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Greetings and Happy Holidays to All! It's time to get the 2011 Career Thoughts and Compensation Thread rolling. I started doing these threads annually on the FW Finance board in 2006. When I originally started this thread five 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.

Last year's thread seemed to have a lot of good information, even though it only stayed active for a couple of months. Hopefully this year's thread can remain active for longer.

Now gang, here's a reminder of the rules, which 99.9% of you have been great at following over the past five 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 2011? 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: 39

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

2011 Compensation: $90,000 (Base Pay + a little extra money taking on extra duties.) Base salary for the 2011-2012 school year is about $88,000 right now, but should be more, since we do not have a current contract right now. (More on that in a minute.) My compensation this year is pretty much the same as it was last year, although last year's figure was inflated a bit due to a pretty large amount of retro pay due to me.

Future Salary Projection: When our contract is settled (very soon hopefully), my base pay should be in the 100K range. This is the top of the teachers' guide in our district, so future raises are going to be smaller after this, maybe 2K to 3K per year more for the foreseeable future.

Benefits: Full medical, although teachers in NJ now have to pay a percentage of their salaries for their medical benefits. (It's currently 1.5% of base salary, but it's going up even more in the new year.) We get modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan (at least if the state doesn't default on the benefits), 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.

What's the job like?

Very difficult and getting more difficult by 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. Public employees all over the U.S. have taken a real bashing over the past couple of years, and teachers seem to be Public Enemy #1 of the group. This is not an easy job. If you're doing it correctly, it's at least a 50-60 hour a week job, and it's 50-60 hours of grueling work. Teachers in urban districts in particular have taken a real beating. They are expected to be miracle workers, solving all of our society's ills. On top of that, there seems to be a growing chorus of people calling for teacher salaries and benefits to be cut to the bone. And, unfortunately for new teachers, your benefits are going to vanish before the benefits for the veteran teachers will.

Once the teacher bashing subsides, I may be able to recommend teaching again as a profession. But for right now, it might be better to see what else is out there.

Member Summary
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The house I bought was a near foreclosure... the owner lost their job, was behind on payments, and had to sell or lose t... (more)

brettdoyle (Aug. 01, 2012 @ 3:49p) |

Gender: Male

Age: Late 20s

Location: NYC

Occupation: Actuary

Education: BS-Math

2011 Compensation: $100K total

Future Salary P... (more)

variance (Aug. 03, 2012 @ 12:29a) |

Gender: Female

Age: 31

Location: Minnesota

Occupation: Event Coordinator/Administrative Assistant at a local non-profit

Educ... (more)

NuggetBrain (Aug. 10, 2012 @ 12:51p) |

Previous threads:

2006
2007
2008
2009
2010

Gender: Male

Age: 31

Location: Atlanta, GA

Occupation: umm engineer sounds about right.

Education: BE + 32 credits

2011 Compensation: $80,000 (Base Pay + a couple of spot bonuses.) Base salary for the next year will probably be a 5% increase - raises are dolled out effective July 1, so no idea yet.

Future Salary Projection: since start (6 years), I've averaged a 5% pay increase a year (one year it was 7%, one year it was 4%) - raises depend on finances of the organization. I figure my salary will increase ~5% on average every year.

Benefits: Full medical (includes vision) and dental (pay an extra ~$300 a month for family coverage on medical, dental will be $300 a year once the kids start going to the dentist). 401(k) = nice. I contribute 6%, company contributes 9%. 8 sick days, 18 vacation days a year. Receive comp time (1 day per weekend/holiday day worked) - usually works out to 12-15 comp days a year. Group life insurance = salary or 2X salary if something happens while on a business trip. 60% salary for short term and long term disability.

What's the job like? Fairly specialized. I cannot get this type of job at any other company in the area, and I'm the only one that does what I do for my company, if I wanted to stay in the field, but go someplace else, I'd need to move to DC or NY area. work is in building codes/standards. need to have technical knowledge of requirements, interpersonal skills to get the changes you want done/not piss off people with influence, need to understand the process, and take advantage of rules/loopholes where they present themselves. I describe it as part engineering/part law/part public relations/public policy.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Possibly. Some of the work is grueling and tedious. Also some of it is quite boring (listening to some folks who love to hear themselves talk a lot about something I don't care about). It's more of a field you stumble into, and you either like it or you don't. However, the work does have a lot of impact on the building design/construction industry/built environment, so the end result can be rewarding.

Age: 32

Location: Southeastern USA

Occupation: Federal Government IT Worker

Education: Currently attending local college for Baccalaureate of Science in Health Sciences, expected graduation is summer 2013 as I am attending 6 hours a semester. I am a Microsoft Certified IT Professional and would like to take more classes and certification exams as time and employer's budget allows.

2011 Compensation: 68,809 as I am a JSP-12 employee. I started this position half way through 2011. Prior to that I was making $61,000.

Future Salary: My salary will go up to $71,102 on my anniversary date of hire. No cost of living increase this year.

Benefits: Employer pays most of my health insurance (I pay about $130 every 2 weeks). Employer matches my 5% retirement contribution.

What's the job like?

I was hired after they fired the previous IT guy here for various poor performance reasons. We have about 30 employees spread across 3 offices. Occasionally I have to drive to one of the other offices. Both are about 3 hours drive, but my employer pays mileage, hotel, and per diem, so I net about $200 on each trip. One of the reasons I was hired was to clean up all of the IT systems here. The previous guy did not know what he was doing. Nothing is centralized or managed centrally. Software is out date, systems for the most part several years old, etc. I was disappointed recently because I went to my boss with the to purchase some computer equipment. I was told previously I can spend half of my budget now and half in march. The item was less than 1/2 of my budget and is needed as the first piece to modernize the infrastructure here. I tried not to take it too personally because the boss said right now he's rather cut my budget then let someone go if congress says to cut our budget.

Would you recommend the career to others?

