Types of Career Paths: Job vs. Business

Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of career paths – job, business, knowledge-oriented jobs and skill-oriented jobs.

Career paths can basically be categorized into two broad types: one is a JOB, joining others business. And the other is doing your own business, or as I call it, DOB.

Further, a job can be classified into two broad categories: one is a knowledge-oriented job, and the other is a skill-oriented job. These are the main types of career paths.

Knowledge Professionals

A knowledge-oriented job is where you have acquired some kind of knowledge, such as medicine, law, engineering, accounts, finance, management. These are all are types of knowledge oriented career paths.
In these types of career paths, what you contribute to the others business is your knowledge and time. Common knowledge professionals also include architects, computer engineers, web designers, anything that involves the computer.

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Skilled Professionals

Next on our list of the types of career paths are skill oriented professions. These are more physical skills, such as labor, welding, plumbing, mechanic, etc. Some other examples include chefs, sportsmen, gardeners, artists and performers. These jobs are very hands-on and are paid by the hour. They involve some skill and can also be paid on a freelance basis or a job per job basis for odd jobs.

Knowledge and skills are intermingled. A lot of jobs or career pathways use both skill as well as knowledge. For example, one can debate whether coding is knowledge oriented career path or skill oriented. However, broadly I would define physical labor skills as skill oriented jobs and the others as knowledge oriented jobs. Even in careers such as welding, plumbing, etc. some knowledge is still required, but these are more hands-on.

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Business or Entrepreneurship

The next types of careers involve being your own boss, or a business, in which you can set up your own venture or enterprise. The business is something that adds value to the customer, in the form of trading, selling a new product or service.

So if you’re going down this path, you will need some capital, and the means to create a product or service, so that you can set up this business. You will also need a diverse set of skills, such as hiring the diverse people who will make your team, creating a supply chain or customer-base.

Entrepreneurship  can be of many types, such as opening a small shop and buying goods and selling them with an added value.

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Another type of business is selling a service or skill. In this, you have a basic set of skills or knowledge, but you become independent and sell it as a freelancer. You’re not tied to a corporate, you’re just an independent freelancer, such as a chartered accountant, photographer, a web developer or an artist. Basically, this includes anyone who is not bound to enterprise and is self-employed.

So these are the four basic categorizations or types of career paths.

Doing a Job with a Side Business

Sometimes we also see that people start by acquiring a skill or knowledge, or a combination of both, and they start by doing a job with a corporation. Once they have the means to produce a product or a sell-able skill, then the venture out to create a start-up.

It could also be that they start with a skill that has a demand in the industry, and then they start selling that skill as a freelancer. For example, web developers and graphic designers sometimes work full-time in a job, but also do freelance work on the side.

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As another example, you might actually consider acting as a skill, which requires you to be present and deliver your acting chops. An actor can work as a freelancer, or self employed professional, as they get paid per hour or on a job per job basis. Or a studio can hire them as a salaried employee, which means you’re doing a job. But if you’re independent of a studio or corporation and are selling your skills on a need basis, then you’re independent or self-employed professional as most actors are.

How to Choose the Right Type of Career Path for Yourself

Sometimes these categories may get intermingled, but it’s important to know which path out of these you want to choose. How to find out which career path to choose since they are so intermingled and confusing?
The best way to know what career pathway is the right for you is to get hands-on.

You have to get some understanding of the career path of your interest through an internship or research or by talking to professionals. Doing an internship at a company is the best way of getting to know your job and profession of choice. It will help you understand whether you are made out for it or not.

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Some people are, some people aren’t. Some people are more conformists, and require a structure and external motivation, and a job is better suited for them. When some people are non conformist, like to create their own work and rules, and are more proactive or self-motivated, and entrepreneurship is better suited for them.

How Are Some Career Paths Considered Better?

In the early years, most jobs were skill oriented, such as farming, welding, construction, factory jobs, which was prior to the Industrial Revolution. However, after the Industrial Revolution, knowledge oriented jobs became more common, such as management, accounts, design or computing.

The advent of machines required engineers and people to manage them. Computers are the newest machines. So if you’re wondering whether you should go for a knowledge oriented profession or a skill oriented one, ask yourself if you like sitting in front of the computer all day long. If so, then knowledge oriented jobs are for you.

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