Differences between Job, Work and Career

Today we are going to clarify the meanings of different work-related terms, which can be rather confusing to English language students. We are sure that, whenever the words work, job and career come up during a conversation we doubt whether we are employing them correctly or not. We hope once you read the following post all those doubts will disappear.

Job refers to a regular and official activity for which people get paid, i.e. it is a specific type of employment in which the individual’s role and responsibilities are clearly defined and he or she expects compensation (salary or payment) in return. Synonyms for job are occupation or profession.

For example:

  • His job is very boring: he only sits in front of the computer for hours.
  • I found a job as an admin assistant at the City Council.

When we do a job search we check the job advertisements, and when we find one that appeals to us, we read the job description. If we are interested, we apply for the job.

Work, on the other hand, has a broader meaning.   As a noun it refers to any sort of mental or physical activity carried out in order to accomplish a result or product. Work, then can be done in the context of a specific job or outside it. See the following examples:

  • I’m exhausted, there was a lot of work to do at the office today.
  • Gardening is good fun but it can be hard work as well.

Work, remember, can also be a verb whereas job cannot:

  • I work as a Human Resources Officer at BP
  • I used to work very hard but I’m retired now.

Career, finally, refers to the progression of someone’s professional life. Examples:

  • He is pursuing a career as a flight attendant at British Airways.
  • She managed to have a brilliant career in medicine.

A final note to Spanish-speaking students: do not use “career” to talk about “carrera universitaria”, in this context it would be a false friend and you should use the term “studies”:

  • After she completed her studies at University, she decided to take one year off to figure out what she wanted to do.

Is everything clear? Now let’s practice a little

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