ménwèi
driver 司机 sījī
fisherman 渔夫 yúfū
flight attendant 空中乘务员 kōngzhōng chéngwùyuán
food delivery person 外卖员 wàimàiyuán
gardener 花匠 huājiàng
janitor 管理员 guǎnlǐyuán
maid 阿姨 āyí
mail deliver person 快递员 kuàidìyuán
monk 和尚 héshàng
nanny 保姆 bǎomǔ
nun 修女 xiūnǚ
nun (Buddhist nun) 尼姑 nígū
pilot 飞行员 fēixíngyuán
postman 邮递员 yóudìyuán
priest 牧师 mùshī
repairman 修理工 xiūlǐgōng
sailor 船员 chuányuán
scalper 黄牛 huángniú
security guard 保安 bǎo’ān
street vendor 摊贩 tānfàn
tailor 裁缝 cáiféng
taikonaut (Chinese astronaut) 宇航员 yǔhángyuán

Unconventional Jobs in Chinese

There are millions of Chinese engineers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, and other recognizable professions well-known to the western world, but there are also a huge number of unconventional jobs in China.

So, to complete our list of Chinese professions, we’ll list off 10 unconventionally cool jobs that are popular among millennials in China.

English Chinese Pinyin Pronunciation
blogger 博主 bózhǔ
designated driver 代驾 dàijià
experience officer 体验官 tǐyànguān
influencer 网红 wǎnghóng
gamer 游戏玩家 yóuxì wánjiā
surrogate shopper 代购 dàigòu
training partner 陪练 péiliàn
vlogger 视频博主 shìpín bózhǔ
voice over actor 声优 shēngyōu
YouTuber 油管博主 yóuguǎn bózhǔ

Like anywhere in the world, vlogging and live streaming have become a huge deal in China. Even it’s hard to be a professional 油管博主 (yóuguǎn bózhǔ) – YouTuber (literally, “YouTube blogger”) if you reside in China where access to YouTube is banned, there are many Chinese social media channels you can start to become a successful 视频博主 (shìpín bózhǔ) – vlogger (“video blogger”) – or 网红主播 (wǎnghóng zhǔbō) – “anchor influencer”, for instance, Weibo, WeChat, Bilibili, TikTok, and Xiaohongshu, to name just a few.

According to the survey conducted by Wutongguo, China’s leading campus recruitment website, over 35% of the Chinese college graduates born after 1995 showed interest in becoming a full-time or part-time 主播 (zhǔbō) – “anchor”, or 网红 (wǎnghóng) – “influencer” on social media platforms.

Chinese influencer anchor

Some other cool jobs favored by young people in China include 体验官 (tǐyànguān) – “experience officers” such as hotel test sleepers, 代购 (dàigòu) – “surrogate shoppers” (professional shoppers who buy sought-after products overseas on behalf of domestic customers), 职业游戏玩家 (zhíyè yóuxì wánjiā) – “pro gamers” and their “training partners” – 陪练 (péiliàn). 声优 (shēngyōu) – “voice over acting”, an industry/profession that originated from Japan is also booming in China with over 16.5% of the college graduates considering it as their career according to the survey.

Abbreviations for Chinese Job Titles

Chinese people generally don’t refer to each other by their first name unless they’re close. For someone you don’t know well or in a hierarchically higher position or social status, you would need to address them by their family name + job title.

For example,

  • 王老师 (Wáng lǎoshī) – Teacher Wang
  • 马主任 (Mǎ zhǔrèn) – Director Ma
  • 陈警官 (Chén jǐngguān) – Police officer Chen

Some job titles have abbreviated forms in Chinese when they are used together with a family name. Here are a few:

  • 工 (gōng) → 工程师 (gōngchéngshī) – engineer
  • 总 (zǒng) → 总经理 (zǒng jīnglǐ)/总裁 (zǒngcái) – general manager/CEO
  • 导 (dǎo) → 导演 (dǎoyǎn) – film director
  • 指 (zhǐ) → 指导 (zhǐdǎo) – coach, instructor
  • 队 (duì) → 队长 (duìzhǎng) – captain

Note that these abbreviations are only valid when you say a person’s family name first. For instance, if your Chinese friend Jack Chen is an engineer, people would likely call him 陈 (Chén gōng) – “Engineer Chen” out of respect, but his profession is 工程师 (gōngchéngshī), not 工 (gōng) per se.  

