what's the opposite to "physical job" ? I mean there are some jobs such as : a cleaner, a builder (or construction worker???) , a waiter, so you work mostly physically. What do I call jobs where I have to solve many problems using my intelligence, specialists like a programmer, an architect and so on.

Should I say "mental work"? Or "mental job" , sounds weird for me. I am talking particularly about jobs not about work like a process.


  • 1
    do you intend to exclude jobs such as "data entry" that are neither physical, nor requiring intelligence – James K Apr 4 '19 at 12:21

A term often used to describe manual labor is blue-collar.

In contrast, a term often used to describe “intellectual” labor is white-collar.

| improve this answer | |

The common terms that spring to mind are not exact opposites, e.g. "office job", "administrative job".

I've heard "knowledge worker" used by politicians and academics, but it sounds awkward to me. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_worker)

| improve this answer | |

"Mental jobs" as a complete expression has never crossed my research; however, I found that they usually use other terms when referring to careers that involve a lot of thinking, analyzing, problem-solving, creativity, and other complex mental processing. Terms as:

Mentally demanding jobs, Mentally challenging jobs, and Mentally complex jobs

In this article, they stated:

People with mentally demanding jobs such as surgeons, lawyers, civil engineers, and graphic designers may have better memory in old age, the study indicated.

In another article, they used the term "Mentally challenging jobs":

People with mentally challenging jobs, like air traffic controllers, doctors and financial analysts, tend to stay mentally sharper while on the job and following retirement, results of a new study suggest.

And they named their article:

Mentally demanding jobs linked to slower cognitive decline

You will find "Mentally complex jobs" in the previous articles, but it is used as a more general term such that it describes jobs where complexity with both people and data is involved.

| improve this answer | |

As @sesquipedalias already answered, you may use "knowledge worker".

But these are also alternatives (with their different meanings):

  • intellectual job;
  • psychological job (?);
  • special operations job;
  • etc.
| improve this answer | |

A possible expression is "graduate level job". That is a job that requires education to university level. Programmers and Architects are both graduate-level jobs, but not all non-manual work is graduate level.

However, this term sometimes is used for jobs that only require a degree (and not experience).

| improve this answer | |
  • In Britain, it usually means an entry-level job in an occupation that usually requires a degree (though not necessarily a specific degree). – SamBC Apr 5 '19 at 23:01

If you're just looking for a job that doesn't involve physical work, regardless of whether it's intellectually demanding, you want office job or desk job. Office job is slightly preferred in British English, and desk job in American English, but they seem to be converging.

If you mean a job that is both not physically demanding, and is intellectually demanding, I don't think there's a really general term. You can talk about knowledge jobs, which are part of the knowledge economy (I hate that term), of course. But if you mean jobs that require a certain amount of qualification, a certain standard of education and a certain presumed degree of intelligence, the traditional term is the professions (as distinct from the trades), and a more modern evolution of this is professional job (this may be British English thing). Note that this is not the same as professional as an adjective, though it is clearly related. A person can be a professional footballer, but that doesn't make playing football a profession.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.