professions-in-spanish

90 Professions in Spanish

If you’re learning Spanish, you probably already know some words for professions, like maestro/a (teacher) or policía (police officer).

But in today’s world, there are a huge number of occupations, and the basic handful of them will only get you so far. 

In this post, I’ll share some grammar tips and useful phrases for talking about professions in Spanish, and give you 90 job titles you can add to your vocabulary bank

Let’s get to work! 

Contents

The Quick Grammar Guide to Professions in Spanish

Generally speaking, the vast majority of Spanish occupation names have a masculine form ending in -o and a feminine one ending in -a:

el arquitecto / la arquitecta (the architect, male / the architect, female)

el panadero / la panadera (the baker, male / the baker, female)

el maestro / la maestra (the teacher, male / the teacher, female)

However, this isn’t always the case.

There’s a fairly big group of masculine occupations ending in a consonant, which tends to be -r or -n. In these cases, we don’t have an -o that we can substitute with an -a, so we simply add the latter to the word:

el profesor / la profesora (the professor, male / the professor, female)

el escritor / la escritora (the writer, male / the writer, female)

el capitán / la capitana (the captain, male / the captain, female)

Sometimes, we have occupations that don’t distinguish between the masculine and the feminine. The only way to tell if you’re referring to a man or a woman is by having a look at the article, the name of the person or the context.

There isn’t a defined list of endings that behave like this, but if an occupation ends in -ista, -ante, -e or a in its masculine form, you can be almost sure the feminine will look exactly the same:

el artista / la artista (the artist, male / the artist, female)

el estudiante / la estudiante (the student, male / the student, female)

el contable / la contable (the accountant, male / the accountant, female)

el psiquiatra / la psiquiatra (the psychiatrist, male / the psychiatrist, female)

Of course, Spanish would not be itself if it didn’t include some exceptions to this rule. The most common ones are:

el dependiente / la dependienta (the salesman / the saleswoman)

el alcalde / la alcaldesa (the mayor, male / the mayor, female)

el duque / la duquesa (the duke / the duchess)

And, we can’t forget about the word piloto (pilot), which despite ending in -0, remains unchanged:

el piloto / la piloto (the pilot, male / the pilot, female)

Finally, there’s a very small group of occupations that have an irregular feminine form. Three of the most common ones are:

el actor / la actriz (the actor / the actress)

el emperador / la emperatriz (the emperor / the empress)

el rey / la reina (the king / the queen)

We can even treat alcalde and duque above as irregular, but since they end in -e, I’ve included them in the previous group of exceptions.

So, now that you know all about the grammar behind Spanish occupations, let’s learn the names of the professions in Spanish. The following list is by no means a comprehensive one, but it includes the most common occupations one might have nowadays.

Vocabulary List of 90 Professions in Spanish

Here you have a list of occupations along with their English translations. I’ve added the feminine forms and explanations when necessary.

el abogado / la abogada lawyer

el actor / la actriz actor / actress

el administrador / la administradora administrator

el agricultor / l a agricultora farmer

The feminine agricultora is seldom used.

el albañil / la albañila builder, bricklayer, mason

Although the “Diccionario de la lengua española” (“Dictionary of the Spanish Language”) accepts the feminine albañila, this term is very seldom used. People prefer la albañil or la mujer albañil. However, you can see this term often when referring to bees: abeja albañila  (mason bee).

el arquitecto / la arquitecta architect

el artista / la artista artist

Remember the ending -ista makes the name of the profession invariable. The only thing that changes is the article.

el astronauta / la astronauta astronaut

This is a perfect example of an occupation ending in -a in the masculine, which makes it invariable.

la azafata / el azafato flight attendant

You may have noted that I’ve written the feminine term first, and this isn’t random. The word azafata, when used to refer to female flight attendants, exists only entirely in its feminine form, possibly due to the fact that male flight attendants have only started to commonly exist in the past couple of decades.

