Career Thoughts and Compensation 2007 - Past, Present and Future

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Last year 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. Last year's thread became quite lengthy and a lot of people contributed a lot of great information about their careers. Since last year's thread was quite successful, I thought I'd start another one this year. If this year's thread is a success, I'll make it an annual tradition.

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 2007? Maybe each person can give a brief description of themselves, their job, their education levels, and their salaries, present and maybe even proejcted salaries for the future. Since I'm starting this stuff, I guess I have to bite first:

Gender: Male
Age: 35
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
2007 Salary: $66,000
Future Salary Projection: With extra duties after school and an expected raise in Sep. '08, I expect to make about $75K for 2008, with regular increases each year after that. If I can get some summer work in my district, I could possibly hit $80K. I expect to make about $100K within the next 5 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)

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.

The political games that are played in urban districts can drain even the toughest people. Last year, in a game of Chicken that my district played with the state, the district planned to layoff all non-tenured teachers and many other employees because they were not happy with the budget they received from the state for the '07-'08 school year. They actually sent termination notices to these people. Eventually an agreement was reached, and most people were recalled back. But the whole process took a toll on everyone, and some people (mostly custodians, security guards, etc.) permanently lost their jobs because of this fiasco.

If you 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.

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.

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Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: Bay Area, CA
Occupation: Big Four - Audit - 1st year associate
Education: BA Accounting, MS A... (more)

s0meguy (Apr. 14, 2008 @ 10:47p) |

Gender: Female
Age: 26
Location: CA
Occupation: Senior Tax Accountant at a Big 4 accounting firm
Education: B.S. at a UC
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jookie82 (Jul. 08, 2008 @ 6:39p) |

Gender: Male
Age: 29
Location: LA
Occupation: BizDev/Content Programming & Marketing Manager
Education: Econ at a UC
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Gender: male
Age: 31
Location: IL
Occupation: Corporate Senior Tax Accountant
Education: BS-Accountancy, MS-Taxation, CPA
2007 Salary: Approx $85K
Future Salary projection: It depends...See below
Benefits: no bonus, Mediocre 401(k) match, mediocre health insurance(luckily my wife's employer has a top notch plan, so I don't participate in mine). Good vacation and sick time. Very reputable onsite daycare center, literally five minute drive from my home.

What's the job like: Typical corporate job with the typical corporate BS. I manage all the tax audits for my company. Basically just dealing with different state tax auditors each day, working with different personalities, applying my technical knowledge of the associated tax law.

2007 has been pretty weird for me. This job is actually a step down from my prior position as a corporate tax manager with a 25% paycut. However our first child was born in July so I wanted to spend more time with her. My wife also has a solid career and wanted to continue working as well. Unfortunately, it would be financially difficult for one of us to quit and stay at home full time. With this job, my daughter is enrolled in my employer's excellent onsite daycare center and is literally in the building next door to me during the day. I pick her up at 4pm everyday and we are home by 4:15 for some daddy-baby time.

While this job is ideal for me from a family persective, I am having difficulty being a "slug" again since their is little chance for promotion/bonus/career growth in my current position. While I am able to continue gaining career experience, I often find myself missing the manager duties of being in control of a department and being able to make decisions (along with the salary and annual bonus potential, of course).

I foresee myself continuing in this path for '08 and '09 and then possibly making the jump to one stay at home parent if we decide to have more children. (it is sooo worth it to spend time with my daughter!...I never thought having kids could be so cool!)

For anyone looking to enter this field (state and local corporate tax) it offers very solid pay and benefits for those with excellent qualifications (Big 4 accounting experience, CPA, etc.) I highly recommend starting your career with one of the big accounting/consulting firms, if possible. Overall, I am glad that I entered this field,started with the Big 4, and earned my advanced degree/cpa, as it will allow me to always find a decent paying job in the corporate or consulting/public accounting world.

If I get back on the manager track, I should be able to top out in the $125K salary range, not including substantial annual bonus potential. However, this career will also require substantial seasonal overtime (at quarter-end and year-end), thus the need, IMO, for a stay at home parent.(I'm not big on nannies and unfortunately we do not have any reliable family nearby).

Gender: Male

Age: 35

Location: Midwest

Occupation: Finance Director

Education: BS - Chemistry & Mathematics, MBA - Corporate Finance

2008 Salary: $155K

Future Salary projection: $195K (including bonus... not guaranteed 100%)

Benefits: No pension (do they still exist for those under the age of 40?!), Great 401(k) match (7% of base salary if I contribute 5%), high-deductible health insurance, 3 weeks of vacation, 12 paid holidays, reasonable sick time.

What's the job like: High stress, long hours. Divisional finance leadership role. Lots of budgeting and strategic planning work.

I took the role under the auspices of work-life balance... and just recently had my lighest work week so far: 50 hours.

Most weeks I work 55-60 hours, but I do get Sundays off. I only work sporadically on Saturdays, so most weekends are (more or less) my own.

Unfortunately, I don't have the level of accountability or authority I had in my previous role... even though my total compensation is similar.

On a positive note, we're a single-income household, and this career is one where you can have a fairly stable, high income.

I'm slightly more advanced than the average person of my age and background, but the average person with 10 years of finance experience is usually a manager by now and makes between $80-120K. Upward mobility flattens at around my level (Director), with many Directors holding that title for 5 years or more. At the VP level, total income usually exceeds $300K and averages around $400K.

For those interested in this as a career: An MBA from a top 25 school really, really helps. I was making $28K with a year of experience, no bonus, mediocre benefits, limited upward mobility. My 1st year post-MBA earnings: $85K. 10 years later, I'm making 5x more money on a real dollar basis, although I'm also working an extra 10-15 hours every week.

Given the high levels of stress and the educational requirements, future opportunities are strong. Most finance folks wander in and out of the financial track and/or their company. I don't have hard data, but I would guess that 2 out of 3 financial workers at the Director level and below switch companies, jobs within a company or their role within finance within any 3 year period.

