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For the past two years around this time, I started a thread where people could describe all of the ups and downs of their careers, including their level of compensation. I find these threads particularly informative and interesting. The 2006 thread became quite lengthy and a lot of people contributed a lot of great information about their careers. The 2007 thread got off to a strong start, then fizzled out kind of quickly. Still, there were a decent number of posts and information in that thread.

So, I'll give it another shot. If the thread continues to be informative and successful, I'll start a new thread annually. If not, well, people will have the past threads for reference.

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

So, now that the ground rules have been set, how'd your job go this year? Did things go well or not so well? How well were you compensated for 2008? 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: 36

Location: NJ

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

Education: M.A., plus some additional credits

2008 Salary: $74,000 (70K Base + $4K for extra activities and a bit of summer work.) This figure was a little lower than I expected. We don't have a contract right now, so base salaries have been frozen since September. In addition, I got screwed out of some extra duties that I did last year. (I was told no teachers would get extra school duties, then a few days later a whole bunch of other teachers were given extra duties. It wasn't hard feelings against me, just poor planning and the other people happening to be in the right place at the right time.) I earned $66,000 in 2007, and $60,000 in 2006.


Future Salary Projection: Tough to say for this year. Our contract negotiations are going poorly. If we settle this year, I should make around 80K base for the 2009 calendar year, plus retro pay (a few thousand). If I can get some summer work and extra duties during the next school year, I could add on another 2-3K. I expect to make about $100K within the next 4 years.

Benefits: Full medical, modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan, 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.) I learned first-hand about the importance of these benefits this year when I was out with a long-term illness for several weeks. Because I had many sick days accumulated, I got full pay for my time out (thank goodness).

What's the job like?

Very difficult. Tremendously long hours, almost no down time during the school day (I don't take lunch very often),lots of work at home, deplorable working conditions, with some classrooms reaching temperatures of 90+ degrees and others below freezing. Prepare to adopt some small scurrying pets who have made your classroom their home in older buildings in urban districts. You will also most likely need to spend a decent amount of money on supplies for students because your school won't provide them, even though they insist on your using them. Very little respect and support from most supervisors, parents, and students. I do it for the good kids and because I love teaching.

Would you recommend the career to others?

It's getting harder and harder to recommend teaching as a career, especially in an ubran district. Each year more and more demands are placed on you, while more resources are taken away from you. There are plenty of people who are ready to tell you you're a horrible teacher, but these same people won't tell you why you're a horrible teacher or how you can improve. My current principal has been good to me, but I've been in a situation with a principal who always told me what a horrible teacher I was but refused to tell me what I was doing wrong or how I could make improvements.

Some components of our curriculum have reached new levels of madness (and I didn't think that was possible). Our literacy program this year, for example, requires students to be in differentiated groups. And within those groups, activities have to be further differentiated for students according to ther testing strengths and weaknesses. Oh, and you have to design the center activities.

The students have to do these activities independently, but of course, most (especially the younger students) can't. The facts that we have many students who are unable to read at grade level (or at all) and who have never learned to work cooperatively with other students doesn't seem to matter to the powers that be.

So chaos ensues, with kids in groups playing around and arguing. Meanwhile, you can't help them or discipline them, because at the same time, you have to meet with another group and assess their reading. This is not a once in a while thing. This is daily. And there's no other time in the day to help the students learn how to work successfully in groups. Then you have to display work from every subject in your room, with descriptions, evaluations, and state standards. You have to make giant charts for all the skills you're teaching and display them too. And you can't make charts or grade papers during the day (unless it's during a prep or a lunch period, and even both of these periods combined don't provide nearly enough time to do all this stuff).

I also teach computers. We moved to a new building, with new computers. But I haven't been allowed to use the new computers yet. So I've had to teach computers in the classrooms with worksheets. Construction on the building was not complete, but we were forced to have school there, because there was nowhere else for us to go. Meanwhile, we've had rooms leak, the heat break down, and tons of other problems. And we can't even get into classrooms because we haven't gotten keys yet. Every time we need to get into a room, we have to hunt down a custodian (in an 80,000 sq. ft. school).

If you do decide to become a teacher in NJ, you will be paid well compared to teachers in most other parts of the country. There is, however, an astonishingly wide gap between affluent and needy districts in NJ. NJ's suburbs are some of the most beautiful in the country, and NJ's inner cities are some of the toughest in the country. You will earn every dime of the money you make, especially in an urban district. (See above.)

I struggle every day with whether I should start to look for other opportunities. I want to stay to help the truly deserving kids, but the annual increases in the level of nonsense (very little of it having to do with the kids) are making the decision tougher and tougher, despite the good pay.

Every year I begin by saying, "It can't be any crazier than last year. " And every year, it gets crazier. Oh well, hopefully in another 20 years, I can retire!