It depends on if you have the personality to stay in IT. Expect some after hours work and little in the way of acknowledgement. You put out a fire on one system and move to the next fire. I do not do much programming, I mainly focus on systems and operations (making sure things work, don't break, and people can do their jobs). I'd say the most important thing is having a boss that supports you and your decisions. I've had bad managers in the past that didn't want to listen or implement my ideas, or gave me mixed messages on what was happening.

I once again learned spending quality time with the Boss, or the Boss's boss is valuable if you'd like a promotion.

Dude... I understand urban teaching is hard, I did it once. Also understand you're well into your career. But 80-100k for 8 months work plus full benefits plus pension PLUS tenure is insane. Arguably preferable to many wall st jobs which may pay less, offer 0 job security (in fact high probability of layoff), and would not be unusual to not have 4 months of vacation over 10 years. Plus you get snow days! Haha not trying to be critical just pointing out that your grass looks pretty green to a lot of people, especially given the standards of education in this country.

Sounds like a great job ...

motuwallet said:   Dude... I understand urban teaching is hard, I did it once. Also understand you're well into your career. But 80-100k for 8 months work plus full benefits plus pension PLUS tenure is insane. Arguably preferable to many wall st jobs which may pay less, offer 0 job security (in fact high probability of layoff), and would not be unusual to not have 4 months of vacation over 10 years. Plus you get snow days! Haha not trying to be critical just pointing out that your grass looks pretty green to a lot of people, especially given the standards of education in this country.

Sounds like a great job ...

Hence the states are broke.

The states are broke because they pay nearly all of the employees: firemen, police, corrections, teachers, garbagemen, elected officials, train conductors, toll collectors and countless others above market wages and benefits.

Eager to contribute but will wait until raise and bonus based on 2011 performance is revealed (in mid Feb) for "future salary projection" purposes...

ClaimsGuy said:   The states are broke because they pay nearly all of the employees: firemen, police, corrections, teachers, garbagemen, elected officials, train conductors, toll collectors and countless others above market wages and benefits.

While that is true in some states, that's definitely not the case in mine. I was a state employee up until 2009 and made 42600 a year, plus 9% of the paycheck was taken out for the pension, and health insurance for a wife + kid was almost $700/month. In other words, as a state employee I made less than most private IT workers, and had to pay more for retirement and health care than most private workers. In my opinion (some of) the states are broke because they are paying 1/3 of the state money into Medicaid/WIC/Food stamps most of which goes to single moms that continue to pop out babies, 1/3 into K-12 education of which only about 60% makes it to the class room because they keep building and expanding onto sculptured school buildings, and unfunded liabilities in the state employees's pension plan due to mandated guaranteed cost of living increases for retirees.

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

Occupation: currently Contract Technical Writer, moving into a new role Jan. 3 as a researcher/project manager/training manager (up in the air currently). At the beginning of the year I was a marketing consultant, left that job and eventually took the contract job. My new role is essentially being created specifically for me, and I'm going to be moving through a lot of roles in the company for a year or so before I land in a particular spot. My first three months will be a research project for the Dept. of Energy (my new employer is in the A/C and energy efficiency business), and after that I see myself continuing to do research while getting my certifications to be an energy auditor and building a plan for a company-wide training initiative, which I will likely be able to build from the ground up - currently they have no training department and no training manager, so that role might be created for me, which would be tremendously awesome for my future career growth.

Education: BA plus a German language certification that means precisely nothing to my current or former jobs

2011 Compensation: Difficult to say. In my role at the beginning of the year my salary was $32,500 plus bonus (paid in late December annually), but I only worked there for a month or so this year. I was then unemployed for a month but not eligible for unemployment. In my current position, I make $21/hr plus overtime, and I've made about $34k here this year.

Total employment income this year is, roughly, $36k.

Future Salary Projection: My new job pays $45k starting immediately, with a bump to $50k in March 2013 if I have completed all necessary certifications. If I do become their training manager, I will receive a raise based on the extent of the job.

Benefits: Shitty. I am a W-2 contractor at a large retail corporation and am eligible for their part-time health insurance, but since I am still young enough to be on my mother's (excellent) health insurance (at no additional cost to her, since she already covers my dad who is retired), that's what I do. I receive no PTO.

In my new role, I will have access to decent medical/dental/vision. There is a 401(k) with no match and an ESOP with an "occasional" match of no set amount, of which I'm wary. PTO doesn't kick in for a year, though the CEO told me that he can bring it forward based on performance, and then it's also quite bad, with only 10 PTO days per year including sick time.

What's the job like?

Tech writing (and training design) is not bad, but it's pretty boring. I don't know about the new job yet.

Would you recommend the career to others?

For tech writing, the pay can be extremely good if you have a lot of experience, but it must be balanced against the lack of job security and benefits. I would recommend it to someone who has benefits through a spouse or another source.

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: Naperville/chicago, IL

Occupation: Entrepreneur/Multiple Business Owner. (Quit investment banking in January 2011 to run businesses full time)

Businesses owned include - Custom Toy Manufacturing, Education consulting (helping asian students gain entrance to usa boarding schools and colleges), Real Estate/Landlord (6 units, 4 outright, 2 mortgaged out)

Education: BS Chemical Engineering and Economics (Big 10)

Total 2011 Income: Estimated - 770k gross - 330k net



Future Salary Projection: Starting another real estate company. Trying to build enough interest overseas as well as networking in chicagoland area; attempting to start a REIT but not close to the required investors count yet.

No clue on how other businesses will do so future salary prediction is pretty useless but has not gone down in the last 4 years so things are somewhat promising.

Benefits: Well since i don't work for corporate anymore i pay my own benefits. I guess the huge benefit is that Solo/individual 401k allows me to sock away 49000$ annually instead of the 16500 or whatever it is.


Why did I quit job? Well honestly I hated the hours for investment banking. Granted pay was really good for corp world job, I was at a point where i was not reliant on the income to live comfortably and i wanted to focus all my energies on my own businesses. was going to hire someone else since my wife was being overwhelmed but since i was able to go full time, it worked out fine.

