A bit of everything HR!
Sunday 14 Apr 2019

What’s the Difference Between a Job and a Career?

Job or career – the two terms are often used interchangeably to describe work. However, they are actually very different. Whether you are a candidate seeking employment or an organization looking to hire, you need to understand what these terms mean and how to properly define them.

So what’s the difference? In simple terms, if life were a video game, a job would be just one level. Committing to a career means an employee is dedicated to playing the game, increasing their skills over time to advance to higher levels.


What is a Career?

A career is a fulfilling profession that someone does for a long period of time. Unlike a job, which can be fleeting, a career develops your professional growth over a long period of time.

A career is something you are passionate about, and it requires planning and goals. Additionally a career has a structured upward progression. Your career is the culmination of the various jobs, experience, certifications, training, and education that allows you to climb the professional ladder. A career has a clearly defined long-term path that will help you to achieve your professional dreams.

The real difference between a job and a career lies in the heart of the employee. People who strive to form a career are constantly thinking about their long-term goals. They are also always thinking about what they can do in the present to make those goals happen in the future.

Characteristics of a career:

  • Long-term opportunities
  • Provides professional growth
  • Provides experience
  • Provides a paycheck or salary with the opportunity for financial growth
  • Aligns with your values
  • Is a journey where you seek to move up the organizational ladder


What is a Job?

A job can be defined as the work a person does regularly in order to earn income. A job is typically a form of short term employment. A job requires varying types of experience for a paycheck. Essentially, the jobs you have throughout your lifetime will add up to the experience you use to establish your career.

Since most jobs are for shorter durations of time, they provide an excellent way to test the waters to see what you like doing. However, a job may not be as fulfilling as a career.

Characteristics of a job:

  • Short-term opportunities
  • Low career growth
  • Provides minimal experience
  • Provides a paycheck with minimal opportunity for financial growth
  • May not align with your values


Initially, job seekers must work hard for little money. It can take a few years to earn a larger paycheck. While these lower-level jobs can lead to great opportunities and additional experience, they rarely lead to advancement within the workplace.


Differences in Education

One of the major differences between a job and a career is the amount of education and experience required to obtain a position. Typically, a career requires some sort of formal education. Whereas, jobs may not have specific educational requirements. For example, if you wanted to enter a career as a healthcare professional, you’ll most likely need a degree. On the other hand, if you want to hold a job in retail sales, there may not be formal educational requirements.


Differences in Fulfillment

A career brings fulfillment, whereas a job may simply provide a means to an end. For example, someone may take a job to pay their bills, reduce their debt, or to increase their savings. A career is generally a profession we choose to bring a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, or advancement.

Aside from earning a paycheck, a career provides meaning in the work you complete. While you will make money in your chosen career, the satisfaction you’ll get from completing your daily responsibilities can be just as fulfilling as the financial gain.


Differences in Advancement

When considering a career, it’s important to think about what you want for your future. It’s always a good idea to start by deciding which position you would eventually like. This will help you understand what you need to do to accomplish your goals.

A career provides a greater opportunity for growth and advancement than a job. This isn’t to say you can’t advance in a job. However, with a job, you may find that you are dedicating more time and effort towards your daily tasks than towards your goals and advancement potential.


How to Find a Career

If you don’t know what type of career you’d like or you’re unsure how to begin your chosen career path, you have options. Many schools offer career services to help individuals discover what profession will fulfill you both personally and professionally.

If you have an idea of the kind of work you’d like to do, consider obtaining a part-time job or internship in your chosen field. You’ll be able to use this experience and knowledge on your path to success. With time, dedication, and a plan – you’ll be able to achieve your professional career goals.