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Gender: Male
Age: 25
Occupation: Production Engineer at major independent oil and gas company
Location: Texas
Education: BS ... (more)

jakemoney (Jan. 13, 2009 @ 7:30a) |

"YES", but you have to pay taxes if it's not related to your job. So if you are an engineer and take MD classes, you'll... (more)

joedaddy123 (Jan. 14, 2009 @ 1:32p) |

Gender: Male
Age: 30
Location: NY
Occupation: Financial Services IT Management
Education: B.A. (almost done with MBA)
2008 Sa... (more)

Yankees (Feb. 10, 2009 @ 10:27a) |

Gender:
Age:
Location:
Occupation:
Education:
2008 Salary:
Future Salary Projection:
Benefits:
What's the job like?
Would you recommend the career to others?

2006 and 2007 threads.
2007
2006

nm

gwu1986 said: Age: 50 female (don't know why gender matters?)


Pics?

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: CT

Occupation: Jack of all trades IT guy?

2008 Salary: $49,xxx. Received a $2k bonus for the year.

Future Salary Projection:
The company (like many others) are going through some tough times right now. A majority of the funding for raises, bonuses, etc. was slashed to help stablize the financial situation of the company. We recently moved into a new built building (paid for by the company), so this year was especially tough. Average raise across the department and company was 2% with a nominal bonus. Senior management received no raises this year. I lucked out, and my manager was able to get me an additional 4% for a 6% raise up to $52,xxx. Going forward, if (and when) the company lands additional business, I could see my salary shooting up to $60k by 2010 and $70k by 2012 (if I were to stay at the same company).

Benefits:
Medical, dental, 401k (profit sharing, no company match), 17 days vacation, in-house gym, free coffee, job-related tuition reimbursment, and about 2-3 outside training courses per year (about 2k a course).

Whats the job like?:
The job has its ups and downs. I'm in a department with 3 others and the CIO, and am the only support/network/systems guy so it's tough to take vacation/days off without someone else in the department calling (all the rest are programmers). I also do programming, so my day is never really the same, which I enjoy tremondously. I've worked in strict networking/system positions in the past, and I've worked in strictly programming positions as well. I wore out quickly in both, as there was too much repition day in / day out. Working here gives me the oppurunity to really learn many different aspects of IT and become involved with lots of different new technologies. From the systems side of things, it's great, because our senior management team all come from technology backgrounds, so it's very easy to sell them on required technology without too much of a hassle. From the programming side of things, I'm sure it's like many other places. A lack of "seeing the big picture" from people within the organization make it difficult. We will have meetings until we're blue in the face about a project, work on the project, and after it's done, they will completely change their mind about how they want something to look and/or function. Priorities also shift as the wind, so it's very difficult for any project to ever be fully complete. On top of that, the department is always questioned as to why things are never completed on time... Hours aren't all that bad either. I average about 45 hours a week, and on rare occasions will push more if there are tight deadlines.

Would you recommend the career to others?:
Absolutely. If you enjoy technology and find yourself coming home from your day job and fiddling with gadgets, reading up on technology, playing with the latest and greatest "stuff", then there is no doubt IT is the place for you.

Gender: Male
Age: 25
Location: Rather not say.
Occupation: Database Administrator
Education: Bachelor's in Information systems from a top 100 school.
2008 Salary: 85k
Future Salary Projection: Possibly 90k at end of 2009.
Benefits: Modest Medical and Dental. Match 4% dollar for dollar. Pretty much average benefits.
What's the job like? I'm always on call as a DBA, but peak times of system usage is 9-9. I do come into work late at times to do patches and upgrades. The work is challenging and there is always room for improvement in many aspects. There's really never a dull moment at work for me.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. Like many careers, always try to learn more.

Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: Boston
Occupation: IT Project Manager (part of a rotational development program)
Education: BS in Business (MIS Concentration)
2008 Salary: $70,XXX + $2,XXX profit share + $6,XXX in relocation bonuses = ~$78K
Future Salary Projection: Expect 10% - 12% raise on completion of development program in 2009 (targeting $80K base). If I stay in project management get certifications and continue strong performance I think I can break 100K in two years with the current employer.
Benefits: Good benefits, 4% 401K match, flex time, telecommute, 3 weeks vacation, tuition reimbursement.
What's the job like? Currently it is not overly demanding, usually standard 40 - 45 hour work week. Others spend more time but I think with time management you can certainly have a "balance." I consider IT in a low beta industry like mine cushy.
Would you recommend the career to others? I chose it so yes? I think the project management field has a well defined ceiling with the good senior IT project managers making $100K-$120K. I think it can be used as a pipeline to middle management and provides good visibility in a large company. I do not want to stay in this niche of IT forever and the learning curve isn't quite as steep as I would like for early career. I am considering a jump to consulting or to a more general IT role in a smaller growth company.

Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: NV
Occupation: Electronics Technician, Lead
Education: AAS Electronics Instrumentation
2008 Salary: 73000
Future Salary Projection: If I were to stay in electronics, I would probably max out (in todays dollars) around 85K. After completing my physics degree, combined with electronics experience, I'll max out around 100K. I'll be pursuing an mba or medical physics degree after that.

Benefits: 18 days paid leave, 11 holidays. 6% company 401K match, good health benefits, DCAP, Education Reimbursement, good bonus program.