The ability to make as much or more money with less stress and more prestige in other functional areas also keeps the financial revolving door turning; you may be able to go into investment banking after 10-15 years of experience if you want to live in NYC or San Fran and have an opportunity to make $1M+ after a few years of 70+ hour weeks. Competition for these positions is extremely fierce.

Bottom line: You can make a decent living in finance, but I don't know of anyone who works fewer than 45 hours a week... and most of us are 50+ hours on a consistent basis, and even more during budget season.

Do you have the link for last year's thread? I could not find it. I appreciate this thread as I'm 22 and really at the stage that I have to do something with my life and I have absolutely no idea what I "really" want to do, and what's economically feasible.
Thanks for this post =)

Gender: Male
Age: 25
Location: CO
Occupation: Webmaster/DBA (Intranet)
Education: BA, State School
2007 Salary: $52,500
Future Salary Projection: 60k 2008, with annual adjustments 3%-6% and 6-12% increases for levels every 2-5 years and one-time MBA increase of 10-20%.
Hired in from college Jan 2006 at 45k. Went through one annual merit cycle increase to start '07 (4.5%), then a promotion to level 2 in April (7%), then a title change in September (4%). The title change moved me up 3 pay brackets from general IT worker to developer, so my old midpoint is now near the minimum. I hope to move to midpoint(60k) with the merit cycle or with an equity adjustment after the merit cycle concludes. If not i will likely try to move to another division and move to midpoint in the transfer, but it would be a shame to loose the goodwill i have in the current position.
Benefits: Medical, Dental, Vision, etc. 401k and Roth 401k, free 3% plus up to 4% match at 8% employee (so 7% company contribution at 8% employee).

What's the job like?
I'm the goto person for most IT requests, but i mainly focus on running our intranet website and web applications. I was a one man team for most of my first two years, but i have since been given a resource i can dump menial tasks on. I don't work over 40 hours, and its actually quite discouraged due to our customer (govt.). I work for a small division of a large company, so we act small for most things, but have deep pockets when needed. We have an aging work force that can barely use excel, so pretty much any technology i suggest implementing has confused nods in response.

Would you recommend the career to others?
IT at a fortune 500 company is pretty good. In college I interned at HP before this and it is not much different at my current job. I came in with mostly Microsoft product experience from school and had the opportunity to learn enterprise tools on the job (oracle, J2EE, etc).

Gender: Male
Age: 23
Location: NV
Occupation: Electronics Technician
Education: A.A.S. Electronics, 45 cr (and counting) from BS EE
2007 Salary: $70,000
Future Salary Projection: Possibility of lead and/or senior technican nets 10% each. This would net 85K, but by the time i would make senior w/lead, i'll have my bachelors.

Benefits: Good medical/dental/life/ad&d for a modest amount. 18 days sick and personal time plus 11 paid holidays, employer matches 100% up to 6% in my 401k. Job security is very good - company has had no sizable RIF's in its 50+ year history. They are paying for education including books, up to 7500/year (this covers 100%)

What's the job like?

Mentally challenging. Working with high voltage and radiation can be hazardous. I work every other saturday, so I average about 46h a week. It can be boring at times, long tests with not much to keep one busy, but this is not characteristic of the field of electronics as a whole.

Would you recommend the career to others?

This is an excellent career to use as a stepping stone to electrical engineering or physics. The majority of employers will pay for continuing education. Electronics is among the best paying field for those with associate degrees. This is an ideal field for young people, because many school districts offer high school classes that will count towards an associates in electronics. I know many 19 year olds that have landed jobs making 70k+ w/ modest overtime.

sedition00 said: Do you have the link for last year's thread? I could not find it. I appreciate this thread as I'm 22 and really at the stage that I have to do something with my life and I have absolutely no idea what I "really" want to do, and what's economically feasible.
Thanks for this post =)

Here's the link to last year's thread:


Gender: Male
Age: 26
Location: IL
Occupation: Technology Director
Education: B.B.A, Management Information Systems (A+ 04/2005, CCNA by 01/2008, MCSE by 6/2008 and possibly grad school fall 2008)
2007 Salary: $51,500
Future Salary Projection: I want to be in the 60s at my end of year review with the usual increases after that. I know that may sound ambitious but realistically, that's what this job should pay and unfortunately I jumped in without really knowing the scope of the position nor was I informed about anything.
Benefits: Full medical, dental, vision, great vacation time + whatever holidays and breaks the students get for the most part, an OK retirement plan, a little tuition reimbursement and professional development.

What's the job like?

Incredibly difficult. Before I took this job, I worked at a small nonprofit making crap for what I did so I took this position because I wanted to experience and learn more and I felt like my career was going nowhere fast at my old employer. This job definitely turned out to be bigger than I thought or was told it would be. If I had a clear understanding of what I was about to undertake, I would have negotiated into the 60s but I was naive. This position was neglected since it's inception so I had to redesign the position. I had to step up to the roles of manager, planner, analyst, implementation specialist, you name it. I am my department so I have to perform end user support (250 workstations/laptops, maybe 900 users total including students), system and network administration, planning, implementation, negotiating with providers and vendors daily, auditing, strategic planning, budgeting, blah blah blah. Whats funny is, I LOVE IT.. It's highly stressful because when I came in, my predecessor left behind a mess like none other. On top of that my superiors knew they needed to invest some big money but they were dragging their feet like hell but I kept shouting and finally we put some money into it and now we're actually running a pretty robust network, fully redundant and reliable with more to come in 2008.

