Choosing a career

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vk22
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Choosing a career

Post by vk22 »

I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
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tainted-meat
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by tainted-meat »

Be a doctor or a salesperson and you'll be employed forever.
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gr7070
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by gr7070 »

I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
JustThisGuy
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by JustThisGuy »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.
Let me answer that with a personal story. I started my professional life in a technical field, and did so at a time when that field was exploding. I rode that wave, doubling my salary inside of 4 years. The cost of that was burnout and having no life outside of work, barely seeing my friends, etc. Yes, my bank account looked great, as did my retirement accounts, but I was not living a complete life.

Fast forward about 15 years, and I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the trajectory of my career. I took advantage of that opportunity and changed careers entirely. I got my life back, have much better work-life balance, and am generally much happier.

The point is that money for its own sake doesn't make you happy. If I knew then what I know now, I would still have made the same decision to change careers. Heck, my advice to the 18-year-old me would be, "Go do what you're planning on doing. You're going to meet a few of the people who will be your closest friends for the rest of your life and will have experiences you'll never forget. But, remember this: Nothing lasts forever. Have a Plan B, and be prepared to execute it."
BlueCable
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by BlueCable »

Whatever you do, be great at it.
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anon_investor
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by anon_investor »

gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
+1. Who made up that question anyway?
Normchad
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Normchad »

High probability of high lifetime earnings really narrows the field. It eliminates entrepreneurs; most fail. A few succeed hugely.

I think CPA is a good choice. Orthodontist too.

A lot of lawyers seem to exit the profession young, so,I’d skip that.....

Software developers are doing great right now. Job gets much harder as you age though.

I’m going CPA for $200 Alex.
sd323232
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by sd323232 »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I think it is a great question. Kids these days are given horrible advice of just follow their passion. This teaches them nothing. In real world, you have to make money, unfortunately. If food, rent, healthcare was free and paid by someone else, yes of course, you can follow your passion. But if you have to pay for everything in your life, you better have a good paying job. I just wish more high school kids were actually taught of how much particular field will pay approximately, instead of throwing them cliche advice "do what your passion is and you will be rich" or "if you work your dream job, you never have to work in your life"
stoptothink
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by stoptothink »

sd323232 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:51 am
vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I think it is a great question. Kids these days are given horrible advice of just follow their passion. This teaches them nothing. In real world, you have to make money, unfortunately. If food, rent, healthcare was free and paid by someone else, yes of course, you can follow your passion. But if you have to pay for everything in your life, you better have a good paying job. I just wish more high school kids were actually taught of how much particular field will pay approximately, instead of throwing them cliche advice "do what your passion is and you will be rich" or "if you work your dream job, you never have to work in your life"
We were probably all thinking it, but someone had to say it.
Normchad
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Normchad »

stoptothink wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:53 am
sd323232 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:51 am
vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I think it is a great question. Kids these days are given horrible advice of just follow their passion. This teaches them nothing. In real world, you have to make money, unfortunately. If food, rent, healthcare was free and paid by someone else, yes of course, you can follow your passion. But if you have to pay for everything in your life, you better have a good paying job. I just wish more high school kids were actually taught of how much particular field will pay approximately, instead of throwing them cliche advice "do what your passion is and you will be rich" or "if you work your dream job, you never have to work in your life"
We were probably all thinking it, but someone had to say it.
It would be good for kids to know which degrees lead to jobs, and which degrees need higher level degrees to get jobs.
MMiroir
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MMiroir »

Normchad wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:56 amIt would be good for kids to know which degrees lead to jobs, and which degrees need higher level degrees to get jobs.
That information is out there.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visual ... e-degrees/

If you make a Venn diagram with the following information, that will help you decide major to study at which school.

https://www.payscale.com/college-salary ... /bachelors
Notsobad
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Notsobad »

I think encouraging high school kids to chase the dollar would be counterproductive. Of course being aimless and ending up like the proverbial starving artist is not useful.

I think a reasonable focus is to develop marketable skills and that lifelong learning is required.

