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Greetings and Happy Holidays to All! It's late and I'm a bit bored right now, so I figured it's time to get the 2012 Career Thoughts and Compensation Thread rolling. I started doing these threads annually on the FatWallet Finance board in 2006. When I originally started this thread, I thought that 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. Over the years, a wide variety of people in all sorts of careers have contributed to these threads, and it's my hope that these threads have proven to be a valuable resource for those who are contemplating their career options.

Now gang, before we get started, here's a reminder of the rules, which 99.9% of you have been great at following over the past six 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. Please do not insult people by claiming they are overpaid, do no work, etc. 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 2012? 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: 40

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

2012 Compensation: $100,600 (Base Pay, some extra pay for curriculum writing, and some retro pay due to a delayed new contract.) Base salary for the 2012-2013 school year is a whisker over $100,000. It would have been a couple grand more, but of course, since it was my year to hit the top of our guide (based on the old structure), they added steps to the new contract.

Future Salary Projection: Not too much further to go from here in my current position. Salary will go up about $1500 next year and perhaps $3000 the year after that. Then, it might go up $1700 or $1800 per year.

Benefits: Full medical, although teachers in NJ now have to pay a percentage of their salaries for their medical benefits. (It's currently based on a sliding scale, based on income, but no less than 1.5% of base salary.) 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. 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, although I will admit that things seem to have gotten a hair better between teachers and administration in my district (overall, anyway).

Would you recommend the career to others?

Every year, it's become harder and harder for me to recommend teaching as a career. The public employee bashing in the U.S. is still pretty strong, with teachers still at the top of the "Bash List", although it seems to be subsiding a bit compared to what it was like the past two years. 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. And, sadly, new workers are likely going to suffer the most. NJ has already cut pension benefits and increased retirement ages for newer workers, and, honestly, it wouldn't surprise me to see pensions eliminated for new employees as well as two or three different salary tiers for teachers based on their time of service in the near future.

This is not an easy job. If you think you can handle it, go for it, but keep in mind that it's going to be a tough road ahead for teachers for the foreseeable future.

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my 2011

Gender: M
Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: Texas
Occupation: Aeronautical Engineer for very large Dept. of Defense (DoD... (more)

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Gender: Female

Age: 33

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Occupation: Financial Analyst (private corporation, not public accountin... (more)

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Gender: Male
Age: Late 20's
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Education: High School
Length of time i... (more)

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Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: Southern California

Occupation: Audit Manager at a small CPA firm

Education: B.S. in accounting, CPA credential

2012 Compensation: ~$75,000 (Base Pay, minimal commissions.) Base salary for 2013 is likely to go up maybe 5%.

Future Salary Projection: Manager level will likely get 3-7% increases every year; partner position would likely come close to doubling my current comp level and is probably 5-7 years off (usually occurs by 12-14 years in the profession, but is highly dependent on the firm and the economy).

Benefits: 10 holidays + 25 PTO + 6 sick days; I don't take medical (I get coverage through my wife's job); 401(k) is a 100% match on deferrals up to 3% of compensation. We participate in an unemployment program where we take one day off per week for about three months and get paid unemployment for it, so while that adds another 12 days off, it probably costs me about $2k.

What's the job like?

Occasionally stressful dealing with multiple clients and deadlines, reporting to several bosses. Generally, though, it's as easy or difficult as you want to make it. Depending on your mix of clients you generally always have something to do and no project takes up more than 3-4 weeks of your time. After about 5 years you generally find a few niche areas to specialize in and become an "expert" in those areas (I use the term expert loosely). Work hours are generally 8-5 except during busy season (mid-Feb to early April), where the hours are closer to 55-60 a week. If you are concentrated on the tax side your work load is bigger around filing deadlines and much less during off season; in audit (where I am), there is no real down time and I tend to work 45-50 hours per week, but it's more of a personal choice than anything mandated.

Would you recommend the career to others?

It's a great job coming out of college and it exposes you to all sorts of businesses. I've been able to look at the inner workings of companies ranging from a few hundred thousand in revenues to companies whose value exceeds $100M. You are able to network with a lot of high level executives and entrepreneurs. It also allows you to develop a healthy skepticism for just about anything anyone says since you are constantly challenging client positions on various matters. If you enjoy some research, a lot of time in front of a computer, interacting with a variety of clients, and want a fairly flexible schedule it's a good job. Usually around 3-6 years into it you have to make a decision to either stick with the accounting path for your career or get out and try your hand at some other field with another company (either as a controller or in something completely unrelated). Depending on your goals, the knowledge set you develop as a manager can be very useful (e.g., if you want to be a tax director for a client) or almost worthless (e.g., if you want to be a CFO at another company) once you start really specializing in a particular field(s). The pay is generally reasonable and in my experience firms small firms generally try to avoid turnover with professional staff, so as long as you are relatively good your position is probably not going to be eliminated. The other bonus is that having a CPA credential is a great plus for many finance type positions you may want down the road and while the studying component can be tedious, many firms are generally supportive of getting the designation (including paying for study materials and giving bonuses for completion). I think it's a great place to start out of college, but I think a lot of people stay in the profession when they'd be better off working in an accounting department or getting out of public accounting altogether.

Not much changed for me except my age and slight bump in salary.

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: California

Occupation: Histotechnician

Education: B.S. in Biotechnology; emphasis in microbiology

2012 Compensation: 41K

Future salary projection: 2-3% raises

Benefits: Full dental/vision, and I have a low co-pay for an HMO since I make so "little." ~8 hours sick leave and ~10 hours vacation per month. 403B and 457B. Pension if I stay for five years (unlikely). Other little tidbits like life insurance, legal aid, etc. for a nominal amount.

What's the job like?
We work alongside the veterinary teaching hospital where we receive biopsies and necropsies in which the pathology residents trim in said tissue, submit them to us for overnight processing, embed tissue in paraffin. We cut 5 micron sections and stain them with H&E and submit them to the residents who read with the faculty and make a diagnosis. We also perform special stains and immunohistochemistry in case an H&E is not enough. We also perform the above for outside research cases from other labs. 8-5 job (but in my case, I work 10-7).

