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The Difference Between a Job, Occupation & Career

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Job, occupation and career all relate to the same thing -- what you do to earn your living. The difference between these terms is more than semantics. Understanding the differences can help you figure out what it is you want to do for a living.

Occupation Is a Broad Concept

Your occupation is a broad term that encompasses your employment sector or the category of jobs into which you fit. You could also describe it as your area of interest. If you want to be a reporter for an online news magazine, for instance, reporter might be your job or career, but your occupation is broader -- you're a journalist.

A Job Is Temporary

A job is generally a means to an end -- a temporary step you take to build a career. In a job, you acquire a paycheck and valuable experience that leads to your next job. The series of jobs becomes your career. If your ultimate goal is to become an attorney, you may benefit from working as a legal assistant to gain knowledge and experience to meet your career goals.

A Career Is Long-Term

Careers are more than just paychecks at the end of a pay period. A career is a lifelong journey that builds on your specific skills, knowledge and experience. Careers generally bring you a sense of achievement or accomplishment. If you choose well, your career is something you genuinely love doing.

Finding Your Career

Identifying and building your career is typically your goal as you start out in the working world. If you attended college or had a favorite major in high school, you may have already started the path to choosing your career, which often requires analyzing your specific skills and interests. Sometimes finding a career means working several jobs just to try different things. Finding your career is a deeply personal search, but there are resources available. Career guidance counselors can help you narrow down potential avenues that fit your specific skill set and interests.


Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.

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