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Plan Your Career

Understand What Career Terms Mean

Ever wondered how a job is different than an occupation? Find out. See what career professionals mean when they use common career terms.


What it means to you:
Paid work you do throughout your adult life.

How career professionals see it: 
The overall course of a person’s work-related activities. A career includes learning experiences, occupations and jobs.

A career is the sum of a person's life experiences, including

  • learning experiences
  • occupations
  • jobs
  • work
  • leisure activities

Career counselling

What it means to you:
Talking to the school  counsellor about what to do when you’re finished high school.

How career professionals see it: 
The process involved in helping people gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours that will help them manage their life, learning and work effectively.

Career development

What it means to you:
It’s probably not a term you use.

How career professionals see it: 
The process of actively creating the life one wants to live and the work one wants to do.


What it means to you:
Work you do for money.

How career professionals see it: 
A set of specific duties performed for a specific employer. “Heavy equipment air conditioning technician" at XYZ Verification is a job.

Labour market

What it means to you:
The job market.

How career professionals see it: 
The marketplace where workers compete for jobs and employers compete for workers.

Labour market information is sometimes called LMI. It is information about the world of work. LMI will help you keep your career plan focused on what is possible and practical. LMI is all around you! You talk about it with your friends. You read about it in the news. You're finding out more about it with the research you're doing right now. LMI can include:

  • economic trends
  • job market forecasts
  • data about specific occupations
  • company activity
  • industries and regions
  • information about who is hiring and who is downsizing


What it means to you:
It's a job.

How career professionals see it: 
It's a group of similar jobs. For example, teaching is an occupation. There are several types of teaching jobs.


What it means to you:
An industry, often known by familiar names like “oil patch,” “health care,” “high tech” and “the arts.”

How career professionals see it: 
A group of related industries operating in a specific area of the economy. “Oil and gas industry” is a sector.


Work is activity with an intended set of outcomes that includes:

  • paid jobs
  • entrepreneurship
  • volunteering
  • contracts

It is not necessarily tied to employment.

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