the current beta version of Starbound is fairly free-form, but as it marches on toward a 1.0 release developer Chucklefish will add far more structure to the experience of pregressing and participating in endgame. One such future progression method will include having a regular job if you are so inclined.
“In the finished game you’ll be able to earn pixels in a multitude of different ways, essentially allowing you to play through the game the way you want to play,” the dev explains in a blog. “If you’d like to become an intergalactic farmer, growing and selling crops, keeping livestock and so on. The farming feature will be fleshed out enough for that to be your means of pixel gathering.”
Taking a 9-5 will be optional, of course, as questing will still obviously exist. The key will be that Starbound will evolve into a more complete sandbox over time. Once you get to the top, then, there will be a new endgame area of the game called Sector X in which players form “organizations” that vie fro control of planets.
Above the scope of all that will be Director Mode. “Director mode exists within a separate Starbound client that allows admins to connect to their servers with a range of new tools built to control the action for their players. Admins in director mode (there can be multiple), will be able to spawn blocks, items, monsters, npcs at will. Take direct control over them, have them speak and interact with players. Essentially director mode allows admins to take on a similar role to that of a dungeon master in D&D, creating scenarios and stories on the fly to ensure players never have the same experience twice.”
While they implement all this, some at Chucklefish are working on a second project.