IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Work

At the very beginning of the speaking test, it is highly likely that you will be asked either about your job/study or about the apartment/house you live in. You definitely need to prepare for these two topics, because the examiner starts off with one of these topics quite often.

Here are the possible questions for the Work topic:

Speaking Part 1 – Occupation/Work

  • Do you work or are you a student?
  • Why did you choose this kind of work?
  • What’s the most interesting part of being a … (manager/student)?
  • What’s the most difficult part of being a …?
  • What do you like/dislike about your work?
  • What kind of work would you like to do in the future?

Vocabulary list for a high score for Work/Occupation

• I work as a/an …
• I’m currently a/an …
• I’m responsible for …
• My main responsibility is to …
• I enjoy socializing with my colleagues
• I’m interested in accounting.
• I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk doing something dull.
• I don’t want to end up in a dead-end job
• I’d like to be my own boss one day
• Meet deadlines
• Run my own business
• Heavy workloads
• To slave away
• Work round the clock
• Be a good team player
• My dream is to be a successful…one day.
• I feel dead tired when …
• Sit in front of a computer screen
• I have to deal with overwhelming workload.
• I have a very hectic schedule
• I’m up to my ears in deadlines.
• I’m in two minds about my future career.
• Pursue my dream to become a/an …


I’ve been working for Nike for 5 years.
I’ve been working as a sales manager for 6 years.
Being a doctor is challenging because…
If I could change my job, I’d become a …


manual work
temporary (for a limited time only)
tedious (=boring)

Lifehack: If the examiner asks you What’s the most interesting part of your work? Do not repeat the word interesting all the time, use synonyms like exciting, rewarding, fascinating – even if it is not really that fascinating.

IELTS speaking part 1 – style questions

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
  • internship
  • apprenticeship
  • hands on
  • valuable work experience
  • innovative small companies
  • cutting edge

IELTS speaking part 2 – style question

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 diagnosecare 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 – style question

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

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 comes with the job
  • to work with your hands: to do manual work

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