Differentiating between Vocations and Careers

15 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2011

See all articles by John G. Cullen

John G. Cullen

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUI Maynooth) - Department of Managment

Date Written: October 13, 2011


Recently, there have been a significant number of calls for constructionist forms of career counseling and development which prioritize occupational decision-making that honor the values of the client or participant, rather than those which solely stress approaches which meet the needs of the labor market (Savickas et al., 2009). Encouraging participants to consider their occupational identity as a ‘vocation’ as opposed to a ‘job’ or a ‘career’ is a small, but significant nuance that changes how individuals develop career plans and learn. Due to the ongoing prevalence of the ‘career paradigm’, however, it can often prove difficult for university students to differentiate between jobs, occupations, careers, professions and vocations. This paper aims to clarify how vocational thinking differs from other forms of occupational idealization in a way which is informed by the authors experience in introducing the concept of vocational thinking to undergraduate and postgraduate business students. The paper hopes to assist faculty, researchers, career counselors, students and others who work with, or in fields associated with, the concept of the vocation, in order to clarify how theory on the concept has developed over time and to suggest avenues for developing vocational practice, as well as signposting areas requiring additional research.

Keywords: Vocation, Occupations, Career Guidance

JEL Classification: J24

Suggested Citation

Cullen, John G., Differentiating between Vocations and Careers (October 13, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1943566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1943566

John G. Cullen (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUI Maynooth) - Department of Managment ( email )

Maynooth, County Kildare

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