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Greetings and Happy Holidays to All! It's time to start the 2010 Career Thoughts and Compensation Thread. I started doing these threads annually on the FW Finance board in 2006. When I originally started this thread four years ago, I thought it could serve as a great resource for people to learn about the ups and downs of various careers, including information such as salaries and benefits. I have always found these threads particularly informative and interesting.

I thought last year's thread was probably the best of all of them. Lots of people contributed information about their careers, and the thread remained active until May. The 2008 thread was a bit of a disappointment, but things got better last year, so let's try it again!

Now gang, here's a reminder of the rules, which 99.9% of you have been great at following over the past four years:

If you participate, please try to keep this a positive, informative thread, and let's not get into any arguments about how one's career/education/compensation makes him/her superior/inferior to other people. Contribute as much or as little information as you're comfortable sharing, but please be honest so that this may serve as a truly informative thread for people mulling their career options.

So, now that the ground rules have been set, how did your job go this year? Did things go well or not so well? How well were you compensated for 2010? Did the poor economy have a serious effect on your career? Maybe each person can give a brief description of themselves, their job, their education levels, and their salaries, present and maybe even projected salaries for the future. As always, since I'm starting the thread, I have to bite first:
Gender: Male

Age: 38

Location: Northern NJ

Occupation: Urban Educator (My fancy title for a teacher in a city of low socioeconomic standing)

Education: M.A., plus 33 additional credits

2010 Compensation: $90,000 (Base Pay + Retro Pay from a newly settled contract + a little extra money from some after school work and a few other extra things.) Base salary for the 2010-2011 school year, without extra money, is just about $88,000.

Future Salary Projection: This is a tricky one this year. There is a strong possibility that my salary (and the salaries of many other teachers) will be frozen for at least the next year. If salaries are not frozen, my salary should be in the $95,000 ballpark for the 2011 calendar year, and in the $100,000 range for the 2011-2012 school year. (More on why our salaries may be frozen later in the thread.)

Benefits: Full medical, modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan (for now, more on that later), tremendous job security once you achieve tenure (but virtually none before that, and even with tenure, you can still have the daylights menaced out of you. Also keep in mind that not all states offer tenure, in which case you can pretty much be fired at will no matter how much time you have in a particular district.) In almost all districts in NJ, you can accumulate sick time from year to year. This is a tremendous benefit, as I found out two years ago, and again just a few weeks ago when I suffered two major long-term illnesses. It was nice not having to worry about getting paid during my absences.

What's the job like?

Very difficult and getting more difficult bu the year. Tremendously long hours, almost no down time during the school day (I don't take lunch very often),lots of work at home, deplorable working conditions, with some classrooms reaching temperatures of 90+ degrees and others below freezing. Prepare to adopt some small scurrying pets who have made your classroom their home in older buildings in urban districts. You will also most likely need to spend a decent amount of money on supplies for students because your school won't provide them, even though they insist on your using them. Very little respect and support from most supervisors, parents, and students. I do it for the good kids and because I love teaching. Massive budget cuts have made the job even more difficult. Many teachers (myself included) are now finding themselves doing two jobs for the price of one due to massive retirements and staffing cuts.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Every year, it's become harder and harder for me to recommend teaching as a career. If you get a job in a district that treats you with some respect, is on solid financial footing (along with your corresponding state), and pays you a salary that ensures you won't be eating cans of tuna for the rest of your life, then I can recommend teaching as a career.

However, things here in NJ have gotten real rough over the past year. Our governor has pretty much made it his mission to make things much rougher for teachers, and has publicly vilified us on many occasions. He reduced state aid for all districts, resulting in massive layoffs. He wants to drastically alter our pension system, and there is a lot of fear that he is going to try to significantly reduce pension benefits for all public employees. This resulted in massive retirements of veteran teachers. He put tremendous pressure on teachers at the end of the last school year to accept salary freezes, even in districts that had valid contracts, and he is likely to increase the pressure this year. He wants to eliminate tenure, and while total elimination is unlikely, it's likely going to be made much tougher to get and to retain. He wants to institute merit pay, basing teacher salaries on their students' performance on standardized tests. This, of course, is infuriating many teachers, but especially those in urban districts like mine, where teachers sometimes get kids who have never attended school a day in their life show up to begin their educational careers on the day the standardized test starts. How is the kid going to pass the test if he doesn't even know his alphabet, let alone how to read? How is this kid going to compare to the kid in the affluent district who has a private tutor?

Then of course, you have to deal with all of the discipline problems, especially . What do you do when a kid curses you out, flips a desk over, smacks another kid in the head without provocation, and runs out of your class? You could tell your building administrators, but chances are they will not impose serious consequences on the student. They don't want to make the school look bad or deal with angry parents. Then, if you have administrators who are unsupportive, they may ask you, “What did you do to make the kid curse you out, flip over a desk, and smack another student in the head?” Then they'll tell you to better motivate your students to learn. When you ask how, they won't tell you. (Yes, this stuff actually happens.)