What's the job like? Since being promoted to a leadership position, its advanced troubleshooting, test development, and technical documentation. For those that love electronics, a leadership role will limit your hands on time. For technicians in manufacturing environments, its a fairly relaxed job until something breaks. Then quickly troubleshooting problems can save the company downtime at perhaps a cost of thousands of dollars per minute.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Definitely. I did not have the option of a 4 year degree right out of high school. For kids where a 4 year degree may not make much sense right out of high school (not many, but there are some cases) or middle aged folks needing a career change, eletronics is a great field. Most students do not acquire much student debt, and the starting pay is higher than most 2 year degrees. DO NOT GET A DEGREE FROM DEVRY OR UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX in this field.

Not quite a career, but I'll share anyway.

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: Rather not say

Occupation: Grad student, biological sciences

Education: B.S., working on PhD

2008 Salary: $27k stipend on a 12month appointment (Federal and state taxes apply, but no FICA)

Future Salary Projection: ~3% cost of living increases per year. After graduation (I'm 2.5 yrs into a 5.5 year program) people report salaries from <$40K to >$100k (this depends on whether people stay in academics or move to industry)

Benefits: Tuition waiver, medical/dental/vision insurance, personal time (this is pretty flexible being a student), the perks of being on an academic campus (athletic facilities, career counseling, seminars/workshops, free food, etc). I have the option to take undergraduate classes for free, but I have not yet taken advantage of this.

What's the job like?: Pretty good. Workload depends on the mentor and how hard he/she pushes you. I generally work 40-50 hrs per week (all independent research now, no more classes). My peers work between 30 and 80 hours per week. I have no teaching responsibilities. We average one trip per year to a scientific meeting.

Would you recommend the career to others?: I'd recommend grad school to anyone in the math/science/technology field who enjoys challenging projects. If you're in one of these fields, then you already know an advanced degree opens up many doors. You also already know it is generally not possible to do independent research (in academia or industry) with an PhD or MD. Support is generous, but oftentimes is restricted to US residents.

Other notes: Being in grad school shielded me from the bear economy of 2008. Several of my friends who went straight into the biotech/pharmaceutical industry after undergrad are looking for new jobs. Of course this was just luck on my behalf.

link to the 2006, 2007 threads? search didn't yield any results

Gender: M
Age: 25
Location: Midwest
Occupation: Hospital Chaplain Resident
Education: 4 year private college, 3 years seminary (master of divinity), currently on my 2nd unit (out of 4) of Clinical Pastoral Education, on way to certification as a professional chaplain
2008 Salary: I currently enjoy a $22,000 Stipend
Future Salary Projection: Here are my options:
Active Duty Army Chaplain: 80k
Hospital Chaplain: 60k?
Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor (another 3 years of education): 80k
Church Pastor in my denomination: 60k
Benefits: I'm happy to have the same basic benefits package as non-medical hospital staff, which is very good. A visit to the doctor is $15. No dental. Free vaccinations.
What's the job like? Let's see. Currently about 50% of my time is spent in education. 30% is spent handling social work type issues in the hospital (making sure impoverished people have food & a place to sleep). About 20% of what I do is dealing with spiritual support of patients and families. I spend most of my time on the children's floor of the hospital, so I see a lot of really tragic stuff.
Would you recommend the career to others? Not to most people on FWF
There are hidden blessings. This job can be quite satisfying. I have a lot of stories.

I actually came to this gig because my wife and I are doing the dual career thing and are trying to leepfrog to get to a place where we're both happy. She's currently applying to several PhD programs. I'll be looking for a way to support the fam.

zhelder, what do you do in the summers?

catanpirate said: zhelder, what do you do in the summers?

I haven't worked every summer. I try to plan ahead so I don't have to. My first couple of years teaching, I kept a part-time job I had for many years in a supermarket. I worked on the weekends and the summer. That was torture, so as soon as I finished my master's, I quit. (The raise I got for the master's was pretty much equal to what I made a year in the supermarket.)

Last summer, I worked on writing some technology literacy curriculum. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was a pretty good gig and got me through the last few weeks of summer. I would definitely do it again if I could. I could also work summer school, but I would only do that if I absolutely had to. (Ten months of screaming and yelling is enough!)

vize said: link to the 2006, 2007 threads? search didn't yield any results
presumably you missed them because they are archived.
2007
2006

Thanks for posting the links to the '07 and '06 threads, Kamalktk. I was in the process of putting up my own post when POOF! Yours appeared.

Gender: Male

Age: 32

Location: Ohio

Occupation: Pharmacy Student/Intern

Education: dual molecular bio/chem B.S + 3rd year in Pham.D

2008 Salary: $12-$13K part time work at hospital and at walgreens.

Future Salary Projection: post graduation, $100K-$130K

Benefits: right now, none. LOL But being a student is a kind of benefit.

What's the job like? Depends on what you do. Hospital pharmacist and community is completely different. To be honest, I hate being an intern at walgreens. You are standing on your feet 8.5 hours a day, don't even have time to eat, endless loop of: varifying Rx - calling insurance/doctors/patients - answering patient questions (which is usually "why aren't all generics $4?" or "why can't I have my vicodin 10 days early?"). In my option, its mostly brain numbing/dead work that don't need 4 years in pharmacy school to do.

