Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Below is a sample version of this entry to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.
To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)
Overview: There’s a wide range of jobs available to those interested in education. Teachers work at various levels, from pre-kindergarden through the collegiate level. Public schools are fairly standard, with the teacher’s requirements being dictated at the county, state, and national levels. Private schools are more varied; they may follow the traditional public school model, espouse a certain educational method (Montessori, etc.), or be affiliated with a religious organization.
Teacher’s duties and education requirements vary depending on their area of focus. Through the elementary level, most teachers are responsible for a small group of students for the entire year, instructing them in the core education areas (math, language arts, science, and social studies). Special-area teachers focus on a specialized area of instruction, such as…
Teachers’ duties include preparing lesson plans based on established curriculum standards, teaching lessons to accommodate the needs and ability levels of many different students, assessing students, attending faculty meetings, conferencing with parents…
Necessary Training: Teaching certifications depend upon a number of criteria. In the US, many pre-k programs require no formal education for their teachers. Elementary and secondary teachers need a four-year degree, though they can go on to get their masters…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Empathy, enhanced hearing, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking
Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, calm, cooperative, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, enthusiastic, gentle, honorable…
Sources of Friction: Unreasonable administrative expectations, frequently changing curriculums and teaching methods, being unable to adequately teach the basics because of the pressures to teach to a certain test, co-teaching with a teacher whose methods or philosophies are different than one’s own, limited funding that requires one to supplement supplies, conflict with parents (who don’t support the teacher when they should, whose absentee parenting makes their child’s success difficult, who want preferential treatment, etc.), seeing a student fail despite…
People They Might Interact With: Administrators, students, parents, other teachers, classroom aides, mentors,
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: As with so many occupations, the dream doesn’t always match the reality. Teachers spend a large portion of their time doing things other than teaching. They can easily find themselves doing very little of what they love…
- Esteem and Recognition: While teachers are slowly gaining the respect they reserve, there are still people who would rather their loved ones choose occupations that pay higher wages or garner more prestige…
- Physiological Needs: The rise of school violence has made this scenario a sadly believable one that could threaten…
Common Work-Related Settings: Boarding school, custodial supply room, dorm room, elementary school classroom, high school cafeteria, high school hallway, juvenile detention center, parking lot, performing arts theater, preschool, principal’s office, prom, public restroom, school bus, school locker room, science lab, teacher’s lounge, university lecture hall, university quad
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.
How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?
Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.
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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.