How to Memorize Chinese Jobs & Professions Vocabulary

Chinese job profession vocabulary

Since there is no shared base of vocabulary, it’s a non-trivial amount of work for English speakers to learn all job titles and professions in Chinese.

That said, there are some simple tricks you can learn to help you remember the words better.

Word formation in Chinese is similar to the game of Lego with characters being the Lego blocks that add up to form bigger structures – the words. If you haven’t noticed yet, many Chinese occupational words are formed by using basic words and adding suffix characters to them.

Let’s take the example of the character 家 (jiā) to understand the formation of professions in Chinese.

In the context of professions, 家 (jiā) stands for 行家 (hángjiā), which means “expert” in Chinese. By adding the suffix character 家 (jiā) to a sphere of work, a “…家 (… jiā)” became someone who is an expert in that field.

For example, some names of professions based on the character 家 (jiā) are

  • 画家 huàjiā – painter (painting expert)
  • 作家 zuòjiā – writer (writing expert)
  • 科学家 kēxuéjiā – scientist (science expert)
  • 数学家 shùxuéjiā – mathematician (math expert)
  • 企业家 qǐyèjiā – entrepreneur (enterprise expert)

A very effective way to learn job titles and professions in Chinese is to learn multiple words together through the common suffix characters. With their help, you will be able to augment your job vocabulary quickly. Also, if you remember the meaning of each suffix character, whenever you find an occupational word based on it, you can use this to infer the meaning of the word.

Now, let’s put this method to use and learn some professions using this method. The given below highlights 5 common Chinese suffixes and the various occupation words based on them.

Suffix Character Suffix Meaning Words Based on the Suffix
师 (shī) master 律师 lǜshī – lawyer (law master)
咖啡师 kāfēishī – barista (coffee master)
设计师 shèjìshī – designer (design master)
员 (yuán) staff 服务员 fúwùyuán – waiter (service staff)
飞行员 fēixíngyuán – pilot (aviation staff)
船员 chuányuán – sailor (ship staff)
工 (gōng) worker 木工 mùgōng – carpenter (wood worker)
电工 diàngōng – electrician (electricity worker)
修理工 xiūlǐgōng – repairman (repairing worker)
主 (zhǔ) owner 企业主 qǐyèzhǔ – business owner ]
店主 diànzhǔ – shop owner
博主 bózhǔ – blogger (blog owner)
官 (guān) officer 警官 jǐngguān – police officer
检察官 jiǎncháguān – prosecutor (prosecution officer)
首席执行官 shǒuxí zhíxíng guān – CEO

Effectively, you can build groups based on suffix characters and use them to learn multiple occupation words in Chinese at the same time.

More Job-related Vocabulary in Chinese

Wow, that’s a lot of words, isn’t it?

I would say the above lists have included the most common occupations one might have nowadays. But if you’re in the mood for more, here’s an additional list of useful words you can use for discussing your job in Chinese (we’ll get to the details in the next section).

Chinese Pinyin English
公司 gōngsī company
办公室 bàngōngshì office
老板 lǎobǎn boss
员工 yuángōng employee
同事 tóngshì colleague
客户 Kè hù client
工资 gōngzī salary
奖金 jiǎngjīn bonus
福利 fúlì benefits
工作时间 gōngzuò shíjiān work hours
工作环境 gōngzuò huánjìng work environment
事业 shìyè career
招聘 zhāopìn recruitment
职位 zhíwèi position
求职 qiúzhí job application
简历 jiǎnlì resume
面试 miànshì interview
合同 hétóng contract
全职 quánzhí full-time
兼职 jiānzhí part-time
实习 shíxí internship/to intern
培训 péixùn training
会议 huìyì meeting
任务 rènwù task
出差 chūchāi business trip
休假 xiūjià vacation/on vacation
申请 shēnqǐng to apply
雇用 gùyòng to hire
解雇 jiěgù to fire
辞职 cízhí to quit/resign
退休 tuìxiū to retire
待业 dàiyè unemployed

Talking About Jobs and Professions in Chinese  

job topic in Chinese

All right, now you’ve known how to say a range of professions in Chinese, from common job names to formal titles and abbreviations, it’s time to learn how to use them in real Chinese conversations.