On the other hand, working as an intern at the hospital is great. Going on rounds, codes, traumas. With full access to patient charts, we can actually use all that clincial and drug therapy courses that we learned, specially which drugs can or cannot be used, and how it should be dosed per the patient's condition/organ function. Especially on traumas and codes, being right there and watch your drugs help to make the difference between life and death is a powerful feeling. When not doing that, it's mostly entering and varifying RX's, looking over patient charts, dosing adjustments, ect.

Then there are the research oriented positions that I don't have any exposure to yet. But I was a medicinal chemist for almost 8 years before returning to pharmacy school, so I had worked with a few in the past. As far as I can tell, not very different from other ph.D level researchers, lots of pouring over calculations and papers, but probably paid a bit better.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes, with a lot of qualifiers. Before going back to pharmacy school, I was working as a B.S medicinal chemist at Pfizer research center in Michigan, made $60K with great benefits in 2005. But that's where the glass ceiling was. I loved doing experiments but I saw how other B.S chemists who have been around 20 more years getting only 1-2 grades higher. From work, I know pharmacy is a hot field with good pay, so off I went.

But as you can read from above, same jobs at different settings can be hugely different. If you don't mind rinse and repeat busy work, then working as community pharmacist is a high pay but tiring job. Hospital pays a bit less, but offers more places to use what you learned and is less stressful overall. Research work for pharmaceutical companies is intellectually demanding and the least numerous positions available, but also tends to pay the highest. Of course, there is the option of opening your own pharmacy, but that's increasingless difficult in cities and suburbs as chains are taking over. But independent pharmacy owners in small commnities are can still make some very healthy profit.

The cost for 4 years of pharmacy school is about $50-$80K for public (if you work part time to cover your own living expense), and double that for private. Many good pharmacy schools now de facto require an undergrad degree, but 2 year undergrad + 4 year pharmacy schools still exist. It's a lot of time and money to be invested, but I can't name many careers that can offer 100K+ starting salary as early as the age of 24. Just be sure you want to do this kind of work.

Gender: Male
Age: 29
Location: North East
Occupation: Civil Engineer (consultant)
Education: MS in Civil Engineering
2008 Salary: 75K
Future Salary Projection: Signed a contract in August 08 with base 95K. Can’t really tell about 2009 due the economic.
Benefits: Medical + dental, no vision, 10% 401K match of what I contribute.
What's the job like? Standard 40 - 45 hour work week. Extensive of planning skill and understanding construction procedures. A lot of problems, conflicts and legal issues. Need to work independently with minimal supervision. May also need Professional Engineer certificate or Project Management Professional certificate.
Would you recommend the career to others? I love construction since I was young so it is “Yes”. It not only requires technical skill (from school) but also need management skill and problem solving skill in order to grow in this filed. It is a dirty job required field visit. And every time I visit my completed projects I am so proud for being apart of making them happened. Note: many of my friends who graduated BS in civil engineering went to financial field for master.

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: USA somewhere
Occupation: Dentist
Education: DDS
2008 Salary: 3/4 year:~60k +80k year end bonus
Future Salary Projection: 200k next year. 250-300 following year?
Benefits: no medical, free dental (from my hygienist), 3 percent match from my company
What's the job like? I am the boss! Opened office from scratch. Great location, great advertising, great service on my and my staff's part. I work 36 hours a week doing everything
dental related to managing and running my office. I outsource things I don't like (mainly book keeping to a trusted CPA). Unlike working for other docs, I decided the philosophy for my business. My profits aren't due to cutting corners, cheap labs etc. I obtain and retain clients through high quality work and customer service; I use the top end labs in the city and don't skimp on any products used. Increase in salary is expected b/c office is running at ~1/3rd of future potential since it is new and growing.
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. It is a long hard journey to first become a dentist and much more to become a successful dentist running your own business. I'm sure my office exceeds 90 percent of offices opening. It took 1 year of preparation and continuous learning and reading before opening, but well worth it. I love my job, love seeing my patients and couldn't imagine another career. You have to really believe in delayed gratification to make it being a dentist/doctor/professional.

Gender: Male

Age: 24

Location: East Coast

Occupation: US Army Transportation Officer

2008 Salary: $51,500 (2LT)

Future Salary Projection:
70k+ in 18 months, 90k+ in 36-42 months. DoD seems to be a fairly stable place to be right now.

Benefits:
Tri-Care Health Ins, SGLI Life Ins, the usual Gov't benefits

Education B.S.

Whats the job like?:
It's great! I work out 5 days a week, I'm in training from 9-5 since I'm not complete with the extensive training program yet. Either you love it or you hate it. I just happen to love it more than I hate it.

Would you recommend the career to others?:
Yes, but only if you can embrace the suck when it sucks, don't mind being away from home for 12 months at a time from time to time, and can deal with moving every few years. It's not as bad as most people make it out to be, especially those who've never actually spent any time in the military at all.

I am not sure if the OP wanted student replies, but I see other student replies, so...

