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 Post subject: What Sort of Job Do You Have? Also: Suggestions?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:10 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:52 pm
Posts: 56
After reading the GRS blog/forums, along with a bunch of other financial blogs for a while, I've come to realize something.
Most people have jobs that pay amazingly well. I see a lot of people in the 50,000k/yr and up range.

As a graphic designer with a specialized 5-year degree (and honors!), my first job out of college paid $10.00 an hour. It took almost 7 years and many times switching jobs in order to obtain a wage increase before I was able to barely double that. Now, almost 15 years later after receiving my degree, I can't even find full-time employment anywhere in the graphics industry, and freelancing doesn't bring in much...around $7,500 a year (which I supplement with a part-time retail job and part-time fine-arts sales). I'm tired of living at poverty level (total NET from all 3 jobs is around $15,000/yr), and it's clear that things are not going to get better. Art is a very expendable thing, and when businesses feel their belts tighten, it's the graphic designers who get cut first. Also, consumers tend to spend less on frivolous stuff such as fine arts, so in these times, my fine arts sales are way down as well.

It's a time for a change for me. I'm thinking of going back to college for an Accounting Degree, since accounting seems to be the sort of job that doesn't get downsized as much, and I enjoy working with budgets and finances. I want the sort of job that makes an actual LIVING WAGE for once. Something that makes at least $35,000 - 40,000 in the first couple years out of college, instead of having to work 7 or more years at low wages before reaching that.

So! Before I just leap into something that may not work out, I have several questions: "What do you do for a living? What is your career? How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)? And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money? Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged)."

Thank you for your suggestions and help!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:45 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:17 am
Posts: 123
Location: SC
I went to school for a BS in Computer Science specifically because I knew it would get me a good paying job, and because I was good at it. As much as I like history, it just wasn't going to pay the bills, so I made the decision based on career choices in the future. Now I deal mostly with computer network stuff. I had an internship for 3 years while I was in school doing programming, then I got a job with the DoD shortly after graduation. All in all it was pretty much planned out from high school because of my particular skill set.

Accounting should be a good choice, it depends on whether you can do it well, and if you might actually enjoy it. A job you hate isn't really worth any bump in pay.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:39 am 
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Posts: 1627
Location: Washington DC
What do you do for a living?
I'm a US Gov't economist. I also founded Coffee Cents, a Personal Finance course given in local coffeehouses in conjunction with a local university's support. I'm paid very well.

What is your career?
Economics!

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
BS, MA in Economics, BS in Social Psychology, current PhD Candidate, extensive coursework at SAS Institute.

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
If you enjoy accounting you will make good money at it. I have a friend who is an accountant and she and her husband just moved in a nice rowhouse in VA. They live comfortably, and I think she makes around 50-60K.

Or should I choose something else?

I would choose something you like and enjoy. Life is more than about money after you can cover the basics.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:59 am 

Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:15 pm
Posts: 99
"What do you do for a living?

I am in hospital finance - a health system analyst actually. I track the system's processes to uncover what leaks money - then put in ways to cut back on losses (only to be ignored until next time :P )

What is your career? How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?

I was a temp placed in a hospital. After 3-4 assignments in the same hospital over 2 years, I decided to do it for a living - plus it was my main skill set. The temping trained me on several aspects of the industry. I later got snatched up by a consulting firm that sent me around to make them money since I was good at it. My schooling did not affect my path at all from what I can tell. (although there are undergrad degrees in my field now - there didnt used to be)

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money? Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged)."

I would thinking accounting/cpa would be a good "safe" investment. I think it is better if you could get into a firm as anything - the receptionist, mail room, etc and have them pay for your schooling. My employer is generous with the tuition reimbursement and could get another undergrad or grad degree paid for by them. I could be in housekeeping (FT) and get the same benefit, and I get to move around a lot. I dont know if age would hinder you - I'm in denial that ppl over 40 suffer discrimination at any time :lol: - esp. b/c who knows how many millions will be unemployed if Obama's health care goes thru? I considered taking accounting courses already myself.

OP - I'm sure it is grueling - but I am impressed you work so hard for such little $ and make it work. I did the starving artist thing at 22 after school - but by 27-28 I was tired of being poor all the time and played it 'safe'. My admiration to you.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:56 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 53
What do you do for a living?
I'm a lawyer specializing in civil litigation defense at a very small law firm.

What is your career?

Law

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
Undergraduate degrees in Economics and International Affairs; 3 years full time law school. (Some law schools offer 4 year part-time programs.) Then there's also studying and passing the bar exam (generally 3 months), if you wish to practice law.

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
My husband is an accountant. His first job as a auditor at a large, international firm involved a lot of travel. He hated it after about 2 years. Now he works for a small, local accounting firm and likes it a lot more. He was primarily hired to do auditing work but, as it's a small firm, he has to pull some weight doing tax accounting during tax season. He makes a good wage.

