One of the most commonly asked questions for high school students is, "What do you want to do after high school". Unless the student has a specific educational goal such as going to college, or a specific career goal such as joining the military, the odds are very high they will answer, "I don't know, Get a job, I guess. . . " They probably haven't thought too much past short term financial gains to think about longer, life satisfaction goals.
While both a job and a career involve getting up and going to work in the morning, there is a huge difference in the attitude of a person holding a job and the attitude of a person with a career. The differences don’t necessarily come from salary or benefits. They might not even come from the difficulty of the work. The major difference between a job and a career comes from how you look at your work and how much you like doing your work.
Here's an example
Job: Many high school and college students get part-time jobs at department stores such as Kohl’s. For the majority of these workers, their time at Kohl's is only a job. They will work there for a couple of years to pay for school or a car and then quit. They generally do their work well, but punch out time is best time of the day. These students all hold a job. They have no long term plans to work at Kohl's. Their experience at Kohl's does give them the ability to get a similarly skilled position at another store, but the opportunities to advance are more limited, because they see their time at Kohl's as means to earn money, not necessarily the first step toward a career.
Career: Conversely, the same high school student may start out part-time at Kohl's because they are interested in fashion and marketing. In addition to their work there, the student enrolls in an arts college and pursues a degree in fashion. They put in more hours at the store, moves up the managerial ladder, and uses their work experience as part of a thesis project. When the student is done with school they stay with Kohl's but as a buyer, rather as floor sales. For this student, their job at Kohl's is the first step in their career. Their experience at Kohl's might be a stepping stone to a career with a fashion magazine, a buyer for a higher end clothing store such as Nordstrom's, or employment at a completely different company that needs their particular skills. Their career choices have given them more options than just having an hourly sales job.
Job ‘“ Someone with a job is concerned about getting a steady paycheck. He/She will do those things required to keep receiving that paycheck: show up on time, complete all his tasks satisfactorily, and get along with his co-workers and boss.
Career ‘“ Someone on a career track wants to learn more about his/her career and network with his/her colleagues to create further opportunities. He/She is willing to take risks to improve their occupational skills. He/She is more concerned with job satisfaction and pay is secondary.
Job ‘“ People with a job may plan to hold it for a fixed amount of time or indefinitely. A job is a means to earn money either for schooling, family, travel, etc. Once the need for that income is eliminated, most people are more than happy to quit their job. They may later take up a new job in a similar or different field.
Career ‘“ People view their career as a life-long endeavor. While they might not plan to be at the same company, they hope to do the same type of work until they retire. Many career people continue with their career as a consultant or adviser after they officially retire.
While many careers do not require a 4 year college degree, frequently they do require training or certification after high school. While some people are lucky enough to have their early jobs turn into their career, others unfortunately move from job to job, never finding a career due to a lack of advanced training, a missing degree, or inadequate preparation.