In all honesty, i like working for myself. working for idiots that don't share the same vision or drive was killing me. Take risks and live it up. Don't be confined to the 9-5 job. Takes a bit of risk and a lot of drive and endless nights but it's worth it in the end. There are a ton of opportunities out there.

I don't recommend you try anything once you are married or have kids. Then it gets tough/sketchy

kloakndaggers: Can you explain your custom toy manufacturing? Do you mean that you make the toys yourself, or that you design toys to custom specifications for customers and have them manufactured, or what? Just curious.

i'm in a small niche market. i custom manufacture parts in asia and europe and all the toys are handcrafted in USA, japan, and korea. very very niche market with a cult following with little to no competition. Wife speaks 6 different languages which makes it a lot easier to deal internationally. All hand manufactured so our net is quite high.

Gender: Female
Age: 26
Location: Chico, CA

Occupation: Office slave? No, really. "Accounts payable clerk + special duties" is probably the most succinct title. This is at a car dealership.

Education: B.A. in English

2011 Compensation:
$36,000 before taxes. That's my hourly wage, plus a few bonuses here and there for hitting customer retention figures.

Future Salary Projection:
2012, uh, $36,000 before taxes. It isn't lookin' good.
Edit: Boss finally wised up about how much I do for him after I requested a compensation review. Now will be making a base salary of $45,000 and still eligible for bonuses of up to $500/quarter. My attitude sucks a lot less now, but then, it's only been two work days since getting the news.

Benefits:
Medical ($22/check), dental (~$5/month), vision (free), 401k (with some employer match), 10 paid vacation days a year, discounts on servicing my automobiles at the dealership.

What's the job like?
Boring. I pay bills, which is on a cycle every month - so the first 10 days are busy, the rest is slower. I'm the closest thing we have to on-site tech support, so there's those stupid user questions, as well as website maintenance and updating user profiles for a few different software applications we use. I take and process all the photographs of cars for our websites. I am responsible for improving service department customer retention through database purification and targeted mailers, which is interesting if only because I get quarterly bonuses if we hit our targets. Mostly it's boring and repetitive and dead-end.

Would you recommend the career to others?
This isn't a career so much as an hourly job. The field of "car dealership accounting" is pretty specialized - the software we use is auto industry-specific, and people who get into the work tend to stay in it for ages (I have one coworker who makes roughly the same wages I do and who has been working in the industry for 40+ years). You're much better off to sell used cars if you want to work in the car industry.

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: Central VA

Occupation: IT professional: software analyst

Education: BS in an unrelated field

2011 Compensation: Low 80s + likely bonus that should be around 9k.

Future Salary Projection: 3% standard raise projected for next year. No promotions on the horizon although becoming a manager in a few years is possible/likely.

Benefits: ~$30/month PPO, $10/month basic dental, $2/month vision coverage. Insane 401k match at 7.5% of salary (when you contribute 6%+) with 2 year vesting period. Stock plan allows for contributing 15% of salary to buy shares at 15% discount (2.6% total benefit). Can sell the shares in about a week from obtaining them, so it is just about risk free. 15 days of vacation a year with the ability to buy 5 more, and unlimited sick days (which people use sparingly - they still try to work from home and attend meetings).

What's the job like?

I love it! During the workday, there's a lot of different meetings with various stakeholders, clients, and other groups. I work 9 to 5 and I still take an hour lunch on most days since I work efficiently on my deliverables - the company values work life balance. Since I work on the functional side of the software industry, I could very well have an easier time than the tech leads and skilled programmers. I handle some processes, enhancement backlog, requirements, design, documentation, etc, and I'm a main point of contact for our software platform for integrated project estimation teams and for clients (those who use this software). The company treats us very well - a fair number of fun events such as group segway rides and happy hours during business hours (usually 3 to 5). There's also free meals and drinks from time to time. The good compensation, benefits, and perks might be because the company is in the financial services industry and is doing pretty well, and the company values good retention and good ideas coming from happy employees more so than than scalpel-precision cost-cutting. I feel that the salary and benefits are very solid for a young professional, especially given the great work life balance and especially given the reasonably low cost of living in the area.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Absolutely! If you've got a reasonably good grasp of high-level software ideas, and if you're an effective communicator, you could be a great fit as a software analyst. The hard part is getting your foot in the door. I happened to come from another software company, one that was willing to hire and train new college graduates regardless of major, so my experience was relevant. Once you're in the door, you can learn about the software, company business processes, methodology, etc, within a few months, then you can feel like you can contribute to the company. I feel that my work is meaningful, and I have a good understanding of the software platform, its uses, and the clients' business processes. I feel that I am able to effectively represent the clients and communicate their enhancement and project requests back to the rest of the team, including the developers and testers.

BigM in 2008 said: Gender: M Age: 26 Location: DC-area Occupation: Product Manager, Email Marketing Education: BS-Business, BA-Spanish from top-30 university 2008 Salary: $67K+~$7-10K bonus Future Salary Projection: Should be promoted, so ~$85K + 10-20% bonus in 2009. Benefits: 401K w/match, dental, vision, 24 days PTO, work is 1.5 miles from home = GREAT commute. Young company with huge sales force = lots of young pretty women to date. What's the job like? Its interesting. I'm enabling B2B marketers to email potential clients, so really, I'm helping to spam business professionals. The product management aspect is good, and the experience is good for prod mgmt positions elsewhere. Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. At the end of the day though, I'm helping very large corporations to make more money, so I don't really get that "my work is good and meaningful" feeling that others do.