For instance, you might want to tell what you do for a living when you first meet a Chinese friend or associate, especially if it’s a social encounter where you want to do some networking. Even if you don’t include it in your initial self-introduction, inquisitive Chinese people will probably ask you anyway.

In addition, you can talk about what you love about your job, your future aspirations or even describe your childhood dream job to impress your new Chinese friends.

Well, you don’t need to look far, we’ll cover all the language bases in this section.

How to Say What You Do in Chinese 

There are many different ways to say what you do for a living in Chinese, but there are also a couple of expressions and constructions that tend to appear more often than others. Here, you have some of them.

我是一名… (Wǒ shì yì míng …) – I am a/an …

The first expression is the most straightforward way of saying what you do in Chinese for those who speak English as a first language: You can say 我是一名 (Wǒ shì yì míng), which means “I am one”, followed by your job title or profession. This is the equivalent to the English “I am a/an … (profession)”.

  • Format: 我是一名 (Wǒ shì yì míng) + profession

If you don’t know yet, you’ll need to add a measure word after a number to quantify any given noun in Chinese (一 [yī] – “one” is used to mean ”a/an” in front of professions). And the measure word for “profession” is 名 (míng). For instance, you wouldn’t just say 一医生 (yì yīshēng) for “a doctor”, you would say 一名医生 (yì míng yīshēng), which translates to “a (measure word) doctor”.

Let’s take a look at these example sentences.

  • 我是一名律师
    Wǒ shì yì míng lǜshī.
    I am a lawyer.
  • 我是一名大学教授
    Wǒ shì yì míng dàxué jiàoshòu.
    I am a university professor.
  • 我是一名全职妈妈
    Wǒ shì yì míng quánzhí māma.
    I am a full-time mother.

A quick grammar usage note: like some languages, you can drop “a” (一名 [yì míng]) before the job title in Chinese sometimes and just say 我是 (Wǒ shì) + profession (e.g. 我是医生 [Wǒ shì yīshēng]), however, this does not sound natural to Chinese people when you introduce your profession. It’s much better to add 一名 (yì míng) before the job title!

我在…工作 (Wǒ zài … gōngzuò) – I work in/at …

Alternatively, you can tell people about the company, institution or location where you’re currently employed by saying 我在…工作 (Wǒ zài … gōngzuò), which is the Chinese equivalent of “I work at/in …”.

  • Format: 我在 (Wǒ zài) + workplace + 工作 (gōngzuò)

Simply state the name of your workplace in the middle of this construction.

For example,

  • 我在花旗银行工作。
    Wǒ zài Huāqí yínháng gōngzuò. 
    I work at Citibank.
  • 我在华尔街工作。
    Wǒ zài Huá ěr Jiē gōngzuò.
    I work on Wall Street.
  • 我在一家医院工作。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā yīyuàn gōngzuò.
    I work in a hospital.

我在上班 (Wǒ zài … shàngbān) – I work in/at …

A more colloquial way of saying “I work in/at …” in Chinese would be 我在…上班 (Wǒ zài … shàngbān).

上班 (shàngbān) literally means “attend work shift”. In informal settings, people often use 上班 (shàngbān) to refer to their daily work routine.

  • Format: 我在 (Wǒ zài) + workplace + 上班 (shàngbān)

It has the exact same structure as 我在 (Wǒ zài) + workplace + 工作 (gōngzuò), and you can use the two expressions interchangeably most of the time.

  • 我在花旗银行上班。
    Wǒ zài Huāqí yínháng shàngbān. 
    I work at Citibank.
  • 我在华尔街上班。
    Wǒ zài Huá ěr Jiē shàngbān.
    I work on Wall Street.
  • 我在一家医院上班。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā yīyuàn shàngbān.
    I work in a hospital.

我在…上学 (Wǒ zài … shàngxué) – I study in/at …

If you are still a student, you can tell your conversation partner where you study instead of where you work. Simply substitute 上学 (shàngxué) – “study” for 工作 (gōngzuò) or 上班 (shàngbān) – “work” in the above sentence patterns.

