5 Key Differences Between a Career and a Job

Career Path
The word “career” was first used in the 1500s to refer to a street or a road and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it’s still used to signify a “course” or “passage.” Think of your career as the course of your professional life.

Now, consider this: you can have many jobs over your career, you can turn a job into a career and you can also have multiple careers, but some people never have a career. Confused yet?

Here are five ways to tell the difference between a career and a job:

  1. Choice
  2. A job can be offered or given to you, but you make your career. When you need to pay the bills, you need a job for survival or as a means to an end. Rod Stewart was a gravedigger, Sylvester Stalone cleaned lion cages and Jennifer Lopez was a legal assistant before they started on their career paths. Don’t get me wrong — you can still build valuable skills and make important contacts in a job, but many people don’t take advantage of the opportunity because they aren’t motivated to.

    Once you’ve established a career, you choose whether or not to accept a job by determining if it fits in with your career plans and if it helps you reach your career goals. Jobs that you take within a career have a more meaningful purpose than income.

  3. Progress
  4. Picture a roadmap that symbolizes your career. You advance from one place to another because a career provides the opportunity for progress. To help you grow and develop along your path, you often need specialized experience or training.

    Muhammad Ali would never say that he had a “boxing job.” It was his “boxing career” because it took years of training and practice for him to be considered one of the greatest heavyweight champions in the history of American boxing.

  5. Risk
  6. A career is filled with opportunities, but you have to take the leap to capture them. You could find yourself making very little income at times and forced to change your lifestyle or move to a different location, but the sacrifice and risk beget growth.

    On the other hand, a job is more about stability and security. You typically choose a job that provides a regular paycheck because you need it for financial reasons. For example, you may take on a part-time job to pay off your tuition or a summer job to fund your graduation trip to Mexico.

  7. Planning
  8. A career is a long-term commitment. Although you can change careers throughout your life or have multiple careers at the same time, a career still requires planning and goal-setting. You need to determine what further skills you need, invest in training and education and network with the right people. You also need the perseverance and determination to see your career through despite setbacks and obstacles along the way.

  9. Mindset
  10. As the proverb goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Finding a career starts with identifying or searching for your passion because a career is all about cultivating your interests and aspirations. You’re less likely to get tired of or lose interest in your career as you would with a job because you would be putting your talents and skills to use. You’re motivated because your career brings you satisfaction and fulfillment. With a career, you enjoy what you do and have a sense of purpose in life. The best job pays the most, but the best career is the most rewarding.

Are you looking for a career or a job? Why?

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  1. Posted May 25, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Right on, Sam! Another round of helpful tips that I will gladly share ;)

  2. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    You are THE best, Val! Thanks so much for the unending support! =)

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