In part two of the IELTS speaking test, you may be asked to describe a wide range of things: a tradition, an indoor game, your hometown, an historic place, a large company, a mistake you have made, and much more. It is hard to predict those questions, but you can look at ideas (or topics) that frequently occur. One such issue is employment, and thus when it comes to IELTS speaking cue cards, it is reasonable to expect to be asked to describe a job.

In this lesson, I’m going to show you how to describe a job you would like to have. We will explore the cue card and its meaning, some useful language, and then I will show you my sample answer.

The Cue Card: Describe a Job

First of all, it is important to note that for IELTS you cannot just predict the cue card you will be given, so we should look at common ideas and just practise with them. Thus, there could be many different cue cards that ask you to “describe a job.” For example, it could say describe a job…

  • you have done in the past
  • that makes the world a better place
  • that is considered important in your country
  • you would not like to do

In other words, you basically could be asked to describe a job possessing any sort of characteristic. However, I think the most common and reasonable cue card is the one asking you to look into your own future and decide on a job you would like to do.

For example:

Describe a job you would like to have.

You should say:

– what it is

– why you would like to have this job

– what skills you will need to do this job

and explain why you want to have this job.

For this cue card, we would need to think of a job, then describe it, saying why we would want to do it and what skills it would involve. Keep in mind that you don’t really have to talk about all of the bullet points, but it is a good idea to do so. Also, you don’t have to be completely honest! Just picking a job that is easy to do might be a good idea. 😉

Choosing the Right Language

ielts vocabulary about working

When it comes to giving a good answer in IELTS speaking part 2, you should use language that is accurate rather than trying to show off to the examiner. It does help, however, to know some topic-specific vocabulary, so make sure you are familiar with common IELTS topics.

In this case, the vocabulary that you use could be related to the broad topic of employment or it could be related to the more specific topic of your chosen job. For example, if you want to be a teacher, you would need some education vocabulary. If you want to work in healthcare, you would need words related to that. The same is true of cooking and almost anything else.

Let’s look then at some vocabulary about employment because that can really help us to describe a job.

Apprentice(noun) a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wagesTo become a carpenter, you have to be an apprentice for a while to pick up the skills.
Commute(verb/noun) travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basisI want to work from home because I don’t want to waste half my day commuting.
Earn a living(phrase) make money to cover your basic expensesI plan on earning a living by editing videos for YouTubers.
Internship(noun) the position of a student or trainee who works in an organisation, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience.I plan on doing a short internship with a financial company before deciding on my next steps.
Salary(noun) a fixed regular payment, typically paid on a monthly basis but often expressed as an annual sumYou can earn a pretty good salary as an IT professional, even though it’s a very competitive industry.
Self-employed(adj.) working for oneself as a freelance or the owner of a business rather than for an employerOf course, I would prefer to be self-employed but there are some drawbacks to consider.
Training(noun) the action of teaching a person a particular skillIt’s not something you can just do right away; you have to undergo a training period first.
Wage(noun) a fixed regular payment earned for work or services, typically paid on a daily or weekly basis.The wages aren’t great but I really like the job and that’s more important than money.

The above words could all be useful, but you should try to learn more by reading news articles and other stories about employment, then picking up the words from context. You should also read about the jobs you would like to do and make note of specific vocabulary for describing these.

There’s more work vocabulary in this video:

Sample Band 9 Answer

When I was younger, I dreamed of working in conservation. I know that may sound like an odd thing, but I was obsessed with the natural world at that time and I really just wanted to live my life outdoors in a place where I could see and help lots of animals. I still think about it sometimes and it would be wonderful if I could find a position someday in the future where I could do something like this.

Typically, jobs in conservation range from the basic level at which people may be paid to plant trees, clean up rubbish, or record data to the more advanced levels at which there is real scientific work done. However, there are many other possibilities as it is a large field. I would be happy doing almost anything, but I don’t quite have the qualifications for a scientific post, unfortunately, so I would probably settle for something manual that lets me work outside.

This sort of job could entail tagging animals, mapping forests, cleaning up beaches, or marking trails. I would be happy to do any of those things and to learn whatever skills are necessary. I fully expect that it will involve a period of training and that I would effectively be an intern or apprentice for a while, but that is ok. I think it is important to have the humbling experience of being a beginner at something and learning from scratch.

As such, there are no skills really necessary except a drive to make the world a better place and a willingness to learn. These are things I possess because conservation is my passion and the world desperately needs passionate people right now.

Notes on the Answer

Here are some good phrases that I used:

  • dreamed of working in ___
  • find a position
  • jobs in ____
  • have the qualifications to ___
  • settle for (something)
  • This sort of job could entail ___
  • it will involve a period of training
  • learning from scratch
  • a willingness to learn

You will also note that I started naturally (with a story from my past) and finished naturally by bringing it to a conclusion. These were both tips I recommended in this recent IELTS video lesson: