Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

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Bovinae
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Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Bovinae » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:49 am

I have an opportunity to make 4X my current pay with ~3x more vacation in a lower cost of living city (going from HCOL to MCOL). This entails a move from academics to the private sector.

I am mid-thirties, single, with friends and family nearby, and would have none of that in the new location, halfway across the country. I'm not proactive at making friends.

I am fairly happy in my current job, and rising quickly up the academic ranks. This gives me fulfillment, but only limited. I have become quite cynical with the research component of my job, which is predominantly made up of trying to squeeze money out of industry to validate their products. The education component of my job is quite fulfilling but a lot of work. Perhaps most frustratingly (and a frustration I see in my successful older colleagues), there is little to no monetary benefit of this work. Our pay is stagnant and does not appear poised to move up; it could go down. Any support gained from industry/research goes to the department, and serves to increase your stability and power but not your paycheck.

I really don't know what the day-to-day satisfaction of the new job would be like. It would be much busier in terms of the actual work I do, but much less administrative, research, and education tasks. I think it is safe to say I would have slightly shorter but much more intense days.

My current job is where I planned on retiring. Giving it up seems like a huge risk (I would very likely not be able to return, and there are no similar positions nearby), but friends and family cannot fathom giving up 4x pay and 3x vacation. Even with a fair component of lifestyle inflation, I could retire in 10-15 years easily.

I'd appreciate any perspective.

BuckyBadger
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:28 am

Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by BuckyBadger » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:58 am

I'd do it in a minute. You could retire four times earlier!

No significant other who needs to stay in your current location? No strings!

My appointment is partially clinical and partially academic and the things that drive me crazy about the academic part are just what you say. If i could make 4x as much and have 3x the vacation I'd leave those cartoon dust clouds in my tracks!

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Pajamas
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Pajamas » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:02 am

Do you think that you will have similar opportunities in ten or fifteen years or is the the sort of thing that in your field is available to people in their mid-thirties but not in their mid- or late-forties?

Seems like you are just getting going well on your present course. Choosing to leave for the private sector to might not be irrevocable, but it may be that more experience in academia and research now will make it easier to return to academia later.

Do you prefer teaching or research? If you had to choose one only which would it be? Do you think research will be more fulfilling in the private sector or is it only the extrinsic rewards of the private sector that appeal to you?

If you don't want to be single indefinitely, how would moving to a different and presumably smaller city and career path affect that?

Don't let "friends and family" make the decision for you. You should choose what is best for you.

sabtastic
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by sabtastic » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:18 am

To me it sounds like you like where you are and feel your time is adequately compensated. Time spent on this planet is short. Don't spend it chasing the things other people tell you are important. Being from california DW and I have had lots of friends leave and many have come back. All of them cited family as the main reason they wanted to return.

Nowizard
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Nowizard » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:18 am

Unless your job is highly specialized with few opportunities within related areas, many would say that they have found that their job interests change as they become more experienced and other opportunities emerge. If young and single, many would say that a job with presumed satisfaction and much higher pay would provide an earlier tapping into the "Miracle of compound interest," assuming you would save significantly. Money does not buy happiness, but it definitely helps to have enough discretionary income to not worry about that area. This is a highly personal decision. As an academic until age 40 who moved to private employment, it was a natural progression.

Tim

csm
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by csm » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:33 am

Is the 3x vacation a move from 2 weeks a year to 6 weeks a year, or from a month a year to three months a year, or some other amount?

Four times the income and a move to a less expensive area sounds like you could save at least 3/4 of your pay and still live more extravagantly than now. For example, be able to travel more (including home to visit family and friends). How long is the flight to do that, i.e. is it a 1-2 hour direct flight that would allow you to go back home for long weekends, or is it a 6+ hour flight with connections and inconvenient airport that would mean fewer trips for which you would need that extra vacation?

One thing you might find is that you will want or need to go frequently back to visit family in the beginning, but the desire will wane as you get more settled in your new location and meet people or get involved in hobbies or other interests outside your work.

Only you can decide which lifestyle will bring you the most satisfaction and happiness. Money isn't everything. But if you are already a bit unsatisfied with your present job, it sounds like a dream to be offered more money, more vacation and a lower cost of living.

Are you certain about the "shorter but more intense days" at the new job? How do you know that you will not find yourself working 50-60 or more hours per week? If you know for sure that your work week will be 40 or fewer hours per week, I wouldn't be deterred by "intense" days (depending on how you define that and your own resilience to it).

It sounds like quite an opportunity, but only you can judge whether it would be worth giving up your present position and location.

Good luck!