Gender: Male

Location: North Carolina

Occupation: Graduate Student

2008 Salary: $24,000 (Stipend)

Future Salary Projection:
~75k upon graduation (3 years)

Benefits:
Free health insurance, free tuition

Education: BA (Philosophy and Religion), BA (Political Science), Master of Public Administration, Public Administration PhD in progress

Whats the job like?:
The stipend comes with a 20 hour per week work requirement, however, I find that is usually 30-40 hours. As everyone who has been or is in graduate school knows though, the flexibility of your work schedule is great.

Would you recommend the career to others?:
For people interested in studying government...absolutely. Public Administration has a lot of both academic and consulting opportunities available for PhD graduates - its also one of the few fields in academia that isn't a hard science where the demand for professors is growing rapidly. On the down side unlike most PhDs Public Administration programs universally require that you spend the time to get a masters (you can't get one "in passing" and skip straight from undergraduate to PhD in any of the programs I've seen).

Gender: Female
Age: 37
Location: Prefer not to say
Occupation: Space & Defense - System Engineer
2008 Salary: $109k
Future Salary Projection:: 112k+ in 2009
Education: : BS/MS Computer Science

Benefits:subsidized health care, free dental and vision, pension plan, 401k matching @6%, 3-wks vacation, 10 holidays, generous sick leave, tuition reimbursement.

Whats the job like?: 40hrs/wk with no overtime required. The work schedule is very flexible with great work-life balance (very beneficial for a working mom). I have the privilege of working with a great team of highly talented software developers, all striving for the common goal.

Would you recommend the career to others?: Yes, if you are interested in space technology and if you enjoy different aspects of software development.

It is grate to see most of fatwalleters are earning more than their counterparts with similar educational background and skills.

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

maxandsam said: Gender: Male
Age: 28
2008 Salary: 3/4 year:~60k +80k year end bonus
Future Salary Projection: 200k next year. 250-300 following year?
What's the job like? "I work 36 hours a week doing everything "


You have to really believe in delayed gratification to make it being a dentist/doctor/professional.


Are you really serious here? Delayed gratification at age 28? 36 hour work weeks? I have several dentist friends, and I have long stated to them that it is by far the easiest work for the money you can ever get; after stammering a little bit, they really couldn't refute the argument. I'm not one to belittle dentists and say they are the ones that couldn't get in to medical school (that's a crock, since most of the people saying it would flunk dental school outright), but please don't make statements about "delayed gratification" and follow that up with a projected salary of over $200k only six years out of college. From what I can see, you didn't do that badly this year, you know.

Just saying.

Gender: Male

Age: 35

Location: Oregon

Occupation: IT Consultant

Education: Bachelor's degree in Film and Music

2008 Salary: From all my various clients and projects: ~$80k; one of my clients gave me a $1k bonus. I also produced a documentary film this year and got paid a few thousand for that.

Future Salary Projection: Unsure - it goes up and down. I'm easy to fire but my position is vital for each of my clients, so barring any disasters I don't expect to ever be eliminated.

Benefits: Set own schedules, have a lot of leeway in my work, can take days off without consequences, work about 60% time.

What's the job like? Basically I work for 4 (used to be more) steady clients as their IT department. I'm on call 24/7 and spend a good amount of time at their offices doing all the regular IT work that you would expect, from desktop helpdesk stuff that a monkey could do to strategic planning or systems administration that can get pretty complicated. All of these are companies that are a little too small (less than 40 employees) to have a full time person, but are big enough that it's not just a couple of dudes working together and calling it a company. My largest client pays me fixed fees of $50k a year to "get it done", the others all pay less, some fixed, some hourly.

The job has one big benefit that I think a lot of people would call dreamy: I just don't really work that much, usually. Several days might go by that I basically answer a few emails. But there is a big downside to this - I am bored silly and at this moment, pretty unhappy with what I'm doing. I am seriously considering a career change - sad after all the blood sweat and tears spent to build a successful consulting business. I am doing better than every other consultant I know that works at my level (mid-level systems admin); I think this has little to do with technical competence (I'm sure there are people out there that are better) and everything to do with understanding how to listen to the needs of a business and building trust with customers.

I recently made a big mistake on a job with a long time client that could have been disasterous (it all ended ok though). I told a friend of mine who is also a consultant about it, but has never held any clients for more than a matter of months. He was incredulous that they didn't drop me as a consultant after the mistake; but he, like many contractors and consultants, doesn't understand that building a business is all about building trust and even friendship with your customers. This client trusts me that I will take care of whatever happens, even if I caused it, because we have years of track record with dozens of situations of me solving very difficult problems and keeping their business on track.

The job is very stressful at times and I get to pull all nighters because of emergencies several times a year, which I hate. I get calls at all hours and there was one year that I routinely went to bed 3 hours after my wife did, because I was working. Just earlier this month I lost a RAID and had to rebuild and mother it overnight and restore all the data before staff got to the office. This would have been even more stressful if I hadn't done a backup 20 minutes before the array toasted.