Much has been said about the terms azafata and azafato, and people in this profession tend to not like being called that, so the trend now is to call them el auxiliar de vuelo / la auxiliar de vuelo (flight attendant).

el barbero / la barbera barber

Even though the term barbera exists, this profession is almost exclusively a male domain. Women are normally referred to as peluqueras  (hairdressers).

el bombero / la bombera firefighter

This is an example of an occupation that has a feminine noun that is almost never used. We normally say la bombero or la mujer bombero (firewoman).

el botones / la botones bellboy / bellgirl

The Spanish word botones means “buttons” in English. Despite being a plural noun, it’s used in the singular to refer to the occupation.

el cajero / la cajera cashier

el camarero / la camarera waiter / waitress

el camionero / la camionera truck driver

el cantante / la cantante singer

Here’s a job ending in -ante, thus invariable.

el carnicero / la carnicera butcher

el carpintero / la carpintera carpenter

el cartero / la cartera postman / postwoman

The word cartera also means “wallet” when not referring to the occupation.

el científico / la científica scientist

Even though the feminine científica exists, we normally say la científico or la mujer científico, using the word científica (scientific, feminine) as an adjective.

el cirujano / la cirujana surgeon

el cocinero / la cocinera cook

el conductor / la conductora driver

This is an example of a false friend. The English word “conductor” is translated as director/a de orquesta in Spanish.

el consejero / la consejera counselor, advisor

el contable / la contable accountant

The ending -e makes the noun invariable.

el dentista / la dentista dentist

The ending -a makes the noun invariable.

el dependiente / la dependienta salesboy / salesgirl

Remember, this is one of the exceptions for words ending in -e with two different forms.

el diseñador / la diseñadora designer

el director / la directora director, principal

el electricista / la electricista electrician

Just as with artista, the ending -ista makes this term invariable.

el empleado / la empleada employee

el encargado / la encargada supervisor, manager

el enfermero / la enfermera nurse

el escritor / la escritora writer

el estudiante / la estudiante student

The ending -ante makes the term invariable.

el farmacéutico / la farmacéutica pharmacist, druggist

el fontanero / la fontanera plumber

el gerente / la gerente manager 

Example: Necesito hablar con el gerente.  (I need to talk to the manager.)

el granjero / la granjera farmer

el herrero / la herrera blacksmith

el ingeniero / la ingeniera engineer

The term ingeniera is more and more commonly used, although a lot of people still incorrectly say la ingeniero.

el jardinero / la jardinera gardener

el jefe / la jefa boss

Here’s another example of a word ending in -e that has two different forms.

el joyero / la joyera jeweler

el juez / la jueza judge

el lechero / la lechera milkman / milkwoman

I miss this. Do you still have milkmen and milkwomen where you live?

el librero / la librera bookseller

el maestro / la maestra teacher

el marinero / la marinera sailor, seaman / seawoman

el mecánico / la mecánica mechanic

el médico / la médica doctor

el mesero / la mesera waiter / waitress

el minero / la minera miner

el modelo / la modelo model

This is an example of a word that ends in -o but is invariable.

el monitor / la monitora monitor, teacher

el niñero / la niñera babysitter

While I have personally never seen the masculine word niñero in use, it definitely exists.

el obrero / la obrera worker, laborer

Here’s another example of an occupation you will commonly see when referring to bees: la abeja obrera  (the worker bee).

el oficinista / la oficinista clerk, office worker

The ending -ista makes the term invariable.

el panadero / la panadera baker

el paramédico / la paramédica  — paramedic

el peluquero / la peluquera hairdresser

el periodista / la periodista journalist, reporter

Here’s yet another example of an occupation ending in -ista, which makes the term invariable.

el pescador / la pescadora fisherman / fisherwoman

Don’t mistake this job for the very similar el pescadero / la pescadera , which means “fishmonger.”

el piloto / la piloto pilot

Here’s another perfect example of a job ending in -o that remains unchanged in the feminine.

el pintor / la pintora painter

el político / la política politician

The term política tends to be avoided when referring to a female politician because la política also means “politics” and can be used as an adjective relating or related to politics. Instead, we normally call a female politician la político

el policía / la policía policeman / policewoman

This is an example of a word ending in -a in the masculine, which makes it invariable. As with el político / la política, the feminine noun policía has another meaning (the police force in general). In this case, we still use la policía if it’s clear we’re referring to a female police officer. In cases of doubt, you can use la mujer policía.

el portero / la portera janitor, porter, goalkeeper

This occupation is variable when it refers to the doorkeeper of a building. However, portero can also mean “goalkeeper,” and a lot of people tend to say el portero / la portero in this context. According to the “Diccionario de la lengua española,” though, this is incorrect.

el profesor / la profesora professor

In some countries, this word is also used to mean “teacher.”

el programador / la programadora programmer

el psicólogo / la psicóloga psychologist

The terms el sicólogo and la sicóloga are also correct, and have the same pronunciation as the words above. 

el psiquiatra / la psiquiatra psychiatrist

Here’s an example of a word ending in -a in the masculine, which makes it invariable in the feminine. The terms el siquiatra and la siquiatra, although less frequently used, are also valid. 