Besides, if a high school student chases the “highest” income profession, it will probably have changed by the time they get there.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by SmileyFace »

I agree focusing on $$ is probably wrong:
The best High-Tech sales-people earn Million Dollar commission checks and are more successful than Doctors, etc. Of course if you are miserable doing a job; or fail at it because you don't have the disposition, can't-learn-the-skills, or what-not - it doesn't matter.
Which career has the "Highest Probability" - that certainly wouldn't be Entrepreneurs so I wouldn't use that answer - many more fail than succeed.
Physicians, Engineering, etc. perhaps have the "Highest probability".
austin757
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by austin757 »

Looking for stability AND high pay? These two are hard to find together, in my experience. Physician, investment banking, and certain software engineering positions are really the only things I can think of.

Plenty of lawyers make a killing, but not all of them, depending on their specialty. You could also work for a stable and healthy MegaCorp, but you could very easily get stuck in middle-management roles and have a target on your back for a layoff.

Some other professions pay pretty good but are cynical and come with a healthy dose of volatility. Oil and gas, airline pilots, sales, successful entrepreneurs, etc.
Last edited by austin757 on Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

Normchad wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:56 am
stoptothink wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:53 am
sd323232 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:51 am
vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I think it is a great question. Kids these days are given horrible advice of just follow their passion. This teaches them nothing. In real world, you have to make money, unfortunately. If food, rent, healthcare was free and paid by someone else, yes of course, you can follow your passion. But if you have to pay for everything in your life, you better have a good paying job. I just wish more high school kids were actually taught of how much particular field will pay approximately, instead of throwing them cliche advice "do what your passion is and you will be rich" or "if you work your dream job, you never have to work in your life"
We were probably all thinking it, but someone had to say it.
It would be good for kids to know which degrees lead to jobs, and which degrees need higher level degrees to get jobs.
You’re the sage adult in the room. Provide answers to questions they need to ask, not the ones they seek.

Learning what different career paths pay is actionable knowledge. Knowing which career pays the most is useless trivia unless you’re a narcissist who can’t do a Google search.

Show them the difference in earnings between those who graduate from high school and those who don’t. Show them the impact of a college degree. Explain the educational requirements of desirable jobs. Discuss which fields are likely to expand or contract in the next decade.
Swansea
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Swansea »

BisterMean
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by BisterMean »

1.) Entrepreneur - corporate life is so stupid, inhibitory and makes fortunes for others not as technically talented as you.

2.) Serial learner - if you aren't curious, you'll likely fail no matter what career you choose.

Choosing just one career path is silly. Just read that. So incredibly boring for having just one life. Tastes will change. Interests will change. And you generally tend to be most effective in what you enjoy doing. Arm yourself with the right personal characteristics rather than the right background.
GreendaleCC
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by GreendaleCC »

I find the high school’s speaker prep questionable.

In any case, I think there’s middle ground between passion vs income maximization. Either extreme is not wise in my book.

I would encourage any career explorer to think of their possible options as a Venn diagram and focus on the overlap between “What I’m interested in and enjoy” and “What can lead to a comfortable living.”

This example might get torn apart here, but if one of my kids one day wanted to study Fine Arts in college, I would encourage them to figure out how to get enough exposure to finance or accounting to have a reasonable shot at jobs with organizations dealing with art investments, auctioning, museum management, etc. (Art stuff would not be my first choice, but this is the kind of approach I’m mentally preparing for.)
otinkyad
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by otinkyad »

GreendaleCC wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:56 pm I would encourage any career explorer to think of their possible options as a Venn diagram and focus on the overlap between “What I’m interested in and enjoy” and “What can lead to a comfortable living.”
During an accepted students presentation for game design majors, the department chair said there’s what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and what you can get paid for. Only the last is indispensable, and the last two make a decent career, plus you can always find a hobby. The first and last lead to imposter syndrome, and of course, finding all three is great, but not a reasonable requirement for picking a major.

I don’t entirely agree, but I found it refreshing. “Passion” is of course a red herring, but I think it’s usually hard to get good at something you don’t enjoy. I’m a craftsman, though, and enjoy the process. I know plenty of people who only enjoy the rewards, and it doesn’t matter very much what the work was.

