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For the past three 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.

I debated whether to start another thread this year. Last year's thread started off pretty well, but stopped dead in its tracks in February. The other thing I've noticed is that most of the people participating and posting in this thread tend to be people who are compensated extraordinarily well. I guess I'm a little guilty of this myself, as I know my salary is above average for my profession. That is not why I started this thread, however. I thought that this thread could be a tremendous resource, especially for people graduating college or looking to switch careers.

So, gang, what do you think? Should I continue these threads every year, or should this be the last year we do this?

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

So, now that the ground rules have been set, how did your job go this year? Did things go well or not so well? How well were you compensated for 2009? 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: 37

Location: NJ

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

Education: M.A., plus 33 additional credits

2009 Salary: About $72,000 (70K Base + about $2K for extra activities and a bit of summer work.) This figure is actually a little lower than my total salary last year. My district hasn't had a contract since the 2007-2008 school year, which has frozen everyone's salary. However, we will get retroactive pay once the contract is settled.

Future Salary Projection: If our contract gets settled, my base salary for this school year (Sep. 2009 - June 2010) should be about $82,000. Next year (2010-2011), it will be around $92,000. Base pay for the 2010 calendar year (Jan. - Dec.) should be about $86,000. Extra work should add on another $2,000 or so, and I'm expecting about $10,000 in retroactive pay.

Benefits: Full medical, modest dental, generous sick and personal time, a decent pension plan (for now, more on that later), tremendous job security once you achieve tenure (but virtually none before that, and even with tenure, you can still have the daylights menaced out of you. Also keep in mind that not all states offer tenure, in which case you can pretty much be fired at will no matter how much time you have in a particular district.)

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 urban 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 , for example, requires students to be in differentiated groups. And within those groups, activities have to be further differentiated for students according to their 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, last year, with new computers. Nearly a year and a half later, the computers STILL don't work properly. You can imagine how much fun it is to teach computers without properly working computers!

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.) In addition, we have a new governor coming in and he's ready to slash and burn everything related to education. He is no fan of teachers, and he's ready to slash salaries and benefits if he can. He's probably not going to get everything he wants, but realistically, pensions will likely be affected somewhat, and eventually all teachers will probably be paying for health benefits.

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!

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Update--received the promotion (about 6mo earlier than expected), and current salary is now 72k. A smidge lower than I ... (more)

reVamp (Mar. 02, 2010 @ 9:02a) |

Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: TX
Occupation: pilot
Education: BA in English Literature

2009 Salary: $55k, base pay is $36k w... (more)

woog3150 (Mar. 02, 2010 @ 9:31a) |

Bump because I'm curious.

gizmoduck (May. 07, 2010 @ 5:24p) |

Gender:
Age:
Location:
Occupation:
Education:
2009 Salary:
Future Salary Projection:
Benefits:
What's the job like?
Would you recommend the career to others?

Previous threads:
2008
2007
2006

Notes:

  • Please provide regional (city/metro) location, not just state. Costs of living (therefore, take home pay) vary drastically from urban to rural.
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Age: 25
Occupation: Electronics Technician
Education: AAS Electronics Instrumentation, Completed most of physics undergrad.
2009 Salary: 68K+OT = 75K
Future Salary Projection:
No raise this year. Its the economy! Will probably top out around 90K in today's dollars. Could realistically make 100K+ with overtime.
Benefits:
6% dollar for dollar 401K match, health, dental, etc, and I can x-ray my vehicle to look for change under the seats.

Would you recommend the career to others? Definitely. You get to work with cool equipment that could maim, electrocute, or hurt you in any number of creative ways. It's a great job to have while going to school, because most employers will pay for tuition.

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: Northeast

Occupation: Systems Engineer (performing IT systems design) for a large defense contractor

Education: M.S. in Information Science

2009 Salary:

My salary for 2009 was $101k. I typically make little above my base salary, a few extra grand a year for awards, OT, and travel, but not much. Oddly enough, I was at 97k for the first half of the year, then received the 4k bump by the company because they found that I was underpaid based on their "industry metrics". I'm not complaining, but I know, they're nuts right?