BigM in 2009 said:
Gender: M
Age: 27
Location: Still DC-area
Occupation: Marketing Technology Consultant
Education: BS-Business, BA-Spanish from top-30 university
2009 Salary: ~120K (I'm an Indep Contractor and worked 1/2 yr as employee at former job so hard to say, but that's how its tracking right now)
Future Salary Projection: ~120K-150K, depending on how much business I bring in personally vs what is assigned to me.
Benefits: None (domestic partner with gf so use her healthcare).
What's the job like? Love it so far. Work from home, on the road, wherever. Can take "vacations" and work a few hours each day. Or can buckle down and rack up the hours to make a lot more. Projects are different, and you learn a TON. I think my job now is like how work should evolve to in the future -- work as much as you want when you want, and compensated based solely on performance. However it also means you are never really "off" completely. Just like last year, At the end of the day though, I'm helping very large corporations to make more money, so I don't really get that "my work is good and meaningful" feeling that others do.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes, but there's no way to get into on purpose really. It takes a unique skillset between marketing professional, coder, designer, and project management.


BigM in 2010 said:
Gender: M
Age: 28
Location: West Coast, Bay Area
Occupation: Marketing
Education: BS-Business, BA-Spanish from top-30 university
2010 Salary: 125K + 10% bonus, equity options
Future Salary Projection: 2011: ~130K, 2012 w/promotion hopefully ~150K w/options
Benefits: Good. 401K match, BCBS medical. Free food, drinks, coffee. Once again I have a great 12 minute walk to work.
What's the job like? No longer doing the 1099 -- joined a company full time. I manage a few folks remotely, and my manager is also not in the same office, so it's a challenge to stay on top of all projects and also manage my individual contributions.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. Traditional "creative" marketing is pretty saturated but for those with a combination of marketing skills and technical know-how, the sky is the limit. PM me if you want to discuss further.


2011:

Gender, location, occupation, education same (and of course one year older!)
2011 Salary: 130K + 10% bonus, equity options
Future Salary Projection: 2012: ~150K w/promotion hopefully
Benefits: Good. 401K match, medical, dental. Free food, drinks, coffee. I moved but still have a great 12 minute walk to work.
What's the job like? Same as 2010...
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. Traditional "creative" marketing is pretty saturated but for those with a combination of marketing skills and technical know-how, the sky is the limit.

Thanks everyone else for great responses once again!

Gender: Female

Age: 28

Location: Mid Michigan, small suburban city with a population of approximately 35,000

Occupation: Clinical Specialist on a team of clinicians working with severely mentally ill adults

Education: BA, MSW, (followed by a lot of credentials that have to do with various aspects of my job and my ability to bill for services)

2011 Compensation: $48,410 (MSW is the lowest paid degree, according to Forbes, so I definitely didn't go into this field to become rich)

Future Salary Projection: Assuming no COA increases or salary audits are performed by my agency, I will max out in 5 years at $54 and some change

Benefits: HMO insurance with $0 deductible and $10 copays, $10/40/70 prescription coverage, and so-so dental and vision, which costs me $44 per bi-weekly pay. Fully employer funded county retirement fund offered to me at 57 years of age, which averages about %70 of the top 5 highest paid years of my career for the remainder of my life plus 100% insurance coverage for myself, 50% for my spouse, after retirement. 33 days of earned time off per year, maximum accrual of 840 hours banked.

What's the job like?

Extremely challenging. I work with a team of clinicians who range from no formal education to other MSWs and LLP/LPCs. We provide community based, often in-home, services to adults who suffer from severe and persistent mental illness, such as Schizophrenia, severe Depression, and Bipolar Disorder. We also work with a number of parolees coming out of prison. The program in which I work is the last stop before institutionalization for most of these individuals because they've either been fired from other agencies for non-compliance or they are simply too challenging. We provide 24 hour on-call services via an emergency hotline and provide phone-based crisis resolution whether it's 4pm or 4am. I see anywhere from 2 to 7 people a day to provide lifeskills education, medication education (and delivery .. we control and distrubute their medication as they have demonstrated the inability to do so), and therapy. There is no overtime and no way to compensate for the frequent 10-11 hour days and 50 hour work weeks. Most people who know me and know what I do say "I couldn't do it," and sometimes I say that to myself.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Not particularly, especially the job I personally do. I enjoy it 85% of the time, but the other 15% might be enough to drive most people over the edge. It isn't an easy job by any stretch of the imagination and it's definitely a job you have to be called to do.

edit: Not gonna help derail thread. Nevermind.

Gender: Male

Age: 35

Location: Southern California

Occupation: Physician. I specialize in lung problems, critical care, as well as sleep conditions.

Education: MD not including 7 years of post graduate training

2011 Compensation: $250,000, salaried

Future Salary Projection: $10-15k increase each year, with a substantial increase after partnership in our group. Max income about $325-350k after 10 years of employment

Benefits: Full medical, dental, and vision with no co pays. No 401k match, but we have a Keogh with a pension that vests after 10 years of employment. Compensation with the pension accumulates at 2% of our highest grossing salary per year of employment

What's the job like?
I work 40-50 hours per week on average. I'm on call one week per month, including working a weekend, where I take all phone calls from other physicians and the ER. I see about 15-20 patients a day when not on call. It can vary from very rewarding to very unpleasant.

Would you recommend the career to others?
I dunno. It was a lot of school and I only started earning a full income in the past 2 years after I completed all my training. Add in the ever present threat of lawsuits and complaints and it becomes difficult at times. I didn't have much in terms of student loans but know many people with 150-200k in loans easy. On the other hand, even with this lousy economy it was very to find a job.

hawblit2 said:   Gender: Female

Age: 28

Location: Mid Michigan, small suburban city with a population of approximately 35,000

Occupation: Clinical Specialist on a team of clinicians working with severely mentally ill adults

Education: BA, MSW, (followed by a lot of credentials that have to do with various aspects of my job and my ability to bill for services)

2011 Compensation: $48,410 (MSW is the lowest paid degree, according to Forbes, so I definitely didn't go into this field to become rich)

I enjoyed your post (I'm married to a recent MSW graduate, also in the clinical mental health field). If you don't mind me asking, how long have you had your MSW? Are you an LCSW, or looking to become one? How long have you been at your current job? Thanks!