  • Format: 我在 (Wǒ zài) + place + 上学 (shàngxué)

Here’s how that would look in practice:

  • 我在英国上学。
    Wǒ zài Yīngguó shàngxué.
    I am studying in the UK.
  • 我在纽约大学上学。
    Wǒ zài Niǔyuē dàxué shàngxué.
    I am studying at New York University.

我在…读书 (Wǒ zài … dúshū) – I study in/at …

There is also an informal version of the word “study” in Chinese – 读书 (dúshū), literally “read books” (well, you have to read some books when you study, don’t you?) You can use it interchangeably with 上学 (shàngxué) in spoken Chinese.

  • Format: 我在 (Wǒ zài) + place + 读书 (dúshū)

For example,

  • 我在英国读书。
    Wǒ zài Yīngguó dúshū.
    I am studying in the UK.
  • 我在纽约大学读书。
    Wǒ zài Niǔyuē dàxué dúshū.
    I am studying at New York University.

我在…担任… (Wǒ zài … dānrèn …) – I work as … in/at …

Back to work, you might want to state your job title along with the name of the company or institution you work for as part of your Chinese self-introduction in a formal, business setting.

You can include them both in one Chinese sentence easily with the structure 我在…担任… (Wǒ zài … dānrèn …), which translates to “I work as … in/at …” (literally, “I in … take on the position of …”).

  • Format: 我在 (Wǒ zài) + workplace + 担任 (dānrèn) + job title

Let’s see some examples.

  • 我在一家通讯社担任编辑
    Wǒ zài yì jiā tōngxùn shè dānrèn biānjí.
    I work as an editor in a news agency.
    Literally, “I in a news agency take on the position of an editor.”
  • 我在谷歌担任软件开发师
    Wǒ zài Gǔgē dānrèn ruǎnjiàn kāifāshī.
    I work as a software developer at Google.
    Literally, “I in Google take on the position of a software developer.”
  • 我在西门子担任部门经理
    Wǒ zài Xīménzǐ dānrèn bùmén jīnglǐ.
    I work as a department manager at Siemens.
    Literally, “I in Siemens take on the position of a department manager.”

我在…当… (Wǒ zài … dāng …) – I work as … in/at …

You may also replace 担任 (dānrèn) with 当  (dāng) and say 我在…当… (Wǒ zài … dāng …), which is a less formal way of expressing “I work as … in/at …” in Chinese.

The word 当  (dāng) translates to “work as” or “serve as”. The difference between 担任 (dānrèn) and 当  (dāng) is that 担任 (dānrèn) is a formal word that’s reserved for professions in which high a degree of knowledge or expertise is required (such as doctors, lawyers, or professors), whereas 当  (dāng) can be used for both high-skilled jobs and occupations that don’t require special training (such as waiters, shopkeepers, or baby-sitters).

Compare these examples,

  • √ 我在一家餐厅经理。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā cāntīng dāng jīnglǐ.
    I work as a manager in a restaurant.

    √ 我在一家餐厅担任经理。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā cāntīng dānrèn jīnglǐ.
    I work as a manager in a restaurant.
    担任 (dānrèn) makes the sentence more formal.
  • √ 我在一家餐厅服务员。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā cāntīng dāng fúwùyuán.
    I work as a waiter in a restaurant.

    × 我在一家餐厅担任服务员。
    Wǒ zài yì jiā cāntīng dānrèn fúwùyuán.
    担任 (dānrèn) is too big a word for waiters.

Another thing worth pointing out is that when you intend to use 担任 (dānrèn) and 当  (dāng) to state what job you do, always make sure to mention the name of the institution or place where youre employed first.

For example, it would be wrong to say 我当英语老师 (Wǒ dāng Yīngyǔ lǎoshī) for expressing “I work as an English teacher”. Even though the sentence is grammatically correct with the standard subject-verb-object structure, it sounds unnatural to native speakers (they will never say it like this).

To make it sound right, include a workplace in the sentence. For instance, you can say 我在一所国际学校当英语老师 (Wǒ zài yì suǒ guójì xuéxiào dāng Yīngyǔ lǎoshī) – “I work as an English teacher in an international school” or something along that line. If you just want to say “I am an English teacher”, better rephrase it as 我是一名英语老师 (Wǒ shì yì míng Yīngyǔ lǎoshī), which is the most natural way of saying your profession in Chinese.