Or should I choose something else?
That's a tough one. My husband chose accounting after deciding that an economics degree did not give him the job opportunities he wanted. So, he's happy that he was able to get hired right out of school with a decent salary. His strengths always were in numbers and mathematics. Considering that he works with numbers all day, if he didn't enjoy working with numbers, he would be seriously miserable. I mean, he's not in love with accounting but he enjoys it enough.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:29 pm
Posts: 167
What do you do for a living?
Mechanical Engineer

What is your career?
Engineering

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
Undergrad and Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Went to grad school right after my B.S. Got a job in the aerospace industry and have been with the same company since (7 years).

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?

I don't know any accountants but I believe they make decent money. You really need to like math and numbers.

Or should I choose something else?

Choose something that you would be at least slightly interested. Otherwise you may make decent money but hate going to your job. If you are interested in math and science you could go into engineering. It is a lot of work but engineers are typically paid very well. Also I don't think you should worry too much about going back to school and changing careers when you are middle aged. One of my friends I went to undergrad with was in her early 40s with 2 kids getting an engineering degree. She now has a great job and loves what she does.


Last edited by emoore on Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:30 am
Posts: 577
What do you do for a living?
i'm a biomedical researcher. briefly, i study drugs of abuse and their effects on the brain.

What is your career?
academic science, maybe industry when the economy recovers, i don't know. i'm just about to finish my terminal degree, so my career is just about to begin.

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
4 year bachelor's degree, then 5 more years to get a phd. that's where i am right now. am about to start a few years of specialized training/resume building after the degree.

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
have you convinced yourself this is interesting because you're interested in the money, or because you're really interested in the career? could you start with an associate's and get your foot in the door with some experience, then complete the bachelor's later if you find it a valuable pursuit?
as someone who has made a lot of sacrifices (including low pay) to do what interests me and what i feel is a valuable use of my time and talent, i feel strongly about this... that's just me.
also, how is the job market for accountants? you don't want to work so hard and graduate into a saturated job market.

Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged)
i fail to see where being somewhere around middle age would hinder you from becoming an accountant!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:44 am
Posts: 216
I'm an aspiring writer and freelance editor which pays almost nothing (extra money I make is pretty much made through my poker skills, heh).
My husband though makes 50k a year, so I'll answer for him.

What do you do for a living?
He manages a homeless to work non-profit program

What is your career?
He'll likely move into a more HR based position or start his own program eventually

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
BA in Psychology, three years making hardcore networking/business connections while working for 10-11 an hour which finally paid off and took him up to 38k, then to 50k (in one year! that was exciting).

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
As long as you don't hate accounting/number/computers. I'm going to guess you're already good with a computer, so you'll likely be fine. Check the local job listings in your area and see how useful that degree would be and what the wages are that are being offered, it can usually give you some idea of what the market is like for those skills.

Or should I choose something else?
I say check the job listings and see what's out there that's being massively hired for. Also, I'm with the people who say you should do whatever you enjoy, though of course if money is a big consideration, you'll likely have to compromise. For me, I couldn't compromise and took a flying leap out of the rat-race after 3 years of 60-70 hour weeks. We'd be richer if we were DINKS, but being a ball of stress wasn't worth it.


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 Post subject: Re: What Sort of Job Do You Have? Also: Suggestions?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:14 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:32 pm
Posts: 205
What do you do for a living? What is your career?
A computer/data analyst/developer

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
Ironically, I have a bachelors degree in graphic arts. I finished my degree, but something stopped me from going full force into graphics. I also have the math chip, and I took some more business and math classes (accounting, economics, math) and ended up in the actuarial field. But, back in the early 1980's my true love was computer programming and only one class! But, I eventually got into it and have been doing similar developer/data/statistics/analyst type jobs since, meanwhile earning a masters in applied math along the way. Now, I'm learning C++ at mid age (51), because I feel I missed the object oriented shift back in the 1990's (I know SAS and COBOL, though :) ).

My sister is a freelance illustrator, so I know it's tough to make money, even in good times.

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
Are you detailed and exacting? I loved the accounting classes I took (2) way back when, and I did well. I sort of do a very exacting job now, but it's more programming and development than accounting. I also love spreadsheets and probably to be an accountant you have to like them a lot.

Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged).
Do you like programming or anything like that? Have you done web design with your graphics? Maybe you could shift into the programming and development side of the graphics world and even program the graphics! (I'm looking at a computer graphics program myself).

You could also go into finance, or even personal finance.

Bottom line, though, try to do what you're naturally good at and like doing. It will be a huge struggle trying to fit into something that looks good on paper, but might not be a natural fit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:02 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:28 pm
Posts: 119
...