All that aside because the technical side of things I can handle, but this is a drastic shift in environments for me going from corporate/nonprofit to education. Teachers are definitely a different bunch and so it's been quite the adjustment trying to understand exactly how and why things work the way they do. I'm basically a change agent and so unfortunately, I get to take all the backlash about even the simplest, albeit necessary changes. I'm unsure whether or not I can stay in education for a long period of time because of the way education works, I feel like I may end up at another nonprofit, or maybe even corporate in a few years unless things progressively get better. I was hired, along with a few others in various departments to bring about change within the administration and so because of that I feel like an outsider sometimes. Although, I don't think i'd ever want to be an insider among some of the people i've had to work with.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes yes yes I love it. It's so fulfilling being able to do what you want and make your goals happen. The one thing I can say is if IT isn't what you want to do with your life, DON'T DO IT, find some way to do what you love. I didn't sit around and wait for someone to find me, I got out there and I worked on my resume day and night. I realized I was performing the work of a network administrator but was given the title of helpdesk and the pay of an intern so I worded out exactly what I did daily and then translated that to my resume. It works everytime because I was getting callbacks within minutes of submitting my resume. It finally came down to having 3 interviews in one day (one at 9AM, another at 11AM, and another at 2:30PM) all on public transit so it cost me $7 that day to land 2 job offers, both paying > 60% more than I made at the time. The other job offer paid a little more than the position I accepted, and the reason I accepted the lower paying one was because I felt like this would be exactly what I need for my career right now. There's so much to learn and so here I am.

My second passion in life is cooking, I do it at home everyday and i'm trying to find a way to make that a bigger part of my life. Whether that means I go to culinary school or whether I continue entertaining and maybe someday catering, I don't know yet but until then, i'll keep up the cocktail parties....

Gender: Male
Age: 39
Location: Atlanta
Occupation: Air Traffic Control Specialist
Education: None, unless you count my GED that I got in 1988
2007 Salary: $162,000
Future Salary Projection: Substantially less because I plan to work little to no overtime. My base pay including holidays and nights is roughly $145,000.

What's the job like?

I work at an en route air traffic control center which essentially controls the airspace between major airports. My paricular area of responsibility feeds arrivals to and receives departures from Atlanta, it is arguably the busiest airspace in the nation (atlanta is the busiest airport).

I tell people that my job is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. It is every bit as stressful as people think it is, but thankfully for short periods of time. I have been employed 17 years and have loved every bit of 15 of them. Recently it has been very difficult to get time off or shifts that I need because of a staffing crisis that has made the news recently. It will only get worse in 2008 and 2009 until recently hired controllers get trained up (it takes 3 to 4 years). Executive level management is also basically at war with us making an already stressful situation just a little more stressful. The things that keep me going are 1) my wife can stay home, 2) I can retire at 47...maybe, and 3) with my lack of education I have no other options.

Would I recommend it to others?

This is a tough question....a few years ago I would have recommended my job. Now I probably wouldn't. In 2006, the FAA broke off contract negotiations and rammed new work and pay rules down our throats (with the inaction of Congress or the Courts). Trainees now make literally dirt, something like $15 an hour. Most trainees are living with parents or bunking together like migrant workers to make ends meet. When they do complete training, the new pay structure will pay them roughly $40,000 less a year than controllers that came in a few years ago. The job is simply not worth it at that pay rate, and trainees are quitting in droves.

Pay considerations aside, the job is rewarding to a small segment of the population and just impossible to grasp to most unfortunately. This job takes the concept of multi-tasking to a new level. You need to be able to converse with your assistant, converse with other facilities, take moronic direction from your supervisor, monitor your equipment, and traverse up to 30 aircraft safely and efficiently through your sector of responsibility. This job isn't for everyone and your compatibility has nothing to do with your education. You get thorough training to be sure but at the end of the day, you've either got it or you don't.

The Future?

I would absolutely quit this job tomorrow if I could afford to. People are quitting this job in droves, whether it's through retirements, taking desk jobs or 'promotions', or out right quitting. Those that are left are being worked to the bone, with no regard for our health or personal lives. I will be eligible in 8 years to retire and I'm setting myself up financially to do just that.

Gender: Male
Age: Late 20s
Location: MT
Occupation: At Home Dad
Education: BA Mathematics, School of Life General Degree
2007 Salary: $0
Future Salary Projection: Although my job is quite secure and I have excellent relations with my "boss(es)" I do not expect a raise in 2008.
Benefits: Love, watching your child grow

What's the job like?

A good part of my day involves taking care of the kid and doing household chores like cooking and cleaning. How I structure my day is largely up to me though, and if the kid's asleep I've been known to pop a beer and put my feet up. Afternoon naps are not out of the question either.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes, but it's not for everyone. Raising your kids can be incredibly rewarding. I've only been at this 7 months but it's some of the best work I've ever done, and I expect it to only get better. There's a lot of downsides to this career though. The job requires a lot of patience, some days more then others. Social interaction with folks who don't poop in their pants may be limited. It's hard to take time off when you work at home. Many families do not have the financial ability to live off one income. Frankly many folks would be bored as heck staying home, and I don't blame them. If you don't find time to get out of the house and away from your family you will go crazy.

Gender: Male
Age: 21
Location: FL
Occupation: Sales Rep for major cell phone provider
Education: In the process of getting my associates
2007 Salary: $37,xxx

Future Salary Projection: My job is over half commission so it does very and im in the process of getting promoted which is 3k more a year plus I get a raise in march so more then likely 42k hopefully a little more if my sales are good.

Benefits: Excellent medical and dental, 401k employer matches up to 5%, 3 weeks of paid time off, pay for my school and my cell plan is only $10 with unlimited everything

What's the job like?

