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The Inaugural Slick Deals Career Thoughts and Compensation Thread

zhelder 2,754 2,604 December 28, 2010 at 09:47 AM
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Last Edited by zhelder December 28, 2010 at 09:53 AM
For the past several years, I have started a thread on the Overweight Money Holder Finance Forum where people could discuss various aspects of their careers. The threads have done pretty well over the years, so I thought that now that Slick Deals has its own finance forum, we could try it here! If the thread here is successful, I'll start a new one every year, like I do over on OMH.

I hope that this thread can serve as a useful guide for those who are making decisions about which careers to pursue, for those who wish to change careers, or for those who just want to see what various careers are like.

Before we get started, we have to establish the ground rules. The OMH Finance crowd can spew some fiery venom at times, but they have been very good about following the rules for this thread.

If you participate, please try to keep this a positive, informative thread, and let's not get into any arguments about how one's career/education/compensation makes him/her superior/inferior to other people. Please do not flame people because of their choice of career or because you think they are paid too much/too little for their chosen careers. 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 2010? 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. I'm starting the thread,so, of course, I have to bite first:

Gender: Male

Age: 38

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

2010 Compensation: $90,000 (Base Pay + Retro Pay from a newly settled contract + a little extra money from some after school work and a few other extra things.) Base salary for the 2010-2011 school year, without extra money, is just about $88,000.

Future Salary Projection: This is a tricky one this year. There is a strong possibility that my salary (and the salaries of many other teachers) will be frozen for at least the next year. If salaries are not frozen, my salary should be in the $95,000 ballpark for the 2011 calendar year, and in the $100,000 range for the 2011-2012 school year. (More on why our salaries may be frozen later in the thread.)

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.) In almost all districts in NJ, you can accumulate sick time from year to year. This is a tremendous benefit, as I found out two years ago, and again just a few weeks ago when I suffered two major long-term illnesses. It was nice not having to worry about getting paid during my absences.

What's the job like?

Very difficult and getting more difficult bu the year. Tremendously long hours, almost no down time during the school day (I don't take lunch very often),lots of work at home, deplorable working conditions, with some classrooms reaching temperatures of 90+ degrees and others below freezing. 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. Massive budget cuts have made the job even more difficult. Many teachers (myself included) are now finding themselves doing two jobs for the price of one due to massive retirements and staffing cuts.

Would you recommend the career to others?

Every year, it's become harder and harder for me to recommend teaching as a career. If you get a job in a district that treats you with some respect, is on solid financial footing (along with your corresponding state), and pays you a salary that ensures you won't be eating cans of tuna for the rest of your life, then I can recommend teaching as a career.

However, things here in NJ have gotten real rough over the past year. Our governor has pretty much made it his mission to make things much rougher for teachers, and has publicly villified us on many occasions. He reduced state aid for all districts, resulting in massive layoffs. He wants to drastically alter our pension system, and there is a lot of fear that he is going to try to significantly reduce pension benefits for all public employees. This resulted in massive retirements of veteran teachers. He put tremendous pressure on teachers at the end of the last school year to accept salary freezes, even in districts that had valid contracts, and he is likely to increase the pressure this year. He wants to eliminate tenure, and while total elimination is unlikely, it's likely going to be made much tougher to get and to retain. He wants to institute merit pay, basing teacher salaries on their students' performance on standardized tests. This, of course, is infuriating many teachers, but especially those in urban districts like mine, where teachers sometimes get kids who have never attended school a day in their life show up to begin their educational careers on the day the standardized test starts. How is the kid going to pass the test if he doesn't even know his alphabet, let alone how to read? How is this kid going to compare to the kid in the affluent district who has a private tutor?

