22 Commonly Confused Job Titles

Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Many jobs have similar-sounding names, which can lead to confusion. Type in "ornithologist" when you meant to search the Web for an orthodontist and you'll find someone who can identify the bird in your yard, but not help with an overbite. Here are some other occupational mix-ups:

1. Aesthetician vs. anesthetist

Aesthetician (also spelled esthetician) Laurie Neronha of Rhode Island is used to people asking what hospital she works at -- even though she is not in the health care industry. "I do not put people out, unless they get really relaxed!" Neronha jokes. As a licensed skin-care professional, she gives facials, peels and other treatments.

Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, on the other hand, are medical professionals trained to administer anesthesia.

-- Find Aesthetician Jobs

-- Find Anesthesiologists Jobs

2. Optometrist vs. ophthalmologist vs. optician

Speaking of people in the health-care industry, who do you go to when you need new glasses? Most of the time that would be an optometrist -- a person with a doctor of optometry degree who examines people's eyes to diagnose vision problems and prescribe corrective treatment.

An ophthalmologist can do these things too, but these licensed physicians are better known for treating eye diseases and injuries and performing surgery. An optician is the person who fits and adjusts eyeglasses.

-- Find Optometrist Jobs

-- Find Ophthalmologist Jobs

3. Psychiatrist vs. psychologist

Like the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist, a medical degree is one of the primary things distinguishing a psychiatrist from a psychologist.

Both professionals are concerned with mental health and can have an individual practice or be employed by an organization. Depending on their focus, both may do research, conduct psychological testing or see patients for therapy sessions. In all but a few states, however, only psychiatrists can prescribe drugs.

-- Find Psychiatrist Jobs

-- Find Psychologist Jobs

4. Athletic trainer vs. personal trainer

Myke Triebold of Niceville, Fla., wishes that people would have a better understanding of what it takes to be an athletic trainer. "I graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education. I then returned as a graduate student to complete my training as a certified athletic trainer."

While her duties include "complete oversight of the medical needs of athletic teams, including being the first on the scene for injuries, injury evaluation and physical rehabilitation," people often assume she does the same thing as a personal trainer -- someone who works with individuals or small groups to help them reach fitness goals.

-- Find Athletic Trainer Jobs

-- Find Personal Trainer Jobs

5. Sociologist vs. social worker

"Social workers often work with individuals to help them overcome problems in their lives. In contrast, sociologists often study the social forces that give rise to so many people in society having all kinds of social problems," says Tim Madigan, associate professor of sociology at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Penn.

Because they work with the public in such an intimate way -- doing everything from advocacy to interventions -- states have various licensing requirements for social workers. Sociologists traditionally hold academic degrees and often use their keen observation and interpretation skills in fields such as research, marketing, public policy and education.

-- Find Social Worker Jobs

-- Find Sociologist Jobs

6. Information architect vs. architect

Both jobs have concerns about order and structure, but unlike architects, you won't find an information architect designing any houses or buildings. Instead, information architects specialize in the design and construction of shared information environments. They make digital content (such as software and websites) easier and better to use.

-- Find Architect Jobs

-- Find Information Architect Jobs

7. Genealogist vs. geologist vs. gynecologist

Poor Janice Sellers. This professional genealogist from Oakland, Calif., says she has been mistaken for a geologist (someone who studies Earth's materials) as well as for a gynecologist (a physician specializing in the female reproductive system). She is actually someone who researches family history.

-- Find Genealogist Jobs

-- Find Geologist Jobs

-- Find Gynecologist Jobs

8. Copywriter vs. copyright lawyer

Nichole Bazemore of Atlanta, Ga., also has had her share of title confusion. "I'm a copywriter -- a person who writes sales and marketing copy. You can't imagine how many people say, upon hearing that, 'Oh, I plan to publish a book next year and I'll need a good copyright lawyer.'" (They may indeed need a copyright lawyer, as that is a person who can help with establishing ownership of creative works -- just don't call Bazemore.)

-- Find Copywriter Jobs

-- Find Copyright Lawyer Jobs

9. Publisher vs. publicist

Aspiring writers also may want to be sure to know the difference between a publisher (a person in the business of publishing books or other material) and a publicist (a person hired to help a client get media attention).

-- Find Publisher Jobs

-- Find Publicist Jobs

10. Ghostwriter vs. writer of ghost stories

One last mistake from the editorial world: When freelance writer Cynthia MacGregor of Palm Springs, Fla., advertises her services as a ghostwriter some people take the "ghost" part the wrong way. "I've been approached by people who think I am looking for stories to write about haunted houses and the like," MacGregor states. A ghostwriter is actually someone paid to write for someone else under that person's name.

-- Find Ghostwriter Jobs

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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It's like calling an Interior Designer an Interior Decorator and vice versa... again, the difference is a degree & certification.

September 15 2011 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Back when I was an archeologist, I was always having people ask me what kind of dinosaurs I'd found. I had to explain that paleontologists study dinosaurs (to simplify), and that archeologists were focused on ancient human/homonid culture (to simplify). My bf who spent a lot of time studying astronomy kept having people ask him the differences between star signs, not understanding the difference between astronomy and astrology.

January 20 2011 at 9:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here is another really big one-and it disturbs many who studied long and hard for the piece of paper and subsequent, certified title of initials behind their name-a state license or registration. These days anyone who works in a doctor's office calls themself a nurse-in reality, these girls are just medical assistants or clerks referring to themselves as something they are not, bilking the public out of responsible advice. If you're not an RN or LPN, you are NOT A NURSE. Period.

January 20 2011 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr Ron Grassi

You left out the difference between the terms. Chiropractor & Chiropodist. A Chiropractor is a licensed primary health care provider with plenary diagnostic authority to treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions of the entire human body. A Chiropodist is a Foot Doctor or Podiatrist. Patients confuse these terms all the time. Dr Ron. Jupiter, Florida.

January 20 2011 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dr Ron Grassi's comment
Beverly Canedo, RN

Your definition is an overstatement. Chiropractors aren't primary healthcare professionals, and you cannot prescribe most medications. The biggest misinformation is when you call a medical office and they put you through to a "nurse", who is RARELY a nurse, but someone trained as a medical practice technician, resulting in most of the error, discrepancies and audits today in medical practices.

January 20 2011 at 8:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NO. A chiropractor is a not qualified to treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions of the entire human body. Chiropractors claim all sorts of things they can treat simply by manipualting the spine, for which there is no scientific basis whatsoever.

January 20 2011 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

10. Democrat VS Republican

Nothing, They are Both Useless!!

January 20 2011 at 7:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Flinn

Not the most assinine article I've ever read; but probably in the top ten.

January 20 2011 at 6:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who the heck confuses a gynecologist with a geologist? (Potential joke there, I'm sure) This must be the dumbest article I've ever read on AOL.

January 20 2011 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to a's comment

I guess that means I shouldn't have let my geologist do my pap smear.

January 20 2011 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, I've never confused those terms. How on earth was this list compiled? I'm wondering if it's true confessions by the author or just made up.

January 20 2011 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrsvonii's comment

Wow, is right. I have trouble understanding where some of the names are confusing. I am usually smarter than the average person, I guess that's why this list is stupid to me too. I knew what all of those professions were.

January 20 2011 at 6:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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