There are great moments, however. There are a lot of great kids in all districts who will give you their all every day. This is what keeps me going in my district. I know that I'm helping these kids to have the best future possible, even though they often face difficult circumstances.

Teaching is not an easy job, especially in an urban district. If you think that you will be able to face the challenges that await you, then go for it! Just be aware that it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
If someone wanted to find out that badly, I guess more power to them.

wstaffor (Feb. 24, 2011 @ 11:28p) |

AaG12 (Feb. 25, 2011 @ 9:29a) |

Gender: M
Age: 28
Location: California
Occupation: Lawyer
Education: BS/MS CS, JD from top school
Length of time in this fiel... (more)

HiPolymerEraser (Mar. 13, 2011 @ 4:26p) |

2006 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/689322/
2007 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/796139/
2008 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/890741/
2009 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/979843/

Template:

Gender:
Age:
Location:
Occupation:
Education:
Length of time in this field:
2010 Compensation:
Future Salary Projection:
Benefits:
What's the job like?
Would you recommend the career to others?
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To have an apples to apples comparison you will need to post paid time off, work days, work hours, and pension/retirement benefits.

There is a huge difference between a teacher that:
Makes 90K for 9 months work with regular school holidays throughout the year
Accumulating sick days that get paid out on retirement/termination
Has a pension that is paid for by the state with minimal funding provided by the employee with a guaranteed benefit

Compare that to a normal workforce employee that
Makes 90K for an expected 2080 hour year
2-6 weeks vacation
6-11 holidays and a couple of personal days
With or without sick days never paid on termination
Having to fund their own retirement with or without match.
Not dealing with any sort of guaranteed steps or raises.

My point is 90K is not equal to 90K unless justified.

zhelder, are you tenured?

dmlavigne1 said:   My point is 90K is not equal to 90K unless justified.Agreed; pension, days off, and % of insurance are a big part of the total compensation.

ZenNUTS said:   dmlavigne1 said:   My point is 90K is not equal to 90K unless justified.Agreed; pension, days off, and % of insurance are a big part of the total compensation.
There also needs to be a way to factor in cost of living, the OP is a teacher making 90k, there is probably like 5 cities in the entire United States that a teacher can make that much.

swissarmy said:   ZenNUTS said:   dmlavigne1 said:   My point is 90K is not equal to 90K unless justified.Agreed; pension, days off, and % of insurance are a big part of the total compensation.
There also needs to be a way to factor in cost of living, the OP is a teacher making 90k, there is probably like 5 cities in the entire United States that a teacher can make that much.

I think every experienced teacher in Northern NJ pulls in similar compensation, that is why the property tax is so high and teachers get little support for pension woes.

Love these threads, but had to make a new account as I don't want people to know me.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: Major Metropolitan City (Think NYC/SF/LA)

Occupation: IT Auditor

Education: B.S., not a top tier college

2010 Compensation: $75k base; after bonus and stock options given current valuation, roughly $85k.

Future Salary Projection: If I get promoted I should be hitting $90k+ base. I have interviewed at several places and have been offered $90k base salary; just haven't found the right company yet.

Benefits: 15 days PTO, 4 floating holidays; starting next month I will be getting 20 days PTO/4 floating. Medical/Dental/Vision, 401k matching up to $3.5k. $5k in training per year.

What's the job like?

Great hours; get to work at 9:30AM and out by 5:30PM; sometimes out later at 6:30PM, but it's worth the trade off of sleeping in the mornings. I used to be in Big 4 so I know how bad some people have it (50+ hours a week).

Mostly consists of interviewing people, standing ground, and being able to keep on top of IT in the industry. A lot of data analysis, but I love it. There is also a lot of documentation. If you hate reading/writing/typing in general, you will hate this job. I get some backfire from people at the company because they hate that I am telling them what to do, but that's more the exception rather than the rule. The only thing I really hate is that I don't really do anything -- auditors in general just look for things that are wrong, tell people how to fix it, and make sure it gets fixed. They have nothing to do with actually fixing issues, just identifying them.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Sure. Auditing is hot right now and you would be hard pressed not to find a job. All the good folks are getting poached and we are having trouble filling roles, even though our company is awesome. Soft skills are a top priority, with knowledge of auditing a close second. We have hired people in the past that know how to talk and have no experience. As long as you are willing to work hard you can get compensated well for it.