I don’t find the student’s question silly. They asked for the highest probability of lots of money. If we want the most probable, the median matters more than the average. So, I would throw out professional athletics, doctors, entrepreneurs, finance quants, and sales. The chances of success at any of those are low. The Department of Labor and sites like PayScale may have enough data, but I would guess skilled trades, and for college students, business or engineering majors have the best chances at financially successful careers.
GreendaleCC
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by GreendaleCC »

It’s not clear in OP that the “what career makes the most money?” question came from a student. If it did, that would make more sense.
Kelrex
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Kelrex »

Normchad wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:56 am
stoptothink wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:53 am
sd323232 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:51 am
vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I think it is a great question. Kids these days are given horrible advice of just follow their passion. This teaches them nothing. In real world, you have to make money, unfortunately. If food, rent, healthcare was free and paid by someone else, yes of course, you can follow your passion. But if you have to pay for everything in your life, you better have a good paying job. I just wish more high school kids were actually taught of how much particular field will pay approximately, instead of throwing them cliche advice "do what your passion is and you will be rich" or "if you work your dream job, you never have to work in your life"
We were probably all thinking it, but someone had to say it.
It would be good for kids to know which degrees lead to jobs, and which degrees need higher level degrees to get jobs.
As someone with one of those "good" degrees that leads to a "high paying career", I have a lot of thoughts on this subject.

Very few degrees directly lead directly to jobs, and many jobs that don't require specific degrees are very very good jobs. So devaluing a degree because it doesn't lead to a job is nonsense. What is important is understanding what *how* careers are built.

Also, when someone pursues one of these rare professional degrees, they then usually pigeon hole themselves into that career and close a lot of other career doors, making it harder to pivot and making their career less robust to drastic market changes and personal instances of bad fortune.

A professional degree opens one door while closing most of the others.

One of the biggest disservices to kids is directly connecting school to work and convincing them that getting the right degree will set them up for the right career.

It doesn't work that way.

Also, one doesn't just "go to school to become an orthodontist" or other equivalent career.

The kids who end up orthodontists started out very intelligent, learned incredible studying skills, got top grades in university while also maintaining a solid repertoire of extra curriculars, made fantastic impressions on professors, who were then willing to write glowing letters about them, then either were naturals or learned exceptional interview skills because they were up against the very top of top students to get into dental school, often taking more than one year to get in, many doing a master's degree, and more extra curriculars in the meantime.

Then in dental school, they excelled as top grade earners against competition of other students who were already demonstrably the very best of the best, straight A+,A-type personalities imaginable, all while tackling an insane workload in a likely abusive environment, all while using excellent networking skills to connect themselves with the few orthodontic faculty, which every other Ortho gunner was angling to get time with. Also taking on extra side projects and research above and beyond the already 80-100hr work load. Many of them depending on abusing Adderall to do manage it.

Then competing again against the elite of the elite for one of the 2-3 Ortho spots at the specialty school. Maybe getting in, maybe not, and reapplying and doing the same thing for next 1-4 years in a row, all while doing extra research, residencies, fellowships etc to make themselves more appealing.

Then getting into Ortho school, taking on a additional few hundred thousand in debt, working an additional 3 years on top of the decade they've already put into school, and not just learning to become proficient orthodontists, but also conducting academic research!

What's my point with these long paragraphs about orthodontists?

My point is that the kids who "go to school to become orthodontists" aren't successful because someone told them to go to school to become orthodontists, but because they had the natural talents and supports to be able to work themselves into the ground for well over a decade while going into high six figure debt to beat some of the fiercest competition in the world, to become orthodontists.

My point is that anyone who is that talented and willing to work that hard on so many fronts against such vicious competition is likely to make decent money in their life.

The degree of "orthodontist" isn't what makes someone money. It's the unstoppable grit to get it that does.
And chances are, they would probably be a lot wealthier if they put that level of work into something less limited than becoming just an orthodontist.

Truthfully, if being an orthodontist isn't their "dream", then it's a horrible career path to try and follow.

That's why questions like this are a disservice to kids.

A better question is: "what professional skills are most likely to lead to career success, and what are the fundamental differences between high barrier and low barrier of entry careers?"
Keenobserver
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Keenobserver »

My bro in law is in IT and was telling his son to go into IT security.
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NewMoneyMustBeSmart
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by NewMoneyMustBeSmart »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
Be a tech entrepreneur; fail early and learn how to overcome adversity and succeed. When you finally do with some probability of success, you will be set.
-- | Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts - Einstein
Impatience
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Impatience »

The most important thing is to have a plan and commit to it. That plan could be investment banker or cardiologist ... or it could be art history major. As long as you understand what you need to do to succeed, know the likely outcomes, and are ok with having or making X amount of dollars. Have a plan early and you’ll succeed.
Olemiss540
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Olemiss540 »

GreendaleCC wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:28 pm It’s not clear in OP that the “what career makes the most money?” question came from a student. If it did, that would make more sense.
Hopefully a very intelligent student or I have some tough news to deliver.....
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.
DarkHelmetII
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by DarkHelmetII »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
Intermediary / translator in the business world. Not literally language translation but technical to business strategy, building consensus among stakeholder groups etc... mix of soft & technical skills.

My 2 cents.
sd323232
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by sd323232 »

very interesting question, i enjoyed reading the replies and different opinions, i hope the discussion will keep going :sharebeer
investnoob
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by investnoob »

Might be too early to choose a career. If it is, you might want to first ask your self if you want to keep your education going. If you do, what discipline do you want to study?

Then examine what careers might be generated from that discipline and think about whether you would like any of those careers.
If you don't think you would like any of those careers, ask yourself if you want to keep studying that discipline.

If you do want to continue studying that discipline, try to understand what skills you have and how they could transfer to other things.

Once you understand your skill set, maybe you could ask people you know what opportunities are out there for a job.
If you get a job, great, maybe that can be leveraged into a career. And maybe it won't.

And that's ok.

If you are lucky, you can turn other things (outside of your job) into a career.
Zonian59
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by Zonian59 »

You have to keep in mind that any career that pays a very high income is liable to have some kind of risk associated with it.
Risk in terms of requiring extensive education at a prestigious college (expensive), the job itself is highly stressful or even hazardous. You have to decide whether you're willing to pay the price.

It's the same as financial investments. If you chase high yields, the investment is going to be risky and volatile.

Determine (1) what you are good at or where your talents lie; (2) What interests you or enjoy; and (3) what you think is worthwhile or important to devote yours life to. Then see what careers matches up.
Last edited by Zonian59 on Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
oldfort
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by oldfort »

In terms of normal jobs available in any mid-sized city in the midwest, go into medicine, law, or maybe CS if this WFH continues indefinitely. In terms of absolute max earnings capacity, entrepreneur/movie star/investment banking/hedge fund/private equity/professional athlete, but those are all rarefied career paths and extremely difficult to break into.
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dogagility
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by dogagility »

Anesthesiologist Assistant is about as good as it gets for money, education required, and work/life balance.
All children spill milk. Learn to smile and wipe it up. -- A Farmer's Wife
MarkRoulo
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MarkRoulo »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I have some advice that I gave out on a college recruiting trip and I'll include it here:
Pick something you like.
But just because you like something is not enough of a reason to pick it. You also need to pick something that has some realistic chance to make a reasonable living.

And there is a very practical reason to pick something you like:
You are going to be competing with other people for these job slots
and you DO NOT want to be a in a situation where your competition WANTS to spend many extra hours getting better at your common job because they think that it is fun while you want to wrap up your job for the day and move on to what you really want to do.

If your competition wants to spend 60-70 hours/week doing whatever and you want to finish and go on to something else all other things being the same the other person is going to get better faster. Which means that if you don't like your job you are signing up to be average/mediocre. That is a bad place to be. Any you aren't going to maximize your lifetime earnings if you spend a chunk of your career being in the pool of folks that are expendable/lay-off-able because you are only average at your job and are easily replaced [some rare fields such as medicine maybe excepted ... maybe].