Future Salary Projection: I still have not received my merit for this year, but I suspect it will be 3% or less considering that with each promotion my merit levels have decreased, I have a new manager that doesn't really understand what I contribute, and that whole economy in the toilet thing.

Here is some background of my salary growth since I joined the company --

2009 - $101k (4% for "market adjustment, merit TBD)
2008 - $98k (16.5% for promotion, and 5.5% for merit)
2007 - $77.8k (7.1% merit)
2006 - $72.5k (7.7% merit)
2005 - $67k (9% for promotion and 5% for merit)
2004 - $54k (They claimed that based on my start date in 2003 I did not have enough time in to qualify for merit)
2003 - $54k


Benefits: Full medical, though they have discontinued our HMO and PPO options, and we are now required to use a company managed plan that will cost us thousands of dollars a year more. Three weeks vacation, 10 or so floating holidays, and a flexible work schedule. 401k with 8% match, and a theoretical 50% pension that will no doubt be obliterated before I retire.

What's the job like?

Since we are technically contracted to the government or other customers, the work experience can be very different depending on your project. In the case of mine, providing IT infrastructure for a software development project has its ups and downs. We're not viewed as commodity resources as some non-IT companies tend to do, but we are still less valued than the actual developers, since it's their product that keeps the checks coming in. I love getting to design new systems and research and learn new technologies, but as is common in any large "institution" type setting, 10% of the people do 90% of the work. It can be hard to bear that weight on your shoulders, and it's not for everyone.

Would you recommend the career to others?

If you truly love to learn and constantly build your skills, these large companies are a great place to work. Even if you are unhappy with what you are doing, chances are there is a new project or activity somewhere doing something very different and you can learn new skills.

That being said, I have sensed a new trend that as you move up, you are expected to give up the technical expertise, and become a project monkey (no offense to the good project monkeys out there). They seem to be devaluing highly experienced technical experts, and expect those with history to "lead" (i.e. collect status and make charts, not real leadership), while back-filling the technical roles with newer cheaper out of college hires.

zhelder, Urban Educator... starring Scott Bakula... Thursdays on CBS.

These threads are pretty enlightening, even if many of the salaries seem to get grossly inflated.

Holy crap you are overpaid. No wonder all the states are broke.

Good thread! Green for you

jkimcpa said: Holy crap you are overpaid.

As opposed to professional athletes...

turtlebug said: jkimcpa said: Holy crap you are overpaid.

As opposed to professional athletes...


Yea...because professional sports is broke and needs a $10 billion bailout.

zhelder said: 2008 Salary: About $72,000

Don't you mean 2009 salary?

Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: Texas
Occupation: Network/Telecommunications Engineer
Education: Some college, no degree plus professional certifications
2009 Salary: $90,000
Future Salary Projection: Probably no increase in 2010, but in 2011 I should receive a 5-7% increase
Benefits: full health, dental insurance costs $10/month, 401k, competitive vacation, but basically very few holidays off
What's the job like? It depends on the day. Most days, there is very little to do, as the systems we have already setup are working fine. That leaves me with a lot of time for surfing places like fatwallet. I probably log in once a week at night to work on something, and maybe once or twice every month will work on a Sunday for a few hours. Days when we are busy, we're very busy though.

There is literally no advancement for my career in the foreseeable future. If I wanted to make more money, I'd either have to go into management (don't want to at this point, too young, and I still have quite a few years left in me as a technologist), or I'd have to take a less stable job. My less stable, I mean I'd have to either work as a consultant on a contract, or work for a start-up, neither of which I really want to do at this point. I'd just like to keep up with the technology in my fields, and work work on saving my money and building my wealth through my investments.

