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.)
Occupation: Home Health Aide
Overview: A home health aide helps clients who are ill, injured, or are unable to care for themselves. Some are live-in caregivers, working round the clock, while others provide care for the client during certain hours; the schedule is often determined by what the client is able to pay and which services their insurance company covers. Working under the supervision of a medical professional (typically a nurse), an aide may provide a number of services for the client:
- Helping with personal hygiene (bathing, grooming, etc.)
- Taking care of domestic duties, such as cleaning, doing laundry, shopping for groceries, or preparing healthy meals
- Transporting the client to and from medical appointments
- Accompanying them on social outings…
Necessary Training: Training varies, depending on the aide’s location. Those working with an agency usually need a high school degree and are often required to acquire certain certifications. Training can be…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality…
POSITIVE: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, calm, cooperative, courteous, discreet, efficient, empathetic, friendly, gentle, honorable, hospitable…
Sources of Friction: Uncooperative clients, clients who expect more help than one is supposed to provide, clients who need more help but can’t afford to pay for it, conflict with insurance companies, demanding or unreasonable family members, absentee loved ones, always being given the “difficult” clients or tasks…
People They Might Interact With: Clients, the client’s family members, the client’s roommates, doctors, nurses, physical therapists…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: An aide who dreams of doing more with her career (like progressing to become a nurse) but is unable to do so may start to feel stifled and limited.
- Esteem and Recognition: As support staff, aides may be treated as second-class citizens by some people. They can easily be overlooked, underestimated, or …
- Love and Belonging: A home health care aide may choose this career as a way of connecting with many clients on a surface level. It could become a way to…
- Safety and Security: Injuries are higher in this field than many others. Aides are injured while picking up clients or bodily moving them from one spot to another. They also …
Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, big city street, casual dining restaurant, grocery store, kitchen, living room, park, parking lot, residential bathroom, run-down apartment, small town street, trailer park, waiting room
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Home health aides are more often female, but men take up this occupation, too. For this career choice, consider a burly ex-biker or professional athlete with a nurturing disposition.
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.