For the most part pretty easy, there are the times when you have a store full of people and irate customers yelling which can be a pain. Most of my day consist of taking payments(i dont know why people dont pay online now a days) activating new customers, upgrading existing customers, trouble shooting phones, teaching old people to use their phone and many other things that deal with peoples cell phones.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes, if you are young and starting out, I do not plan to be doing this my whole life. It is an excellent job while i am in school and i make great money for my age and am able to save a large part of my income. If I do stick with the wireless industry in the future I will be aiming to move to the business side of it where I only deal with medium to large businesses

Gender: Male
Age: 25
Location: Southern CA
Occupation: Copywriter (I mostly write scripts for regional Radio and TV ads)
Education: BA in English Literature from a little known religious liberal-arts college (AKA: The Least Lucrative College Degree Imaginable)
2007 Salary: $35,000
Future Salary Projection: In my market, most Copywriters cap out at about $85k. With my 1 year of experience, I'm about average. If I moved to an national agency, 300k for a senior copywriter isn't unheard of.

Benefits: Full medical and dental, along with an unpredictable bonus and a typically excellent overnight Christmas party.

What's the job like?
I work a 35-37 hour work week. My agency built its offices to impress clients, so I get to work in quite a nice environment. Working at a small advertising agency means that while I don't get the luxury of working on a single client's creative for extended periods of time, I do get to experience just about every part of the advertising business. Often I'll write scripts, meet with clients, direct recording sessions and provide art direction all in the same day, something that a copywriter at a larger agency would never do. There are many projects over which I have almost complete control. The downside of working at a small agency is that you don't get to work on the mind-blowing large multi-million-dollar campaigns.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Absolutely. English degrees aren't particularly lucrative, and if you don't want to head straight to a masters and teaching, you're somewhat limited as to careers that use your degree. I'd much rather be writing advertising copy than editing someone else's writing or working as a technical-writer. Also, I have quite a bit of flexibility in the future. I could move over to the sales side of advertising, go freelance, move to a national agency, start my own agency, work in marketing or move to another creative position.

As long as you can stomach the low-starting pay, it's a brilliant career. I turned down a dental school acceptance for the freedom to not work in people's mouths for the rest of my life. We'll see in a few years if end up regretting that or not.

My solution to offset the low pay: I married a medical student

lenord said: Occupation: Copywriter (I mostly write scripts for regional Radio and TV ads)
So you're on strike now?

kamalktk said: lenord said: Occupation: Copywriter (I mostly write scripts for regional Radio and TV ads)
So you're on strike now?

Nah, advertising writer's aren't eligible WGA members.

Wait, was that a joke?

Gender: Female
Age: 28
Location: Philadelphia
Occupation: Auditor
Education: BS Accounting
2007 Salary: $69,000
Future Salary Projection: I work for the government, so salary increases are pre-set. We typically get a 2-3% cost of living increase each year in addition to climbing the GS wage scale. I hit my next step on GS scale in April and I'll get a $2k raise. If I am promoted to the next grade (competitive), I could see a $10k jump.
Benefits: Alternative work schedule - I work 4 days a week (10 hrs/day), great job security, flexible leave policy, mediocre health benefits, small 401k match, modest pension.

What's the job like?

Overall, it's very laid back. Our office covers the NE region of the US, so there is a fair amount of travel required while performing audit fieldwork. I enjoy the travel - and the per diem money - for now, but I think it will be a lot harder in a few years when we try to start a family. Even though they aren't happy to see me, I enjoy meeting new people at each audit site and learning about different programs. Auditing is challenging because each auditee has a different accounting system and different sets of internal controls. Some audits take a long time until you can fully understand the rules and internal contorls that are in place. There is some satisfaction in making valuable recommendations and/or recovering questioned costs.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes. Auditing is challenging and new projects keep it interesting. I like the gov't for the job security and work/life balance. I could probably make a lot more in the private sector, but the wage is adequate for my needs. After becoming a permanent fed employee (3 years) it is fairly easy to move around in gov't and change careers. The experience I gained also could help me get a job in a big CPA firm specializing in government accounts.

Gender: Female
Age: 24
Location: SF Bay Area
Occupation: Software Project Management/Architecture
Education: B.S. in Computer Science and Minor in Business from a top tier school
2007 Salary: 80k + small bonus (maybe $1-2k) + ~7k in stock at 2nd anniversary of employment, and ~7k at 4th anniversary (at current market value)
Future Salary Projection: My first job out of college was at $50k (in 2004), and I never really expected to be where I am now only 3.5 years later. Between this and the fact that I'm thinking about an MBA, I'm not sure what to predict.
Benefits: good medical and dental with small monthly cost, good employee stock purchase plan (15% discount on lower of beginning or end of period price), 3 weeks paid vacation, unlimited sick days, company-provided life and disability insurance, can bring dogs to work, ability to work remotely as needed

What's the job like? Pretty much your typical (good) corporate job. The hours can be long sometimes, but are pretty flexible. The level of responsibility is fairly high so it can be high-stress at times. Requires talking to, working with, and building relationships with a huge variety of people, internal and external, which can be a bit draining sometimes. Also requires techincal skill and good knowledge of the financial industry. Most importantly, the coworkers are great: always happy to see you, genuinely trying to do what's best for customers, and always willing to help.

Would you recommend the career to others? Absolutely. Not too many people have a combination of the necessary skill (technical, combined with people skills, combined with finance) but for anyone that has them, this is pretty great. The hours and stress levels are very reasonable as compared to some other jobs I could have with the same background (consulting, etc) and the pay is not too much worse.

Gender: male
Age: 32
Location: DC Area
Occupation: Private Equity Investor (within a plan sponsor)
Education: BS Computer Science Eng, BS Finance (Ivy League); MBA & MSMIT (Top 10 School)
2007 Comp: mid $200Ks
Future Salary Projection: same as last year -40% to +50% (high incentive component); goal high $200Ks

Benefits: subsidized health care, pension plan, relatively unlimited expense account, little bureaucracy, HSA, DCSA, tuition reimbursement

What's the job like? Lots of travel (35% of time) everywhere; exposure to over X,XXX private companies annually; board responsibility for several portfolio companies; reviewing and approving governance items; sourcing, managing, and exiting investments for a $x billion portfolio. VERY volatile work hours. Travel weeks can be 70-80 hours. In office weeks can be 40 - 50 hours.