So ... pick something you like ... for practical, not idealistic reasons ... but make sure that it is a job that can pay enough rather than a hobby that cannot.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
MarkRoulo
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MarkRoulo »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Well ... you haven’t “met” me and maybe programming computers doesn’t count as engineering, but I’m genuinely glad I’ve been able to work as a programmer for my entire career. And I picked the field without having a computer science degree or even taking any computer science classes. Getting that first job was a challenge :-)
oldfort
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by oldfort »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Disagree. As someone with a BS+MS in engineering, I'm not exactly in the genuinely glad group on how my career turned out. However, my number one complaint would be about money. Looking back, I should have been more focused, not less, on money in my career. My number two complaint would be government specific: security clearances, etc.
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anon_investor
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by anon_investor »

Zonian59 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:36 pm You have to keep in mind that any career that pays a very high income is liable to have some kind of risk associated with it.
Risk in terms of requiring extensive education at a prestigious college (expensive), the job itself is highly stressful or even hazardous. You have to decide whether you're willing to pay the price.

It's the same as financial investments. If you chase high yields, the investment is going to be risky and volatile.

Determine (1) what you are good at or where your talents lie; (2) What interests you or enjoy; and (3) what you think is worthwhile or important to devote yours life to. Then see what careers matches up.
That is a really great analogy!
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

MarkRoulo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:47 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Well ... you haven’t “met” me and maybe programming computers doesn’t count as engineering, but I’m genuinely glad I’ve been able to work as a programmer for my entire career. And I picked the field without having a computer science degree or even taking any computer science classes. Getting that first job was a challenge :-)
When I was in high school, I was very interested in electronics leaning on my own - amplifiers, radio receivers, am/fm, mixers, oscillators, feedback loops, radio waves, etc. But it was just a kiddie stuff - making things work, nothing new, the outcome is as expected. I know many engineering friends, either working or retired. When we meet, I always realize that there is not much to talk beyond superficial things. They (including me) have lost the ability to form their own opinions. Engineering is mostly about learning and following rules - designing, programming. There is not much "stop & think."

I consider computer programming more along the slope. Do you expect anything which is not easily expected in your work? It is just making things works by using things well known. Not easy and a lot of work.

"It was like those moving pictures where you see a piece of equipment go bruuuuup, bruuuuup, bruuuuup. Every time I'd look up, the thing was getting bigger. What was happening, of course, was that all the boys had decided to work on this and to stop their research in science. All science stopped during the war except the little bit that was done at Los Alamos. And that was not much science; it was mostly engineering." - Feynman on Manhattan Project
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

I wouldn't advise people to pursue only a narrow set of high paying careers. (It's good to tell them about them, though - one thing you're doing is expanding their horizons.) How many grads are going to be doctors until they bomb orgo? How many are going to "program" until they realize they're not good at it?

I think the best advice would be a lot more general. Figure out what you're good at, and how to turn that into a paying career. It's not going to be as simple as "major in what the job title is." Great at art? Awesome. Probably not going to make money as an artist, but might you like architecture or industrial design where you can use your skills? Love language and want to major in classics? Cool. Get a second major or minor in tech or business so you can get your foot in the door. (Not hypothetical, for one of my very well compensated friends.) Want to be a journalist? Be prepared to hustle and move to a big city. (Lots of careers require you to be willing to relocate. This is hard to judge at 18.)

Some careers have a lot more luck involved than others. Some careers only the top 10% make any money in that field. If you're not tops, pick a different field where you don't need to be tops to stay in it, or give it a shot but have an exit strategy. Everything is easier if you're not saddled with debt.

So many kids don't get that they are going to have to do more to succeed than just be good at school. The earlier they learn that, the better.
oldfort
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by oldfort »

GreendaleCC wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:56 pm I find the high school’s speaker prep questionable.

In any case, I think there’s middle ground between passion vs income maximization. Either extreme is not wise in my book.

I would encourage any career explorer to think of their possible options as a Venn diagram and focus on the overlap between “What I’m interested in and enjoy” and “What can lead to a comfortable living.”