Then of course, you have to deal with all of the discipline problems, especially . What do you do when a kid curses you out, flips a desk over, smacks another kid in the head without provocation, and runs out of your class? You could tell your building administrators, but chances are they will not impose serious consequences on the student. They don't want to make the school look bad or deal with angry parents. Then, if you have administrators who are unsupportive, they may ask you, "What did you do to make the kid curse you out, flip over a desk, and smack another student in the head?" Then they'll tell you to better motivate your students to learn. When you ask how, they won't tell you. (Yes, this stuff actually happens.)

There are great moments, however. There are a lot of great kids in all districts who will give you their all every day. This is what keeps me going in my district. I know that I'm helping these kids to have the best future possible, even though they often face difficult circumstances.

Teaching is not an easy job, especially in an urban district. If you think that you will be able to face the challenges that await you, then go for it! Just be aware that it's going to be a bumpy ride.

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#2
Good start, but this is too much information in a single place. Each aspect of career/ life can be granulated for better understanding of all.

Financial figures should be kept out and relative figures/ %ages should be used to keep the thread on right track.

Just my 2 cents.
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#3
I don't think I've ever seen anyone write such a detailed post on their career.If we broke it up it would get lost in the pages and pages of threads here, so it's up to anyone else responding if they feel like making informative blocks of text (i appreciate it)

Also, another good place for compensation info is Glassdoor.com though the numbers are skewed it still gives you a good range, and when you are dealing with salary negotiations you should be talking in ranges anyway.
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#4
Quote from zhelder View Post :
For the past several years, I have started a thread on the Overweight Money Holder Finance Forum where people could discuss various aspects of their careers. The threads have done pretty well over the years, so I thought that now that Slick Deals has its own finance forum, we could try it here! If the thread here is successful, I'll start a new one every year, like I do over on OMH.

....
well, i will bite sort of..lol

Let me start that I have been thinking of become a teacher and just reading your story is making me wonder if it is worth it. The pay makes me think it is but I am not sure. lol Then again, i think if i can help one kid, then its worth it.

Ok, I will only share so much so...

age: 30 yrs - 35 yrs
gender : female
pay: sucksville < not so sucksville lol ok lets say its 30k<me>35 k

Benefits: so so. standard fair; nothing to write home about.

Job likes/ recommendations: I love my job; actually doing what I went to school to do feels great. Great place to work and awesome folks. But like anything, boredom creeps in and you want to use your power for good. hence the thought to teach ( i want to go the certified teacher route and teach cad software to high school kids).

I know its not about the money but its funny how sometimes I do hit sucksville because something will come up and i cant pay b/c i have to put money either here or there (and of course, important bills come first)

I dont believe in such things as job security, etc. and I know that I could live on less if need be. But, I do enjoy where i live and having the occasional distraction such as cable, but other than that, a 90 k year job will go a long way, unless I had like supercable or something. lol I mean, I dont even have a video game system, a car, or kids, so I think I am making great sacrifices!!! ha

Anyway, seriously, my goal is to buy a house but i see that may never be possible and here teachers make no where near as much as you so even if I did follow that dream, i will need to do it because its in my heart, not for the money. And as you mentioned, there are plenty of kids who need teachers like you: ones that teach because that is what they want to do.

can i ask, did you always know you wanted to be a tchr? u can pm me if you don't want to OFFTOP ur thread.

Anyway, if anyone wanted more details, feel free to pm and I will be happy to share what I do. Would I recommend it, in a minute. But understand that if this will be your only source of income, you may want to consider hustling. lol coolies.
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#5
Quote from akelatgml View Post :

can i ask, did you always know you wanted to be a tchr? u can pm me if you don't want to OFFTOP ur thread.
No problem. This is supposed to be a thread about career thoughts. I didn't plan to be a teacher until midway through college. I had planned to be a psychologist. Midway through college, I realized I didn't want to go that route, and I realized that I enjoyed other social science classes. In addition, I always liked working with kids, so I decided to go through a teacher ed program and get social studies certification. Through a series of wild twists and turns in my school district, I taught a bunch of other subjects in addition to social studies. I now teach technology, which is also a good fit for me, as I've always loved electronics and computers.