Lastly, to say you’re a freelancer or self-employed, say 我是自由职业 (Wǒ shì zìyóu zhíyè), literally, “I am (of) free profession.”

And if you’re currently unemployed, say 我没有工作 (Wǒ méiyǒu gōngzuò) – “I don’t have a job” or 我待业 (wǒ dàiyè) – literally, “I am waiting for a job”. Or you might be looking for a job at the moment, in this case, say 我正在找工作 (Wǒ zhèng zài zhǎo gōngzuò) – “I am in the process of finding a job”.

How to Ask What Someone Does in Chinese

Similar to telling people your profession, there are also multiples ways to ask someone else what they do for a living in Chinese. Here are the most commons ones.

1. 你是做什么的?

Pronunciation: Nǐ shì zuò shénme de
Literally, “Yo do what?” 

Some of the first conversations you’ll have in Chinese will require you to answer the question 你是做什么的?(Nǐ shì zuò shénme de), which roughly translates to “what is that you do?” or “You do what?”.

The question might sound a bit abrupt in your culture, but it’s extremely common in casual Chinese interactions. To answer the question, simply say 我是一名 (Wǒ shì yì míng) – “I am a/an”, and then your profession.

2. 你是做什么工作的?

Pronunciation: Nǐ shì zuò shénme gōngzuò de?
Literally, “You do what job?” 

Another popular way of asking what someone does in Chinese is 你是做什么工作的?(Nǐ shì zuò shénme gōngzuò de). Having the word 工作 (gōngzuò) – “job” added to the question word 什么 (shénme) – “what” makes the question more formal.

You may also say 您是做什么工作的?(Nín shì zuò shénme gōngzuò de) if you want to add a dash of respect to your conversational partner. 您 (nín) is the honorific form of 你 (nǐ), which is used to address someone who’s older than you or in a more senior position than you.

3. 您从事哪方面的工作?

Pronunciation: Nín cóngshì nǎ fāngmiàn de gōngzuò?
Literally, “You are engaged in what area of work?” 

If the encounter is strictly business, you might want to go formal all the way. 您从事哪方面的工作?(Nín cóngshì nǎ fāngmiàn de gōngzuò?) is the most polite way to ask what someone does in Chinese. Trust me, your new Chinese associate will be impressed!

4. 你在哪里工作/上班?

Pronunciation: Nǐ zài nǎlǐ gōngzuò/shàngbān?
Literally, “Where do you work?” 

Another way to approach this subject is to ask 你在哪里工作?(Nǐ zài nǎlǐ gōngzuò), or more colloquially 你在哪里上班?(Nǐ zài nǎlǐ shàngbān), both of which mean “where do you work?”. People will respond with either the name of their workplace or profession.

How to Discuss Your Job in Chinese

describe job in Chinese

Chinese people love talking about jobs and careers. You can easily keep the conversation going by tossing the following questions to your conversation partner.

  • 你做了多久…?
    Nǐ zuò le duō jiǔ …?
    How long have you worked as …?
    Literally, “You have worked (for) how long time (as) …?” 
  • 你的工作怎么样?
    Nǐ de gōngzuò zěnmeyàng?
    How is your job going?
    Literally, “Your job, how is it?” 
  • 你的工作忙不忙?
    Nǐ de gōngzuò máng bù máng?
    Does your work keep you busy?
    Literally, “Your work, busy or not busy?”
  • 你的工作时间是几点到几点?
    Nǐ de gōngzuò shíjiān shì jǐ diǎn dào jǐ diǎn?
    What are your work hours?
    Literally, “Your work time is what time to what time?”
  • 你喜欢你的工作吗?
    Nǐ xǐhuan nǐ de gōngzuò ma?
    Do you like your job?
    Literally, “You like your job ma?”
  • 你最喜欢你工作的哪个方面?
    Nǐ zuì xǐhuan nǐ gōngzuò de nǎ gè fāngmiàn?
    What do you like the most about your job?
    Literally, “You most like your job’s which aspect?”
  • 你最不喜欢你工作的哪个方面?
    Nǐ zuì bù xǐhuan nǐ gōngzuò de nǎ gè fāngmiàn?
    What do you like the least about your job?
    Literally, “You most not like your job’s which aspect?”
  • 你今后想做什么?
    Nǐ jīnhòu xiǎng zuò shénme?
    What would you like to be in the future?
    Literally, “You future want to do what?”
  • 你的理想工作是什么?
    Nǐ de lǐxiǎng gōngzuò shì shénme?
    What is your dream job?
    Literally, “Your ideal job is what?”

