Considering that most people work for a large part of their life, the topic of work and jobs is extremely common on the IELTS speaking and writing sections. This page contains some of the most commonly used IELTS words and phrases you will need when discussing work and career. There are also some practice activities for you to practice using the words in context.
IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Work
1. To be called for an interview: to be invited to attend an interview
Example: Although he has been called for an interview, he hasn’t got a job yet.
2. To be your own boss/run your business/be self-employed: to have your own business
Example: It has been my dream to be my own boss because I can do everything in my way if I run my own business.
3. A nine-to-five job: a normal job that consists of an 8 hour a day
Example: The idea of doing a nine-to-five job is quite arduous for a few people.
4. To be stuck behind a desk: to be unhappy in an office job
Example: Working full-time in an office can lead to being stuck behind a desk.
5. One of the perks of the job: an extra benefit you get from a job
Example: Extra meal is one of the perks of the job, which make employees more satisfied
6. Job satisfaction: the feeling of enjoying a job
Example: Job satisfaction is the most important factor when a person chooses a job.
7. Manual work: work that requires physical activities
Example: Many people have manual work that requires them to work in a dangerous environment.
8. Temporary work: work done for a limited time only
Example: Taxi driving is just my temporary work, I am applying for a better job.
9. Voluntary work: to work without pay
Example: In my free time, I join in voluntary work to help society.
10. To be well paid: to earn a good salary
Example: Working in the auditing area will be well paid.
11. Working conditions: the hours, salary and other entitlements that come with the job
Example: Employer should spend more money on improving the working conditions.
12. To meet a deadline: to finish a job on time
Example: Last week she was really stressed because she had to work too hard to meet the deadlines.
13. To take early retirement: to retire early
Example: Recently, a large number of older worker tend to take early retirement, then they will have more time to travel.
14. A heavy workload: to have a lot of work to do
Example: Many workers are complaining about the heavy workload and asking for a higher salary.
15. Shift work: a system in which different groups of workers work somewhere at different times of the day and night
Example: The company I’m working in currently has different shift work. I can choose either day or night.
16. Morning/Night Shift
Example: Many industries rely heavily on shift work, and millions of people work in jobs that require shift schedules.
17. Tempting offer
Example: After graduating in economics, I got a very tempting offer from an investment bank and accepted it.
18. Land a new job: get a new (and usually a good) job
Example: After graduating, I did the usual things of putting together my CV & applying for jobs. Luckily, I landed a fantastic new job at a tourism company.
19. Living wage: enough money to live on
Example: After doing a job swap, I just got a living wage that didn’t commensurate with my experience & ability.
20. Take up the post: start work
Example: After being laid off, I went back to my old job and took up the post of editor of a leading fashion journal.
21. Carve a niche for myself: make a special position for myself
Example: After graduating, I practised medicine for several years in London. I managed to carve a niche for myself as a specialist in dermatology.
22. Job swap:
Example: I want to take up some fresh challenges so I did a job swap for a year.
23. Do a job-share: a situation where 2 people share equal parts of the same job
Example: I decided to go part-time and do a job-share with my friend after returning from maternity leave.
24. Lay off staff: dismiss staff because there is no work for them to do
Example: My start-up went through a difficult period and had to lay off staff
25. Volume of work: workload
Example: I can’t go out tonight. I’ve got a volume of work to finish.
26. Earn a good living
Example: I had a substantial volume of work – private students and marking exams – and was able to earn a good living
27. Fast-track scheme: a system for rapid training and promotion of talented staff
Example: This year 29 police took recruits from the fast track scheme.
28. Move up the ladder: being promoted
Example: I was put on a fast-track scheme and was moving up the ladder fast
29. Throw a sickie: take a day off work pretending to be sick
Example: I don’t like my job so I throw a sickie from time to time
30. Get the sack: be dismissed
Example: I want to take one week off from work, but I’m afraid of getting sacked.
31. Labor productivity
Meaning: the rate at which a worker, a company or a country produces goods, and the amount produced, compared with how much time, work and money is needed to produce them
Example: Wage rates depend on levels of labor productivity.