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Lauretta
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Lauretta » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:39 am

Bovinae wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:49 am
I have become quite cynical with the research component of my job, which is predominantly made up of trying to squeeze money out of industry to validate their products. The education component of my job is quite fulfilling but a lot of work. Perhaps most frustratingly (and a frustration I see in my successful older colleagues), there is little to no monetary benefit of this work. Our pay is stagnant and does not appear poised to move up; it could go down. Any support gained from industry/research goes to the department, and serves to increase your stability and power but not your paycheck.
All this is familiar to me, the only difference for me is that the educational component ended up not being very fulfilling either... I agree that a lot of work in research can become quite a farce.
Are you able to take a sabbatical leave from your job in academia (instead of leaving it permanently), so that you can come back in case you don't like it in the new job?
Alternatively, whilst keeping your academic job can you easily do consultancy work for yourself (you seem to imply that all money from industry goes to your department; I think this depends on the place and institution, e.g. in the UK professors get paid for their consultancy work with industry, I imagine in the US it is similar)?
When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking at all

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Nearly A Moose » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:50 am

Id jump on this chance. I don't know academia well, but I have to imagine that as you progress, the scales will tilt even more toward funding and grants and management and away from teaching. With this opportunity, you could give yourself a huge boost financially, still be able to visit friends and family (and have them visit you), and grow professionally. If you so well and live below your means, you might also find yourself in that sort of quasi-independent position in 10-15 years where you can't retire outright but have more or less secured your retirement savings. If you still have the teaching bug, you'd probably make a very compelling candidate for a more teaching-centric position, where you wouldn't really have to worry about how much you're making, don't have to worry about the grants game, and can bring the benefit of industry experience to your students. Just my $0.02.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

edge
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by edge » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:52 am

Jobs that have 4x the pay rarely are the ones where you actually use all your vacation.

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tarheel
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by tarheel » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:22 pm

Bovinae wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:49 am
I have an opportunity to make 4X my current pay with ~3x more vacation in a lower cost of living city (going from HCOL to MCOL). This entails a move from academics to the private sector.

I am mid-thirties, single, with friends and family nearby, and would have none of that in the new location, halfway across the country. I'm not proactive at making friends.

I am fairly happy in my current job, and rising quickly up the academic ranks. This gives me fulfillment, but only limited. I have become quite cynical with the research component of my job, which is predominantly made up of trying to squeeze money out of industry to validate their products. The education component of my job is quite fulfilling but a lot of work. Perhaps most frustratingly (and a frustration I see in my successful older colleagues), there is little to no monetary benefit of this work. Our pay is stagnant and does not appear poised to move up; it could go down. Any support gained from industry/research goes to the department, and serves to increase your stability and power but not your paycheck.

I really don't know what the day-to-day satisfaction of the new job would be like. It would be much busier in terms of the actual work I do, but much less administrative, research, and education tasks. I think it is safe to say I would have slightly shorter but much more intense days.

My current job is where I planned on retiring. Giving it up seems like a huge risk (I would very likely not be able to return, and there are no similar positions nearby), but friends and family cannot fathom giving up 4x pay and 3x vacation. Even with a fair component of lifestyle inflation, I could retire in 10-15 years easily.

I'd appreciate any perspective.
Unfortunately mid-thirties in academia is really the low point in terms of your value/salary ratio. Any promotions on the horizon? Other than that, can you look for outside offers? Unfortunately that's the name of the game in terms of legit salary bumps in academia.

Afty
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by Afty » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:30 pm

+1 on the sabbatical idea. I've hosted a few faculty members on sabbatical with my team in industry. Every time it's been a great experience. At worst, you work on an applied problem for 6 months to a year and realize it's not for you. At best, you apply your research and people actually use it, which is immensely gratifying.

MandyT
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by MandyT » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:17 am

Afty wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:30 pm
+1 on the sabbatical idea. I've hosted a few faculty members on sabbatical with my team in industry. Every time it's been a great experience. At worst, you work on an applied problem for 6 months to a year and realize it's not for you. At best, you apply your research and people actually use it, which is immensely gratifying.
If you can't get a sabbatical, there's a good chance that you can get an unpaid leave of absence.

In 2002, I had just gotten divorced and felt abandoned by several people whom I had considered to be friends. Unhappy with the town and frustrated by several aspects of the job, by the 2003-04 academic year I was going to quit even without a new job lined up. My department chair pointed out that there was nothing to lose by taking a leave of absence for 2004-05. I was able to keep my tenure, seniority, and benefits. It only took a few months for me to figure out that nothing made more sense than going back. Fortunately, I settled back in nicely and lived happily ever after. :happy

To me, this seems like the best of both worlds: you get to see how the other half lives, but you have the chance to go back if you figure out that you prefer academia to industry.

jlcnuke
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Re: Increased pay versus personal and job satisfaction

Post by jlcnuke » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:52 pm

A 75% savings rate sounds reasonably possible (ignoring tax implications for now). A person with $0 in savings that has a 75% savings rate could reasonably save and invest enough to retire in ~ 7 years and maintain their current standard of living (ignoring increased costs for some things such as health insurance for now).

Despite the simplicity of those statements, the fact is that you don't seem enamored with your current job, the new job pays monumentally better, the new job gives you more free time to enjoy your life, so I can't help but think it's the fear of the unknown that is mostly holding you back from taking the leap...

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