Would you recommend the career to others? Yes. It is essentially a very specialized IT job. Pay is good, most of the time work isn't too hard or demanding.

Urban School Assignment:

What I want to be IF I grow up.

Just to clarify, is that 92K working 9 months a year?

okwiater said: zhelder said: 2008 Salary: About $72,000

Don't you mean 2009 salary?


I think he is giving his salary paid based on a school term August 2007 to June 2008...so when he says 2008 pay he is referring to the August 2008 to June 2009 school term.

Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: WA

Occupation: Tech support

Education: 2 classes short of an AA transfer degree

Salary: Low 40s

Future Salary Projection:

I have been compensated less in nominal terms each of the 4 years I have worked this job. First we lost quarterly bonuses, then we became exempted employees, which eliminated overtime pay. This year we had a series of furloughs. The workload and my skill-set have been increasing, but the pay continues to plummet. The owner explained that our pay was terrible due to economic conditions, but in the same breath said that this was his most profitable year. Gee, I wonder why. This is my motivation to quit and work for myself.

Benefits: 1/2 of a terrible ($400/month) health insurance plan paid for - I opted out and have no insurance. Half of a decent dental plan. 2 weeks paid vacation. Cell phone.

okwiater said: zhelder said: 2008 Salary: About $72,000

Don't you mean 2009 salary?


Yup. Fixed. Sorry about that!

insanehero said: okwiater said: zhelder said: 2008 Salary: About $72,000

Don't you mean 2009 salary?


I think he is giving his salary paid based on a school term August 2007 to June 2008...so when he says 2008 pay he is referring to the August 2008 to June 2009 school term.


When I post my salaries, they are for the CALENDAR year, not the school years, to put myself on equal measurement with most other people. Salary for the current school year would normally be higher than the calendar salary, since 60% of the calendar salary is based on the salary from the previous school year.

redpoint5 said: Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: WA

Occupation: Tech support

Education: 2 classes short of an AA transfer degree

Salary: Low 40s

Future Salary Projection:

I have been compensated less in nominal terms each of the 4 years I have worked this job. First we lost quarterly bonuses, then we became exempted employees, which eliminated overtime pay. This year we had a series of furloughs. The workload and my skill-set have been increasing, but the pay continues to plummet. The owner explained that our pay was terrible due to economic conditions, but in the same breath said that this was his most profitable year. Gee, I wonder why. This is my motivation to quit and work for myself.

Benefits: 1/2 of a terrible ($400/month) health insurance plan paid for - I opted out and have no insurance. Half of a decent dental plan. Cell phone.


Just because someone says you are an exempt, doesn't make it so. Similar to what constitutes a 1099 vs. W-2 relationship, there are similar requirements for what makes an employee an exempt. From a Purdue website:
Examples of non-exempt positions include opticians, customer service workers, pharmacy assistants, office coordinators, skilled trades, technical and clerical, service maintenance, inside sales, production workers, and many others. Employees in these positions often explain procedures, apply policy, are usually supervised, and typically require varying degrees of analytical and interpersonal skills. They are vital in representing the business to the public and in carrying out its activities.

The law defines other occupations as exempt. These positions create, interpret, and apply policy, decide what the organization will do, and exercise discretion about significant matters. Examples include financial analysts, investment counselors, and program administrators. Other exempt occupations may require advanced degrees or the exercise of creativity, such as actors, writers of original publications, social workers, certified public accountants, and scientists. People in executive occupations manage other employees and are also exempt.

pthor1231 said: redpoint5 said: Gender: Male

Age: 28

Location: WA

Occupation: Tech support

Education: 2 classes short of an AA transfer degree

Salary: Low 40s

Future Salary Projection:

I have been compensated less in nominal terms each of the 4 years I have worked this job. First we lost quarterly bonuses, then we became exempted employees, which eliminated overtime pay. This year we had a series of furloughs. The workload and my skill-set have been increasing, but the pay continues to plummet. The owner explained that our pay was terrible due to economic conditions, but in the same breath said that this was his most profitable year. Gee, I wonder why. This is my motivation to quit and work for myself.