I think my experience is maybe a lesson for those who get into careers that are demanding, but they are not interested in those careers. I have zero education in my field and I learned most of it working. I am good at what I do, but I don't have any passion for it. Thus I hate my work life most of the time. The only thing that keeps me going is that I get paid what amounts to a full time salary, but have the time to pursue other projects at the same time. I have hopes that one of those other projects will turn into a different career. My advice would be to make sure you are actually interested in the work you do - it will soon get boring if you are not, no matter what you get paid.

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: Rather not say
Occupation: Internet marketer and affiliate manager
Education: College drop out

2008 Salary: ~70k went to school full time until dropping out in August not to bad for 5 months
Future Salary Projection: Next year should be anywhere between 150k and 500k, it's a big range but I have a wide range of high paying projects that i am working on right now. Affiliate manager job is with a brand new company, it pays 2% of commissions payed out, and I have lined up a dozen or so guys that do 100k+ per month. I think I can learn an awful lot from these guys so that is why I took the job.

Benefits: I work from home a lot and I have a great deal of freedom in choosing the hours that I work. Pay is pretty good considering I don't have a college degree, and the amount of experience that I have.

What's the job like? The hours are extremely long I normally work from 9 am to 7 pm, taking a break from 7-10 to spend time with my wife and then working from 10 pm to 1 am. I think a person can be successful in this business working less hours it is just that i am a bit of a workaholic. I think the hardest part for most people would be dealing with the irregular paychecks, most of the money I make is paid out on a net 60 basis so the time between checks when your first starting out can make cash flow pretty interesting. Combine that with the 30k I lost in unpaid invoices this year and the money can get a little stressful
if you don't have significant savings.

Would you recommend the career to others? It isn't for everyone. The internet is still the wild west and there is a ton of money to be made if you are smart and work hard. There are a lot of great money making ideas floating in various forums, just remember that few if anyone gives away a complete working idea. One other thing to keep in mind is that relationships with people will make or break you in this business, the closer you are to an account manager or affiliate manager the more likely you are to get paid, and the more likely they are to share what is working for other people with you.

Edited to make my post more readable.

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: Bay Area, CA
Occupation: Sales/Management
Education: BS Business/Marketing
2008 Salary: 40k salary 60k commissions
Future Salary Projection: Possibly 50k salary next year, haven't started talking yet.
Benefits: I work for a remodeling and furniture sales company.so one of the big benefits is discounts on returns and discounted installs. I use the wifes benefits other than that because mine aren’t worth it, in fact blue shield was cheaper than what company was providing.
What's the job like? Long retail type hours. I usually start about 10 am and leave about 9 pm. This is nice because I get the gym in before work most of the time. The other side of that is that I constantly eat junk food for dinner.
Would you recommend the career to others? To get to the money that I make is hard you have to put in some time of not making a whole lot of money. The other downside is that internet buying is slowly eating away at sales. One last note almost every sales job on the planet has this quote attached to it “You’re only as good as your next sale.”

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Occupation: Medical device engineer
Education: Masters
2008 Salary: 70K
2009 Salary: 75K
Benefits: 401K with match,dental,vision
Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. Very regulated industry.Patience and optimism is the key. Projects can take years at times with a fair amount of uncertainty if one is working on cutting edge ones. Success one day failure another. Enthusiasm for learning makes the job much more enjoyable at least for us engineers

fwvisitor said:
Occupation: Medical device engineer
Education: Masters


Is there a specialized masters for this? I work in a hospital and see a lot of stuff developed by Stryker, as an example. I'm wondering how much human biology you have to study.

Smoot said: maxandsam said: Gender: Male
Age: 28
2008 Salary: 3/4 year:~60k +80k year end bonus
Future Salary Projection: 200k next year. 250-300 following year?
What's the job like? "I work 36 hours a week doing everything "


You have to really believe in delayed gratification to make it being a dentist/doctor/professional.


Are you really serious here? Delayed gratification at age 28? 36 hour work weeks? I have several dentist friends, and I have long stated to them that it is by far the easiest work for the money you can ever get; after stammering a little bit, they really couldn't refute the argument. I'm not one to belittle dentists and say they are the ones that couldn't get in to medical school (that's a crock, since most of the people saying it would flunk dental school outright), but please don't make statements about "delayed gratification" and follow that up with a projected salary of over $200k only six years out of college. From what I can see, you didn't do that badly this year, you know.

Just saying.


student debt is usually 150-200K+ practice start up costs can be upto 1 million depending on how fancy+ somedays it's like pulling teeth!

catanpirate said: fwvisitor said:
Occupation: Medical device engineer
Education: Masters


Is there a specialized masters for this? I work in a hospital and see a lot of stuff developed by Stryker, as an example. I'm wondering how much human biology you have to study.


