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The Difference Between a Job and a Career

Updated on February 19, 2019
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is successful at employment & training, with regional records of tens of thousands placed and retained in gainful employment.

Generally, a career takes one along a rising a path of increasing income and benefits, but more importantly, it takes one along a path of related jobs that increase in responsibility, interest, and influence.
Generally, a career takes one along a rising a path of increasing income and benefits, but more importantly, it takes one along a path of related jobs that increase in responsibility, interest, and influence. | Source

What Is the Difference Between a Job Search and Career Planning?

A career is a long term work life that will support a person through retirement, if good saving and investment procedures are used. Some sundials are working longer and longer before retiring, and even going back to work after that. Some even have two to three different career fields in sequence.

In the mid-1990s, many medical and public health courses taught that certain factions in the government would increase the US retirement age gradually to 75 years in order to preserve Social Security Retirement funds and prevent bankrupting the system. Later, we learned that the US Congress had put this retirement age increase into operation under the Regan Presidential Administration.

Citing a few examples of increases, as of 2015, those aged 63 needed to work until age 66 for full SSR benefits. Those 61 needed to work until age 67, and a bit younger folks needed to work until age 70. These are all Baby Boomers. Generations X and Y will need to work into even later age. Generation Z may not have any SSR benefits at all - just like the Greatest Generation before 1935.

By 2010, there were not enough people working and contributing to Social Security to pay the benefits required for the retiring Baby Boomers.

Increasing numbers of older people are returning to work as door greeters at Wal-Mart, Meijer's, and The Andersons. Others do not retire from their careers at all and still others own their own businesses and continue to own and direct them.

A career is a longer road than just a job.
A career is a longer road than just a job. | Source

Planning A Career To Support Life Through Retirement

Surprisingly, at the same time that retirement age is to rise to 75, a group of unknown politicians at the federal level also proposed to deny those 75 years or older any and all health care. Fortunately, that did not become a law.

Life is becoming more difficult in the USA for aging people and for many of them, a career will become a life-long necessity.

Many people believe, or have been taught, that a career and a job are the same thing. However, well-planned career usually encompasses several jobs in a logical progression upwards in pay rate, fringes and perks, and responsibilities.

While not everyone can work at his/her individual special calling throughout their lives, they can plan toward that goal and take actions and make choices that will enable that goal to be more closely approached and met.

Planning and Experience: As children, we watched circus acrobats and wondered how they did those amazing tricks.
Planning and Experience: As children, we watched circus acrobats and wondered how they did those amazing tricks. | Source

Career Planning Is Important

As children, we watched circus acrobats and wondered how they did those amazing tricks. They could do them, because they usually began at a young age and continued to practice for 10 hours a day.

Although career-planning does not need to start in the crib, but even young children can begin to learn the foundational, effective habits that will make them a success in the workforce and business ownership.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines career as "a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life" and "a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling." (Reference, Merriam-Webster online:

Any specific job is only one piece of the lifelong learning and career puzzle. Any job is only a part of a larger, life-long career.

This is an example of a job:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Packed in like sardines.
Packed in like sardines.
Packed in like sardines.

Long-Term Careers

At one time in America, a person could graduate from high school, find a job with a good company and work in that job until they retired, perhaps being promoted and receiving raises in pay during that time. A career could fit inside one company.

This is rarely possible in today's business environment. In addition, the temporary employee industry has enabled some companies to do way with certain benefits and save money. Increasing numbers of workers are finding that they need to change jobs or companies in order to have health insurance, vacations, etc. Some employers are eliminating retirement benefits altogether.

Friends in Beijing, China tell me that most people work in China and that they may be recruited to, or assigned to, a specific job by the government. After retirement, these individuals are assigned to specific community service jobs that they are required to perform without payment. All this has not happened in America.

In the USA, workers can look forward to a probable two careers in one's lifetime and some can work in three different careers over a period of 40 to 50 years or more.

