How Many Jobs in a Lifetime?

by | Jul 8, 2024 | The Working World

Have you ever actually counted how many different jobs you’ve worked?

Many of my friends are retiring early, but not me–I’m seeking my next project. Having worked since age eleven (babysitting), my ambition drove me to wait tables, clean houses, scoop ice cream, do telephone and retail sales, and care for the developmentally disabled and elderly, while putting myself through school. Later, I reveled in the chance to put my education to work, writing and editing articles and books and founding/managing a small, global-mission nonprofit.

If you count work that doesn’t provide a paycheck, my most cherished job was being a mom. I’ve also received far more than money delivering meals to shut-ins, serving food to and sorting clothing for the unhoused, writing pro-bono for social justice organizations, and advocating for youth mental health via the arts … I’ve lost count of how many jobs that is.

The World Economic Forum and Zippia report that people averaged about twelve jobs in their careers. However, the recent pandemic’s Great Resignation (four million Americans quitting their jobs in one month in 2021) and the Great Migration (employees moving to more satisfying jobs with companies whose values match their own) have spiked an increase in jobs held during one’s career.

Gen Zers and Alphas work remotely, move fluidly, and demand dignity, and as they grow into dominance in the workplace, we will see much faster shifting around in jobs and careers.


Future jobs will, I believe, require more flexibility, creativity, and versatility. As automation and A.I. supplement and replace many jobs, it is our very humanity that will come to hold the highest value in the marketplace.

For all our flaws, fears, and failures, we bring organic brilliance and evolving wisdom to our work that no coding can replicate.


Thanks to Mahmud Ahsan on Unsplash for the free, open-source, adorable image of his son, already hard at work. 😂

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Suzanne Skees, author of the three-volume MY JOB series on real people in remarkable jobs, believes in the power of our jobs over our identity and wellbeing and, conversely, our ability to change our world with the work of our minds and hands. She lives by the Pacific Ocean and spends as much time as possible listening to the surf, and to silence.



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