Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Choose Your Education Wisely

Tip # 192 - Choose Your Education Wisely. An education is never wasted, although the money you pay for it might be. When planning what education you are paying for in order to find a job, choose wisely. It always pays to have a degree, certificate, license, or knowledge from a field that is in demand in your area. One doesn’t need to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant to make a good living, but having a qualified skill always makes sense. Learning something such as cutting hair, fixing transmissions, or being a dental hygienist can go a longer way than other educational pursuits that aren’t as specific. Some of these can even be gotten without shelling out big bucks for your education.

Perhaps you have a degree in sociology and can’t find a job? If there is a demand for teachers then you may be able to take a fast-track course load to certification to teach in your state. Or maybe you always dreamed of going to college to become a lawyer, but don’t have the time or money to do so now. How about looking into a paralegal certification? Jobs that require specific skills or knowledge are always in demand. If you don’t have those skills then look into what you can do to acquire them to enable you to get a good job.

Sure learning about Aristotle may be thought provoking or having knowledge of mid-eighteenth century artists may be interesting, but if this knowledge cannot translate into a good-paying job, it may not be worth it to you at a time when you are struggling to earn money. Concentrate instead on specific skills that can lead you to a career. You can always concentrate on your interests as a hobby. But in this economy, be realistic and learn a skill that is in demand.

In Real Life (IRL) – Throughout my childhood I always excelled in math. And I thought I wanted to be a math teacher when I grew up. However, I felt that I could do “more” or be in a more prestigious/higher-paying job. So when I went away to college I chose to major in business administration with a concentration in finance. The problem is, unless you have specific accounting skills, it is sometimes hard to break into a field that requires experience and business know-how or further certifications. I did get a decent entry-level job but it was in the life insurance industry, which wasn’t exactly my cup of tea (is it anybody’s?). So I went back to school for statistical research, hoping to land a job in educational research. And I did. However, it turned out to be more of a writing and training job rather than a statistical research one. And I’m afraid my knowledge of statistics is now buried in cobwebs behind my knowledge of how-to-snap-a-cloth diaper while talking to my daughter about her book report somewhere in my left brain. If and when I go back to the working world, I don’t feel confident to get a job in the area I studied.

That leaves me with looking at my skills set that an employer would want to hire me for, and feeding a baby while cooking dinner skills aside, I’m not sure I have any concrete ones that an employer would find attractive. And now I am wishing I went for that mathematics education degree after all. Teachers in our area are still in demand, especially math teachers. So now I am thinking that one day soon I may go back for one of those accelerated second-career-as-a-teacher-programs, which was probably what I should have done to begin with. My sister who has an advertising degree who went back for a special education degree and license; my brother who majored in accounting who is sitting for the CPA exam this year, and my husband who majored in communications but got his insurance license would probably agree with me. Specific skills are marketable. That’s where the jobs are.


Sheila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheila said...

(I delete my original comment so I could correct my typing.)

Great advice! I'm always unsure of what to say to theater majors - I'm thinking, what kind of job are you going to get and how much will it pay? But of course, I'm sure that's partly due to the fact that I'm a software engineer and a polar opposite of a theater major anyway! :) (Please, if you are a theater major, don't be offended. This was just an example, and I am in awe of your talent. I'm just an EXTREMELY practical person and financial security is imperative to my happiness.)

nankie said...

I have always felt that way, which is why I got my bachelors degree in nursing 33 years ago, and I do not regret it. Aside from getting a lot of satisfaction from the work, I am making a very good salary, and have been able to tailor my work schedule to suit the needs of my family.

However, now my daughter is a senior in high school with a 4.0 GPA and she wants to be a math teacher. I must confess I felt perhaps she should aspire a bit higher, but after reading your post I am feeling a bit differently.