Mrsamsung, sent you a PM lol

Gender:M
Age: 28
Location: Dallas, TX
Occupation: Patent Agent
Education: BS ChemE
2010 Compensation: $100k base salary, year end bonus of $1-3k, $3k profit sharing retirement contribution, $4k in 401k matching. Performance bonuses available to those who bill a lot of hours (similar to overtime compensation).
Future Salary Projection: Eh, I could make up to $150-160k base salary if I really busted my ass (which I won't).
Benefits: Mediocre health, generally can take as much vacation as I want as long as meet my billable hour requirement
What's the job like? I meet with inventors at client companies. They describe their inventions to me. I write a patent application that describes their invention in detail and file it with the patent office. The patent office responds 2 years later and almost invariably alleges the invention is not patentable. Numerous rounds of communication with the patent office occur, and eventually I'll convince the patent office to grant a patent for the client. There are a lot of nuances that I skimmed over, but I don't think they need to be expounded upon here. In a more general sense, the job involves applying analytical, technical, and writing skills.
Would you recommend the career to others? I would recommend it to some people -- namely, people that enjoy writing and aren't bothered by sitting at a desk all day. I'm good at what I do, but I do wonder whether it is a good fit for me at times. I'd like to do something else at some point, but this pays the bills for now.

I always like reading these threads, updated quick summary with a template.

Gender: Male
Age: 26
Location: Metro Detroit / NW Ohio
Occupation: Financial Analyst / Cost Accountant for Automotive Supplier
Education: BA in Accounting
2010 Compensation: ~46,000
Future Salary Projection: ~48,800 for 2011, after that probably 3% increases without extra schooling.
Benefits: 10 vacation days, 5 personal/sick days, option to 'buy' extra week of vacation after working for one year, 401k match 100% first 3%, 50% on 4-6%. Health Insurance w/ dental and vision offered. Up to 5k yearly tuition re-imbursement available.
What's the job like?
I started the year keeping track of fixed assets for the company I work for, which included 4 (now 3) manufacturing locations and our corporate office. I also did extensive work with our Information Technology department in preparing reports and procedures using Crystal Reports software. So, I would keep track of any capital spending, additions, or disposals from our fixed assets first, and with any extra time would work on special projects to improve our financial reporting.

In October I accepted a position as a Cost Accountant at one of our manufacturing facilities. My new job currently involves analyzing and maintaining the standard costs for the parts we produce (i.e., add up direct material and labor, then allocate overhead). I also do a lot of ad-hoc reporting and assist the Plant Controller here with financial analysis.

Would you recommend the career to others?
At the college I graduated from, only ~13% of my fellow accounting majors didn't continue on to get their masters and become a CPA. So while there are a lot of established careers available for CPAs in public, private, or non-profit accounting, there's less of a career path available for someone with just a bachelor's degree. Those tend to be limited to the 35-55k range as analysts, accounts payable and receivable clerks, or staff accountants.

I would not recommend the jobs I've had this year for people who are interested in climbing the corporate ladder and working towards that 6 figure salary. If you want that, you'd need to go back for a masters in accounting or MBA and become a CPA. However, I would recommend these jobs for someone who is more interested in balancing their personal life, since the jobs I've done worked have been stable, low stress, put-in-your-40-and-leave jobs with good benefits and compensation.

Gender: M
Age: 39
Location: Portland OR
Occupation: Tech Support Engineer
Education: BS comp sci & BS engineering
2010 Compensation: $131k total. About $101k base salary and $30k in bonuses and stock incentives.
Future Salary Projection: probably a +2-4% raise in 2011 on base. Bonuses/stock should be similar within +/-25% but are not easily predictable.
Benefits: 4 weeks vacation. 10 paid holidays. Good health care provided but $3k deductible. Dental and vision covereage. No 401k matching, but 6% of pay towards a retirement account.
What's the job like? I to tech support for large companies. Its not 1800 support, and I only deal with specific engineers at certain companies. Its a good job. 40 hours a week without many late nights. Not high stress. Great working environment.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes if you have an aptitude for computers and engineering then this is a good field to get into. However high end tech support jobs are only usually seen a certain kinds of tech companies.

OK, gang, since a few of you asked, here's some more information about my "illustrious" teacher career:

Yes, I'm tenured. I've been in my current district for almost ten years. Tenure in NJ is granted after three years and one day of continuous service in a district. If you change districts, you lose tenure and have to start over.

Teachers in my district work 186 days. However, I average about 50-55 hours of work per week. The number used to be higher, but as I'm getting more experienced, I'm learning how to better manage my time. I work before school, after school, and at least part of every weekend. I even had to call in a few times during my illness a few weeks ago to make sure we didn't have any technology meltdowns. (I'm a technology teacher, BTW.) I work several days over the summer to prepare for the upcoming year. I work AT LEAST 2080 hours a year.