Would you recommend the career to others? Private equity is always a very sought after career. Most think they can handle its stresses and responsibilities because of the financial rewards. However, PE (along with similar careers like IB) has some of the highest divorce rates. Recently, there have been some high profile suicides as well. The business is HIGHLY cyclical and often LIFO with regards to layoffs. It can also be as close as possible to a meritocracy, which means that lack of performance will be recognized much quicker than in other industries. All this said, PE (and in my particular niche) exposes me to global business trends and opportunities, numerous sectors, C-level professionals, and high-stakes betting.

Other activities: I also acquire small businesses and make angel investments. These activities are heavily influenced by the macro-level information I obtain from my career and the resulting investment themes I create. These investments are sporadic and purposefully require minimal attention. The most recent investment, which is a control position in a local business, is generating a few thousand every month.

Gender: male
Age: 25
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Occupation: Technical Sales / Account Manager
Education: BS Math; BS Physics
2007 Comp: 85k + $1.5m in stock (at current valuation). Vests over 4 years but we are not yet public.
Future Salary Projection: Roughly the same ... maybe a 5% bump
Benefits: Fully paid health/dental/vision; free breakfast/lunch/dinner; 4 weeks vacation; ridiculously flexible hours (some days I just don't show up and work from home)

What's the job like? Lots of fun. I work with Fortune 100 companies and help them use our software. We have a lot of attention and lots of people calling us.

In general, I'd say it's the perfect job. I get awesome benefits and the pay is pretty good when everything is put together. It is low stress and high visibility. I get to work directly with our VPs of Sales, Marketing, and Engineering.

I had left another job to join this current startup. At that job, my 2008 pay was going to be 95k + ~33% bonus [was 38% in 2006] + $15k in stock per year. That place also had free food and super flexible hours.

Gender: male
Age: 30
Location: Los Angeles
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Education: BA/MA Political Science (East Coast State School); JD (Top 10 School)
2007 Comp: $375K
Future Salary Projection: Goal of $450K

Benefits: work from home; set own hours; control your own destiny

What's the job like? Lots of phone time; some face time but not as much as you would think; and then the fun stuff like negotiations and paperwork

Would you recommend the career to others? Of course, but only if you have a strong financial safety net and have the ability to connect with well people. Of course you have to be disciplined to be your own boss.

Bottom Line: Wouldn't trade being my own boss for anything and it sure beats the crap of my being a mid-level associate at a multi-national law firm (my previous job a few moons ago)

Gender: Male
Age: 29
Location: Bay Area
Occupation: IT Analyst, supporting a large SAP implementation (BW) at a large F100 company
Education: BS Comp Sci (NJIT - a state public school, free tuition), MBA in progress (Santa Clara University, tuition reimbursed)
2007 salary: ~$100K
Future salary projection: $150K in 5 years

Benefits: 401(k) w/6% matching, tuition reimbursement, unlimited sick time, work from home, 3 weeks vacation, subsidized medical and dental, pension

The job is pretty easy once you get used to the way SAP works. My typical week is 40-45 hours, and I usually work from home (most of the users I support are on the east coast and in Europe). My team typically completes one medium-to-large SAP implementation every 12-18 months, and occasionally there will be a crunch time when 60-70 hour weeks are necessary.

The job requires a mix of technical and business skills, so if you can get experience with SAP or other ERP platforms (not a trivial task), and you are strong in IT and one or more business functions, I highly recommend it. My salary is on the low end for those with strong SAP skills, if you are willing to work yourself silly you can make a lot more.

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: TX
Occupation: Dentist
Education: BA + DDS
2007 Salary: $88k (1 month on vacation w/o pay). No medical/dental (but I have friends)
Future Salary Projection: 300-500k depending on expansion. Currently I am an associate and work for a practice. As such, I do not share in other sources of income (e.g. hygiene dept) and only am paid on work I do. I am opening my own practice in an area of town with excellent demographics and very little competition. I expect to expand and reach max capacity within 3 years.
What's the job like?

I find it pretty fun. Actually I love it and think about it all day. The biggest stress I have is when a procedure runs long for unexpected reasons and it backs up my schedule. I am very efficient and do work very predictably; my diagnosis of how difficult a case will be is right 9/10 times, but sometimes you won't know until you are working on the tooth. In dentistry, it is not the procedures themselves that are hard, but the interaction with patients. I don't intend to be arrogant, but even though I am 2 years out, I far exceed many of my collegues in terms of quality of procedures and skill in explaining treatment. I don't just aim for good results. I aim for great results with high regard to efficiency.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Most definitely. Quality of life is great: full-time is usually 32-36 hours for a dentist. Dentistry does not have managed care like medicine; avg income for a dentist is now above certain MDs. However, it is a very hard career to pursue and enter. There are much more medical schools vs dental schools and classes for dental school are typically half or less of a medical school class (200+ vs 90-100). Competition to enter dental school is high and will require high scores/GPA. I have no regrets about becoming a dentist. I love my job and love seeing my patients.

very interesting - what about the upfront and ongoing costs of running your own practice?

Age: 29
Occupation: Software Developer for major Healthcare company
Location: Midwest
Salary for 2008: 70k + bonus
Education: High school + 3 credits shy of a CS BA (long story)

Benefits: 3.5% matching 401(k), 25 days PTO per year with the opportunity to buy more at current salary and redeem for next year's salary if not used, ESPP at 85% of lowest point (beginning or end of period), tuition reimbursement, work from home, laptop, flex spending account for training and/or educational materials, 80% medical and dental paid

I usually work right at or slightly below 40 hours in the office, depending on what needs to be done. I also log in from home most nights just to make sure everything is alright, but usually don't have to do anything. Sometimes more in the office, depending on what needs to be done or if there is a big project. I also spend a lot of time outside work answering questions and helping others learn about programming since people helped me get where I am today.

