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maxandsam said:   For 2010, my tax return said 225k. I have no idea what my tax return will be this year. I own my practice as an LLC and take distributions. I upped my loan repayments from minimum of 7k a month to 16k a month to pay off my 10 year loan in 5 years. even as such, i imagine my tax statement will be close to 200 or more even with additional loan payments.
Can you explain why your extra student loan payments cause your taxable income to go down? On our personal return, the only effect of student loans is the interest deduction (doesn't matter how much principal you pay), and even that gets phased out at our income level.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: NYC

Occupation: Financial services focused in real estate.

Education: BS Real Estate, MS Real Estate, CFA Level 2 Candidate

2011 Compensation: $115K salary + $40K bonus

Future Salary Projection: Approximately $20K raise in 2012. Future salaries, stock options, and bonuses are promising.
Benefits: Solid. 3 weeks vacation + personal days. I have dental, vision, medical, donation match, 401K match, pension, etc.

What's the job like?
I specialize in risk and portfolio management, which includes managing research, strategy, and scenario testing. My role requires understanding of significant topics of real estate, finance, and capital markets. My job is extremely technical, yet, communication skills are critical for my job due presentations, papers, and research topics we often present. Hours are 7-7 during the week with an hour lunch. I do work weekends.

Would you recommend the career to others?
I love it. That being said, it isnít for everyone. It requires a true passion for real estate as well as staying on top of the markets and general economic news. I spend 20+ hours a week reading reports/analysis/anything potential useful.
My job allows for a significant amount of creativity and is never competitive. The work/life balance is great (for NYC) and the pay is fair. Most importantly, I really like that I learn something new every day and that I have the support of my coworkers. It never truly feels like work when you have this much fun!

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: MI

Occupation: Information Security Engineer , Small Business Owner

Education: BAA, M.S. CISSP, CISM, GCIH Certifications

2011 Compensation: $70K salary, 6k side business A, 5k Side business B. 20 days vacation/sick time combined, excellent benefits including 401k matching 5%, vision, dental, health (HSA with some added by employer), and bonus is added to 401k.

Future Salary Projection: Approximately 2-5%, I can job hop to make a lot more. I am underpaid in my current position.

What's the job like?
I specialize in information assurance, security, and hacking. I break into computers and systems, tell people to patch them etc. I also dabble in alittle bit of auditing, and some security operations. I work 37.5 hours a week, very flexible schedule, on call rotation 1 week a month. The job can be stressful when incidents occur.

Would you recommend the career to others?
I love it. But it requires WAY to much time outside of work to stay up on technology. Its actually very difficult to maintain with a family. You need to know a majority of different types of IT fields just to be good in infosec. For example, I can do a network engineers job, an auditors job, and a system administors job, however i need the mindset of a security professional and hacker.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: Chicago

Occupation: Investment Banking with Bulge bracket bank

Education: BS Finance, MBA

2011 Compensation: $100K salary + $60K signing bonus + $35-50k stub bonuse

Future Salary Projection: All in comp for a full year can range from $125-$300k depending on markets and performance

Benefits: Solid benefits, no idea what my vacation is because I dont really get to use any of it.

What's the job like?
I work in the Industrials group for a bulge bracket investment bank. I'll do modeling, presentations, internatal memos, lots of reading and writing. I work at least 60 hours a week, closer to 80 usually, and generally work at least one day each weekend. Technical skills, communication and presentation are very important.


Would you recommend the career to others?
Maybe. I don't really know if I like the job or not. I've only been working since graduating from my MBA program in May. The hours are terrible, senior people don't overly care about your work/life balance, and a lot of the tasks are mind numbing. I do feel like I am learning a lot about the markets and how businesses work, so that is a plus. Also, I really like everyone I work with on a junior level, and most senior guys too, so that is very important. My goal goal is to stick with this job for at leasy 1.5 years, and see where things stand then. Sometimes the job is frustrating now because I am still new and don't know nearly as much as other people, which makes me feel dumb at times, and it also takes me much longer to do things than others.

Yankees said:   2008 Salary: $268,000 (150K Base + $118K year end bonus). base is flat from 07, and bonus is significantly down (44%). Given the lashing that the markets gave this year, there were times that our expectations dipped to expect nearly nothing (i.e. 80 - 90% down), I don't think anybody expected better than 30% down. So in the end, it's as bad as we had thought it's going to be, but not as bad as we feared it could be.
2011 Compensation: $570k

Honestly, great job.

What would be the wrong major in this situation?

Thanks!
ironfist99 said:   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: 33

Location: Rocky Mountain West

Occupation: Corporate lawyer

Education: B.A., J.D. (2006)

2011 Compensation: $140K salary + $15K bonus

Future Salary Projection: Approximately $10K raise in 2012. I should be made an equity partner of my firm in a couple of years which should result in substantial compensation increases as time goes on.

Benefits: Full health, etc. with nothing out of pocket. 5% 401(k) match. There's no concept of vacation or sick time--as long as I hit my billable hour requirement (1850/year) I can take however much time off I want, subject to client/partner needs, etc.