This example might get torn apart here, but if one of my kids one day wanted to study Fine Arts in college, I would encourage them to figure out how to get enough exposure to finance or accounting to have a reasonable shot at jobs with organizations dealing with art investments, auctioning, museum management, etc. (Art stuff would not be my first choice, but this is the kind of approach I’m mentally preparing for.)
What if there's not much overlap between what you enjoy and what you can get paid for doing. I enjoy golf and surfing, but could never get paid to golf or surf all day. I like watching sports, but don't expect to ever get a job as a sports announcer. Perhaps it's better to look for overlap between jobs I can tolerate and jobs which lead to a comfortable living.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

Oh, also: dreams are great. Figuring out the path to your dreams is the hard part. Lots of students in my SOs computer science classes wanted to work at Google. Wouldn't that be grand? So the Google recruiter comes and says, oh, if you don't have a 3.75, don't bother applying. And it turns out that "Cs get degrees" and "do as little as you can in your classes makes for a bad ethos if your goal is a top tech firm. Nothing wrong with not having that goal, but how sad to have it and have no idea how to get there?
MarkRoulo
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MarkRoulo »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:39 pm
MarkRoulo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:47 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Well ... you haven’t “met” me and maybe programming computers doesn’t count as engineering, but I’m genuinely glad I’ve been able to work as a programmer for my entire career. And I picked the field without having a computer science degree or even taking any computer science classes. Getting that first job was a challenge :-)
When I was in high school, I was very interested in electronics leaning on my own - amplifiers, radio receivers, am/fm, mixers, oscillators, feedback loops, radio waves, etc. But it was just a kiddie stuff - making things work, nothing new, the outcome is as expected. I know many engineering friends, either working or retired. When we meet, I always realize that there is not much to talk beyond superficial things. They (including me) have lost the ability to form their own opinions. Engineering is mostly about learning and following rules - designing, programming. There is not much "stop & think."

I consider computer programming more along the slope. Do you expect anything which is not easily expected in your work? It is just making things works by using things well known.
I tend not to be working on problems for which my employer has a well understood solution.

In some sense I make things work by "using things well known" ... but most of the programming languages in current use are "Turing Complete" so *ANY* problem is just using things well known. But the same can be said of SpaceX ... building and launching rockets is "just" applied physics and the physics is pretty well known. Nevertheless, it is not common to describe successfully building rockets as easy.

Shakespeare was "using things well known," too (the English alphabet), nevertheless the challenge was in selecting the letters to use and the actual order :-)

And my job rarely involves just stringing together off-the-shelf software packages. Again, if the solution can be done this way then someone else will be doing it. There *are* a lot of people at my company working on software that is, mostly, just grinding out the next iteration of something. I'm just not one of them. Fortunate me!

Sometimes the challenge is solving the problem *efficiently*. I've been involved with projects where the "use the off-the-shelf pieces" would work, but would also require $100,000 of computer hardware to run in the time we had available. My employer wanted the solution to run on a $2,000 laptop. At this point it became time to think (which is why I was brought in ...).
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

MarkRoulo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:19 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:39 pm
MarkRoulo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:47 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Well ... you haven’t “met” me and maybe programming computers doesn’t count as engineering, but I’m genuinely glad I’ve been able to work as a programmer for my entire career. And I picked the field without having a computer science degree or even taking any computer science classes. Getting that first job was a challenge :-)
When I was in high school, I was very interested in electronics leaning on my own - amplifiers, radio receivers, am/fm, mixers, oscillators, feedback loops, radio waves, etc. But it was just a kiddie stuff - making things work, nothing new, the outcome is as expected. I know many engineering friends, either working or retired. When we meet, I always realize that there is not much to talk beyond superficial things. They (including me) have lost the ability to form their own opinions. Engineering is mostly about learning and following rules - designing, programming. There is not much "stop & think."

I consider computer programming more along the slope. Do you expect anything which is not easily expected in your work? It is just making things works by using things well known.
I tend not to be working on problems for which my employer has a well understood solution.

In some sense I make things work by "using things well known" ... but most of the programming languages in current use are "Turing Complete" so *ANY* problem is just using things well known. But the same can be said of SpaceX ... building and launching rockets is "just" applied physics and the physics is pretty well known. Nevertheless, it is not common to describe successfully building rockets as easy.