Now, about my salary: I know it's high for my profession, and trust me, nobody get more aggravated than me when people making 90 or 100K a year complain about how "poor" they are. But it's not exactly a life of luxury here in NJ either. Starter homes in decent suburbs close to NYC STILL fetch close to half a million dollars, and that's after price drops (which haven't affected towns in Northern NJ nearly as much as in other areas). And the taxes on that home can run in the $10,000 - $12,000 range. Don't forget, teachers have to pay their mortgages and property taxes just like everyone else.

That's why it's important to include your location with your information, so that people can get a better idea of salaries across the country, and compare those salaries with the costs of living in those areas.

TextGender: M

Age: 24

Location: Midwest

Occupation: Bank Examiner

Education: B.S. Business Administration - Finance

2010 Compensation: $70,000

Future Salary Projection: Assuming i pass my test, will get bumped to $85,000 for 2011. Potential to move to $100,000 -non competative in 2012

Benefits: 13 Days Annual Leave, 13 Days Sick Leave, All Federal Holidays off, Amazing health, dental, vision (gov pays 75%), FERS Pension Plan (years service X Highest 3 years salaries), 5% TSP(401K) matching, flexible working schedule (every 2nd friday off), tele-commute option

What's the job like? The first four - five years of the job are devoted to classroom and On-The-Job training. At the end of four years, you sit for your commissioning test. Its a test all the federal regulators have which basically means you have the requried knowledge to be an EIC (Examiner-in-Charge). EIC have day-to-day oversight and responsibilities of a bank. Some functions of the job include loan review, compliance review, internal controls, loan portfolio management, and IT. The job requires a great amount of travel, as you have to travel to the banks in order to do loan reviews, interview management, and do Board of Director Presentations (toughest part of the job).

Your workload varies as sometimes all your work falls around the same time and you have too much to do and have to put in your fair share of overtime. Sometimes deadlines get pretty tight and when you have to wait for others to complete their work, its puts additional pressure on you. Loan review is my favorite part of the job as i really enjoy reviewing and analyzing credit. Persuasive writing is also essential as you have to present the banks with reports about all your findings, observations, recommendations, and required actions. Honestly i can write about our job functions for hours, but thats a quick overview.

Would you recommend the career to others? I would recommend this job to others due to the amazing benefits. The flexible work schedule and ability to work at home is amazing. The pay is very competative and you can get to six-figures non-competatively. You have every second friday off and when a federal holiday falls around the same time, you quite often will have 4 day weekends. You have to not mind travel and staying in hotel rooms for a week which can get rough, especially if you are away from your family. I dont enjoy being away from my wife and she doesnt either. If you have a very strong attention to detail, strong analysis, strong communication and writing abilities, then you will really enjoy the job. Politics is the biggest downside, not going to go into that more. Pay for performance does not really exist, as you can put in WAY extra time and have the same salary and raises as someone who does nothing.

Gender: Male
Age: 32
Location: Manchester, NH
Occupation: Landlord and Ticket Broker
Education: BSBA Accounting from a non-prestigious state university
2010 Comp: 185k (est,+/- 10k -- still a few days left)
Benefits: None (on wife's benefit plan -- she's a consultant of sorts, earning $175kish)
Future Projection: Depends on people's preponderance to spend discretionary and on the value of property. Honestly, I expect a minor paycut next year

Own several multifamily properties and have a business buying and reselling event tickets. Pretty straightforward self-employment. I have never earned over $100k / yr as an employee, though have done multiple things.

Would I recommend to others:

without reservations, if you can handle the social stigma of ticket brokering and/or landlording.

Gender: M

Age: 29

Location: Washington DC

Occupation: Systems Engineer

Education: B.S., not a top-tier school

2010 Compensation: $163k ($112k base + $24k in stock + $27k bonus)

Future Salary Projection: Would expect to be well over $200k in the next few years

Benefits: 14 days PTO, 2 floating days, 401k matching, stock incentives, free medical/dental/vision

What's the job like?
Provide on-site technical product support to customers on the east coast. Superb troubleshooting, problem solving, technical skills and customer service skills are the real key to success. In addition, I also find myself teaching product training classes within most organizations as well. The hours definitely vary from day to day depending on the need and being in-front of a computer after working hours is almost a necessity to complete Company tasks, which means it's pretty easy to find yourself putting in over 40 hours a week.

I love it and don't see myself moving onto something else for quite a while. The benefits are awesome and the pay is great. However, the problem I have is finding the time to keep on top of the newer technologies coming out by self-training and keeping my technical skills up to date as possible.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Definitely, but the job isn't for everyone. If you're smart, hard-working and love new daily challenges this may be the path for you.

Could someone who is better at FW search post links to the archived past threads? I searched for them with no luck.

japaninator said:   Could someone who is better at FW search post links to the archived past threads? I searched for them with no luck.