What's the job like?
Very stressful. I pull 2-3 very late nights a week and often work weekends. I generally have to be available 24/7 for clients and partners. The work is demanding and often tedious. When we're working on a big M&A transaction or other big deal, all bets are off and we work days and nights until the deal is closed. From an intellectual standpoint I generally enjoy what I do but the time pressures and client demands can reach unreal levels. My wife is understanding and doesn't complain too much about how much time I spend at the office but most spouses would probably reach a breaking point somewhere along the way.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely not. Very few people are suited for this line of work and even fewer (perhaps nobody) would find joy in it. I think I'm a pretty good corporate lawyer, but I'm honest with myself and don't expect any joy or warm fuzzy feelings from my work. I don't love what I do, and for now, I'm fine with it. When I get my mortgage paid off in a couple of years I may change my mind.

theelordsotron said:   What would be the wrong major in this situation?

Thanks!
ironfist99 said:   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.


If you are non computer science grad you won't get the interview .

Gender: Male

Age: Mid 20s

Location: So Cal

Occupation: Tech Pre-Sales Engineer at large enterprise software company

Education: B.S. Engr, MBA

2011 Compensation: 80k Salary + 20k Bonus (first year on job)

Future Salary Projection: Raises will mostly be bonus based depending on job rank & getting onto the right deals

Benefits: Full medical, dental, vision, etc. 2 weeks vacation. Standard 401k 50% match up to 6%.

What's the job like?
Relatively stressful. 45-55 hrs/week usually, sometimes weekends. You are pulled onto things with short notice often. Travel is a couple days to a couple weeks per month. You can work from home, but spend most of your time on calls or in meetings. Experienced people enjoy the job and don't find it overly stressful, but as a new hire I have to work twice as hard to deliver the same performance as others.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Potentially. It's a small world in software sales. Most people have been doing it for 10-30 years so its hard to be taken seriously without industry & prior sales experience. Requires broad skill set including presentation, speaking, and writing skills, knowledge and ability to quickly grasp business processes at many organizations in many industries, as well as understanding how those relate to technical requirements of the software.

BayesFormula said:   Attached is a graph which shows the Fatwallet income distribution in this thread (up until this post) vs. the general U.S. population.

(U.S. data is from Wikipedia.)
I'm guessing several many more members earn GREATER THAN 100k but choose not to share...

jackcrawfish said:   BayesFormula said:   Attached is a graph which shows the Fatwallet income distribution in this thread (up until this post) vs. the general U.S. population.

(U.S. data is from Wikipedia.)
I'm guessing several many more members earn GREATER THAN 100k but choose not to share...


I'm also sure there are several many more members earn LESS THAN 100k (especially the ones in college, etc.) but also choose not to share...

maxandsam said:   Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: Suburbia in Major metropolitan town

Occupation: dentist

Education: BA + DDS degree (4 yrs)

2011 Compensation: For 2010, my tax return said 225k. I have no idea what my tax return will be this year. I own my practice as an LLC and take distributions. I upped my loan repayments from minimum of 7k a month to 16k a month to pay off my 10 year loan in 5 years. even as such, i imagine my tax statement will be close to 200 or more even with additional loan payments. if you own a business, you have many tax advantages over a w2 employee. my salary doesn't really reflect the tax advantages; basically i make more than what the salary shows.
If you own your own practice as an LLC and all the income is passed through, then at your income level your student loan payments are not tax deductible, so increasing your student loan repayments has no effect on your taxable income.

FSBox said:   Gender: Male

Age: Upper 30's

Location: Washington DC

Occupation: Engineer / Business Owner

Education: Tech Degree + MBA from state schools

2011 Compensation: $100k salary, 300k+ from online business

Future Salary Projection:
Salary should grow modestly at 2-3%. Maybe 4-5%. Realistically, I should be making $150-$200k with my experience and capability level, but I love the current position because it's stable, secure, low stress, 9-5, lots of vacation, and good benefits. Business income is from a 3 year old online business. I expect this income to double in 2012 as we have been consistently hitting our growth targets in monthly sales reviews.

The US economy is solid, but it is very efficient currently: if you are capable, you will have no problems surviving and thriving. But if you are not capable, you will find it very tough to find above-market rewards. The business appears to have a good formula, so I am optimistic about how well it will work out in the future.

Benefits:
20 days a year, plus 10 holidays. 401k, pension, dental, health, vision, FSA, HSA, the works. This is from the job. There are no benefits from the business. It's a benefits sink in terms of vacation and holidays.

What's the job like?
My job-job is like any other engineering job. A lot of time is spent with formal documentation. 2-3 meetings or conference calls a day. As mentioned previously, I picked a low stress job.

Running the business has very different demands, of course. I have to deal with a much wider range of issues, and spend a significant amount of time planning. I have to give the people I lead a high level goal - where the company is heading towards. It's funny because as an engineer grunt I've sat in on countless employee meetings where bosses mouthed off company "vision", and etc. I always found it completely meaningless to what I do every day. So I try to keep it tangible and measurable.

Why not quit the day job and focus on the business? I learned from my first business that I need to delegate. By nature I am too detail oriented and will tend to micromanage a situation. By occupying my days with a job, I am forced to focus on the big picture. Sure, some things fall through the crack and end up not getting done just how I like it. But in net, it's beneficial.

Would you recommend the career to others?
I typically would not recommend a tech field when someone who I think is intelligent ask me for opinions. The typical tech job is boring, lacks potential, and isn't particularly rewarding. Sure, if you are one of the star performers and can manage $180k at 27 years old, go for it. But for most people, it's a sentence to a lifetime of beige. However, if you like stable jobs with above average income, then it's a great fit.

I would not recommend business ownership to most people. To get to the point where it really starts to become rewarding in an above-average way, you have to be willing to work extremely hard and make a lot of sacrifices in other ways.