Last edited by pdxrocks on Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:51 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1323
Unless you're actually tired of working in the field of graphic design, I wouldn't give up so quickly. I've known quite a few designers who earned good wages, and I work with a bunch of fulltime and freelance graphic designers now who all must be doing pretty well. I work for a consulting firm, and we have a team of graphic designers who are on staff full time plus a stable of part-time freelancers that we call on when things get too busy. Most other large consulting firms follow the same model.

If you enjoy working with finances, you might consider an art director job. That generally involves managing budgets and managing other graphic designers, coordinating traffic, etc., and providing overall direction and guidance on design projects. Many art directors make excellent money, and it's the next logical step up from graphic design. If you went back to school for accounting you'd be starting over from scratch; if you move up to art direction you're building on the foundation you've already created for yourself and your earning potential will be much higher due to your experience.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:52 pm
Posts: 56
brad wrote:
Unless you're actually tired of working in the field of graphic design, I wouldn't give up so quickly. I've known quite a few designers who earned good wages, and I work with a bunch of fulltime and freelance graphic designers now who all must be doing pretty well. I work for a consulting firm, and we have a team of graphic designers who are on staff full time plus a stable of part-time freelancers that we call on when things get too busy. Most other large consulting firms follow the same model.

If you enjoy working with finances, you might consider an art director job. That generally involves managing budgets and managing other graphic designers, coordinating traffic, etc., and providing overall direction and guidance on design projects. Many art directors make excellent money, and it's the next logical step up from graphic design. If you went back to school for accounting you'd be starting over from scratch; if you move up to art direction you're building on the foundation you've already created for yourself and your earning potential will be much higher due to your experience.


If after 15 years I couldn't manage to obtain "good wages" doing graphic design, it's doubtful I'd be able to any time in the future. I know having a negative attitude doesn't help, but I've been so positive for so long (15 years!), only to apply to job after job, and find out they're all offering the same $10-$15 an hour, and often in cities such as LA/Orange County and New York where the cost of living is so high, that those wages are the equivalent of close to minimum wage in other locations (and often alongside other graphic design jobs offering $8 an hour). I've been looking for full-time graphic design work for 4 years now (been freelancing during this time) with no luck. I also have several graphic designer friends who are no better off, and all have found other careers or are working retail.

I've tried applying for art director jobs as well, with no luck. They're even fewer and far between than designer jobs, and even harder to get in to. While it's possible, it could be years before I luck out and actually get one, and then I still have the problem of being in an unstable, over-saturated, cutthroat field. It's almost as if you have to *know* someone to get a good, secure, high-paying design or director job.

Also, part of the problem I'm having in finding work at this point is that I went to school so long ago, so I only learned graphic design for print. I never learned web design beyond very basic HTML.. I'm beginning to realize I'd have to go back to school *anyway* for Flash, CSS, and other web building topics at this point (and I do NOT like web design at all, from the few basic sites I've built), so it seemed like a good point to consider a switch to a much more stable career that isn't way over-saturated like design is.


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 Post subject: THANK YOU!
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:52 pm
Posts: 56
Thank you everyone for your input, and for your replies regarding your careers.
It definitely helps, and it is food for thought.

I'll still be thinking about it for the next month or so before I decide for sure on what to do.
I appreciate your help! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:25 am
Posts: 120
Location: Central New York
"What do you do for a living? What is your career?
Graphic Design actually, in house at a college

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
4-year degree, 1 year working pre-press. I am working on my fourth year at a local college, and know that if I loose this job I am screwed.

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money? Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged)."
No idea, but working at a college does give me this piece of insight. Try to get a job at a college near you that offers accounting, any job, they often have tuition benefits that are just awesome. The pay is not up to par, but may be close to what you make now and the tuition benefits will make up for the lack in salary.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:34 am 
What do you do for a living? What is your career?
I have my own company in trainings and advice on intercultural communication and international business. I don't make a lot of money, and probably never will with this. I sell membership in an online learning portal for entrepreneurial/professional development on the side. My husband is in real estate development and his salary covers the bills for now.

How did you get there (ie, what sort of schooling)?
I have a BA in Facility Management and an Executive MBA. My background is general management, sales and marketing in international companies. I could make a good salary working 70-80 hr work weeks in a consultancy firm but that is: a-not making me happy now, b-not getting us to where we want to be in the future (those jobs have a tendency to suck you into expensive clothing, gadgets, and other must-haves)

And do you think a BA in Accounting is a good degree to have if I want a job that will make decent money?
I think so! Several friends of mine work in accounting and they have good incomes and like their job. Also, now with the economic downturn they have more work than ever. I do think you have to genuinely like working with numbers and be very detail-oriented. If you don't like what you do, you'll be miserable, decent salary or not.

Or should I choose something else? Will my age hinder me from finding work? (I'm somewhere around middle-aged).
I don't think it should matter much, as long as you show you're motivated to learn as much as possible in your new career.


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