Job vs Career: Difference Between Job and Career

Have you ever noticed that you ‘apply for a job’ but ‘build a career’? Now, if you switch the words ‘job’ and ‘career’ in those phrases with each other, it won’t sound right, would it? It is because, at its core, both words mean fundamentally different things. 

Imagine a situation: Two friends work as tutors in a coaching centre. One is studying to become a lawyer and simultaneously teaching at the centre to earn an income. For her, this is a job. On the other hand, the second friend wants to become a teacher. He believes that teaching at the coaching centre will be a good working experience to get a start in the profession. For the latter, it is a career. 

In both cases, being a coaching tutor provides them a source of income. The distinction lies in how each views the role- solely as a source of income or a stepping stone to gain experience and further professional growth. Essentially, during one’s career, a person will hold several jobs. If you want to understand the difference between job and career, think of it this way- if a job is one step, then a career is a flight of stairs. 

Are you still at a crossroads when deciding between the words: job vs career? Learn about the difference between job and career to navigate the professional arena like a pro! Let’s begin by breaking down each word. 

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What is a Job?

Assistant Professor, Marketing Consultant, Carpenter, Waiter, Hairdresser, Clerk.

What do they all have in common? They are all jobs. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a job is “the regular work that a person does to earn money.” But don’t confuse the job with its associated work. Here lies the difference between job and work: you perform activities or tasks (work) as part of your role (job) to achieve particular results or goals. While some jobs require you to have specific skills, apprenticeship, training, and/or degree, other jobs don’t. Whether part-time or full-time, a person is guaranteed hourly wages or a fixed salary for their job- this is the primary motive. The job might require physical or mental labour to complete assigned tasks and responsibilities. 

Put simply, a job is a formal or informal contract between an employer and an employee for a certain period. Generally, the duration of a job is short, and a person usually has many jobs in their lifetime. During the course of employment, employees pick up valuable skills and experience associated with their jobs that may help them in long-term career growth. So, what exactly is a career?

What is a Career?

Are you in a specific profession for the long haul? Do you have long-term aspirations and goals in a particular field? Do you care more about your interest and passion than your income when job hunting?

If your answer to all the above questions is a resounding yes, then you are actively trying to build a career. 

A career is one’s lifetime (or long-term) professional journey in a given profession or occupation. A mechanic, a doctor, a chef, an engineer- all of them may choose to be in their distinct professions for a long time. The first and most crucial step is deciding the career you want to embark on. Once a career path is selected, you will likely need formal education, training, and/or experience to start your journey. 

One can continuously advance their career by expanding their expertise, knowledge, skills, training, and network. For example, you can start as a part-time tutor in a coaching centre and advance to become a professor at a renowned university. A person usually undertakes more than one job during their career. With each job switch, you can expect to climb higher up your career ladder with better pay and benefits. However, it’s not simply collecting a paycheck or perks that drive them. Passions, interests, goals, and ambitions take the front seat in most career choices. 

Now that we better understand the words let’s look more closely at the difference between job and career

Job vs Career

People generally find it challenging to spot the difference between job and career. But we have your back. 

Here is a list of differences between a job and a career that will clearly distinguish them and help you with their correct usage. 

A job is a regular work or activity undertaken to earn a wage or salary. A career is a long-term professional journey to pursue one’s goals, ambitions, or passions. 
A job is a short-term endeavour. A career is a long-term endeavour. 
A job may or may not require special or formal training, education, experience, or skillsets.  A career commonly requires special education, training, experience, or skillsets.
The primary goal is to make a living. The primary goal is career advancement to achieve professional goals and ambitions. 
A job provides short-term financial security. A career offers long-term financial security with scope for betterment.
When jobs are unrelated, they have little or no impact on your future applications. A career comprises multiple related jobs and has an impact on future applications. 
A job can become obsolete with changing technology and advancement.  A career can adapt to changing technology and advancement.
Jobs are easy to change. Careers are comparatively more difficult to change.
Networking is not essential. Networking is essential. 

Relationship between Job and Career

Now that we have highlighted the difference between job and career, it’s time to look at their relationship. 

Career encompasses a series of jobs

The journey from an entry-level job as a paid law intern to the seat of a High Court judge consists of a series of jobs that carries an individual up the career ladder. A career is built on numerous related and unrelated short-term jobs. So keep your eyes open to the opportunities that your jobs present.

Jobs help in career advancement

With each job, you can learn new or hone old skills, knowledge, and learnings. Every job has something to offer in advancing your career if you integrate the skills, knowledge, and experience into future opportunities. For example, you might wonder how working as a minimum-wage part-time store cashier can help you become a CEO. It’s simple. A customer-facing role as a cashier can help you learn about people (customer) management, problem resolution, time management, and much more. 

Jobs help you build networks 

You are constantly meeting and interacting with people, old and new, through your job. Whether they are colleagues, clients, potential clients, or people from the same or related industry, a job is vital for building networks. Networking with the right people in your field can open up career opportunities that would be otherwise unreachable. You hear about new job openings, gain new knowledge, learn about emerging skills and advancements in the field, and open up to beneficial collaborations. When its potential is optimised, networking is a valuable skill in advancing a career. 

Jobs open you up to new and emerging career opportunities

Jobs give you the liberty to explore new occupations, work, and professions that you may not have considered. It opens up new possibilities, passions, and interests. Moreover, new jobs are constantly emerging with changing times. You can experiment with and experience new arenas and avenues without a long-term commitment. As a result, one can venture into exciting and adventurous career paths by assessing the risk before jumping into it headlong. 

Job provides financial security to pursue a career

An income first secures one’s needs and then fulfils their wants. It can be used to upskill, access new knowledge, buy tools and equipment, and participate in activities and events that can help one advance their career. For example, an engineer can use a part of his paycheck to learn a new programming language by enrolling in an online course. 

Career safeguards your job opportunities

Jobs may become obsolete, but careers are more resilient. Careers combine your experiences, knowledge, and skill, which are transferable to other jobs. So even if one job was to become obsolete due to rapid transformation in technology, industry, or society, you could still get a job based on your career path. For example, when a specific programming language goes out of use, the software engineer can still find a job in the industry as their career acts as a safety net. 

Career offers job satisfaction

Usually, interests and passion drive one’s career choice. Following a career of your choice means that you will never work a day in your life. Your job will be fulfilling and satisfying because it supports your goals and ambitions. You are not simply working for an employer and a paycheck; you are working towards making your dreams come true. A career you are passionate about can give you a sense of pride, purpose, and identity through your job. It all adds up to job satisfaction. 

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Words have immense power. And with this power comes the responsibility to use them correctly. However, some of the most commonly used words appear to carry the same meaning even though they are not interchangeable. The correct usage of job vs career is one such predicament most professionals encounter at some point in their lives. Their interconnection is undeniable, but the difference between job and career are clear. 

If you are gearing toward building a career you love, then look no further. 

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