I have a question about "in a job" here:

Mr. Feliciano remains employed by the department, working in a desk job after two domestic violence offenses and a violation of a court order to stay away from his wife.

How is "in a job" different from "at a job"?

  • 1
    I dunno. I like "working at a desk job" better, though.
    – user230
    Oct 31, 2014 at 1:12
  • In this case, both mean the same. In and At do have rules, but Oct 31, 2014 at 3:13
  • In this case, both mean the same. There are some rules for in and at, but the above is idiomatic. I would have said "working at a desk job", or "working a desk job." If the job word had been "construction", I might have said "I work in construction." "Mr. F remains working in construction." "Mr F remains employed, working in a construction job at the old mill." Oct 31, 2014 at 3:22
  • 2
    I think there is a subtle difference in this context because "desk job" is a role, and not really a job in the same way that I might be "working at a clerical job". In this specific circumstance, I think "desk job" has a very particular meaning as "not on patrol". He remains employed working at a law enforcement job in a "desk jockey" role. I could be giving the reporter too much credit however.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 7, 2014 at 0:45

1 Answer 1


Using Verb + Preposition, work in would be the standard usage.

Work at is also permissible, but has the additional meaning for a specific place:

She works at McDonald's.

He works at the restaurant.

(nb: "He works at a (non-specific) restaurant" has the same meaning as "He works in a restaurant")

Finally, work at carries the additional complication of being a phrasal verb:

work at [phrasal verb]: work at (something) : to make an effort to do (something) better

He needs to work at his handwriting.

She has been working (harder) at controlling her temper.

See: http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/work

I myself prefer "work in" to "work at" in your example, probably to avoid ambiguity of him working to "improve his desk job", or working a desk job to improve himself.


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