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Job vs. Career

A job can be just going to work to earn a paycheck. A career is a journey that includes all your jobs, experiences, and training in the same field or career cluster.

Did you know that most Americans have 10 different jobs in their lifetime? These could all be in one career, or they could be in different careers. A career can include many jobs, experiences, and education in the same field or career cluster. This means that your career is a journey of many steps.

What's the Difference?

Think of it this way: If life were a video game, a job would be just one level. Having a career means that you are committed to playing the game to get better over time and advance to higher levels.

The real difference between a job and a career is your attitude:

  • People who want a career are always thinking about their long-term goals. They are thinking about what they can do now to make those goals happen in the future.
  • Beginning job seekers or people re-entering the job market after being away at prison often must work hard for little money. It might take a few years to earn bigger paychecks and have more interesting job duties, but these lower-level jobs can lead to great opportunities.

How Do You Advance on Your Journey?

Think of your career journey as climbing a ladder. Each step of the ladder could be a job that gives you valuable experiences.

  • At one job, you might pick up new skills.
  • At another, you might gain a new interest.

As you climb the ladder, your jobs might increase in responsibility or pay.

How Do You Manage Your Career?

The choices you make now will affect your future. All of your activities, volunteer work, and part-time jobs are steps on your career ladder. Keep these things in mind:

  • Lifelong learning is important. You might consider short-term training opportunities.
  • Balance the time you spend at work with your personal life.
  • Develop values and a sense of purpose.
  • People naturally change over time, so assess your career goals frequently.

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