Would you recommend the career to others?
Possibly. If you acquire all the skills (I haven't), I think you can easily make more than twice what I make in the private industry (I work for a university). I do enjoy the lab tech scene but I don't enjoy the variable amount of work and the complaints we get about our turnaround time. Often times, we may only process 50 samples but sometimes, it can jump to 200. I think we're understaffed but that's just my little rant. All things considering, it's not a terrible job.

similar as last year
Gender: Male

Age: 32

Location: Atlanta, GA

Occupation: umm engineer sounds about right.

Education: BE + 32 credits

2011 Compensation: $85,000 (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.

JTausTX, 2011 said:
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.


That's my recap from last year. My situation has changed very little:

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

Occupation: At the beginning of this year I was in a hybrid research position with no title. Well, that job only lasted about 5 weeks before I was laid off for very unclear reasons (I received different reasons from my direct supervisor and her boss, neither of which was satisfactory). After a month of unemployment, I went back to my old company in a similar role.

Currently I am a Training Specialist in a long-term temp role. That role ends tomorrow and I will be transitioning to a new software QA team. I'm not really sure what my duties will be - I got this job thanks to connections within the company, and it is my belief that they want to keep me around long enough for me to find a permanent role in the organization. Still, it's work, and it should give me some valuable technical and software testing expertise that might be useful later on.

Education: BA (History and German)

2011 Compensation: I make $21/hr still. Total earnings for the year are around $34k.

Future Salary Projection: Pretty much unknown. I'm searching for a permanent gig now and will accept anything that is reasonable, but since I'll be near entry level, I suspect my future salary will be in the $35-45k range for the next several years.

Benefits: As a temp I receive no benefits and no PTO. I'm on my parents' health insurance until my birthday when I become ineligible.

What's the job like?

Training design is interesting but not terribly exciting. I like my office, company, coworkers, and the low stress, but I do wish there was more fulfillment.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Maybe. It's a decent living and offers a lot of potential movement into other departments, and it's very transferable since most large companies have training departments (or similar roles).

Gender: Male
Age: 27

Location: PA
Occupation: Software Engineer

Education: BS
2012 Compensation: ~$85k

Future Salary Projection: Should be around 10% for promotion next year.

Benefits: Full medical/dental/vision (~$400 a month for family coverage). 401k 3% match. Life insurance etc

What's the job like? Good bit of requirements gathering and writing software. Work closely with the product managers and project managers. Sometimes there can be long hours.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes, if you like equal parts computer and human interactions, you can thrive as a software engineer.

Feels like I've grown along with this thread since first participating 6 years ago. One big change this year is finally becoming a partner of the firm. At this point, I don't anticipate any more significant boosts to base salary, but hopefully profit sharing will continue to grow.


Gender: M

Age: 30

Location: Large city in the Southeast

Occupation: Equity Analyst, Buy-side

Education: Nationally recognized public school, CFA charter

2012 Compensation: $125,000 Base + $57,500 cash bonus + ~$12,000 profit sharing = ~$194,500

Future Salary Projection: Already got my annual review. 2013 Base salary will be $175,000, add in bonus and profit sharing will probably be looking at $200k~$250k all-in.

Benefits: 5 sick days, 17 PTO, 401k matching, AWESOME medical, reimbursed parking (a big deal considering the area), company phone.

What's the job like? This is the 6th year I've posted on this thread. Basically, I pick stocks that I think are worthy of investment and recommend them to our portfolio managers. If the idea is accepted, I monitor the stock and underlying companies for any recommended actions.

Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely. This is one of the few positions in front office financial services that you can actually have a life. I work on average 45~50 hrs a week and maybe 60 hrs one week out of the year. After working in this industry for 6 years, I realized how divergent one's career path can take even if their core function remains "picking stocks." You can be working for a pension fund with nearly zero pressure and 35 hr work weeks for ~$95k/yr, or hedge funds that require 24 hr attention, daily attribution, constantly on the hot seat for $400k~$1 mil/yr. I'm definitely in the lower end of the pay spectrum in terms of my job function and qualifications, but I rarely work over 50 hrs a week. If you're interested in investing, but do not appreciate working banking hours then this is definitely the career path to take.

2012 was a career-crossroads for me. After having spent the past 11+ years climbing the corporate ladder, I've achieved most of what I had set out to accomplish in that environment. Along with a desire to no longer manage people, the need for more self-directed control over my destiny, a general sense of jadedness, and a fortuitously-timed layoff, I'm now working in a startup.

It is a stark contrast (both on the positive and the negative sides), time and luck will tell whether this pays off (financially and karmically).

Gender: Male
Age: 34
Location: NYC metro
Occupation: Electronic Trading Startup
Education: MBA
2012 Compensation: $28,800 + stock options of (hopefully) high potential, but ultimately indeterminate value. Given that I invested $90k in a F&F round, I'm essentially pulling in negative salary at this rate for 3 years.

Future Salary Projection: Next year probably sees a salary adjustment to something that's more sustainable in the NYC area (~$60-80k?). The year after is probably a little closer to traditional Wall Street levels ($150-200k). We are funded for the buildout, but will likely not get back to my previous range ($500-600k) for at least a few years unless we knocked it out of the ballpark.

Benefits: Full medical, dental, vision paid for by employer. Otherwise, no perks (we're lean and sometimes mean).

What's the job like?
On one hand, it's much more free flowing and relaxed (compared to corporate). Less restrictive hours, ZERO dress code, very little limitations as to what you are not allowed to do regardless of your background/expertise. On the other hand, the lack of structure can be unsettling as you jump from completely unrelated projects, sometimes tackling things you've never heard of before. Meanwhile, fund raising by the founders is a constant source of frustration. We're lucky in that we're getting an overwhelmingly positive response from potential investors, but what they say is true, getting the money in hand always takes longer than even your worst case expectations. and Hurrican Sandy didn't help. Sandy, we hate you

Would you recommend the career to others?
I've not yet figured out where I lean. My first job out of college in 2000 was at a startup at the tail end of the dot-com bubble. In retrospect, that business had zero chance at success. After a decade of the corporate grind, I thought I had finally accumulated enough experience (both in life and in work) and the financial safety net to give it another go. I expected this plunge to consume me 24 hours for the next few years. I anticipated a constant energy/buzz that would elevate my engagement. So far, that hasn't happened yet. I don't know whether it's because we're still mostly in the development/brainstorm phase and not yet in the build/tangible phase yet, or whether I simply don't have what it takes in this world. Depending on whether I can ramp myself up and whether this venture becomes the success we think it will be, will ultimately sway the pendulum of whether the negative cash flow and career progress interruption is worth it. We'll see.