I hope that this thread can prove useful for people like you who are thinking about changing careers. The thread over on OMH is already off to a good start. I know that this finance board is much newer and has a much less active crowd right now, but hopefully in time this can become an annual tradition like it has become over there.
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#6
Gender: Male

Age: 26

Location: WA

Occupation: Prop. Equity Trader/Pattern Day Trader, former SBO

Education: B.A. x 2

2010 Compensation: $XXX,000 (low end) - no base, straight cap gains and performance-based commission. I started in late-Feb.

Future Salary Projection: I'm going back to law and/or business school. My net may be negative for the next couple of years, but I'll still trade: the intent is to make money, pay my bills, and get my degrees.

After that, I'd like to start my own b/d firm and manage a fund? Dontknow Unlimited earnings potential. nod

Benefits: N/A

What's the job like?

I'm not a morning person so it's difficult for me to wake up--being on the west coast and operating in east coast hours is definitely a pitfall of the work.

My day-to-day (when I'm actively trading) isn't too complicated: usually do my analysis in the afternoons so I can sleep in until about 5:45 - 6:00AM. I wake up and read, read, read! See what happened in overnight trading, read up on the news in Asia and Europe, skim over any economic news that was released, etc.

I'm at my trading machine from 6 AM and 1 PM, local time. I leave CNBC either on TV or I have a second machine I can stream it on thanks to thinkorswim.

If I have any sizable trade(s) on the table, then those are the hours I commit to, no questions asked, until the trade(s) are off the table. During the market lunch doldrums, I'll set alerts/stops (just in case) and go have SBUX. When I "get off" at 1 PM, then I can take a lunch.

My afternoons are spent reading, watching news, and doing my chart work/analysis. If you're trading, then it pays to do your homework--that will become self-evident once you become an active trader.

Being a trader is flexible and convenient. You can work as little or as much as you want; you can trade on your own schedule (well, it helps if the markets are open--unless you're working with something that is trading 24/7); and you work for yourself (unless you're a broker).

Right now, I'm taking a more passive, long-term trade. I haven't been "day trading" for the past two months because I've been really busy, but the one big trade I've had on since Oct. is TBT, which is now up over ten grand. Big Grin

Would you recommend the career to others?

As a career, probably not--it's not for everyone. However, I recommend anyone to learn a bit about the trade so you can manage your own assets and not have to pay someone else to do it for you.

It can be stressful at times. There have been plenty of nights I've lost sleep when I've had a huge trade on and hours during the day when I've sat in my chair sweating bullets, especially when I trade options. Ten contracts at even ten points is ten grand that can evaporate to zero.

If you're a good poker player, then I'm sure you'd have potential to be a good trader too. No, I'm not likening trading to gambling--I'm saying that if you can detach emotion from your trades: think about them logically, be nimble about your wins, and not get your losses you away at you, then you're already a step ahead of everyone that can't do this. Have you noticed bad poker players who change their style of play to reckless once they've experienced a bad beat? You can be assured that for every poker player that plays like this: there is a trader who does the same after a trade has gotten away from them. Big Grin
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Last edited by shuriken December 29, 2010 at 01:03 AM. Reason: added link
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#7

Gender:
Male
Age: 29
Location: OR/WA
Occupation: IT - everything (computer chip manufacturing fab)
Education: books, internet, experimentation, hs diploma
2010 Compensation: $57k
Future Salary Projection:$1k less per year, if history is the measuring stick. I earned $1k less per year for the first 3 years, while my skill and contribution multiplied.
Benefits: Free cell phone, which allows executives and new personnel to call on holidays to solve technical problems (sometimes personal problems)
Environment: No windows to the outside world, 10hr average days, micromanaged environment, some 17-18hr days, no holidays off, holidays paid at 1.5x base pay, over-stretched x3, grateful customers, 80hrs vacation regardless of seniority, 40hrs sick with unused paid straight out.