What kind of online business can earn 300k part-time, if you don't mind sharing?

americano said:   What kind of online business can earn 300k part-time, if you don't mind sharing?Selling phony PDF "books" teaching people how to make money online part-time.

Gender: Male

Age: 31

Location: California

Occupation: biotechnology/process engineer at Fortune 250 pharmaceutical multinational

Education: B.S. biology , M.S; manufacturing/process engineering

2011 Compensation: $94K salary + $14K bonus + variable $xK options

Future Salary Projection: Anticipating drop in bonus in 2012 as a result of corporate cost savings efforts and poor M&A decisions. COLAs expected

Benefits: Solid medical/dental/etc with $15 copay; employees responsible for annual premiums of $200-$500 depending on level of care. 6% 401(k) match plus 2% corporate contribution. 3 weeks vacation time and unlimited sick days, 6 week extended vacation for every 6 years of employment. Can't quite match Silicon Valley, but relatively generous with other benefits: onsite gym/massage/haircuts, partially subsidized cafeterias and childcare; stipends for commute and free buses/shuttles that cover, effectively, a 60 mile radius

What's the job like? We use fancy equipment and fundamental science to design manufacturing processes for biotech drugs. Good deal of colloboration and meetings that consume 25-50% of time as a result. Not stressful except once every year or two when we're ready to produce and apply to license a new drug, where we pull a few overnights and weekends. Rarely need to work late, at home, or on the weekend. Pretty good work-life balance, most work M-F 9-5, resulting in many life-long employees.

Would you recommend the career to others? It's a relatively interesting position, and quite stable, albeit certainly niche skills. Biotech drugs will only continue to grow as there are plenty of diseases to be cured, but with healthcare costs being slashed, drug patent lengths diminishing, and M&A's taking place left and right, who knows what the future holds. Like high tech/IT, engineers will have decide if they want to venture into management/etc, or stay safe in their tech roles... As far as the psychological element goes, as there appear to be quite a few soul-sucking bankers and lawyers amongst us, our company promotes virtue and warm fuzzy feelings by frequently emphasizing the patients that we're helping with our innovative drugs.

TextNewbie/lurker here but always find info like this very fascinating.. here is my contribution.


Gender: Male

Age: 36

Location: Orange County, California

Occupation: Portfolio/Risk Management for a large nationwide bank

Education: Finance degree from a Cal State University

2011 Compensation: roughly 100k - base salary in the mid 80's + annual bonus. "Long term" bonuses paid out on occasion, i.e. "you have been awarded $25k for a job well done but you're only gonna get $5k of it each year over the next 5 years since we know you're always looking for a new job"

Future Salary Projection: Minimal salary raises in the 1-2.5% range. Annual bonuses ranging from nothing to 10% in a slow year but can get up to 25-30% in a good year in addition to some long term bonuses. Bonus received in March 2011 was healthy due to productive 2010 and we are projecting for a similar type of bonus to be paid in March 2012. However we've added quite a bit of new staff in the past 6 months who aren't eligible for bonus but will be next year, so future bonuses are definitely going to be affected.

Benefits: Standard within the industry. Medical, vision, dental, etc.. all of which keep costing us more money each year in paycheck deductions. 401k with annual match of up to 3%. Pension plan after 5 years of employment, however they did away with the "traditional plans" a few years ago, so most guys my age are on the cash balance pensions. Not great but it is transferrable when leaving your job which is OK for someone like me who's never stayed with a company more than 4 years. 4 weeks of vacation.

What's the job like?
Heh, what a loaded question. At the moment, not good due to current conflicts I'm having with my direct manager . Our company culture in general also seems to be deteriorating in terms of workplace enjoyment and camraderie due to increased expectations and responsibilities (projects which used to be needed 30 days before deadline now needed 60 days before deadline). I am already planning on job hunting once bonus is paid out in March.

In terms of duties, each person in my role handles a loan portfolio of $200-300 million. 3 larger relationships account for half of my portfolio, followed by 11 smaller deals. I am responsible for knowing and monitoring the customer's credit needs, doing an annual review of the customer each year, doing quarterly or monthly financial analysis and risk ratings, etc. It's also expected that we have a decent understanding of loan documentation/legal issues.. which is a big joke among us as none of us know what we are doing in this regard, have received no guidance/training, and we make mistakes all the time.

Other random job duties which aren't realy related to credit but fall to me include answering a lot of customers questions about rates, loan payments, setting up new accounts and services, etc. "Jack of all trades master of none" applies here.

Rather than accounting/financial analysis (all of us in my office have degrees in these areas), I'd say the key skills in this job seem to be the ability to write reports efficiently as the credit process is INSANE. It's common for annual reviews to be 30-40 pages of analyisis, commentary, action plan, financial charts, etc. Someting as simple as increasing a customer's credit line by 10% can result result in a lengthy document too. Risk rating of a customer also is increasingly scrutizined and can be a time consuming process. I've been working in commercial credit for about 12 years and it was not always like this. When I write a deal and submit it for approval there's anywhere from 3-5 additional people above me now checking my work and it can be very frustrating. The banking crisis has resulted in credit analysis being much more highly scrutizined.

When friends from school ask about my job I usually say I am a glorified credit analyst / loan processor.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Maybe. Prior to the banking crisis, I would have said yes. While I never am going to be making the big investment banking type of bucks in my type of banking, I always felt I could make a decent income with a good work/life balance.

