What’s the difference between a career, a job, and an occupation?
The words career, job, and occupation are often used interchangeably. To be specific, a job is what you show up to for work; a career spans your lifetime and includes your education, training, professional memberships, volunteering and your full history of paid work. An occupation describes a type of work with associated tasks, education and training, typical wages, work settings, and more.
For example, you may choose to get trained for the occupation “registered nurse”. Then apply for a job as an emergency room nurse at your local hospital. After several years, your career might include that experience in the ER, as well as jobs in pediatrics, patient education, and cardiac rehabilitation.
For simplicity, on CareerOneStop we generally use “career” and “occupation” to mean a type of work, and treat “job” as a specific arrangement with an employer.
How do I get started finding a career?
The Explore Careers section can help you find a career that’s right for you. Get started with the steps below:
- Learn about yourself at Self assessments.
- Find details about nearly 900 careers at Learn about careers.
- Set your own career goals at Plan your career.
What careers pay the most?
Find the highest-paying occupations at Highest-paying careers. You’ll be able to select a state or view data at a national level.
What occupations have the most jobs?
Visit Learn about careers: What’s hot? to find the fastest-growing occupations, the fastest-growing industries, the occupations with the most openings, and other employment trend information.