What does it mean to:

Go into industry

I have met dubious amounts of people throughout my career and at one point or another they have said they left industry or are going into industry. What is the "industry" in this context?

Update: What does it mean in the context of a consulting firm?

  • Thanks @Dukeling. I thought my question was solid enough, but didn't realize there would be a variety of answers. I've updated my question.
    – Michael
    Oct 20 '17 at 12:54
  • Did you have any idea where these people worked, the nature of the business or what they did?
    – user8365
    Oct 20 '17 at 14:24
  • Private sector, basically. It's a common expression in both academic and government circles in the UK. Oct 23 '17 at 16:15

It's often in contrast to academia. You can either "go (in)to industry" or "go into academia". Industry would be things like starting your own company or working for someone else's company, or freelancing. Academia would be further education, research, teaching, and so on.

  • 2
    Another meaning besides academia is government. That is typically not considered "industry".
    – mikeazo
    Oct 20 '17 at 12:51
  • @mikeazo I think that depends on what you are doing. As a software engineer, I would consider myself going into industry even if I was employed by a government agency. Perhaps if you go into elected or appointed government positions it would be different, though. Oct 20 '17 at 12:54
  • No one I know, software engineer, etc. That is a government employee (not contractor) considers themselves "in industry". This is a US perspective. In the US in particular, government is not allowed to compete with "industry".
    – mikeazo
    Oct 20 '17 at 14:32

Besides academia I have seen it used when somebody goes from government/military and they move to a company. That company could be a contractor or it could be one even farther removed from the government.


In that context industry just means a field of work. So when I was planting pine, I was in the forestry industry. Now I'm in the IT industry.

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