Objective: This study tested the hypothesis that early detection of psychosis improves long-term vocational functioning through the prevention of negative symptom development. Methods: Generalized estimating equations and mediation analysis were conducted to examine the association between employment and negative symptoms over ten years among patients in geographic areas characterized by usual detection (N=140) or early detection (N=141) of psychosis. Results: Improved vocational outcome after ten years among patients in the early-detection area was mediated by lower levels of negative symptoms during the first five years. Regardless of symptoms, rates of full-time employment or study were lower among patients in the usual-detection versus the early-detection area. Conclusions: Patients from an early-detection area attained lower negative symptom levels earlier compared with patients from a usual-detection area, which seemed to have facilitated vocational careers.