What’s The Difference Between A Job And A Career?

Do you want to know the difference between a job and a career? Isn’t it just the same thing? Here’s my take on the matter. 

A job and a career are often used in the same sentence. Both are related to a person’s source of income and how they plan to build their futures. But despite their similarities, they are very different. 

Though a job and a career both allow us to earn money to support our daily needs, they are very different. They may be related, but there are key differences between each of them that provide an additional boost to your overall goals and plans in life. And knowing this may be the X-factor to reach your ultimate goal of financial freedom and early retirement in life.

What Is The Difference Between A Job And A Career?

To get this out of the way first, what is a job, and what is a career?

A job is something you do to earn money. Oftentimes, the work doesn’t interest you, and you don’t care about making steps forward. A career is a series of job opportunities. You build up skills that make you more valuable at work and make sure that you get higher pay over time.

In a couple of years, you’ll probably still do the same job. With a job, you just want some quick cash. With a career, you aim for higher opportunities over time. In a couple of years, you’ll do something similar but with more responsibilities and opportunities. 

With a career, you can use your experience going forward in other opportunities. You can network with your colleagues because you’ll still be in the same field in a couple of years.

Why You Should Always Do Your Best

Even though there is this distinction between a job and a career, it is important to me that I always do my best. 


Well, I didn’t do my best at a job, and it did not turn out the way I wanted it to.

While in university, I was working a reception job. Just sitting at the reception desk 2 days a week is quite an easy job. I chatted with a lot of people; what else is there to do when you sit at a reception desk, right?

I never asked for extra to-dos or extra tasks. I was just having a good time doing my job.

My colleague, on the other hand, was helping the secretary at times. Just by doing small tasks like printing and administrative tasks. She was also helping other people in the department and was very proactive.

A couple of months later, a couple of positions opened up where you were offered double the pay to coordinate some events at the university. Because she had always done something extra for the people in the department, people knew she was going to do a great job. Eventually, she got the position. Because I didn’t have an excellent track record, I didn’t get the position, as they put it. 

This happened over 5 years ago.

Since that day, I have been convinced that always doing your best pays off. It may be in an indirect, unexpected way. It will pay off. 

Climbing The Ladder

When I started working my first full-time job, I decided to give it my all. In the first couple of months, I was getting used to the whole working thing. After that, I was really happy to notice that it was easy for me to ask for something and get it done. 

Serious Woman With Glasses Reading A Paper Report While Phone On Her Ear
Image credit: DmitryPoch/DepositPhotos.

It made my manager happy, it made my job more interesting, and I learned a lot from it. 

In hindsight, I believe this is the true reason that they promoted me after 9 months of working. This promotion usually takes about two years, so I was extremely happy. Almost a 30% pay rise is not something you get every day. 

This showed me the value of putting in the work when you want to get ahead. It also showed me that your career is your greatest asset if you try and get the most out of it.

3 Things To Take From This

There have been some jobs that I’ve tried to do my best, some jobs that I didn’t care about, and some jobs that have taught me a lot.

There are three things that I learned.

1. You Always Learn

Whatever job you’re currently working. You always learn from it. 

I learned from my job at the bakery how to be friendly to customers and sell people no.

I learned from my job at university how to work in a huge bureaucratic organization and build connections at the same time.

I learned from my job at the supermarket how to deal with stress – especially around days like Christmas and Easter. 

I learned from my financial consulting job how much I love spreadsheets and how to manage them efficiently. 

I expect to learn new things with every job I do. You never know when you will need them. 

2. Every Job Can Impact Your Career

Now let’s take a story from my partner. He started giving swimming lessons as a side job when he was studying. He worked there for two years when they promoted him to a middle manager, leading 25 people at the swimming pool. He did that for another four years while he got his psychology degree. 

After he graduated and started to look for jobs, he noticed the headquarters of his previous employer had an open position for an HR advisor. This could be his perfect opportunity!

Just because he did his best in the years he worked at the swimming pool, people knew him and knew that he was doing a good job. He is hired mostly because people they know talk highly about him, and he has an excellent track record. 

What I take from this is that every job can impact your career. Even though you don’t think it’s possible or they seem highly unrelated, you never know when paths may cross again.

3. Don’t Give It Your Everything

To make my point clear – I’m not telling you to give every job your everything. That’s how people get burned out. 

I’m telling you that you should do more than the minimum expected of you. Be positive in everything that you do and show an eagerness to learn. 

See the relevance of your job and make the most of it. Have fun with your coworkers. Help people that need it. 

Doing the minimum makes your job boring. 

Most importantly, balance your work and your life. Make time to have fun outside of your work. Especially if you are working 8 hours a day, you should try to close your laptop at 5 pm so that you will be able to divert your time to other stuff aside from your work.

You can do all of it.

I firmly believe that this allows you to do your job better when you have a fulfilling life outside of work. 

Happy businesswoman talking on the phone
Image credit: Vadymvdrobot/Depositphotos.

Can A Job Turn Into A Career?

You are always the boss of yourself. You know yourself better, so if you are serious about your financial goals, here are ways how you can turn your job into a career.

Set Your Goals

Know what interests you. If you are in a job where you are happy and it is your passion, then set a goal or plan on how you can achieve your professional goal. Also, know your skills and where you are good at, and develop them. Having a specific skill set helps you to make a mark in your job role.

This is where the next one comes in.

Never Stop Learning

Hunger for knowledge and learning is one way to enhance your skills. This can improve and enhance your chosen expertise and abilities that you can use in the future. Always remember that education never stops, so you need to hone your skills further to be one step ahead of your peers.

This means that you know your skills and want to create a stable career in the future.

Broaden Your Connections

To further stress this, enhancing your skills can also be attained by attending seminars, workshops, or conferences. Here, you can meet individuals and even ask them for advice and job recommendations as well. Being good does not mean you have to live on an island. Instead, open up to the possibilities to further expand your knowledge through communication and interaction with other people. Especially those who share the same passion as you, will further drive you in the right direction.

All In All – What’s The Difference Between A Job And A Career?

Now we know that there is definitely a difference between a job and a career. If you want to advance in this field, people generally call it a career. If you want to move forward and make your current field your primary source of income for you and your family, make it a career.

That doesn’t mean that your jobs are useless. They always teach you something and get more from it than expected when you do your best. Consider this a part of your journey in life. This is part of one of the many chapters in the book of your life that will lead up to the best ones and all the way to the conclusion.

Every single job that you have can impact your career in a significant, unexpected way. Build up job skills and benefit from them later. When you do your best, it will make your work more fun and challenging. Always remember that whatever life gives you, there is always something to be learned and developed to help you in your life.

If you want some work ideas, you can check them out here:

BUT never stick around with a job you don’t enjoy. They’re not worth it, and you deserve better than that. Remember to choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

What is your experience with a job versus a career?

This article was originally published and syndicated by Radical FIRE.

2 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between A Job And A Career?”

  1. Great post. I had some interesting experiences with jobs vs my career. At one point my job was a life guard for a few years. Definitely taught me how to deal with difficult people. I guess we all have some weird “job” stories.


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