There is Masters in Biomedical Engineering program which has courses picked from pretty much all engineering departments as well as biology,genetics etc etc. Regarding to Human biology you would have to take courses in cell level as well as system level and delve deeper if you are further interested. I have seen mostly mechanical engineering graduates designing devices, electrical engineers designing instrumentation but found that having a specialized degree helps (Eg.communicating to Physicians,Marketing etc)

Smoot said:

Are you really serious here? Delayed gratification at age 28? 36 hour work weeks? I have several dentist friends, and I have long stated to them that it is by far the easiest work for the money you can ever get; after stammering a little bit, they really couldn't refute the argument. I'm not one to belittle dentists and say they are the ones that couldn't get in to medical school (that's a crock, since most of the people saying it would flunk dental school outright), but please don't make statements about "delayed gratification" and follow that up with a projected salary of over $200k only six years out of college. From what I can see, you didn't do that badly this year, you know.

Just saying.


No, I didn't do badly. I'm sure I did way better than many that start a practice. As for delayed gratification, yeah it is. Most of my friends, and I'm sure many here who read FW Finance, had nice jobs lined up after college. While they were buying new cars, taking nice vacations, I took on 6 figures debt, gave up social life for a bit and on top of that, obscene amounts of debt to start a nice practice. People don't want to go to any old dingy office, they want to see new, nice, clean equipment. Too bad all that costs a lot. So yeah, my income is high this year, but so is my debt relative to everyone else. And regarding 36 hours, that comes from careful planning, careful managing and delegation of duties wherever appropriate. I dunno about you, but delaying 4 years of my 20s to party, travel, etc is delayed gratification to me. But again, everything is relative.

As an aside, like with any business, it's a very big risk to take especially if you start from scratch. I would say that traditionally, dentists either buy an existing practice or start a practice very small (with lower debt) and grow very slowly. I calculated the risk and decided to go all out and big and realize now that I hit a home run. You might think I get paid too much or whatever, but to spend that long in school, risk tons and tons of money, I feel like I deserve what I make. And so do my patients: I've had only a couple of record transfer requests the entire year so I know my patients are very satisfied with what I offer.

Gender: Male

Age: 25

Location: New Mexico

Occupation: Computer Tomography Tech

Education: A.S in Biology, Learned my job from the Army.

2008 Salary: 50,000, Base Pay 20.48 and also National Guard drill pay.

Future Salary Projection: Going to be part of a Union expect 10% to 12% increase in 2009 and 4% to 6% every year till I max out my pay scale.

Benefits: 4 Weeks PTO, 2 Weeks Sick time. 5% match 401k. Tuition Reimbursement and pretty good dental and Health Benefits.

What's the job like? Laid back environment and very flexible schedule.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes.

Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: Phoenix
Occupation: Education
2008 Salary: $40k
Future Salary Projection:: 45k in 2009, maybe more if I get a higher position
Education: : BS in Management

Benefits: Pay only $60 a month for excellent dental, medical, vision, prescription and life insurance. I get 16 days a year PTO and will get 20 days in 2009.

Whats the job like?: Work 11-8 Monday thru Friday. I can work overtime if I wanted too, which gives me a way better paycheck. Not stressful at all.

Would you recommend the career to others?: Education is not for everyone.

Gender: Male

Location: Southern California

Occupation: Head and Neck Surgery/Otolaryngology aka (ENT)

2008 Salary: $356,000

Future Salary Projection:
$400K+

Benefits:
Free health insurance, paid malpractice

Education:
BS Human Biology
4 years of Medical school
5 year residency in Head and Neck

Whats the job like?:
Long hours
Very stressful
love the surgical aspect
Im usually in clinic 2-3 days a week and in surgery 2-3 days a week
On call every 4th week
usual hours 60-100 per week

Would you recommend the career to others?:
absolutley

peredon said: Gender: Male

Location: Southern California

Occupation: Head and Neck Surgery/Otolaryngology aka (ENT)

2008 Salary: $356,000

Future Salary Projection:
$400K+

Benefits:
Free health insurance, paid malpractice

Education:
BS Human Biology
4 years of Medical school
5 year residency in Head and Neck

Whats the job like?:
Long hours
Very stressful
love the surgical aspect
Im usually in clinic 2-3 days a week and in surgery 2-3 days a week
On call every 4th week
usual hours 60-100 per week

Would you recommend the career to others?:
absolutley


I don't think its safe for a surgeon to be working 100 hours a week.

One thing's for sure. From reading this thread, the demographics of FWF seem largely weighted towards males in their twenties.

Gender: Male
Age: 21 (keeping with the trend, I see)
Location: CA
Occupation: Management Consultant - Analyst
Education: BA from a top 10 school
2008 Salary: $65k + $5-15k bonus
Future Salary Projection: ~$10k raise after 1.5 years, very variable after that (most likely leave after 2-3 years, could be offered business school sponsorship, or direct promotion to next level --> doubling of salary)
Benefits: Great healthcare, fully covered by employer, $5-10k of employer 401k contributions (no math needed), possible business school sponsorship
What's the job like?

Haven't started yet - but spent a summer interning, so I have an idea what I'm getting myself into. About 60 hours a week, but fluctuate wildly - a bad week may break 80, but 40 hours (or less) are very possible if things are slow. Hours can also be unpredictable - a client demand can kill a weekend. Can be very travel intensive, spending Monday - Thursday on the client site is very typical (most likely somewhere on the west coast, though not necessarily). But travel comes with its perks: long flights are usually in business class, hotels are nice, meals can be lavish (though less so in this economy) - and lots of frequent flyer miles/hotel points.

