Job vs. Career: What Are the Key Differences?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 August 2022 | Published 13 December 2021

Updated 24 August 2022

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

You may hear the terms job and career used interchangeably, but there are some important differences between the two. In a career, you can focus on your professional journey and achieve the goals you want, where a job is a specific position you have. When planning your professional goals, it's important to know the difference between a job and a career. In this article, we explore the differences between a job and a career and explain how you can advance your career.

Job vs. career

If you're starting on your professional journey, you may want to know the differences between a job vs. a career. A job is a position in a company that you hold to earn money. It's less focused on your overall achievements and more on the present time of supporting yourself financially. They're typically more short term. Careers support your lifestyle while helping you achieve your ambitions and goals. Careers can be more long term. Here are some of the key differences between a job and a career:

What is a job?

A job is the work that you do to earn a salary to support your basic needs and wants. Jobs are typically full-time or part-time and can be a short-term position of a few years or less. A job usually consists of an hourly wage. Some jobs don't need experience or previous training and expect you to perform in your duties for regular payment.

Related: 18 Future In-Demand Jobs (With Primary Duties and Salaries)

What is a career?

A career is a long-term journey in your professional life that you prepare for depending on your passions. A career is a path you choose to achieve your lifelong goals and ambitions. It may require sufficient education and training to achieve them. If you're pursuing a career, you're typically looking for a position with a consistent salary and benefits like medical plans or bonuses. A good career frequently includes other benefits like work satisfaction, professional development and growth. People who embark on a career may do so for a long term and it may comprise multiple jobs throughout the career.

Related: 10 Steps for How to Make a Career Change (With Roles)

Differences between a job and a career

Here are some differences between having a job and a career:

  • Benefits: A job may or may not have long-term benefits. In a career, it's more likely to have benefits like paid time off, medical and dental coverage, health insurance, stock options or professional training.

  • Education: A job may not require education and can be an entry-level job which doesn't require previous experience, while a career may require more education and training.

  • Hours: A job typically has a less predictable schedule where you work hourly, while in a career, you have a set of regular hours and get paid a regular monthly salary.

  • Intention: People often get a job with the sole intention of earning money, while in a career, you work towards your professional goals and dreams based on your passion and talents while earning money.

  • Goals: Jobs usually focus on short-term goals, while careers focus on long-term goals.

  • Skills: In a job, you may learn valuable skills that can help you get a career, while in a career, you may already have skills you can develop throughout it.

  • Position: In a job, you typically work in an entry-level position to earn money. In a career, you may advance into different roles and may oversee others with jobs and develop and coach them.

  • Responsibilities: People in jobs have a few set responsibilities to work and focus on, while in career, you may have a wide range of responsibilities and tasks to fulfil daily.

Related: 15 Top Business Skills and How to Develop Them for Your Career

How does a job contribute to your career?

In a job, you may not have as many responsibilities and duties, but your jobs can lead to a career you may grow to love and keep throughout your life. Even if you may not have a career path set out for you yet, you can put in a lot of effort in your jobs since they can contribute to your career in many ways. Here are some ways your job can contribute to your career:

Jobs can make up your career

A career usually comprises the multiple jobs you've worked throughout the years, whether they're related to each other. You may be working in the same job at a company over a long period, or work different jobs in various organisations over time. All the different jobs that you work through your life can define your career and provide you with more opportunities to grow in your industry. These jobs are ways to help you achieve your long-term goals.

Jobs help you learn in your career

All the jobs you have throughout your career helps you learn lessons you can apply in future jobs you have. You can learn different skills and gain knowledge through your experiences in your jobs. For example, working in a restaurant as a waitress can teach you good customer service skills and communication skills. Other jobs may help to contribute to other skills like interpersonal skills, time management, patience or perseverance.

Hard work in your jobs can lead to a career

No matter what job you're working in, it's always good to work hard in it since it can affect your career in positive ways. You can try doing more than the bare minimum in your job, or keep a positive mindset and show that you're willing to learn. Your employers may see these good qualities in you and be a good reference point for you when you apply for future jobs.

How to turn your job into a career

If you're looking to turn your job into a career, here are some steps you can take to make it happen:

1. Get a mentor

Finding a mentor is usually useful to help you turn your current job into a career. A mentor can be someone in your current job who has a higher position in your field, such as a supervisor or manager. A mentor can also be someone who you aspire to be like one day. When seeking advice from your mentor, ask them for times on how they got to where they are and what steps they took and show them your goals. You can also consider asking them for ways you can develop your job into a career. A mentor can also offer you good connections and recommendations to start your career.

Related: Career Goals: How to Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

2. Ask for more responsibilities in your role

After being at your job for a period, you can start asking your employer for more tasks to give you a challenge at work. When you ask for more responsibilities, it shows your employer that you're willing to learn and want to advance to the next step in your career. More responsibilities in your role can also come with a higher salary, since your employer may notice that you're taking on more roles and want to reimburse you for it. These additional responsibilities can provide you with opportunities to advance the career ladder and grow in your career.

3. Advance your education

When you get high levels of education, you may usually get more job opportunities as well. Employers who are looking for senior-level employees usually look out for those with more years of experience or a higher education level.

If you have a diploma in your field, it may be worth looking into getting a bachelor's degree or even a master's degree when you have the opportunity too. If your employer offers to sponsor your education, you can take the chance to study as well. Another option is to look for online or night courses you can take while working a full-time job.

4. Expand your professional network

When working in your different jobs, it can be a good idea to create professional connections. You can keep in contact with ex-colleagues and connect with them if they have any opportunities for you. Another good way to expand your network is to attend workshops, seminars, networking events or conferences.

All these events and activities are good ways for you to meet other professionals within the same industry. You can ask for their contact and follow up with them through a cup of coffee or creating a friendship. The more people you know within your field, the more changes you have in receiving new opportunities from them too.

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