What’s the Difference Between a Job and a Career?

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Remember when you first decided to become an RT? What went into that decision?

For most people, the number one driver was that respiratory therapy would lead to a decent job that would support them and their families for years to come.

And yes, having a job is a great thing. Everyone needs one! But for many people, just having a job isn’t enough. They want to have a career as well. What’s the difference? According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, it all comes down to engagement.

Three types of workers

In the study, Gallup found that workers can be divided into three categories –

  1. Engaged workers are passionate about their jobs and want to see their organizations progress.
  2. Workers who are not engaged go through the daily routine just fine but have no real interest in anything except getting done for the day.
  3. Actively disengaged workers are dissatisfied with their jobs and aren’t afraid to show it.

Gallup found 70% of people fall into the second two categories. However, that leaves only 30% of the workforce engaged in their jobs, and those are the folks developing careers.

How can you use engagement to place yourself on the path to a career in respiratory care rather than just a job? Here are some tips for making it happen –

Embrace lifelong learning: Respiratory care is constantly changing, and that means you will have to dig into new technology and treatments to stay ahead of the game. Take classes, go back to school for a higher degree, or participate in certificate courses to improve your skills.

Find a mentor: Mentors are great at helping young therapists devise a career plan and stick to it. Look at the older RTs in your department and find one who is where you want to be. Ask them if they would be willing to take you under their wing.

Volunteer to take on extra responsibilities at work: RT departments always need employees who are willing to go the extra mile. So when your bosses ask for volunteers to serve on committees or help out with new equipment testing, or just fill in for co-workers who have called out sick, raise your hand. They’ll remember that when it’s time to hand out promotions.

Reach out to the broader RT community: If you are reading this article, you are likely already a member of the AARC. Get actively involved in the Association by attending your state society meetings and volunteering to help with projects and programs. That could lead to more incredible things down the road, like running for a state office and eventually even serving the Association at the national level. Along the way, you’ll pick up a multitude of connections to therapists across your state or the entire nation that will serve your career well.

Look for new opportunities: The job you have now is a great place to build your career, but don’t be afraid to see what else is out there. Check out the job listings in the AARC Career Center and other sources and look for those that will take you to the next level.

Invest today for tomorrow

You have to work to make a living, but just working for the sake of a paycheck won’t build the career you want. So instead, consider how becoming more engaged in the profession can pay off big time in the future.