Upgrading should not mess up your work but you must back up your files.
Before buying anything you should first make sure your machine will accept the upgrade you have in mind.
Minimum specs for Snow Leopard. Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard -Read the Technical Specifications
From the USA go to http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC573/mac-os-x-106-snow-leopard
In Europe or otherwise substitute your national code in place of /us above.
In the UK … the last known price was £14.
Before you start upgrading, back up your files.
Once you have upgraded to Snow Leopard you will need to apply the Combo updater. Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 and follow with a software update to pick up any later improvements.
Hope this meets your needs.