32. Unemployment benefits
Meaning: money paid by the government to somebody who is unemployed
Example: In times of economic crisis, the amount paid in unemploymentnbenefits is an added burden on the government budget.
33. To acquire experience/knowledge/skill:
Meaning: to gain experience/knowledge/skill by your own efforts or behavior
Example: Some school leavers prefer to acquire experience working in anchosen profession rather than entering university.
34. Put knowledge gained into practice
Meaning: to put to practical use the knowledge that you have acquired
Example: Vocational training courses enable students to put the knowledgengained during their studies into practice.
35. Minimum wage
Meaning: the lowest wage that an employer is allowed to pay by law
Example: A minimum wage is necessary in order to ensure a decent standard of living for low-paid workers.
36. To job-share
Meaning: to share the hours of work and the pay of one job between two people
Example: Many employers are willing to employ people part-time or allow them to job-share, as long as the duties of each person are clear.
37. Flexible working hours
Meaning: hours of work that can be changed by agreement between the employer and the employee
Example: For some employees, flexible working hours are more important even than a high salary.
38. Health and safety in the workplace
Meaning: Conditions which are safe and are not a danger to health in factories, offices or other places where people work
Example: Government inspectors should regularly monitor companies to ensure that standards of health and safety in the workplace are observed.
39. Working mothers
Meaning: Mothers who have to go out to work as well as to look after children
Example: Workplace practices such as job-sharing and flexible working hours have made life easier for working mothers.
40. To take early retirement
Meaning: to stop working before reaching the age at which people usually stop working
Example: Older employees should take early retirement to give young people a better chance to find work.
41. Aretirement package
Meaning: the money or other benefits that you receive from a company or organization when you stop working there because of your age
Example: Companies who value their employees should offer a generous retirement package.
42. Sick leave
Meaning: permission to stay away from work because of illness or injury
Example: Important factors when choosing a job include holiday entitlement, sick leave and a company pension scheme.
43. Annual leave
Meaning: a period of time when you are allowed to be away from work for a holiday/vacation
Example: Parents often take their annual leave at the same time as the long school holidays.
44. Job prospects
Meaning: the chances of being successful and having more opportunities at work
Example: People with qualifications and experience usually have the best job prospects.
45. Promotion opportunities
Meaning: chances to move to a more important position in a company or organization
Example: Perhaps the most important factor when choosing a job are the promotion opportunities/promotion prospects.
46. To move up the career ladder
Meaning: a series of stages by which you can make progress in your career
Example: Ambitious employees look for a job in which there is a chance to move up the career ladder.
47. To pursue a successful career
Meaning: to have a series of jobs in a particular area of work, with more responsibility as time passes
Example: While many people wish to pursue a successful career, for others it is more important to find work which is interesting and enjoyable.
48. To take a career break
Meaning: a period of time when you do not do your usual job, for example because you have children to care for
Example: Some companies offer female employees the opportunity to take a career break for a few years if they have young children to care for.
49. To have no career ambitions
Meaning: to have no desire to be successful or to move up the career ladder
Example: Those who are content to do the same job and have no career ambitions are often happier in their work and do not suffer from stress.
50. Job satisfaction
Meaning: the good feeling that you get when you have a job that you enjoy
Example: A high salary is not necessarily the most important factor in job satisfaction.
51. Working environment
Meaning: the conditions that you work in
Example: If work is to be enjoyable, then a friendly working environment is essential.
52. Supportive work colleagues
Meaning: people that you work with who give you help and encouragement
Example: A very important aspect of job satisfaction is having supportive work colleagues.
53. To be a good team player
Meaning: to be cooperative and work well as a member of a team
Example: In the modern working environment, it is important to be a good team player and communicate with colleagues.
54. A heavy workload
Meaning: a lot of work that an individual employee has to perform
Example: While some people enjoy the challenge of a heavy workload, others find too much work very stressful.
Meaning: (of work) needing a lot of people to do it
Example: New technology has replaced the need for workers to do many labour-intensive jobs, such as producing cars.
56. An internship
Meaning: a period of time in which a student or new graduate gets practical experience in a job
Example: In order to gain essential professional experience, graduates should do an internship if they have the opportunity.
