What’s the Difference Between a Job and a Career? - Penn-Mar

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

Posted on February 18, 2022

Once you’re grown up, you’re expected to work to make money so you can provide for yourself and your family. This allows you to do things like buy a house, pay your bills, travel, and save for anything else you want. However, the type of work you end up doing and your overall work experience can vary significantly. Whether you’re just entering the workforce or you’ve been working for years, at some point you may find yourself asking, “what is the difference between a job and a career?” 

This is a critical question because, while they may seem like the same thing, there are actually several contrasting factors that set them apart. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a job and a career, as well as revealing why the distinction is so important.

The Differences Between a Job and a Career

First, before explaining the differences between a job and a career, it’s worth mentioning that each option is completely viable, depending on what you personally want. It’s up to your individual preferences for which option is best for you. It’s also about your mindset and how you view the work you’re doing.

Perhaps you value being able to move between different types of work or pick up and travel to new areas. Or, maybe you prefer to stay with one company for a long time. It depends on what you ultimately want and what makes you happy.

Now, let’s look at some of the key factors that separate a job from a career:

  • Longevity
    • Job: A job is work you perform in order to earn money to cover your basic needs—food, housing, etc. Jobs can be full-time or part-time, and either be short-term or long-term. However, jobs don’t usually involve a long-term plan or much passion for the work.
    • Career: A career can be thought of as a collection of different jobs that you’ve held over the course of your time in the workforce. Careers often have a clear trajectory that is based on your passions and the work you enjoy doing in the effort to fulfill your professional ambitions and goals. Careers can span your entire professional life, with various jobs acting as stepping stones to move toward your ultimate goal.
  • Pay
    • Job: Jobs often involve hourly wages or set paychecks. Jobs may include benefits, but they are usually not extensive. Jobs may also involve contracts where you are only paid after you’ve completed your work.
    • Career: Throughout a career, you can expect to get pay raises between the various jobs you hold. It’s common for many of those jobs to also include a salary with full benefits, including bonuses and retirement plans.
  • Skills, Education, and Training
    • Job: Some jobs may require specific skills, education, or training, but it is usually not advanced or specialized and isn’t an ongoing learning process.
    • Career: Careers often involve specialized training or education, which is often ongoing throughout your entire career. This allows you to always be working to better yourself and gain new skills to help you advance.
  • Growth and Development
    • Job: Similar to longevity, many employees don’t view jobs as a long-term solution, as many jobs don’t provide room to grow and develop. Jobs often involve duties of completing certain tasks and not much more than that.
    • Career: Careers, on the other hand, involve room for both personal and professional development—whether it’s within a single company or through multiple jobs. Careers are leading you somewhere, while individual jobs are not always doing the same. Careers also involve you caring about what you are doing, taking personal pride in your work, feeling satisfied with what you are accomplishing, and having a sense of self-worth.

So, now that we know a little more about the difference between jobs and careers, why exactly does that information matter?

Why Is the Distinction Between a Job and a Career Important?

The main difference between a job and a career is whether you are doing work just to get by or if you are working toward something more. Around 30% of Americans view the work they do as simply a job to get them by and cover their basic needs. While those jobs may seem okay for now, they are probably not what most of those individuals want to be doing for the rest of their lives.

Working toward a career that allows them to build toward their goals and grow, on the other hand, can help workers be more satisfied and fulfilled. This distinction is important because it can help people to make changes in their lives to do work they enjoy, find opportunities that allow them to grow and develop, and reach their professional goals. It’s never too late to make a change!

Now that you know the differences between a job and a career, you’re ready to get out there and start working toward the career of your dreams! We even hope it’s with us at Penn-Mar Human Services!

At Penn-Mar, our mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives.

If you’re interested in a human services career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! You can also get involved by learning more about our services, making a donation, or signing up to volunteer with us today!

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