Squeezer99 said:   ClaimsGuy said:   The states are broke because they pay nearly all of the employees: firemen, police, corrections, teachers, garbagemen, elected officials, train conductors, toll collectors and countless others above market wages and benefits.

While that is true in some states, that's definitely not the case in mine. I was a state employee up until 2009 and made 42600 a year, plus 9% of the paycheck was taken out for the pension, and health insurance for a wife + kid was almost $700/month. In other words, as a state employee I made less than most private IT workers, and had to pay more for retirement and health care than most private workers. In my opinion (some of) the states are broke because they are paying 1/3 of the state money into Medicaid/WIC/Food stamps most of which goes to single moms that continue to pop out babies, 1/3 into K-12 education of which only about 60% makes it to the class room because they keep building and expanding onto sculptured school buildings, and unfunded liabilities in the state employees's pension plan due to mandated guaranteed cost of living increases for retirees.

Believe it or not you're still overpaid.

jkimcpa said:   Squeezer99 said:   ClaimsGuy said:   The states are broke because they pay nearly all of the employees: firemen, police, corrections, teachers, garbagemen, elected officials, train conductors, toll collectors and countless others above market wages and benefits.

While that is true in some states, that's definitely not the case in mine. I was a state employee up until 2009 and made 42600 a year, plus 9% of the paycheck was taken out for the pension, and health insurance for a wife + kid was almost $700/month. In other words, as a state employee I made less than most private IT workers, and had to pay more for retirement and health care than most private workers. In my opinion (some of) the states are broke because they are paying 1/3 of the state money into Medicaid/WIC/Food stamps most of which goes to single moms that continue to pop out babies, 1/3 into K-12 education of which only about 60% makes it to the class room because they keep building and expanding onto sculptured school buildings, and unfunded liabilities in the state employees's pension plan due to mandated guaranteed cost of living increases for retirees.

Believe it or not you're still overpaid.


Care to explain? Saying that one is overpaid is subjective. In my state, the last time state employes received a raise was July 1, 2007. And even then it was a 1.5% raise capped at $1500. In other words state employees in my state have went 4.5 years without a raise while having to endure their health insurance premiums going up, inflation nibbling their paychecks, an increase in the retirement contribution from 7.25 to 9%, health insurance deductible going up to $2000/year, and an increase in prescription co-pays, all without getting a raise. The highest IT management positions in my state caps out at about $59,000. Meanwhile, I'm making more then that as a non-management IT worker in the federal government. I know that the non-profit hospitals in my area pay even better than the federal government because I used to work at one and had offers from another one.

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: Western PA

Occupation: Full Time Substitute (Teacher) / Assistant Park Supervisor (County Park)

Education: BS Social Studies & Mathematics

2011 Compensation: $18,000 (Substitute) + $12,000 (County Park) + $3,000 Basketball Coach = $33,000 before tax (I feel poor )

Future Salary Projection: Although I am not currently making a large sum of money, I am in a decent position to make a large leap financially either this coming year or next. There is a Math teacher retiring at the end of this year, or next, and I am in position to take over for him. This would push my base salary in teaching upward to around $34,000 and allow me to continue working at the County Park as an Assistant making between $12-$13K. I will continue to Coach Basketball, getting approximately a 3% raise. Within the next 18 months I should be looking at just under $50 (before taxes) and very generous benefits.

Benefits: None - Since I am not considered a full time employee at either job I have no benefits offered, at this time.

What's the job like?

Besides the pay, being a Full Time Substitute is pretty cool. I get to move around the school daily and build a good relationship with the students and faculty. Occasionally, I am in the same (Social Studies or Math) classroom for an extended period of time and I get to take over the lessons and teach for the regular classroom teacher. I end up reading a lot though too. Some of the classes I am pretty useless in (Spanish, French, and Science) and the teacher usually just leaves worksheets for his/her classes.

I have been working summers at the County Park since I was in college. There have been three different bosses above me, who work year round, that I work under when school is out (first week of June to last week of August). It is the perfect situation for someone in my situation. I really enjoy getting up and going to the Park every morning and working outside. There are so many little jobs that need completed (cutting grass, working on equipment, general maintenance) throughout the day, I am never bored. My favorite part of the job is overseeing the budget, which is probably the only reason I am still working there. I have helped the Park save large sums of money since I started looking over the annual budgets. I could potentially see this turning into something full time for me, but financially it would not be in my families best interest.


Would you recommend the career to others?
Right now, potential teachers coming out of college are in a bad situation (at least in PA). There is a large number of new teachers flooding the field and very few positions to be filled. If you can survive making just above minimum wage and willing to work other jobs, then I would recommend teaching (if you have a passion for helping students). When the high school seniors ask me if I think teaching is a good choice, I almost always ask them what their other interests are and attempt to steer them down that path.

As for Assistant Park Supervisor, I would recommend this job to any mechanically skilled individual. The pay is not the best, but I do not have anyone looking over my shoulder, my Boss is completely hands off and allows me to work on my own projects without interference. I can make my own schedule (usually 50 hours a week) and as long as I get things done everyone above me is happy.

Gender: Male

Age: 23

Location: Indianapolis

Occupation: Operations Officer for a non-profit. Simplest way to describe company is that it operates similar to a credit union. We take deposits from individuals or churches of a certain denomination in Indiana and then loan the funds to other churches of that denomination in Indiana.

Education: BS in Finance (Graduated Dec '10). Currently in a MBA program.

2011 Compensation: Started the job in July, but the annual compensation would work out to roughly $33000.

Future Salary Projection: Expecting a raise in early 2012, just not sure how much it will be.

Benefits: Medical, vision, and dental provided by employer. Employer puts $75 per paycheck into an HSA to offset that our insurance is a high deductible plan. Employer puts 9% into my 403b if I put in 3% (my only problem with this is limited investment options). 2 weeks vacation per service year, so I'll get 1 week in 2012. 1 personal day per month, carries over from month to month.