Life-Long Career Planning

The life-long career planning course can include these beginnings

  • Chores as a child. This can be with or without an allowance - there are two schools of thought on this and parents must decide what is best for their family.
  • Babysitting, lawn mowing and similar jobs in middle school and high school; perhaps membership and participation in 4-H and Junior Achievement types of programs.
  • Work Readiness Soft Skills training beginning in 5th grade. However, the young person should not be overwhelmed with too many lessons from the world of work, even though some US states mandated this as early as Kindergarten. Increasing numbers of schools are going to year-round school as well, which is standard in Asia and parts of Europe. Many Chinese schools reportedly meet from 8am - 5pm and the kids also do the janitorial work - no need for baby sitters and after school programs; school meets half a day on Saturday and some high school students often also attend an after-school school after dinner on weeknights until 10pm. I'm not sure we want to actually do that in America.

I attended a workforce conference in Ohio in the late 1990s in which it was suggested that all areas (at least 13) of Work Readiness should be begun in Kindergarten and that the belief that all people must hold a job long longer should be taught and reinforced throughout K-12.

All youth should be taught proper behavior that would be acceptable on the job. This includes respect, good manners, paying attention, following directions, creative problem solving, etc., leading others by positive motivation, etc. Hands-on learning works best for workforce development, social skills, and all learning areas, including academic.

The Chinese proverb, which has been proved by educational and psychological research and practice, says:

If I do, then I learn.

  • Volunteer work, perhaps 1 hour per month beginning in the 5th or 6th grade, or at least once-a-year in a community service project. It should be face-to-face actual helping someone, like serving food at a soup kitchen, taking blankets to a shelter, visiting other children on a hospital burn unit and reading to them, or adopting a family at Thanksgiving or other holiday and providing groceries.
  • Sports participation K-12 for teamwork and social skills lessons as well as increased physical health.


Physical Activity Is Important to Life and Work

I think pre-school and Pre-K ages 3-4 are good times for movement arts and exercise drills that train children in movement, coordination, and even some teamwork; but I think these activities should not be called Football, Soccer, and Karate. They are pre-sports activities.

T-Ball seems to put less emphasis on winning and over-the-top competition, but I could be wrong. I still remember the Texas Little League that was shut down early one summer because parents were in fist fights over who was winning and the children were verbally abused. Basketball seems very good for kids as well, since so many people love it, win or lose.

Unless it is a traumatic experience, young children age 6 or will probably not remember their sports participation. Hopefully, they will retain their coordination. One exception to this is the menu of programs offered by The Little Gym (

Their trainers are educated in early childhood development and physiotherapy-type skills. This is equivalent to some of the training that Chinese children receive in the child care centers in the factories of that country. RN's staff those centers and exercise the children, first passively before they can walk, and then actively. The Little Gym is the professional company to which I refer all my calls for preschool and Pre-K aged martial arts lessons. They offer an actual karate class at many of their locations, but they begin with body movement and body awareness work and progress to kicks and punches.

Career Fairs happen worldwide. Exhibits and presenters can help one to find a career path.
Career Fairs happen worldwide. Exhibits and presenters can help one to find a career path.
US Army Career Conselor Badge
US Army Career Conselor Badge | Source

Additional Suggestions For Career Planning

  • Starting in 8th grade, 4-weeks paid internships for students each summer, increasing to 6 or 8 weeks in high school. Many metropolitan and rural areas of the US already have such programs and they can be found through the school or through the local county offices. Students may have to sign up at school for a "year-round program" and this means that they receive work related soft skills training during the school year, not that they must work all year long.
  • Grade 13, based on travel experience and such activities as work at the UN, World Health Organization, Hospital Ships. This would be like a one-year mission trip, but it would be a work experience and vacation in which to enjoy traveling and to grow as a person. It would widen personal perspective.
  • Some career planning beginning in the 6th grade. Aptitude and interest tests could be given every two years to reveal the special calling of each student and to train each pupil for that calling. Job placement and higher education entry would need to be attached to this program.
  • College, vocational school, certificate programs, journeyman trades programs, military service, religious community service (nuns and priests of several faiths, some of whom marry). Career fairs usually include booths for most of these programs and occupations.
  • Job placement can begin with the student summer internships and job coaches could be provided. Career counselors could enter the picture in the 10th grade to help individual students begin to solidify their employment goals.
  • Career counselors and career coaches could advise adults during their working years and help them achieve their career goals.
  • Post-retirement activities, such as recreation, Elder Hostel, and volunteer activities. This might even include part-time paid work. Of course, some individuals never retire.

And despite all these elements that can be important, not everyone needs all of them, so Career Planning must be an individualized activity.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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