Would I recommend it to someone else: Definitely! It does take a lot of analytical skills and lots of SQL and programming experience. If you get bored staring at data or don't like working with people (since it's not a programming shop), it's not for you. Overall, it's the most fun job I've ever had (but I'm a geek!)

Start-up costs for a dental office is extremely high for a small business. Cost for my office is ~450k...all personally financed. It's a very big investment, but the good news is the failure of a dental office is extremely low (reportedly 0.5 percent or something). Hopefully, I can pay mine off quickly. Overhead costs can be about 70 percent for new and 50 percent for mature practices.

maxandsam said: Start-up costs for a dental office is extremely high for a small business.

And don't forget the cost of Dental School itself. I have several friends who are over $1 million in debt their first year out of Dental School. When you figure in the cost of starting a practice, paying for school and buying housing it's not hard to do.

On the other hand, I'm related to a dentist who's earning over 200K just by doing a couple months of locum-tenans (subbing for other dentists who are on vacation) a year, and a Dentist friend who's bringing home over 500K from his practice in a rural area of Northern Idaho. There's no question that there's plenty of money to be made in dentistry.

maxandsam said: Start-up costs for a dental office is extremely high for a small business. Cost for my office is ~450k...all personally financed. It's a very big investment, but the good news is the failure of a dental office is extremely low (reportedly 0.5 percent or something). Hopefully, I can pay mine off quickly. Overhead costs can be about 70 percent for new and 50 percent for mature practices. Out of curiousity, are you doing Invisalign? Seems like the product is helping to shift orthodontic-lite work away from the specialists back to the dentist.

Yes, I do Invisalign. It is a great product. It is not designed to replace comprehensive traditional braces, but for appropriate cases, it does a great job. It fills the niche of adults wanting straighter teeth w/o metal and don't want correction of bite relations. Orthodontists are busy enough and have plenty of business that I don't think Invisalign from a general dentist is such a big deal. Interesting is that you look at the avg cost of braces by orthodontists is that it has increased quite a bit over a span of 10 or so years.

Wow by the way you all make me feel like an idiot working as a Communications Specialist for a Chamber of Commerce at the age of 23 and making only $35k. Of course I do only work 35 hours a week and its a really laid back job.

LordMike said: Wow by the way you all make me feel like an idiot working as a Communications Specialist for a Chamber of Commerce at the age of 23 and making only $35k. Of course I do only work 35 hours a week and its a really laid back job.

As with every FatWallet thread that involves posting salaries or assets, don't assume that the posters are representative of an average. People who are making more than average are likely to be proud of their salaries, and therefore more inclined to share them with the rest of the FatWallet community. Those of us who are below that average aren't likely to be as excited to share.

And don't forget the cost of living, 35K in some markets can feel equivalent to 65K in areas with a higher cost of living.

Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: New Mexico
Occupation: Xray Tech at a small hospital/National Guard
Education: Associates in Bio/Chem
2007 salary: 45,000
Future salary projection: 2 to 3 years - 60,000 to 70,000 After cross-training in CT

Benefits: 401(k) w/6% matching, tuition reimbursement, 3 week sick time and 4 weeks vacation.
The job is pretty easy since I work Nights. Work 4 10 hours days doing xrays. I did my training which cut 1 year off of civilian school and got paid to do it.

This is my first really job. I have the oppurtunity to go back to school and pursue my degree for free. Currently I have no plans to re-up with the national guard.

Cost of living in my area is low so my 45,000 goes a long way. Should be able to max out 401k/TSP and put 4000 in my roth.

Gender: Male
Age: 25
Location: Southeast US
Occupation: Buy-side Equity Analyst
Education: Top 5 school in engineering, public, made money while in school via scholarships, CFA exams passed
2007 salary: $40k + $8.5k bonus + $3k commission
Future salary projection: 2008 salary boosted to $55k, bonus and commission commensurate with performance, hopefully around 20~30% of salary. Hopefully total comp will break 6 figures in 5 years.
Benefits: 401(k) w/ company matching 25% of whatever you put in without limit, profit sharing plan, 17 sick/personal/vacation days, insurance

This job requires a lot of analytical ability (scenario analysis) and luck. I pretty much spend time tracking ALL public information about companies our firm invests in as well as finding new ideas to put money in. Work load is probably 45hrs per week minimum, but a decent coverage list (around 20 companies) will probably require 60 hrs per week. Good thing that the better you do, the more you get paid at the end of the year.

I highly recommend this job as it is challenging and you learn how to manage your own money. Research done at work that gets rejected by the company can make your personal account grow faster than general market if you're good. Not to mention you have a legitimate reason to look at stock prices all day.

Gender: Male
Age: 27
Location: Bay Area
Occupation: IT engineer
Education: BS CompSci from a 4 year state college
2007 salary: $55k
Future salary projection: perhaps I will get a raise to $57k in the middle of 2008, or a big $10K -> $15K raise if I can get my MCSE and change job.
Benefits: 401(k) w/ company matching 50% of whatever you put in, profit sharing plan ($0 for the next few years since the company is losing money), 15 sick/personal/vacation days, very good insurance plan

I work for a small branch office of a big foreign company, as the "one size fit all" IT guy and handle most of the technical request for this office (both servers and user systems). It's my first full time job after college, and it provides me an opportunity to learn. I spend about 50% of my time helping users with technical stuff, 10% monitoring and administrative task, and %40 to do projects to improve the system. Work load is probably 45 -> 50 hrs per week on average, and no work from home . The job is quite relaxing, and I enjoy helping people. However, my salary is low compare to the standard, so I plan to get a new job after finishing my MCSE.

This job is a step in the right direction for me, as after completing my degree in CompSci, I realize that I love doing IT work, and not programming work. I only recommend an IT career to whoever love it.