What's the job like?
It's a really easy job for anyone with a basic knowledge of banking. I process all transactions for our savings, certificate, and loan accounts. Responsible for preparing reports showing our deposit/loan activity to both the organization's president and board. Our business is almost exclusively by mail, so I mail checks/receipts/etc to our customers. Handle any questions that customers call in with. File mortgages and mortgage releases for our loans. I do most of the accounting work, but the controller does some of it as well. I've also picked up some of the marketing on the side.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Limited opportunity for advancement with this position in a non-profit. It's a great entry-level opportunity for the finance/banking field, and I'm hoping to move into a position with an actual bank once I graduate from my MBA program in November 2012. I'd recommend it for anyone looking for an entry-level position or short-term gig, but it's not something I would consider long-term.

Squeezer99 said:   jkimcpa said:   Squeezer99 said:   ClaimsGuy said:   The states are broke because they pay nearly all of the employees: firemen, police, corrections, teachers, garbagemen, elected officials, train conductors, toll collectors and countless others above market wages and benefits.

While that is true in some states, that's definitely not the case in mine. I was a state employee up until 2009 and made 42600 a year, plus 9% of the paycheck was taken out for the pension, and health insurance for a wife + kid was almost $700/month. In other words, as a state employee I made less than most private IT workers, and had to pay more for retirement and health care than most private workers. In my opinion (some of) the states are broke because they are paying 1/3 of the state money into Medicaid/WIC/Food stamps most of which goes to single moms that continue to pop out babies, 1/3 into K-12 education of which only about 60% makes it to the class room because they keep building and expanding onto sculptured school buildings, and unfunded liabilities in the state employees's pension plan due to mandated guaranteed cost of living increases for retirees.

Believe it or not you're still overpaid.


Care to explain? Saying that one is overpaid is subjective. In my state, the last time state employes received a raise was July 1, 2007. And even then it was a 1.5% raise capped at $1500. In other words state employees in my state have went 4.5 years without a raise while having to endure their health insurance premiums going up, inflation nibbling their paychecks, an increase in the retirement contribution from 7.25 to 9%, health insurance deductible going up to $2000/year, and an increase in prescription co-pays, all without getting a raise. The highest IT management positions in my state caps out at about $59,000. Meanwhile, I'm making more then that as a non-management IT worker in the federal government. I know that the non-profit hospitals in my area pay even better than the federal government because I used to work at one and had offers from another one.

Being a state employment you are automatically overpaid. And as an IT professional, it also means you are underemployed.

jkimcpa said:   Being a state employment you are automatically overpaid. And as an IT professional, it also means you are underemployed.So much for keeping this a positive, informative thread, and not getting into any arguments about how one's career/education/compensation makes him/her superior/inferior to other people.

Since i have been in this thread since it started need to continue

Age: 50

Location: Suburb of Boston

Occupation: Retired

Education: None

2011 Compensation: A little over $90k in investment income, $16,325 in Unemployment (ended in June) and $26k in gifting.

Future Salary Projection: Should be about the same minus Unemployment.

Benefits: Not working

What's the job like? Very relaxing



Would you recommend the career to others? No, I need you people to work so i can collect social security in 12 years.

Age: Mid 20's

Location: FL

Occupation: Affiliate marketing, a couple other online businesses as well

Education: Dropped out of community college

2011 Compensation: ~$70k

Future Salary Projection: Low six figures, multiple projects in the works that should blossom nicely.

Benefits: No traditional benefits being that I'm self employed

What's the job like? I wake up around 10-11am everyday, work sometimes, play some Xbox, fly all over to go to conventions (AKA excuses to party) basically do whatever I want everyday.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes, but most wont put the time in to be successful, I busted my ass to get to a point of exponential growth, working 80 hours a week is a must, fortunately it paid off. We live in the matrix folks, once you realize that you will have the world by the balls.

blok said:   We live in the matrix folks, once you realize that you will have the world by the balls.

Care to elaborate? Most wouldn't equate making $70K/year with having the "world by the balls," but maybe they just haven't taken the red pill?

markettimer said:   blok said:   We live in the matrix folks, once you realize that you will have the world by the balls.

Care to elaborate? Most wouldn't equate making $70K/year with having the "world by the balls," but maybe they just haven't taken the red pill?


70K in the rural area I live in would be living very comfortably. I would even go as far as saying I would have the "world by the balls" if I actually made that much.

Wow, this thread is pretty fun. Seems like a lot of FWF types are into IT. I dig it.

Gender: Male

Age: 21

Location: Stationed in Colorado

Occupation: Military - Enlisted (Air Force, Communications [3D1X2])

Education: Associate in Applied Science (Obtained for free through the CCAF)

2011 Compensation: About 40k before taxes? Wow, that seems like so much.. Where did it all go?

Future Salary Projection: Well, I'll be promoted during this deployment in April/May which is great. My early 2012 pay will be pumped up since my base pay isn't taxable, but it'll HOPEFULLY take a huge hit in the fall. The Air Force has some great programs for seperating early and getting full rides+allowances to state universities with the requirement of returning with a commission after obtaining a degree. I've submitted two of these 60-70 page applications and find out the results in March.. so gonna keep fingers crossed. If I don't receive the scholarship I'll be looking at about 50k of total compensation for 2012, optimistically.

Benefits: It's hard to beat military benefits, AFAIK. As a single guy the only thing I've paid for related to any sort of healthcare is my contact lenses. 100% Medical/100% Dental/100% Vision(1 free pair of glasses per year as well, and possibly free laser corrective surgery in the summer?). Access to the BX and (mainly) commisary has been great at saving hundreds on groceries. Many public places offer fantastic discounts if you're an active duty military member or veteran.. Plus, probably the best benefit, is knowing I've done something. Just, something. Something more than college or a trade-school. Life experience is pretty valuable to me. The military's 401K is, meh. I mean, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) has been a great vehicle for my money with large growth since I started investing in it, but the problem is the lack of employer match.

Edit to Add: I forgot about the 30 days of vacation(leave) per year.. given to you at 2.5 days/month.

