Jobs vs careers—
What’s the difference?
Many people use these terms interchangeably, though they have different meanings.
So, in this brief guide, we’re going to go over the differences between jobs and careers. And, just for good measure, we’ll throw a couple other terms into the mix so you can walk away with a clear understanding (hopefully!) of the differences between a career and a job.
Ready to Find Your Next Job?
Sign up to Goodwall!
- Develop employable skills & experience
- Highlight professional accomplishments with a personal portfolio
- Search through over 5 million jobs & internships
Download the app now to get started for FREE!
Before we explain the difference between careers and jobs, we’ll take a look at each term separately.
Let’s start with jobs, first:
Jobs: What is a Job?
What is a job, exactly?
Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of a job:
A post of employment; full-time or part-time position. Or, a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of job:
A regular remunerative position. Or, a specific duty, role, or function. Or, a piece of work, especially a small miscellaneous piece of work undertaken on order at a stated rate.
A job is any task assigned to a person, whether from themselves or from an employer or client, usually paid for in return for successful completion.
(Looking for your first job? We’ve got a list of the best jobs for first-timers here.)
Now, let’s learn what a career is before sorting out the differences:
Careers: What is a Career?
So, what is a career, then?
Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of a career:
An occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework. Or, a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of career:
A profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling. Or, a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement, especially in public, professional, or business life.
Basically, a career is your lifelong, or at least years-long, job or employment path.
Job vs Career
A job is essentially something you do for money, whereas a career is a group of jobs in the same field done over a long period of time.
When you’re in college and you work as a retail store sales rep part-time to earn some extra cash, that’s a job. But, if you plan to continue in the same industry after you finish university, perhaps earning promotions towards store management, then you have a career in retail.
Another example of job vs career could be seen in grade school. Think of grade school as a career, while each individual grade you’re in is a specific job.
Work: What is Work?
How about jobs vs work?
Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of work:
Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil. Or, productive or operative activity.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of work:
An activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something. Or, one’s place of employment. Or, something produced or accomplished by effort, exertion, or exercise of skill.
Work is a broader term than job, as it can mean any task, paid or unpaid, you do to get something accomplished.
(Ready to look for work? Check out our list of the best sites to look for jobs here.)
Is an internship a job?
Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of an internship:
Any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession. Or, any period of time during which a beginner acquires experience in an occupation, profession, or pursuit.
Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of an intern:
An advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field (such as medicine or teaching) gaining supervised practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom).
So, an internship is always a job (which also makes it always work), as an intern is tasked with completing specific duties and responsibilities, whether paid or unpaid.
However, one point to note is that when listing your internship on a resume or CV, you often should place it separately from regular, paid work experience.
So, I hope this article on job vs career (vs work vs internship) helped to clear things up! If you have any questions about the differences between a job and a career, a career and a passion, or whether you should list something on your resume, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!