The work itself can be fascinating - developing a strategy for a Fortune 50 CEO, or painful - cleaning up incomprehensible data dumps from a broken ERP system. As an Analyst, my time is divided between Excel (data analytics + modeling), PowerPoint (writing + formatting), and meetings (both with the case team + clients).

Would you recommend the career to others?

Probably too soon to tell, but everything I've learned points to management consulting as a great springboard to business school and industry strategy jobs. From what I saw this summer, the track to Partner doesn't seem very appealing - all of the travel, the unpredictable hours, and the need to always be BlackBerry-accessible don't seem compatible with having a family.

Gender: M
Age: 23
Location: MW
Occupation: Engineering Techology (drafting/design)
Education: B.S. Industrial Tech. big state school
2008 Salary: $50k
Future Salary Projection: 3%/yr for the next few years; sizeable increase once promoted to project engineer.
Benefits: medical, dental, 401k, good and cheap.
What's the job like? It's pretty cool. Give me a 3D model of a mechanical part and I can turn it into a nice print out with all the dimensions and geometric tolerances that any good CNC programmer can use to code his machine to cut the piece out to spec.
Would you recommend the career to others? Sure if you're into this sort of thing. Our core customer base just tightend things up a lot and we've had a lot of layoffs these last few weeks.

Gender:Female

Age:42

Location: Northeast

Occupation:CT Technologist

Education:Two year Radiologic Technologist Hospitalbased Program or four year BA, college based program

2008 Salary: Part time 48k

Future Salary Projection: 3% increase 2009 restricted due to economics

Benefits: 401k, 3% salary contribution, medical, dental,vision, life insuance 1x salary (free) flex spending account, all optional with reasonable employee contribution.

What's the job like? Imaging both ill and injured patients. Use of computer and medical skills such as I.V insertion, injecting contrast. Manipulating images using computer software. Need for a strong stomach. Exposure to traumatic injuries, blood, and body fluids, sometimes violent patients due to drugs or psychiatric issues, makes this job potentially stressful. However this exposure is very limited in an outpatient setting such as external imaging center outside a hospital.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes,this job's salary potential is tremendous in comparison to the education required. There are many other areas to expand to. I.e., Radiologist assistant, management, IT, other areas of diagnostic imaging such as mammography, MRI, Ultrasound (many require some additional schooling or training) I'm a bit burned out in the patient contact area, and would love to work in an environment which utilizes personel just to manipulate images and bypass the patient contact. But, that enviroment would require more training for me, and lots of travel due to my location. Job setting is very dependant on how stressful and technical the work is. Medical careers such as this have lots of flexibility in reference to job setting (office or hospital)options such as working days, evening, nights(I works nights and receive 20-35% differential above my base pay depending if hours include weekends.), part time, full time, per diem all with shift differential.

Skipping 115 Messages...
Gender: Male
Age: 30
Location: NY
Occupation: Financial Services IT Management
Education: B.A. (almost done with MBA)
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.

Future Salary Projection: completely unpredictable. If finance and financial services stabilize from their plummet, I would think that 2009 would flatten out to +/- 10% of 2008. If things continue on a downward trend, there would be an increased number of out of work people along with the continued pressure to squeeze costs. This would mean that a segment of people (with more experience and talent) would voluntarily leave the industry, vacating the roles for cheaper/less experienced people, and driving down the average compensation.

Benefits: Standard medical/dental. Very good vacation allotment. Commuter pre-tax program. 1-for-1 401k match to 5%, but no pension. Virtually 100% tuition reimbursement (18 credits a year). Matched charitable contributions.

What's the job like?
Difficult with constantly changing demands/pressures, exacerbated by frequent management and organizational changes. Need to constantly balance managing up, down, sideways, onshore, offshore as well as deal with top-down and matrix organizational demands. Hours are long, but not terrible (typically 8-6, 15 mins to bring food back to eat at the desk, but 7-7 at times), minimal work after hours and over the weekend, but most holidays need to be managed and accounted for due to international schedules.

Managing people is not a fun, and often thankless role. It kinda reminds me of Michael Scott, it's very hard to be friends and boss at the same time. Dealing with turnover is typically a very time consuming process lasting 3 - 5 months starting Feb, lasting until September most years. This year, it should not be a big problem as low voluntary turnover is expected.


Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely. The industry I am in has surprisingly remained a niche despite being in mainstream financial services and mainstream IT. There's a relatively small group of people that comprise the industry network, and they rotate pretty frequently amongst the handful of big players. It allows for a lot of networking opportunities, and reduces the risks/unknowns of moving on to a new opportunity.

It does provide adequate entryways for growth either via going up vertically into tech management or laterally (albeit at a lower grade) into the business/finance/trading side. There's enough of a big-company protection that people who want to coast can get away with it for a few years before they feel their jobs are threatened. On that topic, burn-out and complacency rates are relatively high (we're definitely not a Google or an Amazon) due to the high(ish) comp and job security.



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