I updated the Quick Summary.. Here they are:

2006 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/689322/
2007 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/796139/
2008 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/890741/
2009 Thread: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/979843/

Gender: M
Age: 30
Location: suburbia
Occupation: dentist
Education: DDS
2010 Compensation: 320k
Future Salary Projection: 450-500
Benefits: none.
What's the job like? i love my job. i best career in the world and wouldn't imagine doing absolutely anything else.
Would you recommend the career to others? first off, i am prob the exception to the rule as a dentist. i am true FW person and did every type of research there was to open my office and continuously read every day to be a better boss, clinician, business owner, etc. i doubt many of my friends or colleagues match my success. now before anyone goes slamming dentists for blah blah blah, that might be the case with some as in any industry, but if you met me and saw how much time i allot to working with you, you prob would think otherwise. my income goes up when my accelerated loan payments are done in a couple years.

would i recommend it? certainly. it is a great career. it is not a career for someone that fails out of MD school. it is a great career for someone that can be ADD and obsessive about things, but also enjoys meeting and talking to people all day. i enjoy meeting my patients and chatting with them every day more than the work that i do. my staff actually have to tell me to stop chatting and get back to work sometimes. the big issue with being a dentist today is the cost of education. it has sky rocketed and many people owe 300-500k for an education. they also do not train you for running a business. most people realistically make 70-80k their first year and have to pay back 1200+ a month for loans and after taxes, there is not much money remaining. some people, like myself, do well, but in a short period of time, but that is usually not the norm. also one has to consider the risk of opening or buying a practice. the cost usually will run 400k-1 million. if you can imagine worst case 500k student loans + 1 million debt + your house cost/etc, you can see how much someone is in the hole. i have very advanced equipment at my office (cerec crown machine) and those machines cost 100k on top of the cost to have an office. x-ray machines can cost 30-40k. the bottom line is the risk/benefit of being a dentist is diminishing. i still recommend it, but in the future, there is a decent chance i will say no.

Gender: Female
Age: 30
Location: Southern California
Occupation: Attorney
Education: B.S. Business, J.D.
2010 Compensation: $100,000 + bonus (typically $2,500 - $5,000)
Future Salary Projection: Probably between 10% increase per year until I reach partner [past salary: 2007=$65,000; 2008=$75,000; 2009=$82,500] if I stay with this firm. Possibly joining another small firm in 2012 as a partner, in which case my salary would be anywhere from $125,000 - $150,000.
Benefits: Medical and Dental fully paid; 3 weeks vacation, 1 week sick, 8 holidays; 401k match; I can work from home, etc.
What's the job like? Easy. I work for a small law firm (under 10 attorneys). I come in whenever I want and rarely work more than 40 - 45 hours per week. I bill about 100 hours a month. My counterparts in Big Law Firms are making $150,000 - $175,000, but they are also billing 160 - 200 hours a month.
Would you recommend the career to others?
Probably not. As you can see from this thread, lawyers just don't make enough to justify the 4 years of undergrad, 3 years of law school, and taking the bar exam. If you can get into a tier 1 law school on a full scholarship, then go for it, but if you are going to be paying $100,000 for law school, don't do it! Otherwise, you are better off going into engineering or something similar. I could be a teacher in this area and make $70,000 with awesome benefits, 3 months off, full retirement and no student loans.

This thread makes me feel bad. "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little." (Gore Vidal)

I just double checked the income distribution in the US. It hasn't changed recently, so I feel better.

Gender: Male
Age: 34
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth
Occupation: Senior Network Engineer
Education: Some college (No Degree); Several industry certifications (Cisco, Juniper). At this point unless I wanted to track to management degrees are not worth my time or effort. I stay busy enough keeping up with technology changes.

2010 Compensation: $100k
Future Salary Projection: Current Org 3-5% per year. Probably could get 120+ elsewhere

Benefits: HDHP, 401k+Match, Stock Purchase

What's the job like? I design and configure data networks for a large fortune 500 org. I deal with the infrastructure within the organization all the way to the client facing needs - Existing and potential client network designs. The job is a typical corporate 8-5 job, but I come when I need to and leave when I need to meet client needs. Lots of flexibility. Very challenging working in IT.

Would you recommend the career to others? It's not for everyone. You have to have a grasp of the large picture understanding how the business works, the applications, and dealing with very complex networks. If you think you can come in and not pull your weight, half-ass it, or only work 8-5 then this job is not for you. I love what I do, although the politics within a large organization are annoying at times.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: Non-coastal city, USA

Occupation: Lawyer

Education: BA, large public school in the Midwest; JD, top 5 Law School (graduated in 2010)

2010 Compensation: $50K (edit: this is not entirely correct; that is my current annual salary, but since I've only been here for 5 months, my actual, 2010 comp is in the neighborhood of $22K.)