What's the job like? I know very much that the "job" varies COMPLETELY depending on where you work and who you work with. You could be stationed in Alaska and hate the snow but love your coworkers so it evens out, or in Hawaii and love the sun but work with buffoons. It's totally YMMV. I like my coworkers at my home station office, but it's extremely boring business with 0.00% job satisfaction. I have enjoyed the deploying side of the military, but again, it's YMMV. Air Force comm is totally hit or miss and it's always about you making the best of your situation.

Would you recommend the career to others? Not everyone is "cut out" for military life. Some folks depend on stability and concreteness, I personally like the variety and some of the (sometimes annoying) spontaneity that the job brings. I've gotten to take TDY's to places I'd never have been able to go, meet some fairly important and interesting folks, and have learned TONS about communicating with people. Probably two of the most important life lessons I've come to know intimately are discipline, and trust. I'm learning more and more about trust through every bad experience I have with it. I cant leave out the obvious, so yes, of course my current career choice is in "national defense.." and I've met some conscientious objectors who aren't interested in weilding weapons and the like, but I would never steer someone away from any branch of the military. It's definitely not all guns n' glory. At the current pace of things, most people in my current career field will never see "battle." Assuming we don't wind up in another war, that is!

To sum that last boring paragraph up, I would never steer someone away from the air force, or any branch of the DOD. But, I would also never push someone towards it. It's a huge commitment that relies a lot on your personal outlook of life and what you feel prepared for. I think after reflecting on these last 4 years, this post has helped me gain some perspective. Thanks OP.

markettimer said:   blok said:   We live in the matrix folks, once you realize that you will have the world by the balls.

Care to elaborate? Most wouldn't equate making $70K/year with having the "world by the balls," but maybe they just haven't taken the red pill?


I mean you dont have to go the stereotypical route to make money, think outside the box, just because you are told all your life you need to go to school and get a 'good stable job' doesn't mean you have to. I'd rather make $70k working for myself and doing whateverhell I want then make $140k going to some s***y job everyday with 2 weeks vacation a year. "Having the world by the balls" isn't about money, life isn't about money, once you realize that you will probably make more money. Also, my income has increased every month this last year so I dont plan to stay under six figures for long.

Rewdog said:   hawblit2 said:   Gender: Female

Age: 28

Location: Mid Michigan, small suburban city with a population of approximately 35,000

Occupation: Clinical Specialist on a team of clinicians working with severely mentally ill adults

Education: BA, MSW, (followed by a lot of credentials that have to do with various aspects of my job and my ability to bill for services)

2011 Compensation: $48,410 (MSW is the lowest paid degree, according to Forbes, so I definitely didn't go into this field to become rich)

I enjoyed your post (I'm married to a recent MSW graduate, also in the clinical mental health field). If you don't mind me asking, how long have you had your MSW? Are you an LCSW, or looking to become one? How long have you been at your current job? Thanks!


In Michigan, the LMSW is the equivalent of the LCSW .. why there isn't a standardized credential is beyond me, but there isn't a standardized licensing exam, either, so what do I expect?? I will have my full license in May, so for now I have a limited license (LLMSW) credential. I've had my MSW for nearly 2 years and am pleased with where it has gotten me. It's hard to go anywhere in social work without it. I've been at my current job for just about that length of time and previously worked in an inpatient psychiatric unit for 3 years. I also specialize in doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy and dual disorder treatment, so my days are diverse enough to allow me to enjoy my job (85% of the time). Your new MSW is in good company, congrats to him or her.

Blah blah blah, all the other stuff before this.

Being a state employment you are automatically overpaid. And as an IT professional, it also means you are underemployed.
'

I am a "state employment" (employee) and I am fairly sure I'm far from overpaid. Over-generalizations like that are ridiculous.

motuwallet said:   Dude... I understand urban teaching is hard, I did it once. Also understand you're well into your career. But 80-100k for 8 months work plus full benefits plus pension PLUS tenure is insane. Arguably preferable to many wall st jobs which may pay less, offer 0 job security (in fact high probability of layoff), and would not be unusual to not have 4 months of vacation over 10 years. Plus you get snow days! Haha not trying to be critical just pointing out that your grass looks pretty green to a lot of people, especially given the standards of education in this country.

Sounds like a great job ...

Now you understand why we at NJ pay out of our a$$ for property taxes. Teachers still whines that they are forced to pay 1.3% of their salary for health insurance.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: SF Bay Area

Occupation: Software Engineer

Education: BS in Computer Science/Engineering

2011 Compensation: $187K

Future Salary Projection: 2012 Comp between 215K-240K depending on bonus

Benefits: 4 Weeks a year vacation, no-deductable/copay medical/dental. 401K matching and ESPP.

What's the job like?
Like any office job, I spend lots of time at my desk or in meetings. I design and write software all day.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely. The pay and benefits are good, you are free to work your own schedule (I personally work 11-8), and the job market is hot (I get called by recruiters weekly). I must warn that the job is not for everyone, as some people find sitting at a desk writing code intolerable, and getting an entry level position can be hard if you did not have the correct major.

Gender: Male

Age: 26

Location: SF Bay Area

Occupation: Auditor

Education: BS-Economics, MA-Accounting

2011 Compensation: ~$61k in salary and bonus

Future Salary Projection: 2012 compensation between $60k-$65k (depends significantly on the economy. The better the economy, the higher the raise/bonus). Salary should increase 5%-12% in 2012, offset by a lower bonus...but all this is very dependent on the economy. When the economy is good and the firm has higher than normal employee retention problems, the salary+bonuses go up. The opposite occurs when the economy is bad and nobody is leaving the firm.

