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What is the difference between a Career and a Job?

Updated on September 23, 2012

Career Ladder? by Greg Valentine

If a job is something you do, on your way to your career? Then doesn’t a career become a job, when you’re at the top of your profession?

What is the difference between a job and a career?

Written by Greg Valentine,


What is the difference between a job and a career?

If a job is something you do, on your way to your career? Then doesn’t a career become a job, when you’re at the top of your profession?


I work with many lawyers everyday. I am the librarian, copy assistant, records room assistant, receptionist assistant and court runner. I see the struggle that each of them face to make ends meet and to get deadline completed on time. I see the emotional torture and the overwhelming struggle that the middle level lawyers face and then, at that moment, I see how important my job is. Other may not think or say so, but we perform critical miracles everyday. Miracles like huge copy jobs and thousands of Bates stamping documents. Dangerous journey and searches like hunting to find urgent files, locating client information, updating tax code books, serving the enemy papers. Dealing with courthouse personnel drama, and dealing without light bulbs and jammed copy machines. We are miracle workers. We are the support staff. Like being sidekicks, and being the second banana, we manage to keep the lawyers from sailing out the windows. I don’t think of this as my career path, but I know on my resume this will be counted worthy of respect and monetary bonuses that I operated successfully in an office environment, I hope. Isn’t that the case with everyone? I guess this would be a job right.


I asked this question of what is the difference between a job and a career to a group of fellow miracle workers, and each said to the effect, that a job is not where you want to be, it’s kind like driving in a car. You don’t live in a car you just use it to get it where you are supposed to be going to, then when you get to it, you get out of the car. A job is not stable.


Now, I love a good philosophical debate, but if for example you are in a career that is transient and you are being promoted up a ladder, then for all system purposes, you’re in a job and not a career. All the lawyers that are working are in a job, just as much as I am, they’re in a job too. If any of them were to make it to the top off the office it would just be at another job as well! It seems that a job is relative to where your mindset is. Nothing more, and nothing less.


So, what’s the fine line between a job and a career? I guess a career is somewhere you desire to be. A job may or may not, be where you really want to be, but you are there, for now at least. If you stop where you are, this job is now your career whether you like it or not. If you must keep going up the corporate ladder, then that which you left to do that, was your job, or is it your career path? Maybe there is no difference at all?

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