Most Venezuelans work in the commerce, construction, manufacturing or service industries, or as professionals such as doctors or lawyers. Only about 15% of Venezuelans work as farmers and that number is decreasing. The government employs about 5% of the workforce.

 Venezuela's most important industries are oil refining, food processing, tourism and textile manufacturing. Although oil accounts for up 80% of Venezuela's exports, the oil industry employs less than 2% of the labour force. Nevertheless, the health of the overall Venezuelan economy depends heavily on the worldwide price of oil. The country has many other important natural resources, including iron, coal, bauxite and gold.

About 20% of Venezuelans are members of trade unions. The largest trade union is the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, which has more than a million members. Trade unions have campaigned for better working conditions. Most workers in large manufacturing companies begin their days at 8 a.m. and have two hours off for lunch. They usually have a 40-hour work week and receive extra money for working overtime.
   Did you know?
Venezuela was one of the founding members of OPEC. This organization helps to set the worldwide price of oil and the quantities of oil refined and sold by each country. 
However, partly because of the drop in the price of oil, many people are working in the informal sector of the economy, which is not controlled by labour laws. These people often work longer hours in unsafe working conditions. It is increasingly difficult to make ends meet in Venezuela. The devaluation of the bolívar and the rate of inflation can make it difficult for families to buy necessities.

 Although women play an important role in the Venezuelan economy and many have full-time jobs, most managerial positions are still held by men. Women are trying to get more recognition for their work. There are regional differences in the kinds of work that Venezuelans do. Many of the people who live in the mountainous regions of Venezuela work on farms, which can be located at high altitudes. Some of the most common crops are coffee, corn, sugar, rice and cotton. In the Llanos region, many people work on cattle ranches.

Some of the indigenous peoples of Venezuela have maintained their traditional way of life. For instance, many Wayuu people work as merchants. Many Yanomami people hunt and fish for their livelihood.
   Did you know?
It is thought that Carib people discovered oil and that Spanish explorers found them using oil when they arrived in Venezuela. However, oil was not a major part of the economy until the beginning of the 20th century.