57. A desk job
Meaning: a job in an office, where you sit and work all day at a table or desk
Example: Many young people enjoy the excitement of a dangerous profession to the boring routine of a desk job.
58. To have a steady job
Meaning: to have a job which you are unlikely to lose, but which is usually the same routine
Example: Although some people prefer to change jobs, others prefer to have a steady job and a set daily routine at work.
59. To dismiss somebody (from something)
Meaning: to officially remove somebody from their job
Example: Employment legislation prevents employers from dismissingan employee without a good reason.
IELTS Speaking Sample: Work
IELTS speaking part 1
Examiner: Do you have a job right now?
Janet: Not at the moment, in fact I am currently studying for my Masters in Psychology which I am finding really interesting but also very challenging. I have always been fascinated by Psychology, so I decided to learn more about this important field.
Examiner: Will you plan to use this learning in your future career?
Alix: Well, I hope it will be useful for me but as a future career what I am really motivated about is to work in Environmental studies, which is particularly relevant and topical in the current climate crisis. I will be looking for an internship in the USA or even an apprenticeship which might be more practical and hands on.
Examiner: What qualifications would you need for this job?
Kamil: I am not exactly sure. Whilst my degree in Psychology is interesting, I’m not convinced that it will be as useful as studies in Biology or even Geography might be. However, I have managed to gain informative and valuable work experience in a range of innovative small companies who are at the cutting edge of this field so I hope that will be useful.
- important field.
- motivated about
- hands on
- valuable work experience
- innovative small companies
- cutting edge
IELTS speaking part 2
Describe a job that would be classified as crucial or highly important
You should say:
- what the job is
- what the job involves
- why it is important
Davido: There is no doubt in my mind that workers who dedicate themselves to the Health profession should be considered highly important or key. Not just in this recent COVID pandemic, but in all situations, day or night, local or global, we depend on nurses, doctors, consultants and medical professionals to diagnose, care for and cure us.
It’s definitely not a career for the faint hearted and if you are after job flexibility or a dependable nine to five it’s not the one for you. As an example, a friend of mine who had always been determined to be a Doctor, is currently practicing in at a London hospital and specialises in children’s medicine or pediatrics.
He is involved in the A and E department, so has to react swiftly and calmly in all kinds of worrying situations but always appear optimistic though, sadly he has often had to break bad news to families.
Of course, a career in Medicine is one of the most important there is as we are totally dependent on being able to get help when we need it, everything from routine check ups to specialist consultancies, operations and follow up care.
Of course, there has always been huge appreciation and acknowledgment for our doctors and nurses and this continues to grow. Whilst in many countries, medics are well paid, in others, the job is not lucrative, although there is no doubt that the gratitude the public feel towards medics is overwhelming.
IELTS speaking part 3
Examiner: Which jobs would you say are most respected in your country?
Emilie: Similar to many countries, the well established fields of law, education, and medicine may be the most highly-acclaimed ones. It is usually thought that people specialising in these fields can easily earn lucrative income compared to others, although there is no doubt that many years of study are required which can be both expensive and highly challenging so the rewards are hugely merited.
Examiner: Some people say it’s better to work for yourself than be employed by a company. What’s your opinion?
Working as an employee can offer many benefits, such as a reliable salary, the possibility of moving up the career ladder for promotion, as well as being a member of a pension scheme. It is often acknowledged that being a full-time employee can be demanding and very stressful. However, being self-employed, while being appealing does not offer much job security.
Examiner: What changes in employment have there been in recent years in your country?
Raff: As far as I know, more and more people, especially the young generations are involved in setting up their own businesses as this is seen as offering more independence, more flexibility and the chance to be creative, and to earn substantial sums. So, the “start-up” community is now more alive than ever, especially tech start-ups which are diverse and very exciting with a lot of potential to grow exponentially.