Benefits: 1/2 of a terrible ($400/month) health insurance plan paid for - I opted out and have no insurance. Half of a decent dental plan. Cell phone.


Just because someone says you are an exempt, doesn't make it so. Similar to what constitutes a 1099 vs. W-2 relationship, there are similar requirements for what makes an employee an exempt. From a Purdue website:
Examples of non-exempt positions include opticians, customer service workers, pharmacy assistants, office coordinators, skilled trades, technical and clerical, service maintenance, inside sales, production workers, and many others. Employees in these positions often explain procedures, apply policy, are usually supervised, and typically require varying degrees of analytical and interpersonal skills. They are vital in representing the business to the public and in carrying out its activities.

The law defines other occupations as exempt. These positions create, interpret, and apply policy, decide what the organization will do, and exercise discretion about significant matters. Examples include financial analysts, investment counselors, and program administrators. Other exempt occupations may require advanced degrees or the exercise of creativity, such as actors, writers of original publications, social workers, certified public accountants, and scientists. People in executive occupations manage other employees and are also exempt.

It's a good point to look into whether you are truly an exempt employee or not.

Here is more detai on FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) from a law firm and how to determine if an employee is exempt or not.

Here is some information from the same source about FLSA and computer workers:

There is no general exemption for employees who "work with computers." Many employees in the computer industry, or who work with computers in their jobs, will not be exempt employees. The following types of work are not likely to be exempt: Keeping tape libraries, inputting data, preparing flow charts or diagrams showing the order in which a computer must perform operations, preparing operator instructions, running computers, fixing computers (including "debugging"), staffing "help desks" (or "help lines").

Computer workers may be exempt under any of the "white collar exemptions," as bona fide executive or administrative employees. (See, FLSA Coverage.) For example, a "network administrator" may be performing administratively exempt job duties. There are, in addition, some special rules which apply to employees who work with computers and permit them to be classified as exempt even if they don't meet the usual requirements for exempt executives or administrators. However, there are special provisions which exempt some computer employees who might not otherwise qualify as "professionally" exempt. These include systems analysts, programmers (who "write code"), or software engineers. More specifically, the special computer employee exemption applies to workers who apply systems analysis techniques and procedures to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications, or who design, develop, test or modify computer systems or programs based on user or design specifications.

The special computer employees exemption does not include workers whose primary duties are manufacturing or repair of computer hardware, nor employees who are not primarily engaged in systems analysis, programming or software engineering even if their jobs are highly dependent on using computers. (An example might be drafters who use computer-aided design software.)

Workers who meet the standards of the special computer employee regulations need not be paid on a salary basis to be exempt. The salary tests as applied to computer workers permit them to be paid either at least $23,600 per year ($455 per week) on a salary basis, or on an hourly basis at a rate not less than $27.63 per hour.

Assuming your employer must meet FLSA requirements and depending on your specific job duties, you might indeed be non-exempt. The employer can't simply change how you are paid and call you exempt. The problem is that there are lots of loopholes as the two links show.

I've always found these threads to be interesting. I've put in links to previous threads and also posted a template to use in the quick summary.

edit: oops I copied in the "2008 Salary" instead of "2009"

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: Boston

Occupation: Chemical Engineer

Education: BS ChemEng, 16 credits MS

2009 Salary: $95,000

Future Salary Projection: 2-3% bumps for the next five years is my guess...no big promotion in sight (just had one)

Benefits: Medical, dental, 2 weeks vaca (get 3rd week this year), small 401k match

What's the job like?: 9 hrs a day with every other Fri off (9/80). This is really nice. Little need to work OT, OT paid but generally only charged if it is excessive (> 4 hrs per week). Design work at the desk, not a bad gig overall.

