How do you differentiate between a job and a career?
Both involve working for money. But it’s not about how much you make, what you do, or how long you work.
The distinction may be subtle, but it makes a huge difference.
Difference Between a Job and a Career
According to dictionaries, a job is work you do for money, plain and simple. A career is usually a long-term position involving learning and progress.
The best way to know the difference is to work in both positions. Let’s compare and see what each one is about.
Jobs are generally only about the money. You do what they tell you to do, you get paid, the end. You don’t need to question the company vision nor understand why you’re doing it.
As a result, you don’t learn a lot. Yes, you’re making good money, but it’s not enough to make your job feel interesting.
A career is a professional process, meaning it may involve multiple roles and mini-jobs.
The goal is to make money and learn about the industry. But careers also offer you benefits such as stock options, retirement plans (employer matching), pensions, and other bonuses.
Job vs. Career – Which One To Choose
If you just want to make a quick buck, you don’t need to think much: get a job. Any of them.
But when you’re deciding what to do with your life, you’re choosing a career. You can still have a part-time job, but the priority is to support your profession.
We often believe that a professional position must be high-paying, difficult, and not very fun. But what makes careers desirable is:
- You get paid for it
- You do something you enjoy
- You’re good at it
If you Google “how to find your passion,” you’ll find the same three conditions.
So what are the differences?
What’s the purpose?
In a job, employers hire you because you’re willing to do what they say for a price. There’s no room for anything else.
They generally don’t care about how you can “add more value to the company.” As long as you meet the objective, you’re good. And if you do some extra work they didn’t ask for, they have no obligation to pay you.
Due to the lack of vision, it’s easy to feel like an outsider. Ironically, the big corporations work on their goals the most, yet their employees feel disengaged. Because they don’t feel empowered or relevant in their environment.
You can be a skilled worker and still lose your job because it depends on external factors. If the company decides to cut off expenses or goes out of business, you’re in the same boat.
You get some promotions from time to time. But your job will likely stay the same for decades. It doesn’t matter how hard you work.
But what about careers? Things change.
Here, people typically see themselves as part of a team. And whatever is good for the team is good for you.
Not only you get paid to do something. You also understand why you’re doing it. And if you don’t like something, you comment on that and suggest something better. Your voice matters.
It may be tedious at first. But once you do some basic tasks for the company, you gradually get more freedom to do the type of work you enjoy. This way, the employer knows they will keep your interest and productivity high.
While you work on their vision, you’ll likely progress in your vision as well. One thing you don’t see in jobs is that, in a career, people want you to succeed. They want you to give more value, earn more, and eventually achieve financial freedom.
What does it symbolize?
Your career symbolizes your professional potential and your dreams about the future. This creates a positive expectation, which makes your work look more FUN and meaningful.
It’s hard sometimes to appreciate what we have, even if we get paid to work on our passions. The way you keep yourself focused is with big goals. And because it’s skill-based, there’s no limit to how high you can aim.
In a job, such motivations don’t exist. All it symbolizes is your money reward. It’s something you “have to do” (and probably don’t like) in order to do something else (the thing you want).
What’s the main requirement?
One thing we all hate about jobs is time. It takes too long to get paid, even if you try to speed it up.
Think of hourly jobs. No matter how hard you work, you’ll only get paid for your hours. Which isn’t bad, except when they’re underpaying for your time.
Whether you charge by hours or results, full-time or part-time, jobs are all about time. You trade hours for dollars.
Some people hate them so much that they’d rather beg on the streets.
Jobs barely require any skills (e.g., flipping burgers), which makes it easy to apply. As for the compensation, it leaves a lot to be desired.
As for careers, you still trade time like everyone else. BUT you control how much time you put, which is satisfying.
- Do you think you’re working for too long? Work faster and get paid the same (actually, some people will pay an extra for early delivery). Nobody tells you how long to work.
- Do you want to make your career more profitable? Improve your skills to charge more, or pick projects you’re good at, so it takes less time to finish.
- With experience, you’re improving at your skills and building your work portfolio.
- If you work for different companies, you decide which one you enjoy the most. You can work at the pace you want.
There’s a lot of room for improvement. When your career involves high-demand skills, you could earn six figures a year potentially. You don’t need to grind ten hours a day, and you may not need a degree.
Jobs are about working, and careers are about working smarter. You make more money by upgrading skills and boosting your productivity.
How do you approach it?
When something is important enough, you’d rather do that all the time than do anything else. And the reason you devote so much is because:
- You have big goals and believe you can achieve them
- You want to do the most you can
Typically, job employees will try to do the bare minimum and procrastinate on their tasks. They count the minutes left to go home and rush through work on Friday mornings.
But when you’re passionate about your career, you don’t mind spending “five minutes more” to get further on your projects. You don’t mind working on weekends, and you don’t wait until Monday to start.
In a job, you’ll pick the easiest task and delay it until the very last moment. In a career, you get excited about the most challenging goals. And you want to work on them first thing in the morning.
Jobs VS Careers in a Nutshell
It may seem like one is better than the other, but both of them are essential. That’s why they say jobs are temporary and careers last many decades, if not forever.
If you’re in a job, there’s no reason for you to be there other than money. Maybe you fantasize about your dream career, or what it would be like to quit. You’re waiting to live your real life.
If you’re already working on your career, your real life is here.
People may use both terms interchangeably. For us, it’s the reason we wake up in the morning.