el químico / la química chemist

Similar to el político / la política, we tend to avoid referring to a female chemist as a química because of the fact that química also means “chemistry” in Spanish. It can also be used as an adjective meaning “chemical,” as in una reacción química (a chemical reaction). Instead, you can use the terms la químico or la mujer químico to refer to a female chemist. 

el quiropráctico / la quiropráctica chiropractor

This profession falls into the same situation as el político / la política and el químico / la química.

el recepcionista / la recepcionista receptionist

Here’s a term ending in -ista, thus invariable.

el relojero / la relojera watchmaker

el reportero / la reportera reporter

el revisor / la revisora reviewer, inspector

el sacerdote / la sacerdotisa priest / priestess

Just like their English counterparts, this pair of words is irregular.

el sastre / la sastre tailor

Here’s a word ending in -e in the masculine, which makes it invariable in the feminine.

el secretario / la secretaria secretary

el soldado / la soldado soldier

Here’s another example of a word ending in -o that remains unchanged.

el soldador / la soldadora welder

el taxista / la taxista taxi driver

Here’s a word ending in -ista, thus invariable.

el técnico / la técnica technician

This word behaves like el político / la política, el policía / la policía and el químico / la química. La técnica as a noun means “the technique” and as an adjective, “technical.”

el trabajador / la trabajadora worker

el traductor / la traductora translator

el vendedor / la vendedora seller 

el veterinario / la veterinaria vet

This word behaves like el político / la política, el policía / la policía, el químico / la química and el técnico / la técnica. As a noun, veterinaria means “veterinarian” and as an adjective, “veterinary.”

el zapatero / la zapatera shoemaker

Common Phrases for Talking About Your Job in Spanish

Chances are that sooner or later you’ll have to talk about your job in Spanish, be it with your Spanish friends, your future employer or maybe with people you meet during your travels.

There are many different ways to talk about occupations in Spanish, but there are also a couple of expressions and constructions that tend to appear more often than others. Here, you have some of them.

First, some questions about work:

¿En qué trabajas? What do you do?

¿A qué te dedicas? What do you do?

¿Cómo es tu trabajo? What is your job like?

¿Qué tal va tu trabajo? How is your job going?

¿Te gusta tu trabajo? Do you like your job?

¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de tu trabajo? What do you like the most about your job?

¿Qué es lo que menos te gusta de tu trabajo? What do you like the least about your job?

¿Cuál es tu horario de trabajo? What are your working hours?

¿Qué te gustaría ser de mayor? What would you like to be when you grow up?

¿Qué te gustaría hacer en… años? What would you like to be doing in… years’ time?

Here are some possible answers and ways of talking about your job:

Soy…, ¿y tú? I am a…, and you? (informal)

Soy…, ¿y usted? I am a…, and you? (formal)

Me dedico a… I work in…

Trabajo en… I work in…

Trabajo de… I work as a… (normally used when talking about temporary jobs)

Estoy de… en… I am a… in…

Trabajo de… a… I work from… to…

Siempre quise / he querido ser… I have always wanted to be a…

Me gusta mi trabajo. I like my job.

Me gusta mucho mi trabajo. I like my job a lot.

No me gusta mi trabajo. I do not like my job.

No me gusta nada mi trabajo. I do not like my job at all.

Me gustaría ser… cuando sea mayor / cuando sea grande. I would like to be a… when I grow up.

Quiero ser… I want to be a…

Here, you have an example of a person talking about their job:

Hola, me llamo María. Soy enfermera. Trabajo en un hospital de lunes a viernes de 7 de la mañana a 3 de la tarde. Me gusta mucho mi trabajo. Desde que era niña siempre quise ser enfermera.

(Hi, my name is María. I am a nurse. I work in a hospital from Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse.)

Of course there will likely be more you want to say about your job or ask others about theirs. These are just some helpful basics that will allow you to learn more about the Spanish speakers you meet and answer simple questions they might ask about what you do. 

 

Now you have all the necessary tools to talk about your job properly in Spanish. You’ve learned the secrets behind the regularities and irregularities of Spanish occupations, and you can now ask about other people’s jobs without breaking a sweat. To cement this information in your mind, you can use a program like FluentU, which shows you Spanish in use in subtitled videos.

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Consider this list as the beginning of a much bigger list you can make on your own. Look for other jobs and occupations not covered here, and try to find out if they’re irregular or not. It’ll be fun!

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