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It’s both interesting and frustrating. When it comes to language, seldom is there just one and only one word to describe something. It’s why some of us say we have a job, while others say it’s a career, and yet a different group might refer to it as a vocation.

These three terms generally mean the same thing, but there are some important differences. The differences are worth exploring if you’re preparing to decide what you’re going to do at the end of your high school years.

“I’m Looking for a Job.”

Even before graduating from high school, many people already have experienced employment. And at this point, that employment really is just a job. People get jobs to make money. Working at a fast food company while in high school to have spending money likely doesn’t equate to spending your life working in the fast food or restaurant industry.

But, it might give you a taste (no pun intended) of something you’d like to pursue over a lifetime of employment. Jobs are the best way to explore what a series or collection of them can provide. People look for jobs as a way to explore an industry – or simply because they need money.

“I’m Looking for a Career.”

Let’s stick with the example of spending the summer working at a fast food restaurant. Chances are, you’ll learn everything you need to do the job in hours, or just a matter of days. It’s what sets a job apart from a career.

Careers are a larger commitment because you’ll need more intense education and training. A career is usually made up of a collection of related jobs. Each one often offers more responsibility and greater pay – earned because you’ve successfully demonstrated your ability to do what’s required of the job.

“I’m Looking for a Vocation.”

Vocations and careers are related. Both refer to what for most of us is a lifetime collection of jobs in a specific industry. What makes a vocation different – and more important – than a career, is that the term is used when what you do for a living gives you great satisfaction.

Working for a fast food restaurant while in high school may have its entertaining moments, but it’s unlikely to be deeply satisfying. You did it for the money. Most people pursue a collection of jobs in an industry and it becomes their career. Their goal is to find satisfaction because of their interest.

The best of all outcomes is to pursue a vocation, rather than a career. It means that you truly enjoy what you’re doing, and the fact that it’s provided a job which pays you is, well, icing on the cake.

A growing number of people are discovering the deep level of satisfaction associated with vocations by exploring opportunities in the trades as a plumber, electrician or an HVAC technician. Find out which of these trades might be right for you by taking this short quiz.