Gender: Male
Age: 25
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Occupation: Project Engineer
Education: Currently earning BS in Finance online
2007 salary: $70k + ~10% bonus
Future salary projection: I should be bumped to 75k this summer, and to 100k within 5 years if I stick around and decide to be a Project Manager
Benefits: Company car with fuel card (no expense to me whatsoever), cellphone, laptop, 401(k) w/ company matching 100% to 4%, limited profit sharing plan to 2%, 10 days vacation and 5 sick days.

The main caveat is that I work away from home during the week. I live out of a hotel M-F and am only home on the weekends, but I do earn tax-free per-diem of $50/day on top of my hotel expenses. This bumps my "salary" to the equivalent of $86,000 assuming a 24% tax rate. Factor in my completely paid for company car and I'm at around $95,000.

Once I earn my degree I might make a push for more money or simply leave my position for something in the Finance sector.

Gender: Male
Age: 43 (old guy on the thread)
Location: Midwest
Occupation: IT Project Manager
Education: MBA Finance company reimbursed)
2007 salary: ~$100K
Future salary projection: Flat until I need more

Benefits: 401(k) w/6% matching, 4 weeks vacation, pension Fortune 50 company

Been a grind for many years. Started a family and committed to have a work life balance. 35 - 40 hours per week,max. No weekends. I don't jump into the politics. Do my job well (very) and go home to my kids. Have enough to pay off all debt including house. Probably won't move up in the company due to limitations I place on myself. Minimal travel, won't relocate. I guess you can say I am riding it out. Want to find another career for the next 14 years. Salary has me locked in.

Don't get me wrong the job itself is fun because you work with people way smarter than yourself. Lots of high tech and marketing types. Always a good experience.Change is just good. Next 2 years I will reinvent myself.

Would I recommend the job. Yes I would. Pay is good and you are owning million dollar projects. The key to making it happen is to lead projects by telling the experts what they are going to do next. The talented ones will improve or push to change the plan. This keeps projects moving forward and keeps them from the "let's have another meeting" mode.

Best of luck to all...

Gender: Male
Age: 26
Location: Eastern Europe
Occupation: 'Operation Level' Manager - Petroleum Industry
Education: BS/MS - Mechanical Engineering (of sorts)
2007 Salary: $126k base + $28k bonus + $50k in options (4 year vest)
2008 Salary projection: $138k base + $30k bonus (doubtful to get options year-on-year)
Benefits: Bonus above (0-20% on personal performance, 0-15% on corporate performance), pension, best health insurance I've seen (no exclusions, no copays), vacation allowance (they give me $10k a year to spend against for flights home/Jamaica/wherever), 12 weeks vacation days, house and car paid for (in Eastern Europe)

What's the job like: I work for a Fortune 250 company as a bottom-rung manager. Working in Eastern Europe, this means doing a lot more than managing...I'm responsible for sales calls, logistic arrangements, recruiting, plus the occasion get my hands dirty field work. Knowing what I do about my company, it's nothing like the same position in the US/Canada.

I wasn't going to post here, but there is a whole nother working world that most people don't know about. Working international open doors that just aren't open to employees working in the US; something that is available in nearly all international companies - Microsoft, Ford, Citigroup, Caterpillar, UPS (just to name expats I've met personally). It certainly isn't the rosiest of pictures, I'm not working 35 hour weeks nor 5 minutes from my front door, but there's no doubt that my company takes care of me. Salary is about 75% higher than I would be making at the same experience level in the states, career progression can be much quicker than in the US (it certainly was for me), tax (both local and US) is paid by my employer (so my take home is higher than a comparable salary in the US by about 30%), old-school pension (only available to expats, US based employees only get 401(k)), health care is also exorbitantly better than the US plan (the only restriction is pre-authorization for anything over $1200, but I got one for an MRI in about 30 seconds; after that I can go to any doctor, anywhere), bonus is great - 0-20% on personal performance (my 2007 bonus should be 12% with average closer to 15%), and 0-15% on corporate results (I've seen 10% every year since I started back in 2004). I certainly can't complain about 1 week of paid vacation accrued per month; plus a vacation allowance I can spend on flights, cruises, rental cars, really anything but hotels.

Now the downsides, I work regular 55-60 hour work weeks, 6 days a week (has been 80+/7), and they can be extremely stressful at times. I work in a location that has a challenging work environment and a lack of support which one would take for granted in the US; I've had the national police show up at my office on a friday afternoon to drive me to customs, as a transport company simply "dropped off" a radioactive source to be cleared; I've had employees set up a fuel-racket at a gas station, reselling fuel they buy with company-paid fuel cards. If I don't have a likewise nightmare each month, then it's a good month. Oh, and I work 8 timezones away from my family. It isn't a very good family life (fortunately my fiancee also works for the same company, unfortunately currently not on the same continent). Once married they'll assign us to the same location, and they provide international school tuition for children, but it is much more so a bachelor life.

Finally, I know that if I were to request a transfer to the states (which I would get), I could never work in my current least not for another 5 years. There is no way a 26-year-old could gain the necessary respect (both from employees and clients) to manage an operation of this caliper. There's something to be said for being the big American expat in a location like Eastern Europe; somehow this turns me into the functional expert on nearly everything.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Yes and No. For someone willing to live this life (I actually quite enjoy it) then it is great. It opens so many doors and is a wonderful for someone who is truly ambitious. It is extremely dynamic; other than the end of month financial reporting, I never do the same thing twice. I've met so many amazing people I can't even begin to comprehend. And the prospects I've picked up in this job are wonderful. Now, I'd never recommend this job for someone with a family or hoping to start one in the near future...the money/experience simply isn't worth it; I know far too many people who tried and failed catastrophically. I met my fiancee through my company, and we both have likewise views of our situation with our company. But I love my job and won't change a thing until I'm ready to start a family (still a few years for that).

lenord said: As with every FatWallet thread that involves posting salaries or assets, don't assume that the posters are representative of an average. People who are making more than average are likely to be proud of their salaries, and therefore more inclined to share them with the rest of the FatWallet community. Those of us who are below that average aren't likely to be as excited to share.
I hope we can encourage all to participate. I hesitated posting several times for the exact, opposite reason you mention - to avoid the impression of boasting. It may be worthwhile in the future to bifurcate the thread either by years of experience, industry sector, even salary. I suggest this because there may be value in the correlations by stage of career, etc. Then again, I enjoy the master thread. Truly I did post to provide thoughts for those earlier in their careers considering a switch into my industry and have taken the time to respond to several PMs. There is something valuable to be learned from everyone's story regardless of the where they fallout on the above factors.