In terms of steady income and job security though, commercial credit is still a good market to be in right now. While there were a lot of industry layoffs a few years ago, this seems to have run its course and sales staff was much more affected than credit. Working in credit means you will always have work, or even more work to do when the economy gets rough. The downside is that banks are all running very lean and mean. In my network of peers, I think the vast majority would say that the level of micro management and work hours expected to be put in have steadily increased each year. I find myself doing many tasks that a few years ago were handed off to a different (and lower paid) employee role. While my particular bank is pretty good about working from home and making your own hours, the increased responsibilties make it pretty hard to take full advantage of this.

I should note that if this is what you asipire for... it's very easy to become a middle manager and get a fancy "Vice President" title in my type of work compared to other industries.

Great thread, OP! Lots of great information! While some of these posts can make people feel really great about their current career options, it can certainly leave others wanting more.

It'd be interesting to see AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) figures after cost of living expenses within each person's specific location. Certainly $90k sounds like a great salary, until you realize you're in San Francisco. Likewise, $40k may not seem like much at all, except if you live in rural area where cost of living is low. Maybe some of your commenters would feel comfortable sharing their AGI/COL information...

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: Programmer for a Fortune 50 in North NJ
Education: B.S. in Computer Science from a large regional university
2011 Compensation: 60k + ~12k bonus
Future Salary Projection: Expecting raise to ~63k-65k in March
Benefits: 15 vacation days, 5 discretionary days, "unlimited" sick days, 401k (regular and ROTH), pension plan. I will pay ~$500 total for the year for medical and dental insurance for wife + me
What's the job like?: Pretty laid back actually.. particularly for my department. Most employees in the building of roughly 2500 people are managers.. with only about 150-200 programmers. Plenty of projects, but few of them with deadlines. We get one week external training every year for whatever we want to study that's relevant to what we do and what's taught by our external educational classes vendor. Trained for .NET, XML, JSON/AJAX, HTML5 previous years.
Would you recommend the career to others?: Programming is something that's hit or miss with most people. Either you like programming or you dont. I happen to like computers, and programming, so I think it is a good career for me. If you dont like computers, this isnt for you. There are many times when it takes me hours to figure out something very simple, and there are many times when it takes me much less time than expected to be able to program something complicated. What drives me are new challanges and the new projects that I get, and with each new challange come new moments of frustrations and sense of accomplishments after they are completed.

Dilbert Comics frequently nails what people like me go through everyday working at a large corporation.

Last year's reply said:
Gender: Male
Age: 26
Location: Company is in socal
Occupation: Systems test engineer
Education: BS Computer Engineering
2010 Compensation: $76k
Future Salary Projection: I usually get about 6-8% raises.
Benefits: Health, dental, 5% 401(k) matching, ESPP, 3 weeks vacation + sick time
What's the job like? I write scripts to automate testing of the telecommunications systems my group is working on, then run the tests overnight and over weekends. My wife and I got tired of living in the city and decided that we were going to move out to the county about 4 months ago. Basically told the company I was moving and asked if they wanted me to work remotely. Lucky for me they agreed. I was there a little over 2 years before this. I'm basically "on-call" to coworkers via chat or phone 24 hours a day- I log onto the VPN as soon as I wake up and don't log off until I go to bed. But really only lock myself in my home office for about 5 hours in the morning, then I take the afternoon to spend time with the kids and work again for a few more hours in the evening.
Would you recommend the career to others? I wasn't sure about working in test when I first started at this company, but I really enjoy it now. It's actually a lot more creative and, in my opinion, challenging than writing software which is what I did before joining this company. I still get to write software, debug software that others wrote, and get to hunt for bugs. Working from home is great but requires a lot of discipline, and understanding from the spouse. It's nice to be able to spend a lot of time with my kids but it's easy to be distracted. Plus it's great for me not to have to commute.


So, last year we moved the family to the Denver area. I'm working for the same company now, but the operations division. I'm using the knowledge I have of the system to help the team here set up the network to get ready for service launch. Basically I'm the "subject matter expert" and just answer questions all day and work on about 12 different small side projects like writing scripts at a time.
2011 Compensation $81,000 plus a stock bonus worth about $12k that vests over 4 years
Would you recommend this job to others? There is a huge cultural difference between engineering teams and operations. Since it's important to have the network running 24/7, all the different groups try to blame each other when things to wrong. Also, it's very hierarchical, and it's often very hard to get people to do things if it's "not their job". The camaraderie is not there as I've seen on all the other engineering teams I've worked with.

ajh5408 said:   americano said:   What kind of online business can earn 300k part-time, if you don't mind sharing?Selling phony PDF "books" teaching people how to make money online part-time. Ha! Sadly, no, nothing that creative.

It's not a part time job, I have employees. I just do not dedicate full time to running the business. I've also outsourced non-core activities as much as possible to keep the employee count/cost down. We run a very lean operation. Small business owners are entrepreneurial, so there is the tendency to roll up your sleeves and do everything yourself, and the feeling that you are wrong to spend money for things you can do yourself. For certain things this line of thinking is certainly applicable, especially when you are at the very beginning and the cash flow situation is low or uncertain. But once I got the business going, I recognized that there are businesses and individuals out there that do certain activities much better and for much less cost than I can manage on my own, and I can often engage their services even when my business volume is low, but allows me to scale up.