If you are on the receiving end of these questions, you can refer to the below example sentences to talk about your job in Chinese.

  • 我做了三年 …
    Wǒ zuò le sān nián …
    I have worked as … for three years.
    Literally, “I have worked (for) three years (as) …” 
  • 我的工作还不错。
    Wǒ de gōngzuò hái bùcuò.
    My job is not bad.
    Literally, “My job, still not bad.” 
  • 我的工作比较轻松。
    Wǒ de gōngzuò bǐjiào qīngsōng.
    My job is quite easy.
    Literally, “My job, relatively easy.” 
  • 我的工作时间是早上九点到晚上六点。
    Wǒ de gōngzuò shíjiān shì zǎoshang jiǔ diǎn dào wǎnshang liù diǎn.
    My work hours are from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
    Literally, “My work time is morning nine o’clock to evening six o’clock.” 
  • 我非常喜欢我的工作。
    Wǒ fēicháng xǐhuan wǒ de gōngzuò.
    I like my job a lot.
    Literally, “I very much like my job.”
  • 我讨厌我的工作。
    Wǒ tǎoyàn wǒ de gōngzuò.
    I hate my job.
  • 工资很高。
    Gōngzī hěn gāo.
    Good Salary.
    Literally, “Salary, very high.”
  • 员工福利很多。
    Yuángōng fúlì hěn duō.
    Many employee benefits.
    Literally, “Employee benefits, many.”
  • 工作环境很好。
    Gōngzuò huánjìng hěn hǎo.
    Nice work environment.
    Literally, “Work environment, very good.”
  • 工作时间很灵活。
    Gōngzuò shíjiān hěn línghuó.
    Flexible work hours.
    Literally, “Work hours, very flexible.”
  • 休假很多。
    Xiūjià hěn duō.
    Many vacations.
    Literally, “Vacations, many.”
  • 同事很好相处。
    Tóngshì hěn hǎo xiāngchǔ.
    The colleagues are easy to get along with.  
  • 工资很低。
    Gōngzī hěn dī.
    Low salary.
    Literally, “Salary, very low.”
  • 没有员工福利。
    Méiyǒu yuángōng fúlì.
    No employee benefits.
  • 工作环境很差。
    Gōngzuò huánjìng hěn chà.
    Lousy work environment.
    Literally, “Work environment, very lousy.”
  • 工作时间太长。
    Gōngzuò shíjiān tài cháng.
    Long work hours.
    Literally, “Work hours, too long.”
  • 必须上夜班。
    Bìxū shàng yè bān.
    Have to work the night shift.
  • 休假很困难。
    Xiūjià hěn kùnnán.
    Difficult to take a vacation.  
    Literally, “Vacations, very difficult.”
  • 老板/客户要求太多。
    Lǎobǎn/Kèhù yāoqiú tài duō.
    The boss/clients demand too much.
  • 我今后想做一名翻译。
    Wǒ jīnhòu xiǎng zuò yì míng fānyì.
    I would like to be a translator in the future.
    Literally, “I (in the) future want to be a translator.”
  • 我长大后想当科学家。
    Wǒ zhǎng dà hòu xiǎng dāng kēxuéjiā.
    I would like to be a scientist when I grow up.
    Literally, “I after growing up want to work as a scientist.”
  • 我毕业后想去科技公司工作。
    Wǒ bìyè hòu xiǎng qù kējì gōngsī gōngzuò.
    I would like to work in a tech company after graduation.
    Literally, “I after graduation want to go to a tech company for work.”
  • 我的理想工作是心理医生。
    Wǒ de lǐxiǎng gōngzuò shì xīnlǐ yīshēng.
    My dream job is to be a psychiatrist.
    Literally, “My ideal job is psychiatrist.”

