The authors examined the cumulative effects of work on symptoms, quality of life, and self-esteem for 149 unemployed clients with severe mental illness receiving vocational rehabilitation. Nonvocational measures were assessed at 6-month intervals throughout the 18-month study period, and vocational activity was tracked continuously. On the basis of their predominant work activity over the study period, participants were classified into 4 groups: competitive work, sheltered work, minimal work, and no work. The groups did not differ at baseline on any of the nonvocational measures. Using mixed effects regression analysis to examine rates of change over time, the authors found that the competitive work group showed higher rates of improvement in symptoms; in satisfaction with vocational services, leisure, and finances; and in self-esteem than did participants in a combined minimal work-no work group. The sheltered work group showed no such advantage.