What kind of online business? It's the kind that sells something that people are willing to pay money for. Specifically what is pointless, it could be socks, or coupon codes, coupon codes for socks, or socks with coupon codes.

DrizzitT said:   Occupation: Electrical Engineer at a defense company

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.


Ahem...

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: The boonies
Occupation: Aeronautical Engineer for Dept. of Defense (DoD) contractor
Education: BS Aeronautical Engineering
2011 Compensation: $68k
Future Salary Projection: 2-3% raise each year, even tho we had record breaking profits one year. This is presented as merit raises, but really is just COLA. Not much room for promotion.
Benefits: Health,dental,vision (that costs $1500 out of pocket for just me), 5% 401(k) matching, ESPP, 3 weeks PTO

What's the job like? 9-5 type job. It's hands-on problem solving job and deals with lots of different people. If you are anti-social like a lot of engineers, this isn't good for you. We deal with a lot of non-engineers, who don't understand the analysis we have to do, and thus don't understand why it takes so long to get answers.

Would you recommend the career to others? If you are a structural engineering student who hasn't had much actual hands-on experience, then I highly recommend getting an entry-level job that has hands-on. You do learn a lot of common sense stuff your first couple of years, such as manufacturing capabilities, installation limitations, etc.

Working for a defense contractor doesn't have many upward advancement opportunities, unless you are ex-military (it's almost like nepotism). Also, defense companies are often out in the middle of nowhere. That way it's easier for them to buy a ton of land and have 1 mile of nothingness (except a razorwire fence) around the plant for security reasons.

As said above, if you are looking for a job that doesn't infringe on your family life, then Defense jobs are pretty good. A lot of my coworkers come to work, go home to their families, sit infront of the TV all night, and seem fine to continue to repeat that for years on end. I more geared to a work hard, play hard mindset (and I'm single), and Defense doesn't seem to offer that. Defense jobs rarely seem to be in the city. If I want to go into the city after work, it's over an hour drive to get there. Aside from the lack of advancement opportunites as listed above, this industry doesn't really hand out bonuses for hard work either. A typical bonus is a $25 gift card. Not joking.

But the rural locations have low cost of living, so the salary is comparitively good. If you just want a quiet family life, this would be good for you.
Using http://www.bestplaces.net/col/
my salary is equivalent to $145,000 in San Francisco, and $125,000 in New York.

colormekris said:   Great thread, OP! Lots of great information! While some of these posts can make people feel really great about their current career options, it can certainly leave others wanting more.

It'd be interesting to see AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) figures after cost of living expenses within each person's specific location. Certainly $90k sounds like a great salary, until you realize you're in San Francisco. Likewise, $40k may not seem like much at all, except if you live in rural area where cost of living is low. Maybe some of your commenters would feel comfortable sharing their AGI/COL information...


Good point, but most people are providing their location. You can use this calculator to get a rough idea:
http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html

There are a few people on here making 75% more than I am for a similar job, but its about even when I factored in their location; maybe even better for me since I'm in a lower tax bracket.

Gender: Male

Age: 26

Location: Midwest

Occupation: Manufacturing Engineer at a specialty chemicals company

Education: BS in Chemical Engineering, working towards an MBA

2011 Compensation: ~80 K Salary and Bonus

Future Salary Projection: I just recently got promoted, but am not expecting much for a bonus next year due to the economy, so probably pretty close to what I had this year.

Benefits: I think they're pretty good. 20 vacation days/year, 2 weeks sick time, 401k Match, Medical, Dental, Vision, etc...

What's the job like?
I work in a chemical plant on assigned processes and troubleshoot issues, optimize when possible and help bring in new products when they're ready. I also do a little bit of environmental reporting, as well as six sigma projects and things like that. I've only been in this role for a few months, but I enjoy it because it's usually something different every day.

Would you recommend the career to others?
I enjoy it. I really like problem solving and dealing with different things all the time. I tend to get bored pretty quickly, so this type of role is good for me. I also really like Chemistry, so that helps. It is weird sometimes realizing I work in a chemical plant, but despite some common beliefs, chemical companies spend a ton of resources on ensuring the surrounding communities are safe (as well as employees in the plant). I typically don't work much overtime (unless there's a start-up).

I think Engineering is a great field for someone to go into, as long as you enjoy solving problems and don't hate math. A lot of people seem to aspire for the top, but I think one of the best job securities you can have is being an experienced technical person (regardless of field). Companies are always going to need people to solve their technical issues and be innovative.

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: PA

Occupation: Mechanical Engineering.

Education: BSME 2003(Graduate in Asia), MSME 2007(Graduate in US)

2011 Compensation: $20K salary + $3K extra part-time work. I work at a separate entity in University, more like a consulting company, which provides engineering service. I work hourly salary from $15 increased into $30 since May. They take a lot advantage of my immigration visa, H1b working visa.

Future Salary Projection: Approximately $70K in 2012 with 2 offers on the way, who like to sponsor me visa transferred.
Benefits: None. It is like a continuous hourly job.

What's the job like?
I work on multiple projects(11 so far) regarding engineering work. I mean all types of work from low-tech food industry to leading-edge electrical-optical technology research and development. I also did some translations on machine manuals to make extra money.

Would you recommend the career to others?
No. I think my value is 80K base salary if I have a green card, (I can easily find a position in Boeing). My BSME is minor in Aircraft Manufacturing. Engineering Consulting job may fit someone, but not me. I wish I could dedicate in one area and make contributions in that area within my life-time.