Would you recommend the career to others? The biggest downside is job security, we are consultants, and if the work dries up the company will not keep you on. I was given my 2 weeks notice this year, then had it rescinded once we secured additional work.

Interesting read OP, I am considering moving to teaching somewhere in the next decade as I think I have more passion for that.

jkimcpa said: Holy crap you are overpaid. No wonder all the states are broke.

I don't think it's fair to say that when you probably don't know how hard it is to work with underprivileged kids. I have a roommate who does something similar and it is definitely not an easy job and not something just any teacher/person can do.

gunsharp said: jkimcpa said: Holy crap you are overpaid. No wonder all the states are broke.

I don't think it's fair to say that when you probably don't know how hard it is to work with underprivileged kids. I have a roommate who does something similar and it is definitely not an easy job and not something just any teacher/person can do.


It's hard to scrub toilets all day but custodial engineers make very little money.

Gender: Male

Age: 28-30

Location: NYC

Occupation: Worked in education and financial services, accepted any project that paid >$80/hr

Education: PhD economics

2009 Compensation: $220-250K

Spending a few years working as an entrepreneur is great training before starting one's career. I recently accepted a permanent position, but still consider myself an entrepreneur within the larger organization.

markettimer said: Gender: Male

Age: 28-30

Location: NYC

Occupation: Worked in education and financial services, accepted any project that paid >$80/hr

Education: PhD economics

2009 Compensation: $220-250K

Spending a few years working as an entrepreneur is great training before starting one's career. I recently accepted a permanent position, but still consider myself an entrepreneur within the larger organization.
So you are not sure how old you are?

LOL

Gender: Male
Age: 48
Location: Boston
Occupation: Retired as of 7/09
Education: I think I graduated High School
2009 Salary: $61k working then $15,594 of Unemployment
Future Salary Projection: $52,000 more in Unemployment
Benefits: Sleep late, Sex in the afternoon, Go to beach and no worries
What's the job like? Great
Would you recommend the career to others? No, I need you to keep working to pay my unemployment benefits

Age: 33

Location: Ohio

Occupation: Pharmacy Student on our last year rotations

Education: Doctor Of Pharmacy degree anticipated in June; B.S molecular biology/chemistry back in 1998.

2008 Salary: ~$12K from 2 internships

Future Salary Projection: (2010) PGY-1 Pharmacy resident ~$40k; (2011) Clinical pharmacist ~$100-110K

Benefits: student benefits

What's the job like? Endless and long studying cessions until the final year of pharmacy school. Working 2 internships at an emergency department and a retail pharmacy, making enough to pay everything except the tuition. The final year of pharmacy school is doing a series of month-long full-time rotations in retail/hospital/ambulatory care practices. Next year's residency is basically a series of clinical practice rotations and research projects, working 60+ hour a week while getting paid peanuts.

Would you recommend the career to others? I would tell you that retail pharmacy and clinical pharmacy is totally different. I hate my internship in the retail pharmacy, which largely endless dispensing and dealing with troublesome insurance/patients. While my internship in the emergency department is quite intellectually stimulating, if you don't mind the gore and deaths. Also had good experience with ambulatory care clinics on my rotations so far. The pay in the end is pretty good, and there is no glass ceiling like with my last B.S degree. The down side is you have to put up with an immense amount studying that takes many years. 4 years of pharmacy school will also run you about ~$70-$80K in tuition and fees.

Age: 24
Location: TN
Occupation: Mailroom/Inventory
Education: BA Business
2009 Salary: $34,000
Future Salary Projection: $35,000
Benefits: 401k match, health care, etc.
What's the job like? Boring, irritating, mundane. Trying to get my boss to push me to another department or a place I can actually move forward and get paid more.
Would you recommend the career to others? Not a career.

