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I often hear 'He is a carpenter by trade.' or 'He is a blacksmith by trade.'.

Is the idiom 'by trade' used only for skilled workers such as carpenter or blacksmith?
Can't you use it for white-collar workers such as sales person, secretary or researcher?
For example, how about 'I'm a pharmacist by trade.'?
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I'd say 'by trade' is usually only used to refer to an occupation involving skilled manual or mechanical work. I'd never say 'a secretary by trade' or 'a researcher by trade', but I might possibly say 'a pharmacist by trade' -- probably due to the fact that I've heard many pharmacists complain that their job seems to consist primarily of manually measuring or counting out medication.
AnonymousI often hear 'He is a carpenter by trade.' or 'He is a blacksmith by trade.'.

Is the idiom 'by trade' used only for skilled workers such as carpenter or blacksmith?
Can't you use it for white-collar workers such as sales person, secretary or researcher?
For example, how about 'I'm a pharmacist by trade.'?
"by training", "by profession" and "by experience" are also heard. I, myself, have said "by training I am a language teacher and by experience a church musician".
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Is there any difference between 'by trade' and 'by occupation'?
Is 'by occupation' used for skilled manual workers or mental laborers?
How about 'I'm a welder by occupation.'?
How about 'I'm a computer engineer b occupation.'?
By trade is the usual phrase for skilled manual workers. White collar workers, I think, would avoid the form entirely: I am a computer engineer. Period.
The only time I can think of when you would use a phrase like "by occupation" or "by trade" (or whatever) is when you want to draw a contrast between what you do to earn money, and what you do in your life that you really enjoy.

I'm an accountant by trade but I'm a painter at heart. I'm a writer by occupation, but I'm really a mom.

But otherwise, as Mr. M. says, if you just want to say what your job is, you just say it, period.
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Got it.
Thank u for ur explanation.
Is "carpenter by profession" correct or "carpenter by trade" correct ? "carpenter by profession" is more apt as "by trade" generally means you are exchanging something ?

But profession is you are rendering your services . Am I missing something fundamental here ?

Thanks,
Raja.
Hi,

Is "carpenter by profession" correct or "carpenter by trade" correct ? "carpenter by profession" is more apt as "by trade" generally means you are exchanging something ?

But profession is you are rendering your services . Am I missing something fundamental here ? Yes. You are not aware that one meaning of 'trade' is 'a skilled handicraft'. That's why we often call carpenters, brick-layers, etc. 'tradespeople'.

Clive

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