UPDATE estimate valvue.

TextGender: M

Age: 25

Location: Rocky Mountain Area

Occupation: Bank Examiner

Education: B.S. Business Administration - Finance & Real Estate

2011 Compensation: $80,000

Future Salary Projection: My salary has somewhat peaked. I have the potential to get into the high $100's, but it will take another 3-4 years to get my next promotion which will bring me to $100k. No more annual salary increases due to the federal pay freeze (we are independent agency though).

Benefits: 20 Days Annual Leave, 13 Days Sick Leave, All Federal Holidays off, Amazing health, dental, vision (gov pays 80%), 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.


On a side note: It was funny to read BookieBuster's post a few above mine. Part of my job is to review those credit packages and basically their entire job function. We do loan reviews and have to usually interview the credit analysts. Also, i dont see many people mention risk ratings outside of my agency.

mwlawyer said:   Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: Rocky Mountain West

Occupation: Corporate lawyer

Education: B.A., J.D. (2006)

2011 Compensation: $140K salary + $15K bonus

Future Salary Projection: Approximately $10K raise in 2012. I should be made an equity partner of my firm in a couple of years which should result in substantial compensation increases as time goes on.

Benefits: Full health, etc. with nothing out of pocket. 5% 401(k) match. There's no concept of vacation or sick time--as long as I hit my billable hour requirement (1850/year) I can take however much time off I want, subject to client/partner needs, etc.

What's the job like?
Very stressful. I pull 2-3 very late nights a week and often work weekends. I generally have to be available 24/7 for clients and partners. The work is demanding and often tedious. When we're working on a big M&A transaction or other big deal, all bets are off and we work days and nights until the deal is closed. From an intellectual standpoint I generally enjoy what I do but the time pressures and client demands can reach unreal levels. My wife is understanding and doesn't complain too much about how much time I spend at the office but most spouses would probably reach a breaking point somewhere along the way.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely not. Very few people are suited for this line of work and even fewer (perhaps nobody) would find joy in it. I think I'm a pretty good corporate lawyer, but I'm honest with myself and don't expect any joy or warm fuzzy feelings from my work. I don't love what I do, and for now, I'm fine with it. When I get my mortgage paid off in a couple of years I may change my mind.


No offense intended here, but I would think a 5th year corporate lawyer pulling those kinds of hours would be in the $180k-ish base salary range. That's what the market's like here, at least.

hebron1427 said:   mwlawyer said:   Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: Rocky Mountain West

Occupation: Corporate lawyer

Education: B.A., J.D. (2006)

2011 Compensation: $140K salary + $15K bonus

Future Salary Projection: Approximately $10K raise in 2012. I should be made an equity partner of my firm in a couple of years which should result in substantial compensation increases as time goes on.

Benefits: Full health, etc. with nothing out of pocket. 5% 401(k) match. There's no concept of vacation or sick time--as long as I hit my billable hour requirement (1850/year) I can take however much time off I want, subject to client/partner needs, etc.

What's the job like?
Very stressful. I pull 2-3 very late nights a week and often work weekends. I generally have to be available 24/7 for clients and partners. The work is demanding and often tedious. When we're working on a big M&A transaction or other big deal, all bets are off and we work days and nights until the deal is closed. From an intellectual standpoint I generally enjoy what I do but the time pressures and client demands can reach unreal levels. My wife is understanding and doesn't complain too much about how much time I spend at the office but most spouses would probably reach a breaking point somewhere along the way.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely not. Very few people are suited for this line of work and even fewer (perhaps nobody) would find joy in it. I think I'm a pretty good corporate lawyer, but I'm honest with myself and don't expect any joy or warm fuzzy feelings from my work. I don't love what I do, and for now, I'm fine with it. When I get my mortgage paid off in a couple of years I may change my mind.


No offense intended here, but I would think a 5th year corporate lawyer pulling those kinds of hours would be in the $180k-ish base salary range. That's what the market's like here, at least.
This can vary widely. In a lot of markets there's tremendous salary compression, such that a 5th year associate may only be making $25K more than a 1st year associate. Also remember depending on the market, large firm starting salaries vary between $100K to $160K.

tonishuaiyuan said:   Gender: Male

Age: 27

Occupation: Mechanical Engineering.

Education: BSME 2003(Graduate in Asia), MSME 2007(Graduate in US)



Would you recommend the career to others?
No. I think my value is 130K base salary if I have a green card, (I can easily find a position in Boeing). My BSME is minor in Aircraft Manufacturing.



I think you are overestimating what you would make with a green card, or as a US citizen, with your degrees and experience in the field you've listed.

It might be possible to make that amount TOTAL, as a job shopper doing tons of overtime, but there is no way you would draw that as a base salary.
You would be more in the ballpark of $80-$90k, base.

Age: 35

Location: So Cal

Occupation: IT Computing Architect at a very large aerospace company

Education: B.A. liberal arts + many technical courses in computing

2011 Compensation: 111k Base Pay + a bonus of typically 2-5% of your salary

Future Salary Projection: Typically a 3-5% salary increase per annum based upon your manager's recommendation (although they deny that they have the latitude). Very difficult to advance to management. Most managers have advanced level degrees and 20+ yrs of experience. Some very senior technical folks / sr. managers can make in the range of 175-200k/yr. Entry level salaries are about 60-65k/yr.