Shakespeare was "using things well known," too (the English alphabet), nevertheless the challenge was in selecting the letters to use and the actual order :-)

And my job rarely involves just stringing together off-the-shelf software packages. Again, if the solution can be done this way then someone else will be doing it. There *are* a lot of people at my company working on software that is, mostly, just grinding out the next iteration of something. I'm just not one of them. Fortunate me!

Sometimes the challenge is solving the problem *efficiently*. I've been involved with projects where the "use the off-the-shelf pieces" would work, but would also require $100,000 of computer hardware to run in the time we had available. My employer wanted the solution to run on a $2,000 laptop. At this point it became time to think (which is why I was brought in ...).
"Shakespeare was "using things well known," too (the English alphabet), nevertheless the challenge was in selecting the letters to use and the actual order :-)" I don't need any more.
livesoft
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by livesoft »

I suppose politician would work as long as one stayed in power into their eighties or nineties. That is, working a LONG time could overcome all kinds of pay rates.

Also think of all those university professors still getting full pay in their seventies and eighties.

That is, there are those high paying, short-term careers, but there are long-term careers where folks like to work until they die. How do you make "all else being equal" apply?
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GreendaleCC
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by GreendaleCC »

oldfort wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:56 pm
GreendaleCC wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:56 pm I find the high school’s speaker prep questionable.

In any case, I think there’s middle ground between passion vs income maximization. Either extreme is not wise in my book.

I would encourage any career explorer to think of their possible options as a Venn diagram and focus on the overlap between “What I’m interested in and enjoy” and “What can lead to a comfortable living.”

This example might get torn apart here, but if one of my kids one day wanted to study Fine Arts in college, I would encourage them to figure out how to get enough exposure to finance or accounting to have a reasonable shot at jobs with organizations dealing with art investments, auctioning, museum management, etc. (Art stuff would not be my first choice, but this is the kind of approach I’m mentally preparing for.)
What if there's not much overlap between what you enjoy and what you can get paid for doing. I enjoy golf and surfing, but could never get paid to golf or surf all day. I like watching sports, but don't expect to ever get a job as a sports announcer. Perhaps it's better to look for overlap between jobs I can tolerate and jobs which lead to a comfortable living.
I think you’re taking my comment too literally. If you have an interest in surfing or golfing, consider the entire industries around those sports that employ tons of people in different capacities who are not the ones competing professionally.

Plus, if you were a high school student who liked loved watching sports, you probably could become a professional sports announcer (or sports journalist) - if you thought strategically, made good choices to create your own luck, and played your cards right.
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market timer
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by market timer »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.
This seems like a strange question on which to base a discussion for high school kids.
Last edited by market timer on Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
deserat
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by deserat »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:38 pm
gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
Instead of giving answers, you should discuss what they have to ask before deciding their careers. Aged adults are often of narrow minded and their thinking is too practical. Money is important, but focusing on or chasing after money leaves life void. Job is more than making money. How often do we encounter postings on this forum like "slaving for big corp.", "once achieve FI, why do you work?" Following the current fads is not a good idea. If a society drums up a bright outlook for the demands and throws big money, there is a reason behind it. I am an engineer and also know many retired engineers. It has been a decent choice financially, but a lot of questions linger. I haven't met anybody who is genuinely glad in choosing an engineering career.
Count me as an anecdote of one who is glad I chose engineering, however, I had a varied engineering career and was able to settle on an engineering area that I enjoy: BS mechanical engineering (with a stint in power electrical engineering), MS biomedical engineering, MS healthcare informatics (much later in my career) and Health IT. I also had a military Reserve career that was not in my civilian area, so was exposed to many types of engineering, leadership opps, business (Acq)--started out in space ops as active military and acquisition and left for Biomed and Reserves.....

So, for me the key was variety and exposure to many different things that allowed me to then focus in on what I liked. Engineering does pay well for the most part, although the entry barrier is still high with regard to the discipline needed to get the degree (s) - not quite as time hogging as medicine, but just as rigorous and possibly more so in some ways.