P.S. thx op for the thread. always great to see the shared experiences, especially with a time trajectory

Gender: Male

Age: 32

Location: Florida

Occupation: In-house counsel at a major home-builder.

Education: J.D. from a top-5 law school, B.A. from a top-25 university.

2012 Compensation: $165,000. I was at a major law firm until recently. This figure represents a blended compensation figure, including prior and current salary, and signing bonus.

Future Salary Projection: $150,000, with yearly raises somewhere between 0-10% based on my performance and the company's.

Benefits: Medical, dental, vision, 401k (with a company match up to 3% of salary), 2 weeks' vacation, 2 floating holidays. Somewhat unique benefits include the ability to buy company stock at a 15% discount (after 1 year employment), and a 5% discount on the purchase of one of my company's homes.

What's the job like?

Hours are typically from 9am-6:30pm. Steadily busy throughout the day, with a occasional late night. Few, if any, weekends. Compared to most jobs, I suppose the hours are pretty long. Compared to "Biglaw", where 80-hour weeks were standard, vacation time was discouraged, holidays were ignored, and I had to account for every 6 minutes of my life in excruciating detail? It's paradise.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes, provided that you can get into a good school (and keep your debt to a manageable level). A few years ago, in the middle of the Biglaw grind, I would've said no. But what I'm starting to realize is a big part of success in the legal field is just persevering those early, difficult years. Being smart, and willing to work hard, will almost guaranty gainful employment, as long as you don't get discouraged and quit. In the 8+ years since I graduated law school, a very significant percentage of my classmates have dropped out of the law altogether, so my competition has decreased and my skills have become more valuable. More specifically, as a real estate lawyer, almost all of my cohort was wiped out between 2008-2010, so the few of us left are finding increased opportunities. I was able to cash out my Biglaw experience into a plum in-house spot, while some of my friends are coming up for partner at big firms, or starting their own shops.

If you love math or science, there are indeed much better options. (Dental school FTW, y'all.) But for a liberal arts guy, there really ain't much better.

2012 was a good year for me, but still trying to find what I really want to do (regarding getting out of the corporate ladder and doing my own business). 2013 may be better - getting into more of a directly focused pre-sales position.

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: Florida (although I cover global companies - high travel)
Occupation: Services Delivery Manager
Education: B.S. in Information Technology
2012 Compensation: $130k + $40k bonus + $8k stock and spot bonuses

Future Salary Projection: Depends on where a potential opportunity goes, but I will be in more of a leveraged (sales) position if it pans out. Unknown on what the plan is at this time.

Benefits: Full benefits - medical, dental, etc. Stock Purchase Plan also available with 6% immediate vesting on 401k.

What's the job like?
If you are willing to travel 50 to 75% of the time and explore new places, new customer challenges, and have a great attitude - it's the field for you. We provide IT consulting services, so it's always changing and very dynamic. I moved into the Delivery Manager role this year since I did not want to travel as much as I used to (even though I've done quite a bit this year) and the chance to lead other people.

Would you recommend the career to others?
IT Consulting takes a certain individual. You need to instill confidence into customers and lead with a charge. I think it's a great field and probably will remain the IT services industry one way or another. However, it's not for everyone - especially the people that do not like to travel.

Gender: Male

Age: 22

Location: Central Valley, CA

Occupation: Senior Network Specialist

Education: CCNA certified

2012 Compensation: $62500

Future Salary Projection: about 1.5%/year. I've been trading equities more actively, so hopefully that will supplemet 2013's income.

Benefits: Health, vision, dental. Health coverage for my son and I costs about $160/month. 2 weeks paid vacation/yr, 2 weeks paid sick leave/yr

What's the job like?

Very simple. Take care of work orders on a day to day basis, continue to migrate our users from Windows XP to Windows 7 and new workstations. There are plenty of software problems that crop up with the upgrade, but I seem to keep solving those. Good for me.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yeah, as long as you have better than average troubleshooting skills.

Gender: Male
Age: Late 20s
Location: Southwest
Occupation: Software pre-sales consultant
Education: BS Engr + MBA
2012 Compensation: $80k + $20k bonus

Future Salary Projection: 120 by 2014, 160ish by 2018

Benefits: Full benefits, 401k 6% 50% match

What's the job like?
25-50% travel, rest of time is work from home. AVG week is ~45-50 hrs, spikey work patterns: down weeks can be followed by 70 hr weeks - relatively unpredictable. Work with fortune 500 companies and sr mgmt to match biz requirements to software functionality to craft and deliver demo and biz case.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Tech sales is a relatively solid place to be. There's always the latest and greatest out there, and sales is something that machines cant automate. You see a bunch of different problems and environments, keep up on IT trends while also staying in the business realm by building ROI and biz cases, and also learn how to work with high level management and get a good sense of what makes people tick on the sales side.

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: Oregon

Occupation: Electrical Engineer

Education: BSEE

2012 Compensation: $70,000

Future Salary Projection: +$2000~5000 for bonuses next year (moved into this position November from a higher paying position/tax location. Stupid I know, but I can subsist on half the pay if need be, so...). Add extra pay over time depending on career path.

Benefits: 10 Holidays, 3wks vacation, 5 sick days. Medical&Dental, $1000 FSA paid by company, 4% match for 401K.

What's the job like?

I work in the office, or work on-site, either designing, installing or troubleshooting control systems. It's basically designing or improving/retrofitting factory control systems, along w/ all the variation that can come from that concept. Crunch time it gets serious, but otherwise if you can keep yourself efficient you're not pulling constant overtime. This does depend on where you work; right out of college I was doing the same line of work, except for a Japanese company that paid much less and made you work a lot more.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Compared to, say, someone developing chips at Intel, you do get a much bigger picture of things you're working with. You can toil at a program for months, bring it out to the field, spend weeks troubleshooting things while your customers and boss are breathing down on your neck... and finally, everything starts churning and this whole system vaguely reminiscent of that T1000 production line Terminator2 screensaver comes alive. You really see your work come into fruition, and if you enjoy the _process_ of making those model cars/planes/robots/etc it's really taking that to the next level.

If what I described above sounds pointless and stupid and you want to be making the most money possible, this field probably isn't for you.