Future salary projection: Help me out here. I just saw the invoice for our contract renewal. My 5 man team averages $43k/yr with no benefits. The contract renewed at $441,744 for 2011. That averages $88k/person/yr. Our average net is less than half of the contract price, and the real money is in hardware. So far nobody on my team knows the contract has been renewed. What is a standard employee pay compared to contracted pay?

Comparison: I came across 1 Unix admin that has a contract outlay of $187k, and a net of $135k. My group is paid 49% of total contract price, and the Unix admin is paid 72% of contract price.


Recommendation: 2 of 5 people have quit in the last 4 months. The newest hire immediately started looking for work elsewhere. Half of everyone in office has been fired or quit in the past 2 years. Nuff said.

Recommendation 2: Dream. Be your own boss. Take a chance. Fail. Try again.
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Last edited by redpoint5 December 30, 2010 at 03:13 AM.
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#8
Gender: Male
Age: 24
Location: MN
Occupation: IT. End user support/network support
Education: A.A.S. in general IT
2010 Compensation: $53k
Future Salary Projection: +3-5k per year depending on performance.
Benefits: Company Paid phone, 10 paid holidays +3 floating paid holidays. up to 7% bonus paid half on company performance and half on employee performace. 6% matched 401k. Paid mileage outside of normal travel.
Whats the job like: Big corperation. Nothing too special. Spend most of my time where my cube is, get to travel around the state to our other sites about once a quarter.
Recommendation: I was lucky at my age to get into the company and to make what I make. Most who work here are lifers because the company treats its workers pretty good. If you like working with people and doing just a little travel it is perfect. Love my job nod
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#9
Gender: Male
Age: 28
Location: CA
Occupation: Controller
Education: B.A. Philosophy, Minor in Business, Current MBA Student
2010 Compensation: $90k
Future Salary Projection: +5 -10% per year depending on performance.
Benefits: Blackberry, Health, Vision, Dental, Paid Downtown Parking, Roughly 5% into a 401K no personal contribution necessary, 10 - 20% bonus.
Whats the job like: Small Business roughly 90 employees. I've had the opportunity to build out the department the way I want.I enjoy working in a small business environment.
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#10
Pirate I got some questions for you...would you mind if I sent you a pm?
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#11
Quote from matthimself View Post :
Pirate I got some questions for you...would you mind if I sent you a pm?
sure thing.
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#12
Gender: Male

Age: Late 20's

Location: Louisiana

Occupation: Urban Charter School Teacher

Education: MA

2010 Compensation: Mid 40's (2-3 years experience)

Future Salary Projection: about 3% per year, possible future bonuses based on student performance.

Benefits: Company Paid phone, laptop, average medical/dental/vision benefits, 403B with matching up to 5% (no pension) 6 weeks off during summer/2 weeks Christmas/and about 18 other days throughout the year)

Whats the job like: I work for a national charter school organization that tends to supply there teachers with the supplies and training needed. Students, while over 95% are below the poverity line, they still can and will learn with college as there only way out of their situation. It is an extended school day 7:30-5 and students can call at night for help with homework. Tutoring is available to the kids free of charge and Saturday school a few times a year is manditory. The hours are long with planning, tutoring, parent communication, etc but it is very rewarding. The amount of days off during the year makes up for the long days that I experience. One down side is charter schools in Louisiana are employment at will so there is no chance of tenure.
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Last edited by Dealmasterx December 30, 2010 at 07:41 PM.
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#13
Quote from zhelder View Post :
No problem. This is supposed to be a thread about career thoughts. I didn't plan to be a teacher until midway through college. I had planned to be a psychologist. Midway through college, I realized I didn't want to go that route, and I realized that I enjoyed other social science classes. In addition, I always liked working with kids, so I decided to go through a teacher ed program and get social studies certification. Through a series of wild twists and turns in my school district, I taught a bunch of other subjects in addition to social studies. I now teach technology, which is also a good fit for me, as I've always loved electronics and computers.