Benefits: High quality PPO with $20 office visit co-pays, a $500 deductible, 90% coverage for surgery and procedures (I pay $30/month - they pay about $370/month - I only cover myself as my wife has her own company paid medical) Medium quality dental coverage, generous sick and personal time that increases with the # of yrs with the company, 6% 401k match, a good pension plan that is fully company paid (5% of my salary is put into my pension plan, the company paid percentage increases with age up to 11% by age 50), reasonably good job security depending on whether or not your boss likes you.

What's the job like?

Quasi government - in terms of the workload. Very little travel. Very rarely do I have to work more than 40 hrs / week. Never on the weekends. Mostly work from home. Need to live a "clean lifestyle" and allow the government access to all of your most personal details to maintain a security clearance. You are required have a polygraph exam periodically. I generally like what I do, especially now that I have recently transferred to a new position as an IT architect. I work on adopting cutting edge technology into our environment such as smart phones, cloud computing, relationships with our vendors. I do spend some time outside of work keeping up with the latest and greatest technologies, but I enjoy doing that so I don't really see that as work per se.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes, it's reasonably well paid job with great benefits including a generous 401k match, pension, work/life balance, virtual work option, flex time, bonus, and excellent healthcare benefits. Some people coast by and don't do much work, while others work really hard. Most are somewhere in the middle. Advancement is mostly by seniority vs. how talented you are or how hard you work. You will never get rich working at this kind of a job, but can live well in an upper middle class lifestyle (especially with an additional spouses income).

arch8ngel said:   tonishuaiyuan said:   Gender: Male

Age: 27

Occupation: Mechanical Engineering.

Education: BSME 2003(Graduate in Asia), MSME 2007(Graduate in US)



Would you recommend the career to others?
No. I think my value is 130K base salary if I have a green card, (I can easily find a position in Boeing). My BSME is minor in Aircraft Manufacturing.



I think you are overestimating what you would make with a green card, or as a US citizen, with your degrees and experience in the field you've listed.

It might be possible to make that amount TOTAL, as a job shopper doing tons of overtime, but there is no way you would draw that as a base salary.
You would be more in the ballpark of $80-$90k, base.


Agreed, probably high 80s, low 90s. And this is with my experience in Los Angeles area. Generally speaking a MS boosts you into a level 2 engineer, which is about a 10% increase from level 1. With the extra 4-5 years of experience you're looking at a level 3/level 4 which generally ranges from mid/high 80s, to 10Xs. Keep in mind MEs are generally compensated less than EEs and this is from EE experience [though Boeing I believe generally pays a bit on the higher side of these ranges]. Mid 1X0 salaries are generally reserved for some sort of management and there is a lot of politics for that.

Sorry about your situation though; hopefully your offers are finalized soon!

TheKa said:   motuwallet said:    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

I'm curious about this, does this drive you nuts? Above you mentioned that you work with very intelligent, competitive people. Do the sales people strike you the same way? Or does it drive you nuts that their jobs are so incredibly lucrative and yours is so competitive?


yes and no. yes in the sense that so far it's clear that i've chosen a suboptimal risk/reward/effort path. also it can be annoying to think that deal-making and sales types with poor technical skills (i.e. excel) and limited knowledge about finance/markets face an easier, more stable path to riches. compound that with standard engineer scorn for MBA types.

but mostly no, i have a lot of respect for them. a good finance (or other) salesman is worth his weight in gold. out of 1000 successful finance firms, maybe 1 delivered real value to clients, the other 999 had really good salesmen. having worked at two firms with great products but really bad sales teams, i've seen this firsthand. a world class salesman or deal maker who can bring in millions or billions in business has amazing personal skills that I could never dream of rivaling, and i'm no cave dweller either. and these are generally smart people too, some could be really smart. also while i think entry on my side of the business is more competitive due to supply/demand (i.e. lots of unemployed physics phds), with some exceptions i would guess banking/sales types to be more competitive people individually. which may be why they get paid a lot!

tonishuaiyuan said:   I have been doing things for B... Google "J10 Su27". Then you know what my background and experience.

arch8ngel said:   tonishuaiyuan said:   Gender: Male

Age: 27

Occupation: Mechanical Engineering.

Education: BSME 2003(Graduate in Asia), MSME 2007(Graduate in US)



Would you recommend the career to others?
No. I think my value is 130K base salary if I have a green card, (I can easily find a position in Boeing). My BSME is minor in Aircraft Manufacturing.



I think you are overestimating what you would make with a green card, or as a US citizen, with your degrees and experience in the field you've listed.

It might be possible to make that amount TOTAL, as a job shopper doing tons of overtime, but there is no way you would draw that as a base salary.
You would be more in the ballpark of $80-$90k, base.


Boeing announced today they are closing the Wichita, KS facility by the end of 2013. Those that don't get fired will probably be willing to take paycuts and relocate just to keep a job. Either way the market is about to get flooded with desperate unemployed folks, thus they don't have to offer as much salary.

I agree with the other guys: None of us will be getting $130k jobs anytime soon. But good luck to you!

soupcxan said:   maxandsam said:   For 2010, my tax return said 225k. I have no idea what my tax return will be this year. I own my practice as an LLC and take distributions. I upped my loan repayments from minimum of 7k a month to 16k a month to pay off my 10 year loan in 5 years. even as such, i imagine my tax statement will be close to 200 or more even with additional loan payments.
Can you explain why your extra student loan payments cause your taxable income to go down? On our personal return, the only effect of student loans is the interest deduction (doesn't matter how much principal you pay), and even that gets phased out at our income level.