For the young adults, I would focus on offense and defense with proper emphasis on that which comports well with their career (s) choice: offense is earning, defense is saving and investments. As for happiness, the MD who posted above gave a great link with regard to that - after a certain amount of money as a 'salary', the happiness curve is a long exponential tail on the money/happiness curve. I would wager that those numbers stated in the article might be a bit high for a future Boglehead, i.e., the defense part of the equation brings pleasure - finding how to live large on a lower amount - for me I get a 'thrill of the hunt' feeling.

And as you age, your interests change/shift, and what you loved can become drudgery. Also, there's the well known adage of thinking you might make money with a hobby and then realizing it's 'work.'

To sum up - balance would be key - are you able to do something you enjoy, earning enough to cover your lifestyle costs while at the same time saving/investing for what you value (house, children, travel, etc....) and retirement while being able to also "smell the flowers" along the way. As evidenced on this board, there are many ways to 'skin that cat.'

I'll stop with the adages now.... :-)
BV3273
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by BV3273 »

vk22 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:59 am I am asked to discuss career options in an high school. Ahead of the meeting, the key question sent to me was "Which career has the high probability for maximum lifetime $, given all else being equal?" I wanted to given an honest and best possible/data based answer.

I can thinking of specialty doctors like Cardiologist, Entrepreneurs in software/robotics/future technologies and investment bankers as the top 3 things. My intent is to get some data on effort to get to these roles, pathways and rewards.

Anything else? What advice would you give your young self? Thanks for any insights.
I’d say a sales specialist.

Medical device and/or technology are great because you truly become a valuable asset to your company and your customers. It’s definitely not easy but the money can be truly amazing. All jobs are stressful in certain aspects, just be sure to have outlets outside of work - friends, hobbies, etc. Living a well rounded life is more important than money.
nigel_ht
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by nigel_ht »

dogagility wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:12 pm Anesthesiologist Assistant is about as good as it gets for money, education required, and work/life balance.
Trying to get my kid to double major BSN/pre-med so AA is an option.

It’s possible since he’ll graduate high school with most of nursing AA pre-reqs done. A year more to get his AA, pass NCLEX then go to normal college for pre-med degree. Apply for AA admissions...if not accepted, do 2 years in a CCU, do an RN to BSN program after hours, fix grades or whatever and reapply for AA or CRNA or figure something else out.

Optimally 7 years from high school to AA path which is quicker than CRNA. Or fail his NCLEX or hate his clinicals and instead of pre-med go for an engineering degree of some kind because he learned medicine isn’t for him in 1 year vs 6...and with a much lower price tag for me.

The downside is AAs are currently limited to 16 states.

Looking at the stats AA programs have around 10% acceptance rates so pretty competitive to get in...which is why a plan B & C are desired.
moneywise3
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by moneywise3 »

Income follows passion. When you're passionate about something, you do extremely well there. Then the money follows. If you follow money, you're by definition shutting down your passion. Everyone is born with special talents that need to be identified and nurtured. Real satisfaction comes when you do something for others good - being rewarded financially is an inevitable side effect of that.
nigel_ht
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Re: Choosing a career

Post by nigel_ht »

gr7070 wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:11 am I would stay away from that answer.

I would focus on choosing a career with personal satisfaction that also can provide a quality income.

Some of those will overlap with the question, doctor, software/CS, engineering, accounting, medical/nursing, etc.

Maximum income is a fools errand. Choosing a satisfying career with an understanding of good income and field longevity makes way more sense.
I would answer the question because not doing so is a disservice to the kids.

It’s a tactical question so provide a tactical answer.

These careers have good out of the gate income.
These have higher lifetime income.
These require X years of schooling and expense.
These have high top incomes and really bad median ones.

Then go over mechanics of figuring out the ROI investment into the education required to into the career.

The ROI portion is most valuable since college education is a business transaction that may cost as much as their first house.

Like buying a house you will end up living in your career so there should be aspects of it you really like...but you sure as heck shouldn’t buy an overpriced property just because you like it or buy a house with issues you absolutely can’t live with no matter how great a deal it might be.
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