Vocabulary list and definitions:
A field (of work): an area or type of career
Motivated about: wanting to do well in
Internship: working for a short time, sometimes unpaid
Apprenticeship: hands on, or practical work to learn a job
Hands on: getting involved and doing everything to help
Innovative small companies: with new, creative ideas
Cutting edge: the best new technology
Diagnose: to find out what is wrong
Pediatrics: specialist child medicine (also spelled paediatrics)
Routine check ups: a regular (not urgent) visit to the doctors
Huge appreciation: gratefulness and gratitude
Follow up care: an appointment after an operation or illness
Lucrative: money making or profitable
Highly merited: well deserved
Career ladder: moving up through promotions to the top of the company
Pension scheme: money for retirement
Job security: knowing you can keep your job / job safety
Start up community: new small businesses sometimes internet based
IELTS Speaking Practice: Work
Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: What do you do?
Sasha: I do a job-share with a friend in a boutique … I enjoy it … I like working with customers … unfortunately it’s only temporary work but one of the perks of the job is I get a discount on the clothes …
Examiner: Do you have any career plans yet?
Carly: Yes … I’d like to be my own boss one day … I’m interested in programming and I’d like to create apps for myself or for other companies … I know being self-employed would be a challenge but the idea of doing a nine-to-five job doesn’t appeal to me at all …
Examiner: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years’ time?
Marie: I’d hope to be working … not a high-powered job … but I’m quite a creative person so something where I can work with my hands, would be nice … as long as I’m not stuck behind a desk doing something boring in a dead-end job I’ll be happy …
Part 2-style task
Describe your ideal job. You should say:
- what this job is
- whether you would need any qualifications
- whether it would be easy to find work
and say why you would enjoy this job in particular.
Max: I’ve always loved watching wildlife programmes on TV and often thought how much I’d enjoy working with animals … perhaps in a safari park … something like that … you’d probably need a degree to have any chance of being called for an interview and whether there are many full-time jobs I don’t know … I’m sure a lot of parks rely on voluntary work so it might not be easy … and it probably wouldn’t be well-paid either but money isn’t everything … I’d get so much job satisfaction … I can’t imagine it being the kind of job where you get stuck in a rut … and I think I’d be good at it as well … I’d love to work with animals I enjoy manual work and I’m a good team player … so even though the working conditions might not be the best I think that would be my ideal job …
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: If there are a limited number of jobs available who should be given priority, young people or older people with more experience?
Anna: Things are so different these days … a few years ago older employees would often take early retirement or go onto part-time contracts and there were always opportunities for younger people but now jobs are so scarce … I think younger people need to be given the chance whenever possible …
Examiner: What are some of the important things a candidate should find out before accepting a job?
Ali: Well … you’d need to know about your area of responsibility … and your salary of course and then there are things like holiday entitlement … maternity or paternity leave … if you’re thinking of having children … and what the situation is regarding sick leave … that kind of thing …
Examiner: What are the advantages of having your own business rather than working for someone else?
Julie: Well … unfortunately being an employee at the moment is very stressful … people have very heavy workloads … they’re always under pressure to meet deadlines … running your own business isn’t easy … but I do think it would be far more satisfying …
to be called for an interview: to be invited to attend an interview
to be your own boss: to have your own business
a dead-end job: a job with no promotional opportunities
to do a job-share: to share the weekly hours of work with another person
a good team player: somebody who can work well with other people
full-time: the number of hours that people usually work in a complete week
a heavy workload: to have a lot of work to do
a high-powered job: an important or powerful job
holiday entitlement: the number of days holiday allowed
job satisfaction: the feeling of enjoying a job
manual work: work that requires physical activity
maternity leave: time off work given to a woman about to have a baby
to meet a deadline: to finish a job by an agreed time
a nine-to-five job: a normal job that consists of an 8 hour day (approximately)
one of the perks of the job: an extra benefit you get from a job
part-time: working less than full-time
to run your own business: see ‘to be your own boss’
to be self-employed: see ‘to be your own boss’
sick leave: time allowed off work when sick
to be stuck behind a desk: to be unhappy in an office job
to be/get stuck in a rut: to be in a boring job that is hard to leave
to take early retirement: to retire early (retire: to reach an age when you are allowed to stop working for a living)
temporary work: work done for a limited time only
voluntary work: to work without pay
to be well paid: to earn a good salary
working conditions: the hours, salary, and other entitlements that come with the job
to work with your hands: to do manual work
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