AgeGender: male

Age: 27

Location: NJ

Occupation: Research Associate Scientist in mid-size biopharmaceutical inc. (1.5 years of experience in industry)

Education: BA in molecular biology and biochemistry; BA in mathematics

2008 Salary: 54000, i get no OT nor most holidays off

Future Salary Projection: 85-90000 plus bonus Reasearch Scientist III, IV or 100k-140k as associate director in big biopharm like genetech, amgen CA, imclone NY, biogen MA); starting around 65000 if i pursue bioinformatics with my combination bio and math degree BA; i received 8% raise 2008 and i'm expecting another at least 8% raise in salary plus bonus this year as well due to my performance work and bump to research scientist I.

Benefits: full, biopharmaceutical medical, dental, vision only $25 a month; 401k matching 6% salary dollar4dollar

What's the job like? not much, a lot of down time. i work supposedely from 7:30 to 4 pm, but i get to work just before 9 am and i always leave by 4 pm due to traffic concerns (i live 35 miles away one way; i stay as late as 7 pm couple times a year) i get about 4 weeks of paid vacation and company shut down inbetween xmas and new years. once i get to work, i drink lots of coffee, check my email, check fatwallet and plan the days' work. so with 1 - 1.5 hours of lunch that i take everyday, that leaves me about 6 hours of work. of the 6 hours, i honestly only work like 3 hours. i plan so i can multitask different experiments so i can get them done within the 3 hours. the rest of the times? honestly, i chit chat, i play soccer, basketball, football around our campus with the younger guys, i'm on fatwallet like i'm an addict.

Would you recommend the career to others? there's a lot of down time. immunization of mice/rats needs to be done at least twice, that's about 3-4 weeks. ELISA takes about 1 hour of work at most spread about 4 hours. cell culture is minimal since you count to get the viable cell density, input in your excel work sheet and finish them off in about 0.5 to 1 hour of work (using asceptic techniques). i wish to work for bigger than life biopharmaceuticals to achive more challenge and to keep my passion ongoing. i heard there's a lot of politics involved in big pharmas but i don't really care for that as i get along with anyone and everyone. i would rather have work than have to sit and watch fatwallet and check my financial balances. people are great in my company, it's just that there's not much work to do hands on. i'm supposed to be reading scientific papers and analyzing them and planning my next great project, but i don't do that since i have my supervisor and my dept. director to do that. basically i'm just a lab rat, lab technician with a better title i suppose. in terms of OT, i don't get any, and bonus is big about 4-5% salary plus stock options but since i don't get 1.5 OT, i don't try to overwork myself. in terms of holidays, i work most holidays: i have cells that need to be kept healthy and alive so mondays and fridays are my days, which is most holidays. however, i only have to go in for like an hour or two and i get paid days off work for those holiday days. i've work 12/24, 12/28 and will work tomorrow 12/31 and will get 6 days of additionaly paid vacation for next year. finally, i would definetely recommend people to work in biopharm field as there's job security, pay is decent, benefits are better than econ companies, hours are very flexible once making salary, and it's load of fun (in the beginning) and its terribly boring at the end (now, there's no more challenge and learning curve degrades exponentially with it your passion). basically i'm just working to get the paycheck.

Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: SF Bay Area
Occupation: Grad student
Education: Just earned MS in Computer Science
2008 Salary: $24,000 (working as a TA/RA)
Future Salary Projection: Accepted a job paying $95,000 starting next year
Benefits: As a TA I got full medical/dental although I didn't really use it so I can't comment on how good it is
What's the job like? Taking classes as a student, teaching undergrads in discussion sections, grading homework/tests, etc. Most people probably know what this is like.
Would you recommend the career to others?If you are interested in further education or to try doing research it is a good idea. I can't recommend it in terms of earning more if you already have a BS in a related area and good experience.

