I've been stuck trying to find the correct usage of 従業員 (juugyouin), 職人 (shokunin) and 実業家 (jitsugyouka). All of these can mean worker/businessman. I figured that 実業家 is probably referring to a worker/businessman related to the industrial industry. But what if you're a businessman outside of industry? The problem is, I can't use these words correctly in sentences until I know how the Japanese think about these words when they use them, and for which type of worker/businessman they use them for. So if someone can tell me when they would use them in which scenario, I'd appreciate it!

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    In case you are being mislead by jisho entries, I at least recommend a better J-E dictionary, or ideally a J-J dictionary so you get actual definitions rather than poor 1:1 mappings. Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


"Employee" is 従業員 in Japanese. 被雇用者 is also used in strict legal contexts.

The other two are very different.

  • 職人: artisan; craftsman
  • 実業家: entrepreneur; business owner/executive; business person (who has a high position in a company)
  • What about 職員? Just for teachers?
    – Lucas
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 14:24
  • @Lucas 職員 is close to "staff", and it's not limited to teachers. It may be or may not be interchangeable with 従業員.
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 14:31

'従業員' should suffice for 'employee', as far as I can think of.

  • 職人 means craftsmen or skilled workers, those who actually make things (furniture, houses, instruments etc)
  • 実業家 cannot be an employee. The word means those who own business, so chances are that s/he is an employer. (Of course, one can be employed somewhere and starts some business on their own, but s/he will not be called a 実業家 as a member of the company where s/he is employed)

An example of ambiguous case is a person employed in some factory. They can be 職人 and 従業員 at the same time. How to call them simply depends on which aspect of them you have in mind. The worker is a 従業員 if you think of him as a member of the company; he is a 職人 if the particular skills matter. In general 従業員 is more neutral and safer in this case, I think.

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