Most likely most of the loans are not student loans but are loans for dental equipment such as a $100,000 Cerec machine to make crowns. Then the reduction in taxable income is due to depreciation. With a Cerec machine he could either take a one-year depreciation of the full $100,000 using Section 179, or he could depreciate it at $20,000 per year for five years. With the purchase of several hundred thousand dollars worth of dental equipment he could have depreciation of more than $100,000 per year for a few years.

maxandsam said:   Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: Suburbia in Major metropolitan town

Occupation: dentist

Education: BA + DDS degree (4 yrs)

2011 Compensation: For 2010, my tax return said 225k. I have no idea what my tax return will be this year. I own my practice as an LLC and take distributions. I upped my loan repayments from minimum of 7k a month to 16k a month to pay off my 10 year loan in 5 years. even as such, i imagine my tax statement will be close to 200 or more even with additional loan payments. if you own a business, you have many tax advantages over a w2 employee. my salary doesn't really reflect the tax advantages; basically i make more than what the salary shows.


Future Salary Projection: it will likely stay the same this year b/c of increased loan repayments. maybe down a little -- i don't believe in just lying down and blaming everything on the "economy," but i noticed a drop this year vs 2009 for certain months. in 2 years or less, i will pay the loan off and make an extra 16k x 12.

Benefits: none. i get my teeth cleaned and x-rayed for "free." i buy high deductible health insurance, exercise and try to be preventive.


What's the job like?

awesome. the technical parts i can pretty much do with my eyes closed. i rarely have to think about my work anymore. i enjoy talking, chatting with patients the most. too much sometimes and have to be reminded of the time. if you do not like interaction or are anti-social/invert, you likely will not do well as a dentist. i like the challenge of discovering what is important to people so i can address their concerns in those respect. the biggest downside of the job is back/neck/shoulder pain. i see much less patients than many other docs b/c i choose to create such a practice over ones that are based on volume. i work 32-36 hours. no weekends ever.

Would you recommend the career to others?

as with any career, i believe the sky is the limit, but ifif you look at my salary etc, i am not the norm. many many many many dentists make waaaaaaaaaaay less. some make barely 70-80 and work their butts off seeing 10+ patients a day (doing work, not saying hello). the tuition for dental school is sky rocketing also. some private schools now have costs of 100k+ a year. so theoretically, you can be at 400k+ already. for all of you that think your dentist is expensive, consider the cost of buying or building a practice: to build a practice will cost you now easily 400-500k. you want to visit a practice with fancy machines that make your life easier? crown machines cost 150-200k. certain laser machines can cost up to 70k. remember, most dental conditions are due to lack of personal hygiene habits. anyhow, would i recommend? yes, b/c there are still reasonably priced public schools, but one day, the cost to become one, start a business and risk/hassle/etc associated with it will not be worth it. who wants 1 million in debt and have people complain all day and that they don't like you? (but i'm a ninja and just tell them that's b/c they haven't met me yet!)


Curious - did you build your own practice from scratch? R u SOLO or u employ other dentists? U mentioned "some make barely 70-80 and work their butts off seeing 10+ patients a day" - what u think you are doing differently to get ahead...

Gender
Male

Age
30

Location
DC Metro/Northern VA

Occupation
Senior Systems Engineer

Education
BS in Mathematics/CompSci/MIS, not a top-tier school

2011 Compensation
~$200k ($130k base + $40k in stock + $30k bonus)

Future Salary Projection
Last year I thought it would take a while before I hit the $200k mark, but I hit it in 2011. Future growth I would project at somewhere near 5-7% in all salary areas (base/bonus/stock).

Benefits
Medical coverage for self, wife with no deductibles or co-pays, with decent dental and vision. 3 weeks vacation, floating holidays, 401k matching, stock benefits, etc.

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.

There seem to be alot of software/IT guys here. I guess I'm at the low end of the salary range...

Gender
Male

Age
24

Location
TX, major city

Occupation
Software Developer

Education
BS Computer Engineering

2011 Compensation
~$80k

Future Salary Projection
3-5%

Benefits
Typical large corp benefits -- medical, dental, 5% 401k match, 2 wks PTO, 15% ESPP

What's the job like?
I work for a large F500 company (think government/banking/healthcare/etc), but I think my experiences would apply to most similarly sized companies (not including the big tech names).

The work is relatively easy and low stress but the expectations can vary depending on who you work for. There aren't many opportunities for using new and interesting technologies so you'll need to keep up with the latest on your own time. Since software isn't the main focus of the company and thus is a cost center, the department is usually low on funding and respect which can be annoying sometimes.

Would you recommend the career to others?
It's pretty much been smooth sailing for the short time I've been here, but it can be easy to get complacent. If you're not terribly ambitious (or competent) you could easily stick around, coast for your whole career, and make a stable living.

You're also at the lower end of the age/experience range, so don't fret.

LockeCoIe said:   I guess I'm at the low end of the salary range...

Age
24

2011 Compensation
~$80k

Only on FW Finance can a 24 year old making $80k consider himself poor...

soupcxan said:   LockeCoIe said:   I guess I'm at the low end of the salary range...

Age
24

2011 Compensation
~$80k

Only on FW Finance can a 24 year old making $80k consider himself poor...


In Texas no less

is it just me or does it seem like people are grossly overpaid...
not mentioning any specific names.


what are these people doing on FWF again?



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