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Job Jargon Definitions & Meaning

Last updated January 31, 2023

Starting a first job can feel exciting and daunting for a bunch of reasons. One of the reasons for confusion is that there is so much jargon that comes with a new job. “Jargon” is a set of words that are specific to a certain topic. For example, if you play basketball, you likely know what free throws, slam dunks, and shooting percentages are. When you get a job, you’ll find words and acronyms like PTO, benefits, and W4s. What do they mean? Have no fear - we'll break them down for you!

Deciphering your paycheck and pay stub

Most of the jargon you will find will be on your paycheck and your pay stub. Read here to learn how to understand your paycheck or pay stub.

Human Resources (HR)

The Human Resources or “HR Department" is there to look out for the well-being of all employees at the organization. This includes overseeing the entire employee life cycle: recruitment, hiring, onboarding new employees, training, employee benefits, and professional development. Learn more here about what the HR department is and what it does.

Paid time off (PTO) and unpaid time off (UTO)

Employers must have policies in place for when employees need to miss work for various reasons. We often think of these in terms of sick days, vacation days, or other types of leave like parental leave, or even jury duty. Your employer should have a policy for PTO, or paid time off. This is a term that may include all of the different reasons for missing work. Be sure to ask your HR representative about the company’s PTO policy and what applies to your position. Your employer also may offer UTO, or unpaid time off. This may be time that you are allowed to miss work for a while and not lose your job, but you will not be paid for that time.


The term "benefits" at a job usually pertains to things like medical and dental insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance. Depending on your company, you may have other benefits to take advantage of like tuition support or discounts on products. It's important to note that part-time employees at most jobs are not eligible for benefits, but be sure to check in with your HR department to make sure.


A W-4 is a tax form that you will fill out with your HR representative when you start your job. Basically, this form will determine how much money in federal taxes will be withheld from your paycheck. If you make under $12,000 per year, you will not end up owing any federal taxes, but be sure to work with your HR representative to fill this out in the best way possible for your situation.


A W-2 is a tax form that you will receive from your employer at the end of the year. This is the primary form that you will use to file your taxes. If you have more than one job in the year, you should receive multiple W-2 forms from each employer. Need some help understanding how taxes work? Check out our guide to filing your taxes

 It will likely take some time to understand the new lingo in your job. There are so many acronyms and terms that might leave you feeling confused. Don’t worry! Ask questions, ask multiple times if you need to, and know that Get Schooled is always here to answer any more questions. Be sure to text #Jobs to 33-55-77 and one of our trained job advisors will help you out with your specific questions! 

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