Job versus Career

1 06 2013

I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. – George Burns

Image from afterspm.com

I spent five years after my youngest son was born at home, my career was raising the two precious souls I had borne into this world. Before that, I had several jobs, but none of them were as essential to the well-being of another person as motherhood.

Now as I stand at the crossroads of another season in my life, I’m wondering if I will quit my job in order to get another one. Or is it time in my life for a new career, since my sons are adults?

What’s the difference between a job and a career? Is there one?

Merriam-Webster defines a job as “a piece of work; especially: a small miscellaneous piece of work undertaken on order at a stated rate.”

According to this definition, if I wrote an article for a website and they paid me $20, that would be a job. Is what I’m doing at the school a job? I am working for a specified rate of pay, doing the tasks outlined in a job description.

The dictionary says a career is “a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.” If I felt my work as an instructional assistant was my “calling” then it would be a career.

In my mind, something temporary is a job and something permanent is a career. The dictionary seems to endorse this perspective.

In that case, I’m quitting my job at the school to pursue a career in writing.

That sounds so grand and glorious.

I might undertake some freelance writing jobs to further my overall career, but I’ll be seeking a career as a novelist. If I never publish, does that mean I never had a writing career?

Do you see why I’m often confused by this topic? I’m finding it difficult to explain to my coworkers what I’ll be doing once I quit my “regular employment.” If I’m not reaping a steady income, most people don’t see writing as a career move.

The dictionary says a career is a “profession” but it says nothing about monetary compensation; on the other hand, money is specifically mentioned in the description of a job. What do my readers think of this topic? Can I have a writing career if no one is paying me?

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