Gender: F
Age: 26
Location: Missouri
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Education: BS
2008 Salary: 56K
Future Salary Projection: 59K (if we get raises next year)
Benefits: vision, medical, dental, 401K match, and $25 per month to a pension plan. $5 added to that monthly 25 for every year with the company.
What's the job like? I work in a casting plant so in the summer if it's 95 outside, it's around 110 inside areas of the plant. It's a miserable job during the really hot weeks in summer. Towards the end of Sept it gets better. I make sure the process is easy for a person to do. If it makes defects or is hard to accomplish, I find a way to make it easier. Overall try to keep people from getting hurt (automate a process-soon I get to play with robots. Yes I'm a nerd) or making bad parts.
Would you recommend the career to others? If you have people skills, yes. If you're the type of person people feel comfortable coming up to to tell of a problem you're set. Some of my managers have the people skills of a chair. So far I have not really used my degree-I didn't have many casting courses so most of what I've learned has been from the actual job. My CAD skills have given me an edge over the engineers who haven't had that sort of training though. Also you have to think quick sometimes-if a huge problem arises, it's up to the engineer to find out why it's happening and how to solve it asap.

Gender: Male
Age: 33
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Government Employee
Education: BA
2009 Salary: $89000
Future Salary Projection: In the current position I will receive raises every other year along with a yearly Cost of Living Increase.
Benefits: 401k, Pension Plan, Health Insurance is mostly covered by employer, Sick and Vacation time also provided
What's the job like? My job is different than most within the government agency I work for, mostly because I help develop software used by the individuals who actually do the work. I myself did the work in the past so I provide technical guidance to programmers along with testing the software being developed.
Would you recommend the career to others? I'm never going to be wealthy, but will always be very comfortable. There are decisions that are made by those in charge that seem to be based on little more than a whim. However, I'm not sure how much this differs from any other job. I would not recommend this job to someone who sees their job as and end, but if you view your job as a means to an end it becomes more tolerable.

Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: SoCal
Occupation: Development Engineer at a medical device startup
Education: BS in biomedical engineering
2009 Salary: 50k
Future Salary Projection: 55k in 2010 (just got a raise!), who knows beyond that but there is not much room for promotion unless the company takes off
Benefits: medical/dental/vision, SIMPLE IRA, stock options, small company feel

What's the job like? It varies, and wildly. As a startup we only have a handful of engineers and no technicians, which means I can do anything from design work to manufacturing to mundane cleaning. It also means that we are very focused on getting a product to market, so if that product is at an external vendor then things slow down--and when it returns things move amazingly fast. I'll go through phases that require significant computer work (Excel mostly, some research/experiment design), but generally spend at least half of my day in a lab setting.

Would you recommend the career to others? I would recommend the small company engineering experience to others. I co-oped at a large company so I have a bit of a feeling what that is like. The small company/startup is much different but I enjoy it. I like how varied my tasks are, which keeps work from getting boring and keeps me learning new things all the time. I enjoy that my manager is one level below the company president and that I can meet with them almost any time I like. The downside to this is that there is not much room for promotion--ideally, we will all be promoted when the company sells or IPOs and we exercise our options.

Gender: Male

Age: 30

Location: Shreveport, LA

Occupation: Ophthalmology resident, PGY-4 (eye surgeon)

Education: BS, MD

2009 Salary: $49,000

Future Salary Projection: $56,000 as a cornea fellow next year; likely around $300,000 once established in practice

Benefits: Half of medical plan paid, small disability paid, 4 weeks paid vacation, educational stipend for meetings, meal card

What's the job like? I'm in my last year of residency and split my time roughly 50/50 between being in clinic and being in the OR. My days start at 7 and last until the last patient is seen. Work roughly 60h/week, although there is variability in there. I'm on call every other night right now, but I'm high enough up the food chain that my underlings see the routine calls. I only come in when they need help or if we're OR bound. For an MD, it's one of the more family-friendly specialties.

