Job vs Career: Top 3 differences

On the surface, job and career appear to be the same thing. At both, we work in order to earn a living. However there are key differences in areas such as the time investment required for each, the skills needed and so much more.

Below, we break down the differences between job vs career, why you should consider turning a job into a career and give you tips to achieve that. 

Job vs Career: The time investment

One of the major differences between a job and career is how much time one invests in each. A job can be a piece of work or a project that is undertaken for a period of time to achieve given goals. On the other hand, a career consists of a series of interrelated jobs. It is required that someone invests a considerable amount of time, possibly spanning several years to build a career.

It is hard to say just how much time it takes to constitute a career. It is important to keep in mind that the nature of work has changed so much from what it was, say 50 years ago.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to have one or two jobs for the entirety of one’s life. Research today shows that people change their jobs often. Millennials today will have about 12 jobs in their lifetime. They change entire careers as well.

This means that the time one invests in a career is relative. It is possible to have 5 jobs leading up to a 10 year long career for instance before one switches to a new career.

“You can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling.” – Lissa Rankin

Job vs Career: The skills investment

Specialised skills are still required to do a job well but one may not need to invest in training to do a job, particularly if it is a short term position.

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In addition to investing more time with a career, it also requires a bigger skills investment. These may be skills learnt formally or informally. Experiences, education and knowledge from other jobs all come together to make a career. 

One might also invest in further training as their career progresses so that they can bring more value to both themselves and those that benefit from their work.

Job vs Career: Compensation and rewards

We tend to look at rewards and compensation differently when evaluating job vs career. The rewards for a job are usually a salary or simply monetary compensation. When it comes to a career however, rewards may also include health benefits, paid leave and retirement benefits.

Another benefit from pursuing a career is personal fulfilment. A career can entail long term goals that bring a sense of meaning to life.

Rewards in a career may also benefit more than the individual. One may dedicate their career to seeing positive outcomes for a given industry, a section of people or a community.

Reasons to turn a job into a career

It is possible that you are satisfied with the job that you have. Perhaps you are doing it in order to achieve a specific short term goal like earning enough money to buy a car, pay your rent or to take a trip to your dream destination. 

Perhaps due to circumstances, you are unable to invest in a career at the moment but it is advisable to set some goals that can help you transform a job into a career, down the line.

“Even though your time on the job is temporary, if you do a good enough job, your work there will last forever.” ― Idowu Koyenikan

One of the clearest reasons for people to consider a career over a job is financial security. While a job assures you of a steady check, a career puts you in position to build your skills, invest time and increase your earning power.

In a career, you continuously learn more skills and get more qualifications over time. This helps to future proof you against changes in the job market. As jobs change and become obsolete, you will be able to keep up.

A career in an area you are passionate about results in a sense of fulfilment and meaning. Given that we spend an average of a third of our lives at work, being satisfied in your career is good for overall well being.

How to turn a job into a career

Find work you like

The first step to turning a job into a career is to find a job that you actually like. If you have not yet found it, the best way to do it is to try different ones until you zero in on the right one for you. You will also need to put goals in place and make a plan detailing the steps you need to take to reach that goal.

Build your skills

Next, build skills in your chosen area of work. The options to build knowledge and skills today are numerous. You might enrol in a course online, go back to school or seek out an internship. With more skills, you can grow from one position to the next or from one department to another.

Network, network, network!

You will need some help going from job vs career. Network with people in your field to find out how to navigate different job situations, share tips, hear about opportunities and more. A mentor will also come in handy if you are able to find one. However, even in the absence of a mentor, networking at events, even online ones, will be beneficial to you.

In Summary

Work is a necessary part of life. Not just to provide monetary rewards, but to give people a sense of purpose. It is perfectly okay to have one off jobs over the course of your work life but a career can deliver more rewards. If you want to turn the job you have into a career, it is not too late to take calculated steps to make that switch. 

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.