Benefits: 15 days a year vacation+floating holidays, leave work early on Fridays (outside of busy season), retirement plan (firm puts in amount equal to 3% of my salary a year into plan at no cost to me), HSA, high deductible health plan subsidized by firm, 401k (crappy 25% match with long vesting period)

What's the job like?
I spend most of my time at the client's office in different teams of 3-8 co-workers and our trusty Thinkpads. We work with the client's accountants (both public and private companies) and audit their books. Hours range from 9:00-6:00 PM during non-busy season (approximately 8 months out of the year) to 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM plus some weekends during busy season from January through some of April. That's the simplified version of what the job entails.

Would you recommend the career to others?
It depends on the person. This is the quintessential middle class type of job where hard work and dedication to the firm is rewarded with solid pay and benefits. The hours are long (think lawyer-like number of billable hours in a year) and the Big 4 accounting firms are strictly "up or out" just like a law firm but if you stick with it and can survive the busy seasons, then you will be making approximately $100k 5 years into the job (in California or the east coast). That's not a bad gig for someone just coming out of college.

Many people leave audit because they either don't find the work rewarding or don't like the hours but if you don't have issues with those two things then this is a job which sets you up to be employed for the rest of your life if you are starting out at a reputable Big 4 or mid-tier audit firm.

OK i will play since i always find this thread informative and entertaining ...

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: NYC area

Occupation: "quant" programmer at a brokerage company

Education: BA Economics, some phd coursework in applied math/stats

2011 Compensation: $146K + $30k stock ... stock is basically worthless to me due to vesting scheme. (edit: got another +22k in worthless stock...)

Future Salary Projection: next year binary outcome ... either will increase > 50% or fall to 0% as i will either find a job that pays in line with my expectations or leave to pursue other projects or fields. if I stayed, would expect 0-5% raise next year. in general, the industry continues to face brutal layoffs.

Benefits: 2 weeks vacation (not enough). otherwise not bad, healthcare and LT/ST disability provided by company. optional dental, FSA. crappy 401k that i opted out of, preferring liquidity. free lunch

What's the job like?
depressing anti-social gulag conditions. (specific to my job, not all in the industry.) mostly unchallenging/unengaging although occasionally interesting. (again mostly specific, i still think the industry is interesting.) occasional bursts of high-pressure time sensitive work where millions/billions are on the line. spend all day sitting at a desk which is bad for health but hard to avoid in this world. one positive and underrated aspect is that i work (mostly) with very intelligent people. the downside of that is that there is an assumed natural hierarchy based on intelligence/academics. also, my hours are not bad, but i'm the kind of person who would rather work long hours on projects i enjoy.

Would you recommend the career to others?
No. the finance industry is shrinking and will continue to do so throughout the depression. competition for jobs on my side of the business is astronomical, essentially NBA level. without a phd from a top school it's very unlikely to find meaningful work. also it's not structured in such a way that there is a clear path to advance. the rewards can be great for those who succeed, but these are not many and anyone with the aptitude to succeed could probably find a lot more attractive opportunities in other industries. i would advise anyone interested to focus on programming as it opens up a lot more career options. if one must work in the finance industry, one should pursue a sales-oriented or "deal-making" type job. (for which an ivy degree and/or parents in the biz are usually needed.) sales-oriented finance jobs can be incredibly lucrative

(edited to revise comp upwards)

I'll contribute for a datapoint

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: Los Angeles area

Occupation: Electrical Engineer at a defense company

Education: BS EE, Economics double (not using the economics portion unfortunately)

2011 Compensation: $68k + 3k bonus (good year...)

Future Salary Projection: $7xk (promo upcoming)

Benefits: 3 weeks vacation, HSA, Dental, Vision, 401k

What's the job like?
Working with engineers. Do some engineering. Very little design work, mostly testing, troubleshooting, etc. I work on the production-side so a lot of manufacturing issues. Can be stressful at times. Flexible schedule on non-crunch times, but generally it's almost always crunch time on the production side. Some travel required. Large company, defense as well, so a lot of paperwork. Got lucky this year and was placed on a high visibility small project that required babysitting from inception to production--pretty eye-opening experience. Not typical work for a person of my position (low man on totem pole). Normal work generally is production firefighting. Apologize, but can't be too specific.

Would you recommend the career to others?
EE? Yes. EE at defense?... Probably not, depends on stage of career. It is a very good place once your priorities have moved away from work and into family, kids, etc (mid-late career). Most of the employees here have a more family-oriented attitude. Even with a gung-ho attitude, lots of roadblocks in place for upward mobility. I am unhappy, but some of my similar aged colleagues are happy. If you want a stable job, similar work, relatively stress-free (depends on responsibilities), you can definitely find a spot here. If you are taking risks, pulling in extra hours, and are looking to move upward, I would not recommend defense in general. It may be different if you are super specialized in a certain field, but that type of specialization comes after a BS generally. Production work also does not lend itself to design (which is what most new grad EEs want).

I'm looking to bail, so take the above with a grain of salt though I have tried to be fair. I'm sure someone at a defense company can chime in with the positives--I'm looking at a different set of criteria so some of the positives may escape me. From my point of view, I would advise a new grad at any level (BS/BA, Masters, PhD, I know "new grads" of all three types) with ambition to start their career elsewhere. PhDs may already fall into the mid-late career aspect where family is more important; defense may be a good fit in that case.

Skipping 330 Messages...
Gender: Female

Age: 31

Location: Minnesota

Occupation: Event Coordinator/Administrative Assistant at a local non-profit

Education: AA degree

2011 Compensation: $32,000

Future Salary Projection: Usually get a COLA each year and that's about it. So maybe 3%.

Benefits: 20 vacation days, 3 floating days, 10 sick days, medical/dental/vision, the company deposits the equivalent of 12% of our annual salary into a 403b each year regardless of our contributions.

What's the job like? Feast or famine. We tend to be very busy around spring and fall, and less so during the summer and winter holidays. But I enjoy what I do, and I work with interesting people and a pretty laid back boss. Unfortunately our organization is extremely small (under 20 people) so there isn't room for advancement really at all.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes, if you can deal with the fact you will never, ever become wealthy doing it. Non-profits aren't known for their massive pay scale.



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