Venturion said: lenord said: As with every FatWallet thread that involves posting salaries or assets, don't assume that the posters are representative of an average. People who are making more than average are likely to be proud of their salaries, and therefore more inclined to share them with the rest of the FatWallet community. Those of us who are below that average aren't likely to be as excited to share.
I hope we can encourage all to participate. I hesitated posting several times for the exact, opposite reason you mention - to avoid the impression of boasting. It may be worthwhile in the future to bifurcate the thread either by years of experience, industry sector, even salary. I suggest this because there may be value in the correlations by stage of career, etc. Then again, I enjoy the master thread. Truly I did post to provide thoughts for those earlier in their careers considering a switch into my industry and have taken the time to respond to several PMs. There is something valuable to be learned from everyone's story regardless of the where they fallout on the above factors.

And that's why I started this thread last year. It's hard to find out accurate information about various careers, especially with regards to salaries. I never understood all the secrecy. People who are beginning in their careers, or even people who have already established their careers who may be thinking about changing careers could use this information as a fantastic resource when planning their future goals.

One of the things I learned from this year's thread so far is how many options there are for people who cannot or do not want to go to college. Although I'm an educator, I'm also a firm believer that college is not for everyone. There are many different paths to successful careers. Of course, I would recommend college, because in 95% of careers it will help you tremendously, but if it's not for you, then that's OK too.

I have to admit, it surprised me a bit to see a lot of the young people on here with established careers and the salaries/perks they're getting. (Then again, you do have to take anonymous Internet posting with a grain of salt, although I do certainly believe that the vast majority of people who contributued to this thread this year and last year were being honest.)

And then again, StraightShooter's post brought me back down to earth and made me realize I don't have it so bad. Here's a well-educated, established career person who is perfectly content with his life and career, even though others in similar fields may make more money or have better perks. I don't make 500K, but I make a very good salary for my field, and in a few years, my salary will probably put me in the top 1%-2% of teachers in the U.S.

One of the decisions I'm wrestling with at this point in my career is whether to go into educational administration. If you asked me five years ago, I would have said absolutely, without a doubt. But the politics disgust me, and now I'm pretty much convinced I have no desire to pursue that path, especially in an urban district. Sure, it means I'll make $30K or $40K less a year, but I'll have a clean(er) conscience and still make a decent living. Thanks, StraightShooter, for helping to remind me to be content with what you have.

So again, please contribute to this thread. It can serve as a tremendous tool for those career hunting! (And let's hopefully get some more older people to contribute! I'm feeling like a senior citizen here at the ripe old age of 35!)

Foolish Jumper --

If you don't mind, how did you get into this role? Did you know someone within the company? Or just apply online? Happy to have a PM if you prefer.

As for me:

Gender: Male
Age: 21
Location: DC
Occupation: Management Consultant
Education: BA
2007 Salary: $55k, typical benefits, no bonus, 401k takes a long time to vest/begin -- don't know if I'll be at B-school by then (or somewhere else)

Future Salary Projection: 15-20% with promotion (hopefully this year or next).

What's the job like?
Rather stressful -- managing a ton of internal and external stakeholders. Plenty of hours. Lots of good experience for 21 years old, however.

Would you recommend the career to others?
Yes -- lots of good experience.

habback said: If you don't mind, how did you get into this role? Did you know someone within the company? Or just apply online? Happy to have a PM if you prefer.

The whole reason I posted was to be informative, why stop now.

I started my job fresh out of college as a regular petroleum engineer (despite not having a petroleum engineering degree). I made it clear during my initial, intermediate, and final interviews that I was almost only interested in an international assignment. I didn't start out planning to enter such a role so quickly; it just happened, and I'm happy it did. I made it where I did, when I did through a combination of hard work, luck, and good old American charm. The US education system may not be in the best anymore, but I've certainly noticed that many of the superior educated come up short in some of the more common sense situations and just don't know how to talk up clients, whether internal to the company (bosses) or external; not to say all, but you'd be surprised how much respect one can gain off a classic frat boy, arrogant attitude.

As far as how I got into my company, they came to my university career fair and I applied. No back door entry, no funny business; just got in the standard way and did my best to impress the right people. Simply working international can go a long ways to helping ones career progression.

Skipping 34 Messages...
Gender: Male
Age: 29
Location: LA
Occupation: BizDev/Content Programming & Marketing Manager
Education: Econ at a UC
2008 Salary: $115k
Future Salary Projection: I'm more concerned in trying to move up to the Director level within the next 2-3 yrs
Benefits: Full health/dental/vision. 4 weeks of vacation. Unlimited sick. Budget for bizdev expenses.

What's the job like?
I am very fortunate to have been given the role I am in now because I've been positioned to not only have a voice but more importantly given the resources and ability to execute on my ideas. I really enjoy working in the creative space (I work in the entertainment industry) but still being able to be strategic and analytic. Compared to my past lives in management consulting and strategic planning, I also enjoy living a much more balanced life where I'm not on the road every week working 70-80hr weeks. Have many friends who are still in consulting or banking and making more but working far harder than I am. My job is actually fun.

Would you recommend the career to others?

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