A-Z Popular Blog Economics Search »

5 Examples of Gainful Employment

Gainful employment is stable employment that offers discretionary income and reasonable working conditions. This is a legal term, particularly in the United States, where it may be used to judge things like eligibility for disability benefits. The following are basic examples of gainful employment.

Disposable Income

Gainful employment implies that an employee makes more than a living wage that covers their basic month-to-month expenses. In other words, the employee generates discretionary income such that they have extra income each month that they can save or spend or non-essential items such as a vacation. Discretionary income is also the defining characteristic of the middle class. As such, gainful employment implies that you make enough to be considered middle class or higher in the place you live.

Working Conditions

Gainful employment implies reasonable working conditions such as a safe, clean, healthy and professional environment and a role that doesn't involve excessive physical demands or mental stress.


Gainful employment implies regular hours and some level of job security. For example, a temporary or freelance position often wouldn't be considered gainful employment. An exception would be a freelancer with extensive opportunities and a track record of earning a stable income.


Gainful employment implies a normal level of risk to the employee including things like financial risk, safety and health risks. For example, a job that requires the employee to invest heavily in a small business that has a high chance of failure isn't gainful employment.

Career Path

Employment that builds or maintains marketable skills such that the employee can reasonably expect to find employment with another employer in the future. For example, professional boxing isn't gainful employment because it isn't something that is likely to be sustainable over the course of your career.
Overview: Gainful Employment
Stable employment that offers discretionary income and reasonable working conditions.
Related Concepts

Labor Economics

This is the complete list of articles we have written about labor economics.
Cultural Capital
Gainful Employment
Human Capital
Labor Intensive
Upward Mobility
More ...
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.

Labor Economics

An overview of labor economics with examples.

Upward Mobility

The definition of upward mobility with examples of factors that contribute to it.

World Income Distribution

A simple metric of income distribution with data.

Competitive Market Examples

An overview of competitive markets with examples.

Capitalism Examples

An overview of capitalism with examples.

Externality Example

An overview of externalities with examples.

Economic Outcomes

A list of common economic outcomes.

Career Planning

A guide to career planning.

Professional Development Goals

A list of common professional development goals with examples.


A list of common professions.

Interview Weaknesses

A list of common professional weaknesses that can be used to answer interview questions related to your weaknesses.

Employment References

The common types of employment reference.


The basic types of human productivity.

Career Examples

A list of common careers.

Professional Image

An overview of professional image with examples.

Work Achievements

Examples of work achievements that are measurable and specific.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map