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: Missouri

Occupation: "Project Manager", but really sales/marketing at a machining/manufacturing company

Education: B.A. Communication, some graduate courses, midwestern state school (higher admission standards - 29 ACT was my score, AVG 31 at the school)

2012 Compensation: $52,030. Hourly. Overtime @ 1.5 x hourly rate. Sundays paid 2.0 x hourly rate.

Future Salary Projection: Unknown. Will depend on what I accomplish.

Benefits: Medical (90 day wait), dental (90 day wait), vision (90 day wait), 401k (with a company match up to 3% of salary, eligible after 1 year), 2 weeks' vacation (accrued in increments as worked),

What's the job like?

8:00-4:30 M-F. Limited over time/weekends except around trade shows. I work in an aging office, where people still think computers steal their emails and hide them. But, I have nearly complete freedom to do design work, videos, ebook content, and marketing to promote our products. I have the ability to learn what I need to do well and work at my own pace on a number of projects. I still have to be good with deadlines and balancing priorities. I work with my best friend. I'm also responsible for eliminating the need for paper files in our office. This is more of a succession-planning project with a 1-2 year timetable. I expect a promotion upon the completion of it.

Would you recommend the career to others?

For a guy with a communication degree, this is a pretty good job. i'm married and just had a baby. the hours are great. I'm also able to hold down a side job as an editor for a publication at home which brings in an extra $12k annually. At times it can be difficult or depressing spending your time learning and talking about machines, but it's a job. These kinds of jobs will be opening up all over the US at local companies in industrial parks, because everyone is nearing retirement age. It's not glamorous work, but you can make a good living. you just have to network and know the right people to get your foot in the door.

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: San Francisco

Occupation: Startup Founder

Education: BS Computer Science (from a top-10 school)

2012 Compensation: $12 (not kidding, it's the lowest our payroll software can go while still counting me as an employee in the system)

Future Salary Projection: Assuming we're able to raise a Series A in the next 6-12 months, I'd expect my salary to move into the $50-60k range.

Benefits: Still getting covered under my parents' insurance policy since I'm <26 and it's cheaper than having the company pay for it.

What's the job like?

Changes daily. I love being able to put on different hats. Some days I'll be pitching VCs down on Sand Hill, on other days I'll have a 12-hour coding marathon and other times I'll be on client calls negotiating deals. Started off a little over a year ago with just three of us with only the vaguest of notions of what we wanted to do to now having five employees, paying customers and some solid VCs and angels on board.

Would you recommend the career to others?
[You can read other threads I've written about the experience here and here]

It's not for everybody. You need a healthy apetite for risk and be very persistent. I have absolutely ZERO regrets about leaving my corporate job and can't imagine a more fulfilling working environment. What I've been able to learn and the people I've been able to meet would be hard to get anywhere else. I realize that the median financial outcome for a startup is zero but the experience and connections I've been able to make can always be funneled into another opportunity.

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: Non-coastal city, USA

Occupation: Lawyer (more accurately, BigLaw Associate)

Education: Liberal arts degree from big state school; JD from top 5 law school, class of 2010

2012 Compensation: $165K, but this represents a blended rate of clerkship pay, clerkship bonus, salary and year-end bonus

Future Salary Projection: $185K as a third-year associate, plus a variable bonus of ~$20K

Benefits: Full benefits, unlimited vacation (in theory... billing by the hour), networking budget, paid tech

I've participated in this thread for several years and here is last year's posting: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1156626/m16574002/#m1657...

At this time last year, I was finishing up my second of two judicial clerkships and preparing to hop on the law firm bandwagon in NYC. In early 2012 an opportunity came up to possibly stay in the city I clerked in, working for a smaller office of a national firm -- I jumped on it. I joined the firm this fall, received the standard $50K clerkship bonus, and have been enjoying myself ever since. The hours can certainly be long, but I really enjoy the cases I'm staffed on and the experiences I've had thus far. I certainly see myself here for several more years. I have to say that my experience is very different than many of my friends who work in NYC or DC (at different firms, or even in different offices of my same firm). I think choosing an office in a smaller town ratchets back the pressure just a bit and makes the entire thing more doable -- I would certainly recommend current law students explore this possibility.

The "should I go to law school" question has been rehashed ad nauseum here and elsewhere, so I'll decline to comment there, but knowing what I know now and how my career has progressed in the 2.5 years since I graduated, I would do it again. As others have said, the recession really ratcheted up competition for law firm jobs, but once you're in, you're in, and I see a number of good opportunities for people who managed to ride out the recession and get great experience despite the declining levels of available positions. I certainly have high student loans and the costs are continuing to skyrocket -- this is a big problem that requires a long-term solution -- but I do see a path moving forward where I'll be able to pay them off in the next couple of years.

Pretty much same as last year: Text

My day job has stayed the same, with a minor cost-of-living raise. Online business income growth was slower than expected, so income grew by only 50% rather than double. My 2011 projection was just too optimistic so I am setting milder targets of 20-25% growth for 2013, mainly because I am expecting the growth from new products/services to be offset more significantly by retirement of ones that are at or near the end of their life cycle. It takes constant attention to make sure that the business is healthy and growing, but the rewards are with it so far.

Gender : Male
Age : 33
Location : NYC
Occupation : Anesthesiologist
2012 compensation : 450k
future salary : Probably less when obamacare takes over
benefits : I actually get to help people and save lives, healthcare, dental, 401k
what's the job like : Save lives, put people to asleep and wake them up
Would you recommend to others : Depends what you like. I wouldn't do it for the money for the amount of stress involved.

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: Phoenix

Occupation: Sales

Education: BS

2012 Compensation: 52k

Future Salary Projection: Hopefully 8% next year if promoted. If not, then 3%

Benefits: Pay less than $80 a month for full dental, health, vision and prescription. 4 weeks of paid vacation. Work 4 days a week from 9-8 if I want so I get 3 day weekends. Plenty of hot mid-20 year old women at work. 5.5% match of salary into my 401k

What's the job like?

Sell, sell, sell

Would you recommend the career to others?
Slow 90% of the time, but when it rains, it pours.

I feel underappreciated, and don't have a strong desire to stay at my employer. The problem I've found while searching at other employers is that they want 60+ hours a week and I won't get paid that much more. I want more experience and problem-solving, but I'm not going to work 60-70 hours a week in my mid-20s to break my back for a few extra grand per year. During my days off I'm learning more about software programming and hope to get into this industry later.