Future Salary Projection: $72K in 2011; $50-70K clerkship bonus + $180K salary in 2012

Benefits: Government job, standard benefits

What's the job like? I graduated law school in spring 2010 and currently work as a law clerk for a judge. I will be in this job until August 2011 and then I am moving on to a one-year clerkship for another judge until August 2012. At that point, I will be joining a private law firm and will get a significant salary bump (along with clerkship bonus). Clerking for a judge is akin to a fellowship or specialty training for another profession -- you sacrifice salary now for future bumps later on -- and is well respected in the legal community. Currently, I love my job. I work directly with the judge, learning how decisions are made and having a hand in drafting opinions that will be released. It is fantastic training and will really leave me well positioned when I enter private practice in a few years.

Would you recommend the career to others? I have been extremely lucky in lining up these two clerkships (along with an offer to join a great law firm in 18 months). The problems with legal education are well documented and I won't rehash them here. However, if someone was planning to go to law school, I'd strongly recommend going to a very top school or to a good regional school on a full scholarship. Outside of those two scenarios, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for the next few years until we see what the market for lawyers looks like. In my opinion, the market is heavily saturated and after the last few years, law firms seem to be doing more with less so I'm not convinced that hiring will pick up enough to the point where all of the current grads and students will be absorbed into the profession.

Gender: Female

Age: 43

Location: Rochester,NY

Occupation: Senior Research Technician

Education: BS

2010 Compensation: 45K

Future Salary Projection: 60-70K --> if I get the job I'm going to interview at next month.

Benefits: 6% Employer contribution to 403(b), 4 weeks PTO, Medical good, Dental crap, sick leave extremely generous

What's the job like? Get to do alot of leading edge research in infectious disease. Flexible hours...days can be 4hrs long or 18hrs depending on experiments. There is a big crunch in NIH funding right now so basic research is taking a big hit...hence the reason why I'm looking elsewhere.

Would you recommend the career to others? If you have a Bachelor's in Science, and you don't want to go to graduate school...starting out in a research lab as a technician is a good way to get bench skills. However, if you want to move up and make more money DO NOT stay in the same lab for more than a few years. Get a specialized skill that separates you from other techs. Then, move to another lab, industry, or a core facility.

wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not

Gender: Male

Age: 31

Location: Dallas, TX

Occupation: Ophthalmology cornea fellow, PGY-5 (eye surgeon)

Education: BS, MD

2010 Compensation: $56,000

Future Salary Projection: $170,000 next year, expect around 300K once partner around year 3

Benefits: individual medical, small disability, 4 weeks paid vacation, educational stipend for meetings

What's the job like?
I'm completing an optional one year fellowship in cornea/refractive surgery. I spend most of my days divided between clinic and the OR. I see less volume than in years past, but the complexity has increased tremendously. I also get to perform refractive surgery, something I did not do in residency. As a junior faculty member, I enjoy staffing the residents in the clinic and the OR. Home call is every third day and I work an average of 60 hours/week. For an MD, ophthalmology is one of the more family-friendly specialties.

Would you recommend the career to others?
It's interesting to look back on my previous answers to these questions from prior threads. I think the days of becoming a doctor for chicks, money, power, and chicks are waning. This has been a tough year financially, as my wife is staying home with our newborn (a joint decision). However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel come July 2011, and I truly love being an eye physician and surgeon. If you decide to become an MD, ophthalmology is without a doubt one of the best fields out there.

growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


It's subjective. Pay mostly depends on location and experience.

Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: Coastal City in a deep blue state
Occupation: Financial Analyst for a small venture capital firm (7 employees)
Education: B.S., OK school
2010 Compensation: $115K (55 Base + 60 year end/performance bonus)
Future Salary Projection: Base going up to 65 on Jan 1, if the fund performs equal or better, I will be looking at 80-100K year end bonus)
Benefits: Strictly cash. The company provides no health insurance, no dental, no retirement plan. 10 days PTO including sick, personal and vacation. However, taking more than one day at a time is a big no, no. One guy who started a year before me got sacked for taking five days off.
What's the job like? Mostly consists of researching potential investment companies, and doing due diligence on them. I can also be my boss's secretary when we travel together to industry conferences. Also need to be in a constant lookout any new opportunities, or any shady dealings that our investee companies might be doing.
Would you recommend the career to others? I think it's one of the great career that you can start as a fresh college graduate. While there are certain drawbacks (lack of social life due to long workhours) I think overall, it's a great job for someone without a family

Absolut9 said:   growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


It's subjective. Pay mostly depends on location and experience.


Do you mind sharing which company you work at? I used to live in the DC area and did govt contracting. I know the pay is above average but most salaries for people in their 20s is around 60-100K. I'm talking about students who graduated with good degrees from great schools and joined top companies in the area. Was just really surprised at some of the numbers in this thread

growingdollars said:   Absolut9 said:   growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


It's subjective. Pay mostly depends on location and experience.