Would you recommend the career to others?
It's interesting to look back on my previous answers to these questions from prior threads. I think the days of becoming a doctor for money, power, and chicks are waning. I would have to think long and hard about doing it over again. However, I am happy where I am right now though and the future only looks brighter. If you decide to become an MD, ophthalmology is without a doubt one of the best fields out there.

Gender: M

Age: 27

Location: Colorado

Occupation: Mechanical Design Engineer

Education: MS ME

2009 Salary: $66k (pay reduced 10% for the year)

Future Salary Projection: Just got a raise to about $80k, effective in the new year. In good years we will get about 10-15% profit sharing bonus on top of salary.

Benefits: med/dental/vision, 401k, ESPP (15% discount)

What's the job like?: Design at a large corporation, but divisions are run like small companies, so I have to wear a lot of hats. Sometimes this is unpleasant (lots of drafting, manual QA, etc) but usually it means I get to do a little of everything. Always chances to learn lots more. I work about 50 hours per week, and that's more than 80% of engineers. Last year was very unpleasant with pay freezes, many layoffs, etc. However, things seem to be better and the benefits are coming back.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Definitely a good career, but I'm worried about future prospects (long term). Corporate America is hell-bent on outsourcing everything outside of the US, no matter the costs (???). I am confident that my skill set is very solid and I know for a fact that it takes about 4 engineers in Asia to replace every US engineer. However, every recession leads to layoffs, and the rehires seem to all be in different countries. Generally people know if they want to be an engineer--it takes a certain type.

Gender: female

Age: 37

Location: FL

Occupation: Bank loan processor
Education: B.S. in Health field

2009 Salary: $23,000/year

Future Salary Projection: double my current and then some?

Benefits: none since it's a temporary job after I was laid off/office closed down. Made $41K @ previous job
What's the job like? Job's easy, but far from home, $50 in toll/month, no benefits: no paid vacations, health insurance etc.


Would you recommend the career to others? Uhm, would u? Took this job 'cause couldn't find anything else after getting laid off and applied for NUMEROUS jobs. Have been looking all year... I'm part of the Florida 11.5% un/underemployed. Have a son and mortgage etc.

These threads always seem like a spot for people to brag about their supposed large salaries.. notice the average in here is much higher than the gen. pop.


I'll add my two cents in.

Male / Mid 20s

Exp - 5+ years as a software support guy

Location - Suburbia

Salary - 50k

Benefits - 100% medical, 4wks paid time off

Education - BS, certificate, a few certifications.

Job - Easy. I've always been able to master just about anything software-related.. 8hrs a day, travel about 8 days a year.

Future - Who knows? Capable of much more, but don't need the stress in my life.

BoxingJ said: These threads always seem like a spot for people to brag about their supposed large salaries.. notice the average in here is much higher than the gen. pop.

I'll add my two cents in.

Male / Mid 20s

Exp - 5+ years as a software support guy

Location - Suburbia

Salary - 50k

Benefits - 100% medical, 4wks paid time off

Education - BS, certificate, a few certifications.

Job - I've always had a knack for computers.. 8hrs a day, travel about 8 days a year.

Future - Who knows? Capable of much more, but don't need the stress in my life.



You're right. And that's one of the major reasons why I debated whether I should start a new thread this year. If the only people participating are ones who have salaries well above average for their fields, then how much of a resource could this thread actually be?

With that being said, however, so far there seems to be a more realistic balance of salaries in this year's thread than in the past. I'm hoping that will continue!

Gender: M
Age: 24
Location: NC
Occupation: Corp Finance
Education: BS Finance
2009 Salary: 65k base
Future Salary Projection: 2010-2011 est 80-85k base
Benefits: 401k, 4 wk vacation, 10 sick days, flex time, health, dental, vision
What's the job like? Analytical and stressful. Decisions that impact well heeled clients and billions of dollars moving around. Fast paced and constant demand to understand and keep up working with highly intelligent folks.
Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely, if you have a true interest in finance.

Skipping 171 Messages...
Bump because I'm curious.



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