Gender: M
Age: 41
Location: Portland OR
Occupation: Tech Support Engineer
Education: BS comp sci & BS engineering
2012 Compensation: $133k total. About $102k base salary and $31k in bonuses and stock incentives. (this is about the same as last year #'s but I apparently accidentally overstated last years by 2-3k)
Future Salary Projection: probably a +2-4% raise in 2012 on base. Bonuses/stock should be similar within +/-25% but are not easily predictable. I am expecting bonuses to be a bit less than last year since our growth/profits aren't quite as strong. Plus I may not exercise any options as our stock is down.
Benefits: 4 weeks vacation. 10 paid holidays. Good health care provided but $3k+ deductible. Deductible increased a few hundred from last year. Dental and vision coverage. No 401k matching, but 6% of pay towards a retirement account.
What's the job like? I do tech support for large companies. Its not 1800 support, and I only deal with specific engineers at certain companies. Its a good job. 40 hours a week without many late nights. Not high stress. Great working environment.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes if you have an aptitude for computers and engineering then this is a good field to get into. However high end tech support jobs are only usually seen a certain kinds of tech companies.

[This is mostly copy/paste from previous years as not much has changed]

I'm looking forward to starting my first job so I can participate in this thread in 2013!

Age: 24
Location: Upstate NY
Occupation: Engineer
Education: BS Nuclear Eng
2011 Compensation: 73.5k salary, 6k bonus, 7k OT
Future Salary Projection: +/-4% annual raises. No OT in 2013
Benefits: 401k (match @ 50% up to 6% salary), decent healthcare and dental plans. 19 days vacation for the year.

What's the job like?
Depends on the day and what you feel like doing. You can waste away on paperwork or you can be really involved with the operation of the plant. Revise procedures, trend operational data, provide recommendations to operators on how to best operate the plant. Every day can be the same if you want it that way, otherwise you can have it such that no two days are the same in the entire month.

Occasionally I will get called in on the weekend, or at 2am. Not often, but it does happen

Every 18 months we shutdown for refueling and all the fun begins. My ~44hr/wk job turns into 80+hrs/wk. It would take all night to describe the things I do during outage. OT is straight-time for everything over 44hrs, which is awesome.

Once a month for a week I am on call, which puts a lot of restrictions on life (alcohol consumption, distance from plant, must be able to drop everything and come in if called), but that isn't too much of a hassle.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Sure.

Age: 29
Location: small city in Midwest
Occupation: Engineer
Education: BSME from Big Ten school
2012 Compensation: 92k salary, +16% target bonus (will be higher this year based on company/division performance)
Future Salary Projection: 5% annual raises so long as I get an average review and stay below the median in my salary grade. Expect a promo in 2-3 years which gives a nice salary bump.
Benefits: 401k (100% match up to 6% salary vested immediately + 3% match fully vested after 3 years). Decent healthcare with low premium ($55/month for family). 15 vacation days + 3 personal days. Also got 5 "free" days off for the birth of my son. Paid shutdown between Christmas and New Year.

What's the job like?
At times it's enjoyable. I get to work with big ass machines, the latest technology and very smart and driven people. However, the job is not my passion and it can be a daily grind. Also, my co-workers are nothing like me and I find them incredibly boring (they probably feel the same about me because I don't own 500 guns and go to bible study every night). I have no friends at work like I did at previous jobs and the area I live in is boring.

I work only 45-50 hours a week, so no complaints there. I've had previous jobs with slave driving bosses and 100% travel where it was non-stop work.

My goal is to be transferred for a long term overseas assignment (3-5 years). Not only will the experience be a career changer, but the extra compensation will be nice. Not many people in my company are willing to move to developing countries but I've made it aware my wife and I would like to and my boss is recommending me for assignment.

This is my 4th company in my 7+ year career and despite all my complaints I think I will stick with this one. There are a lot of career people where I work and they treat their salaried people pretty well. Also, there isn't the constant threat of layoffs and bankruptcy like at other places I've resided.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Only if it is your passion. I work with a lot of people who are passionate about their careers. I am not one of them. Growing up, I was never told to find what you love to do and make a career out of it. I was always told to finish college majoring in something you can make a decent living with and get a job. So I coasted through college and took the safe route. That said, I cannot complain too much. The money is pretty good with relatively low stress. I can spend lots of time with my family and don't need to self medicate because of stress.

Age: 36
Location: Denver Metro
Occupation: Software Engineer (Aerospace)
Education: MS Computer Information Systems
2012 Compensation: 98k salary, 3k bonus
Future Salary Projection: 3-4% annual raises.
Benefits: Work from home, 4X10hr days. 401k (match @ 50% up to 6% salary), decent health and dental, however anual premium increases 10-20%/yr and reduced benefits or increased coinsurance/copay each year. 19 vacation days/yr

What's the job like?
I work in a small team (10 individuals), but primarily interact with another developer and project manager; we meet meet formally once monthly to prioritize the next months work and discuss acomplishments and hurdles. Much of my work is self paced as long as I meet or exceed goals and commitments I am pretty much on my own to work away.

The job can get a little lonely working from home you don't get the same experience as if you are interacting with others in the office. Being on a small team there isn't a lot of information sharing so I spend a good deal of time keeping my skills sharp trying to learn new things or thinking of ways to push the boundaries with the projects I am working.

A bit unusal to being a developer, but being on a small team I have a lot of creative freedom which I find I really need as programming business logic gets old.


Would you recommend the career to others?
Yes, but I have been doing this for 14 years and it took time to work up to the salary range and work from home benefits. After 14 years you get good at what you do and the work becomes second hand. If I were to change jobs I might expect to keep the same salarry, but the work schedule and work from home benefits would likely disappear.

bigdinkel said:   
I feel underappreciated, and don't have a strong desire to stay at my employer. The problem I've found while searching at other employers is that they want 60+ hours a week and I won't get paid that much more. I want more experience and problem-solving, but I'm not going to work 60-70 hours a week in my mid-20s to break my back for a few extra grand per year. During my days off I'm learning more about software programming and hope to get into this industry later.
If mid twenties isn't the time to put in 60-70 hour weeks, I don't know when else it would make sense to. Also, doesn't sales positions have some sort of commission/bonus structure? Is your field one of those defined ladder type situations where you are essentially slave labor until you become high enough in the food chain? In my early to mid 20's I traveled extensively and often slept at work. I wasn't paid that well for it in retrospect, but if there's an end goal to it all, such as a higher position, I'd go for it. I am not sure how far you are going to get with "programming" if you lack a relevant degree or experience. It isn't something you can pickup by studying self-help books.

Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: Gulf Coast Region

Occupation: Petroleum Engineer

Education: M.S.

2012 Compensation: $105,000 (Base Pay + Field Pay, but normally Field Pay is more than 2x Base Pay).

Future Salary Projection: Base Salary has been increased 3% yearly to match inflation and Field Pay is based on promotion.

Benefits: Only work half a year, and the other half I stay at home, travel with family or do whatever I want (semi-retire lifestyle). Nice 401(k) with 7% matching and another 2% for cash-balance pension. Almost zero work-related expenses as travel, meal, telecommunication, mileage, etc. are covered by company. So one can save a lot for retirement in this field if he has FW mentality. Superior health insurance with $0 annual deduction and $1,500 out-of-pocket maximum, 100% of eligible vision expenses up to $350.

What's the job like?

Very long hours while working. You have to travel a lot and meet people from all over the world. You are in constant pressure to deliver best-in-class projects. Time away from home can be tough if you are married and have young kids. Expect to work over holidays (but you only work half a year so the other half is your vacations). When problems arise, you are expect to solve it, ie. you might have to stay awake over 24 hours to deliver answers to clients.

Would you recommend the career to others?

This job is not for everyone, but for someone that loves to travel, to meet people from different cultures and nationalities then its a dream job. You can reach 6-figures income with less than 5 years of experience. The benefits are nice but the schedule can be very hard if you dont have a supportive family/spouse. A lot of people get burnt out after a few years in this field and quit or take lower paying jobs in the office. So I only recommend the job to someone that knows how to set up a balance work-life arrangement to deal with all the stress from the job.

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: Midwest

Occupation: Re-Sale/Consignment Business (Sole Proprietor)

Education: BA Business Management from 2nd Tier University

2012 Compensation: $130,000

Future Salary Projection: Depends on my desire /success in expanding my business. Hopefully $150,000 for 2013.

Benefits: None. I am covered under parents' insurance for now. No paid vacation but I can take unpaid whenever I want

What's the job like?

Pretty mundane with occasional excitement from a big sale. Sit at a computer most of the day. About 2 hours of shipping/receiving per day. Can be very stressful at times when orders don't arrive in time, or when I receive something different than I expected and have to sort out getting a refund.

I half-work/half do whatever about 80 hours a week.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Maybe. The pay is great and the lifestyle (be your own boss) is great at first, but it can get boring. I am looking to find a day job that I can continue this business on the side without too much of a loss in profits. Or expand the business and hire others. Another downside: in 2 years I'll have no health insurance.

Gender: Female
Age: 28
Location: Southern California
Occupation: Biglaw
Education: J.D. (top 10 school)
2012 Compensation: $194k total comp
Future Salary Projection: 2013 expected comp: $185k base, $10k spring bonus, $20k+ end of year bonus. 2014 base is $210k and so on but stagnates around $250k... if you last that long.
Benefits: Low face-time requirement. Ridiculously expensive health insurance.
What's the job like? I'm in a situation where I can bill ~2,000 hours annually, but I consider myself lucky and there's low predictability. Could wind up unexpectedly billing a 20 hour day, or calling it quit after 3 or 4 hours if it's slow. Not really a 9-5. You're expected to cancel social plans, vacations, etc. if needed. High stress position; high attrition. Low partnership prospects. Need to have a game plan to do something else about ~4-5 years in, if you make it that long (many don't).
Would you recommend the career to others? It's better than letting the student loans go unpaid. Wouldn't go to law school again.

Gender: Female
Age: 24
Location: West Coast
Occupation: Analyst
Education: Aviation Safety
2012 Compensation: $44,000
Future Salary Projection: +2.5 - 3% every year if not promoted.
Benefits: 10 days sick, 12 days vacation, 7 company paid holidays. 3% 401k matching, health, dental, vision, and best of all, flight benefits.
What's the job like?
I work in the office supporting the training needs of the firm. It's slow 70% of the time, but when it rains, it really pours..

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Location: Dallas, TX

Occupation: App Designer and Front End Developer (3 years of experience)

Education: 2 years of community college. Self taught the rest.

2012 Compensation: $90k.

Future Salary Projection: I'm not counting on raises in IT. I jumped 2 jobs this year and went from $50k to $90k. Changing companies brings a much better return. Hopefully I can get into the $120k range as a lead when I jump again.

Benefits: Health, vision, dental....the usual stuff.

What's the job like? FUN if you can get into the right company. That is....companies that keep up with technology. You get to design for the latest tech like iPhone/iPads. If you get stuck with a company that sucks and uses old tech, you'll hate doing their designs.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely. Design and UX are in huge demand right now. You use the latest tech and it pays when you become senior. You get plenty of time to surf FW and SD.

Negatives: During crunch time, it can get hectic. Life Long Learning. If you don't keep up with new techniques you'll quickly become a dinosaur. Ex: CSS3, HTML5, Responsive Design

Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: suburbia

Occupation: dentist

Education: DDS

2012 Compensation: $460,000

Future Salary Projection: 460,000-500,000

Benefits: I get free cleanings.

What's the job like?

I am not the norm for a dentist. My AGI is ~460,000 this year, but my take home is prob as it was last year ~250k. I have been aggressively paying off a 700k note and finally did. This year and next, my take home should be the full amount unless I buy more equipment. Yes, it requires a ton of capital to have a dental office that offers the latest and greatest. It costs a ton to take CE all the time and learn everything. Most people choose not to do so. I can't sit back if I know there are things to be learned. I am very good at my job and take pride in the work I do and make sure my customers know that. I am not the cheapest and never strive to be -- I market to people that appreciate and respect time and attention provided to them.