Do you mind sharing which company you work at? I used to live in the DC area and did govt contracting. I know the pay is above average but most salaries for people in their 20s is around 60-100K. I'm talking about students who graduated with good degrees from great schools and joined top companies in the area. Was just really surprised at some of the numbers in this thread


Sure... Check your PMs.

growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


Don't feel so bad. Here are a couple of things you have to remember:

The FW Finance crowd, as a whole, most likely has a significantly higher average income that the general population.

People who are doing extremely well in their careers tend to be more likely to post. This was a concern of mine for a couple of the threads, but as time has gone on, I think we've seen a better balance of salaries in the threads.

At 25, I worked two jobs and made $18,000 (about $25,000 adjusted for inflation), and I survived on my own. I found a small apartment (fortunately in a great town) that I shared with roommates, I drove an old car, and looked for lots of sale items. At 26, I got a third job and managed to bump my salary to $26,000 (about $34,000 adjusted for inflation). I was 28 when I got hired for my full-time teaching job.

If you can support yourself by paying your bills every month, you're doing fine. Lots of people can't even do that.

Waiting for the last paycheck of this year.

zhelder said:   growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


Don't feel so bad. Here are a couple of things you have to remember:

The FW Finance crowd, as a whole, most likely has a significantly higher average income that the general population.

People who are doing extremely well in their careers tend to be more likely to post. This was a concern of mine for a couple of the threads, but as time has gone on, I think we've seen a better balance of salaries in the threads.

At 25, I worked two jobs and made $18,000 (about $25,000 adjusted for inflation), and I survived on my own. I found a small apartment (fortunately in a great town) that I shared with roommates, I drove an old car, and looked for lots of sale items. At 26, I got a third job and managed to bump my salary to $26,000 (about $34,000 adjusted for inflation). I was 28 when I got hired for my full-time teaching job.

If you can support yourself by paying your bills every month, you're doing fine. Lots of people can't even do that.
zhelder, I appreciate your post. How long did it take you to graduate? I am, now, hopeful for my son's outcome (and his diversion into self employment @ age 15/18). He's had a W2 job since 16yo, with benefits. He's had a Sch C income (1099) since he was 15yo.

Although I too enjoy these threads, a few things to keep in mind:

1) This is FWF - the people that post here are already above the average income level.
2) Threads like this tend to attract people who are high earners on average over those more towards the mean because its an opportunity to stroke your own ego.
3) This is the internet, and people can lie.

Edit: Heh, someone already beat me to it. Thats what you get for not reading all the way down the page!

Thanks so far to everyone who's contributed. First time contributing to a thread like this.

Gender: Male
Age: 30
Location: Northeast USA
Occupation: Financial Analyst
Education: Bachelor of Business
2010 Compensation: $60K
Future Salary Projection: About the same
Benefits: Health, dental, 401(k), gym
What's the job like? Researching financial information based on employer's various databases and communicating with customers. Job isn't a "dream job" and can sometimes be boring but I'm happy a have a job in this economy and that the pay is decent for someone with just a bachelors degree.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes if you don't mind sitting at a desk all day. You have to be good at researching, doing your due diligence, and communicating with different kinds of people.

EggplantWizard said:   Gender: Male
Age: 32
Location: Manchester, NH
Occupation: Landlord and Ticket Broker
Education: BSBA Accounting from a non-prestigious state university
2010 Comp: 185k (est,+/- 10k -- still a few days left)
Benefits: None (on wife's benefit plan -- she's a consultant of sorts, earning $175kish)
Future Projection: Depends on people's preponderance to spend discretionary and on the value of property. Honestly, I expect a minor paycut next year

Own several multifamily properties and have a business buying and reselling event tickets. Pretty straightforward self-employment. I have never earned over $100k / yr as an employee, though have done multiple things.

Would I recommend to others:

without reservations, if you can handle the social stigma of ticket brokering and/or landlording.


EggplantWizard, can you expound on your entrepreneurial career?

How much of your $185K is from brokering tickets?

What kind of events do you broker tickets for? Concerts, football, basketball, tradeshows, etc?

I'm really interested in doing something on the side and brokering tickets sounds like a cool venture. I'm just not sure how to get started or what events generally have a higher chance of selling tickets.

Any help is greatly appreciated for a fellow FWer!

Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: Denver, CO
Occupation: Teacher (Teach for America)
Education: BA, top ranked school
2010 Compensation: ~$43k base + ~$5k bonus
Future Salary Projection: Accepted a new job (sort of IT/tech related) with my school in June that will come with a modest salary bump. I'll be pretty significantly underpaid for the new role, but I get to write my own job description (more or less). I'm planning on leaving in a few years to do my own thing - either a web startup for education or an educational tech consulting job.
Benefits: Solid medical, okay dental, 7 weeks off in the summer (and winter break/spring break)
What's the job like? The hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding.
Would you recommend the career to others? Teaching is great if it's what you love. I'm pretty hooked on education - I turned down a pretty lucrative business consulting job to stay with my school.

Gender: M
Age: 31
Location: IL (rural)
Occupation: Assistant Professor - state school
Education: Ph.D. - top 5 school in my field (social sciences)
2010 Compensation: $63k
Future Salary Projection: varies between $53k - $70k depending on how much extra one wants to work. Once tenure is achieved (2012 or 2013) this range is bumped by 7.5k a year
Benefits: Probably the best aspect of the job. Full medical, dental, vision, etc. State contributes 8% of salary to retirement, I then match. Major benefit is the autonomy. Besides teaching 3 days / week I can set my own hours, work from home, or take a Thursday off if I desire. Additionally, even when one works in the summer, time off a year still equals about 12 weeks of vacation.
What's the job like? Good balance of teaching and research for me. Yes, one has the deal with 18-22 year olds who feel entitled (were we all like that?), administrators who believe progress = meetings, and a load of state red-tape; but most of the time you get to run your own life. The best way to describe the job is to remember all the annoying things that professors use to do when we were in college and then I can alter my classes so my students never experience those pet peeves.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes, with one caveat... one has to be a bit complacent. In particular, raises are usually given across the board so it does not matter how great you are at your job, everyone gets a percentage increase in salary. I know this will upset people at FW - and it upsets me too. As an example, I need to achieve teaching scores of 4.0 out of 5.0 and publish an average of 1 paper per year for tenure. This year my teaching scores averaged 4.7 out of 5.0 and I published 6 papers. For this I received the same 2.5% salary increase for 2011. Go government!

gwu1986 said:   zhelder said:   growingdollars said:   wow, everyone is so rich. Nearly everyone makes 100k+?
I feel so poor
I thought I was doing decent at age 26 but guess not


Don't feel so bad. Here are a couple of things you have to remember:

The FW Finance crowd, as a whole, most likely has a significantly higher average income that the general population.

People who are doing extremely well in their careers tend to be more likely to post. This was a concern of mine for a couple of the threads, but as time has gone on, I think we've seen a better balance of salaries in the threads.

At 25, I worked two jobs and made $18,000 (about $25,000 adjusted for inflation), and I survived on my own. I found a small apartment (fortunately in a great town) that I shared with roommates, I drove an old car, and looked for lots of sale items. At 26, I got a third job and managed to bump my salary to $26,000 (about $34,000 adjusted for inflation). I was 28 when I got hired for my full-time teaching job.

If you can support yourself by paying your bills every month, you're doing fine. Lots of people can't even do that.
zhelder, I appreciate your post. How long did it take you to graduate? I am, now, hopeful for my son's outcome (and his diversion into self employment @ age 15/18). He's had a W2 job since 16yo, with benefits. He's had a Sch C income (1099) since he was 15yo.


It took me five years to get my B.A. I could have been done in four, but the teacher certification took me an additional year. I had already graduated when I was working all those jobs. I couldn't find a full-time teaching job. (It's been very competitive to get teaching jobs here in NJ for many years, and now, it's tougher than ever.)

Skipping 124 Messages...
Gender: M
Age: 28
Location: California
Occupation: Lawyer
Education: BS/MS CS, JD from top school
Length of time in this field: ~1 yr
Compensation: $145k base
Future Salary Projection: Increases of $5-10k per year until you either make partner or (way more likely) get pushed out / laid off
Benefits: a few weeks PTO (probably will never use), health/dental/vision insurance (plan is actually pretty crappy)
What's the job like? Some of my job responsibilities are similar to Patent Agent's, in that I meet with clients who tell me about their inventions, draft up patent applications, and respond to the Patent and Trademark Office telling me the invention is nothing new. I also do some trademark work. Then there's litigation, where I'm assisting large teams either defending clients against patent infringement lawsuits or suing other companies for the same.
Would you recommend the career to others? Like others have said, law school is too expensive. I managed to graduate with a very manageable amount of debt, but for many people, going to law school with the goal of becoming a highly paid lawyer is a pipe dream (also, be careful what you wish for). The job can be interesting at times, but a lot depends on what type of clients and partners you work for, as well as the type of cases/matters you work on. Some of the work I do is for partners who can be abusive, which makes life very difficult. Keeping track of your time in 6 minute increments to be billed out is also pretty stressful. I think the job can be rewarding for some people, but I'm questioning whether it is really for me. The stress of this job has had a very negative impact on my health in a relatively short amount of time. I think I was happier doing IT work before I changed careers.



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