I hope that this thread can prove useful for people like you who are thinking about changing careers. The thread over on OMH is already off to a good start. I know that this finance board is much newer and has a much less active crowd right now, but hopefully in time this can become an annual tradition like it has become over there.

Thanks for the rply. I think I will research further to see if cad courses (or technology like courses) are in demand for my area.

And ups on this thread. Unfortunately, it has made me realize that I'm probably not earning my full potential. I mean, dude above is trading at home making 6 figs Not fair. lol

Oh, and I forgot some things:

Education: B. A General Studies with concentrations in construction management, art history, and architectural history.

2010 Compensation: See above.

Future Salary Projection: depends if I stay where I am. Smilie If I do, there will be none. I have been told that I already make the cap for my position and the next move is really a lateral one and not necessarily more challenging. If I go the teacher route, i may be able to make 45K base, and if I become bilingual, I'll get a nice bonus on top of that. I would like to also research becoming a property claims rep for an insurance company but it seems that getting into that field without claims experience is difficult.
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Last edited by meuandbettyboo December 30, 2010 at 07:49 PM. Reason: apparently i cannot spell
#14
Gender: Female

Age: 27

Location: MI

Occupation: Research Assistant

Education: B.A in Anthropology

2010 Compensation: $17,000

Future Salary Projection: Most likely no increase in pay, I have worked here for less than a year and several long-term co-workers have informed me that they have yet to see an increase in pay. Would love for another opportunity to open up but well paying jobs are scarce and I seem to not be qualified for a large majority.

Benefits: Medical insurance, Dental and Vision which costs me about 20% of my monthly income.

What's the job like?

Being a research assistant with this particular physician is interesting in subject matter but I took the job knowing the pay was very low over a slightly higher paying position as a administrative assistant hoping that the skills I would learn in the research field would aid in my future. However our coordinator does not communicate very well and merely tosses out menial work to me and doesn't share or discuss with me the world of clinical research. So unfortunately I feel that I have made a poor choice.

Would you recommend the career to others?

While I feel that the field feels like it would be both mentally stimulating and has the potential to be what I always considered to be "meaningful work", the pay is just so poor that I find it very difficult to pay for necessities.

I was naive in my time through college and never participated in research projects with professors etc, I just focused on working and trying to make money than making my primary focus my education. I don't see another option other than returning back to school and making the most of my time there. I guess I just thought more doors would be open for me but the only person I can blame is myself. Sorry this turned into a sob story, but I do enjoy this thread topic, it is interesting to hear from people from so many different fields.

Hope you all have a wonderful new year!
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#15
Gender: Male

Age: 20

Location: Nebraska

Occupation: Info Tech Intern

Education: High School, currently in pursuit of a Quadruple major in Business/Finance at a local university

2010 Compensation: $20-35k - based on hourly so it all depends on how much I work ($16 an hour)

Future Salary Projection: $50k plus corporate benefits (health/2 weeks of paid vacation/paid personal holidays/paid sick days/etc) upon graduation with 3-5% increases thereafter.

Benefits: 2-4 paid holidays a year, corporate discounts on cell phone/local businesses, free concerts from time to time (Aerosmith Big Grin ), have small group sessions with executives in the company (CEO/CFO/etc), freebie events over the summer.

What's the job like?

They rotate us between jobs every 6 months so you are introduced to very different parts of IT (project mgmt, break/fix, business support, programming, etc etc) and get a wide view of the company. During the summer months, they get us in to meet with the execs of the company which is Fortune 150. Introduced to a wide variety of people who will help in my pursuit in moving up in the company. A wonderful experience and at the very least a very very good resume builder.

Would you recommend the career to others?

As an intern? Yes. I don't have enough professional experience with it yet to say for sure if I would recommend it for full-time employment. They work longer hours, have more strict restrictions to their work/movement, have to be bugged outside of work hours, etc so it is a total different beast. Ask me again in a couple years Smilie
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