The job is great for me. I get to talk all day to people and chat about Christmas holiday, news anything. Most people do not love this part of the job and dislike it. I'd rather talk all day. Technical skills are not hard once you do it enough times. Outliers book says you need 10,000 hours of doing something to be an expert. I am sure I am reaching 10,000 hours of have surpassed 10,000 hours of doing many things now. Dentistry is a very tedious job. To be a good technical dentist you need to be a little OCD and obsessive about things. But to be a successful dentist, you need to be a good business person which I also enjoy. I enjoy every aspect of being a dentist from technical skills, managerial skills of my staff, business skills and communication skills. I cannot imagine myself doing another job.

I have also cut my hours too and eliminated Fridays. Gonna go enjoy life after paying off my massive loans (this is just business and not student etc loans) b/c who knows? You could die tomorrow.


Would you recommend the career to others?

I might be at the tipping point of saying NO now. Dental education is now ridiculously expensive. Some private schools are up to 400k now. Say 100k for undergrad + 400k for dental school and you are 500k in. Add a house and you are another 200-300k in. Wanna buy a practice or start one? Good luck. Your debt load can easily exceed 1,000,000 and at that rate, your loan repayment per month is staggering. I am not the norm. Most dentists I know including owners make half or less what I do. 200k is still a lot, but once again, if you factor in debt repayment, after taxes it is not a lot. You do not get tax deductions for student interest etc at higher tax brackets. Plus you have no benefits usually and if you are off, you are off and not paid. Dentistry is also being taken over by corporate dentistry so incomes are dropping while quality of care is also dropping. Plus since it is evidently so profitable for private dental schools, more schools are opening. Do not go into dentistry if you think it is a good backup for MD school. Dentistry is very tedious, tiring, difficult and will be absolutely miserable if you do not enjoy it. There is a reason people say dentists have the highest suicide rate.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: Charlotte, NC

Occupation: Management Consultant

Education: B.A. Economics from a Top 25 university, M.S. Accounting from a Top 5 university

2012 Compensation: $127,000 base salary + $13,000 annual bonus

Future Salary Projection: 6% - 10% annual salary increases depending on personal and firm performance

Benefits: Medical, Dental, Vision. 25 days of PTO and 10 days of company holidays. 1.5% 401k match

What's the job like?
I travel Monday Thursday to clients around the US while I work from home or the local office on Fridays. Some weeks are very stressful and others are pretty tame. Bad weeks involve 70+ hours while most weeks are in the mid-50s. You deal with clients that hate consultants but still hire you while you may deal with folks that appreciate the effort/work.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Yes, consulting is a great start out of college but you need to find a good time to get out. Im looking to leave in a few years and go industry. You learn about a lot of different industries and get to hone your soft skills (MS Office, critical thinking, speaking, management).

You have to enjoy / handle constant travel and having multiple bosses. Your personal life takes a hit because you are never home.

First time participating and first post on fat wallet!

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: Mid-Atlantic

Occupation: Financial Analyst

Education: BS Top Biz School, CPA

2012 Compensation: $71k + 6k bonus

Future Salary Projection: Up to 5% increase for cost of living and potential for another 10% if promoted

Benefits: Full medical, dental, and vision ~$50 a month, 401k with employer match up to 6%, Education Reimbursement, and ability to purchase company stock at a discounted price

What's the job like?

Can be really interesting if special projects come up or analysis that requires you to use your judgement. Other part of the day to day can get monotonous. I usually work around 50 hours a week and can work more or less, but that isn't the norm. I spend a lot of my time working in excel.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Overall, I think being a financial analyst is a good gig if you are good in excel and like working with numbers. Like I said before, I don't work crazy hours and I don't make crazy money, but the trade-off to me is very good. There is a lot of room for career growth and plenty of job opportunities in the field, which can help you up your salary quickly if you don't mind jumping around. Just a caveat, a lot of times you are expected to pursue an MBA for career advancement (not at my company), but true at other places.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1156626/m16579354/#m1657...

Pretty much hit it right on.

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: Atlanta (for now)
Occupation: Patent Attorney
Education: BS in Mechanical Engineering, JD
2012 Comp: $108k (estimated at $110k, so not far off--I'm actually quite surprised I was this close).
Future Salary Projection: Just took a much more stable pay job, although in a new location. Total comp over $150k but a much higher COL area. New job will have better benefits and, hopefully, a little better subject matter of work, although the mechanics of the job will be about the same.
Benefits: Same.
What's the job like? read my 2011 thread. it hasn't changed
Would you recommend the career to others? Depends on the person. A lot of people just aren't cut out for the hours an attorney puts in. Even many of my friends who are attorneys complain about the time and demand of the job on their families. This year's work will be in-house, so it likely will be less demanding than a traditional firm, but my prior firm was on the low end of the demanding scale...and made up for that benefit with poor general benefits. As a career, you've got to love the day-to-day, and if you don't, you won't hang long, especially not with the hours you put it. oh, and dont go around thinking attorneys make tons of money. When the student loan check comes out of the bank account, i might as well have stayed an engineer--so don't do it for the money. Plus, i know a lot of underemployed or even unemployed classmates...

Gender: Male

Age: 33

Location: IL (rural)

Occupation: Assistant Professor - State School (social sciences)

Education: Ph.D. - top 5 institution in my field

2012 Compensation: $56k base, summer teaching and additional overloads total = $70k

Future Salary Projection: Will receive tenure in 2013 so base moves to $62k, as far as cost of living or merit increases... IL is not in the best financial position, so I expect nothing.

Benefits: Best part of the job! Full medical, dental, vision, etc. For this I pay $200 / mo. for myself and all dependents - no limit. Retirement = I contribute 8% of salary, state then matches... though see above comment about Illinois because there is talk of this changing in the future. In addition, the flexibility / autonomy is fantastic. This coming semester I will only have to be on campus for 2-3 days a week which really helps when raising a family.

What's the job like: Fun and frustrating. The fun part is remembering all of the annoying rules my professors had in college and then never implementing them with my students (e.g., scanton answer sheets!). The frustrating part is because of administration - the buzz words right now are recruitment and retention because the state cuts funding each year. This is all fine, but the problem is the dean tells faculty to develop and implement programs... but oh by the way, there is no money to create anything and no time to run whatever program we develop because of the standard job requirements of teaching research and service.

