Finding a Job versus Building a Career

Bob Madigan

Finding a Job versus Building a Career

Career versus Job

It is time to make a career decision!

My grandfather was born in Miners Hospital in Kemmerer, Wyoming. He went to work for Kemmerer Coal Company at a very young age. He died in Miner’s Hospital in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Virtually from cradle to grave he worked for Kemmerer Coal Company. Talk about longevity. But I'm not sure he really had any other choice. Was this a job or a career?

Now, it seems like no one goes to work for a company, stays there for all those years, gets the gold watch and retires. In fact, staying with one company for your entire work life just doesn't happen anymore. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer in January 2010 was 4.4, which is up from February 2000 [3.5], January 1991 [3.6], and January 1983 [3.5].)

So, while the terms “job” and “career” are often used to mean the same thing, they really are conceptually different.

What’s the difference? The following comparison from the website points out the differences.

Comparison chart

What is it?:
A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals.
Job is an activity through which an individual can earn money. It is a regular activity in exchange of payment.
Usually requires special learning that includes individualized components that develop abilities beyond that which training is capable of.
Education or Special training may or may not be required
Risk taking:
A career may not mean stability of work as it encourages one to take risks. The risks are often internal and therefore planned.
A job is “safe”, as stability of work and income is there. However shifting priorities, especially in resource jobs, can abruptly change the demand and require relocation which is an unstable factor. Risks may be completely external.
Long term
Short term
Varies depending on value to society or to some other entity. Non-monetary benefits may be higher.
Varies by demand.
Contribution to society:
May have high value as social change/progress may be possible.
May actually have a negative impact when counterproductive social practices are continued in the name of protecting jobs.

So, with these definitions, what are you looking for: A job or a career?

Whether a job or career is the right fit for you will depend on your stage of life. Jobs can help people start careers in many ways – experience, knowledge, learning about what they like and dislike. Eventually though, striving for a career is a very positive step because it means you want more out of the work you do than a paycheck. You want to develop your talents, really enjoy what you do, and care about how you spend your time each day. In addition, your earning potential is much higher in a career than in a job in most cases.

A career takes goal and education (through college, work experience, or self-learning). It is best to follow your interests, skills, and talents to find the career that will bring you success. Success includes money, but is also very much about personal happiness.

Start your search with an answer to this one basic question: Are you looking for a job or a career. Answer this question first and then get to work!

Good Job Hunting from your friends at

Bob Madigan
Utah Career News Staff Writer