Throughout history career has been known by a number of different names such as vocation and occupation, but the word "career" is more modern and inclusive than the term vocation. Career is also broader than occupation.

Career refers to the course of events that constitute a life. It involves the sequence of occupations and other life roles which combine to express one’s commitment to work in his or her total pattern of self development.

Occupation is a group of similar jobs in several establishments. An occupation refers to a group of similar jobs in several establishments. It differs from job which stands of a group of similar position in one plant, business, institution or other work place.

A vocation is an occupation, either professional or voluntary, that is carried out more for its altruistic benefit, than for income, which might be regarded as a secondary aspect of the vocation, however beneficial. Vocation can be seen as fulfilling a psychological need of a worker and the term is also used to describe any occupation for which a person is specifically gifted, and usually implies that the worker has a calling for it.