Would you recommend the career to others: On the fence. Somedays this is best job in the world because lets be honest, I teach in social sciences. Where else can I work 40-45 hours on my schedule and still make $60-$70k? On the other hand, I am damn good at my job. I will achieve tenure early this year (which no else has ever done in my department), have excellent teaching scores, and more publications then some full professors; however, I am also the lowest paid faculty member in the department. I know the answer to my dilemma is to get another offer and ask for a counter, but with literally only 2-5 jobs in the US in my field each year, this is a tall order. So for now, go fightin' Pat Quinns

Many questions but I'll just post my info instead to follow up on last year

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: ? Mystery
Occupation: Grad student at top school in my field
Education: MS expected (was thinking PhD, decided to gtfo instead)
2012 Compensation: 0 down from ~190k in 2011. (some of which was worthless deferred comp.)
Future Salary Projection: No clue. I expect to finish my degree in 2013 and I'm trying to decide whether to go back to my old industry (finance) or launch a web start up. I have minimal interest in taking a job without target comp >=300k and potential for more. But I have a hard time picturing myself finding such a job in a declining finance industry. Haven't had any great experiences working for other people yet, which makes the start up option appealing. However, the risk there is large.
Benefits: proximity to attractive, smart, young people. free gym.
What's the job like? Frequently wonder why I gave up a six figure salary to do 60 hrs of math problems per week! school is not as fun as I expected.
Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely recommend grad school but do it as young as possible, I feel like a dinosaur.

motuwallet said:   Many questions but I'll just post my info instead to follow up on last year

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: ? Mystery
Occupation: Grad student at top school in my field
Education: MS expected (was thinking PhD, decided to gtfo instead)
2012 Compensation: 0 down from ~190k in 2011. (some of which was worthless deferred comp.)
Future Salary Projection: No clue. I expect to finish my degree in 2013 and I'm trying to decide whether to go back to my old industry (finance) or launch a web start up. I have minimal interest in taking a job without target comp >=300k and potential for more. But I have a hard time picturing myself finding such a job in a declining finance industry. Haven't had any great experiences working for other people yet, which makes the start up option appealing. However, the risk there is large.
Benefits: proximity to attractive, smart, young people. free gym.
What's the job like? Frequently wonder why I gave up a six figure salary to do 60 hrs of math problems per week! school is not as fun as I expected.
Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely recommend grad school but do it as young as possible, I feel like a dinosaur.


Why not launch a web startup now as a student? I'm sure you can do that in your free-time initially, no?

Gender: Male

Age: 44

Location: Atlanta, GA

Occupation: Air Traffic Control Specialist

Education: High School GED

2012 Compensation: Base $147,000, $13,000 in holiday, night, and sunday differentials.

Future Salary Projection: No change for 2013 or a slight decrease. Will get a small raise which will be offset by new rules that we contribute more to our retirement.

Benefits: Full medical insurance and a pretty decent retirement. After 25 years we get 39% retirement, I plan to stay 34 years so I will get nearly 50% annually. FAA will match first 5% of what we contribute to a federal 401K. We don't get a full social security benefit, but the good thing is you start getting a reduced benefit when you retire (I could retire as early as 47 but can't afford to because of a recent divorce). I get almost 2 months a year in time off (annual and sick leave). I work 10 hour days, days off are friday, sat, sun.

What's the job like? I love my job and honestly would do it for half the money. Very good satisfaction knowing I help people get from here to there. I get paid so much for when the crap hits the fan, which thankfully is very seldom anymore. The down side is I work all kinds of different shift including overnights...can't handle the shift work at 44 as well as I did at 34. And we have to work holidays, weekends, it's a 24 hour business.

Would you recommend the career to others? I would absolutely recommend the career to others and my brother finally got in after 5 years of sitting on the fence. Any federal job won't make you rich but this particular job affords you the flexibility to run a business or become a realtor...I know guys that day trade while on break at work.

Gender: Male
Age: 29
Location: Houston, Tx
Occupation: Electrical Engineer Oil Industry
Education: BSEE

2012 Compensation: Base $81,000, 10% Cash Bonus, 10-20% Stock Bonus


Future Salary Projection: Raise has already been approved just waiting on payroll to catch up anywhere from 5-10%. Should have addition 3% inflation raise in May.

Benefits: 401k 70% match on first 6%. Profit sharing of about 2% of salary in to 401k. Typically medical, dental, vision. 2 weeks PTO which doesn't carry over, 11 holidays, unlimited sick time.

What's the job like? 30-40% travel to anywhere in the world on a moments notice, most of the time with little notice. Typically reacting to problems rather then being preventative. A lot of my job is just as a political statement so my bosses can say they have someone there working on it when the problems are already fixed by the time I get there. Work 80 hour weeks halfway across the world then back in the office on Monday expected to preform as nothing happened the week before.

Would you recommend the career to others? No, There are better ways to see the world, have more time off, and get paid more. If I switched departments and worked for operations rather then engineering I would get paid more, have equal time off for time worked and still get to see the world, but career ladder would have a lot less potential.

Skipping 93 Messages...
Gender: Male
Age: Late 20's
Location: Washington, DC
Occupation: IT Systems Architect
Education: High School
Length of time in this field: 14 years

2012 compensation: $144K salary + $83K bonus + $30K stock
Future salary projection: $120K base + $300K shareholder distribution
Benefits: HDHP/HSA health plan (company-paid), $30K pension contribution (company-paid)

What's the job like? Drive up to 100 miles in a day to client sites, sometimes more than 1 in a day. Provide expert-level guidance in designing and implementing niche software solutions that will be utilized by hundreds of thousands of people. Earn the trust of and inspire confidence in CXOs and other high level IT decision makers. Participate in technical discussions that are sometimes contentious and convince others that your approach is the correct one. Troubleshoot and resolve issues that may be disrupting system usability and/or impacting SLAs. Assess and navigate the politics of the client organization.

Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely, if your personality suits. The hours are long, with 50-60 hour weeks being the norm and the occasional 80 hour week. My 2012 compensation was as an employee of a large consulting firm, but this year I started my own consulting shop - so add several more weekly hours for administration of the business, such as managing contracts and accounting. Although we are currently very profitable and have been forming partnerships with other larger firms, nothing is guaranteed and it's a bit scary to have left a stable job in a large company with great pay for the unknown. That said, I've worked hard to differentiate myself and to earn a reputation as one of the best in my area of expertise. If you're smart, motivated, able to live without 9-5 predictability, and willing to drop everything to help your clients achieve their mission, you might want to consider moving your career in a similar direction.



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