There you go! Once you have these patterns down, you can navigate the terrain of Chinese professions with ease! So tell me, what’s your job like? And what would you like to do in a perfect world?

FAQ about Jobs & Professions in Chinese

The measure word for “job” in Chinese is 份 (fèn). To quantify jobs, simply add 份 (fèn) in between the numbers and the word 工作 (gōngzuò). For instance,

  • 这(一)工作很简单。
    Zhè (yí) fèn gōngzuò hěn jiǎndān.
    This job is easy.
  • 我有两工作。
    Wǒ yǒu liǎng fèn gōngzuò.
    I have two jobs.

This is not to be confused with 名 (míng), the measure word for job titles for Chinese professions.

  • 我是一职员。
    Wǒ shì yì míng zhíyuán.
    I am an employee.
  • 这里有两警察。
    Zhèli yǒu liǎng míng jǐngchá.
    There are two policemen here.

The word for “part-time job” in Chinese is 兼职 (jiānzhí). 兼 (jiān) means to do two or more jobs simultaneously, and 职 (jiānzhí) means profession. So the word translates to “having multiple jobs”, literally.

To say you are a part-time teacher, for example, say 我是一名兼职老师 (Wǒ shì yì míng jiānzhí lǎoshī). To say you are doing a part-time job somewhere, say 我在…兼职 (Wǒ zài … jiānzhí). For instance, 我在星巴克兼职 (Wǒ zài Xīngbākè jiānzhí) – I work part-time at Starbucks.

The word for “full-time job” in Chinese is 全职 (quánzhí) – literally, “full profession”.

To say you have a full-time job, say 我有一份全职 (Wǒ yǒu yí fèn quánzhí). To say you are a full-time someone, say 我是一名全职… (Wǒ shì yì míng quánzhí …). For instance, 我是一名全职游戏玩家 (Wǒ shì yì míng quánzhí yóuxì wánjiā) – I am a full-time gamer.

师傅 (shīfu) literally means “master” in Chinese. It is not a job title or profession but rather a popular and respectful title for the skilled and experienced people from the working class, such as taxi drivers, repairmen, security guards, delivery persons, shop assistants, etc.

You may also call strangers on the street 师傅 (shīfu) when you want to ask them for help, though the term is usually used for middle-aged to elderly men rather than youngsters and females. If you know the person’s family name, it’s more proper to address him by his family name plus 师傅 (shīfu), for instance, 王师傅 (Wáng shīfù) – “Master” Wang.

The Chinese expression for “do business” is 做生意 (zuò shēngyì), to say that you do business, say 我是做生意的 (wǒ shì zuò shēngyì de) – “I do business”. You can also say 我是一名生意人  (Wǒ shì yì míng shēngyì rén) or more formally, 我是一名商人 (Wǒ shì yì míng shāngrén) – “I am a businessman”.

“Good job!” or “Well done!” in Chinese is 做得好! (Zuò de hǎo), which translates to “(You) did well!”. Don’t do the word-for-word translation for “good job” – 好工作 (Hǎo gōngzuò) is just the statement for “the job is good (decent, well-paid)”, and it’s not used as a word of encouragement in Chinese.

The Chinese equivalent of “You’re fired” – Donald Trump’s catchphrase from his time on The Apprentice is 你被解雇了 (Nǐ bèi jiěgù le), which translates to “you’re discharged from employment”, literally.

Your Next Step

next step

Learning job titles and professions in Chinese not only expands your vocabulary considerably but also opens a window to China itself. Now you have all the necessary tools to talk about your job properly in Chinese, get out there, and start applying them in real life!

From here, there are endless directions you can take for learning Chinese. You can continue to learn how to introduce and talk about yourself in Chinese. You could also boost your Chinese by learning about basic Chinese grammar rulesphrases, and sentence structures.

If you’re serious about learning Chinese, consider taking a structured Chinese course online – it’s far more effective than reading odd bits and pieces here and there, and trying to put them together on your own. We’ve tested dozens of online Chinese language programs, some are amazing while others are abysmal. Make sure to read our unbiased reviews here before you dive in!