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So How About those Benjamins?

clearsimpleplainclearsimpleplain Registered User
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Short: I'm moving to the LA area in a year or so, and don't know what kind of career I should pursue once there. I have a BA in English. I want enough money to support children within 6 years.

Long: The world isn't falling into my hands the way I planned it when I was 13. To be more specific, money, that is, future concern for money. I'm 25 years old.

I'm currently approaching the end of my BA - Honors English; about a year and some change left to go. It's taken me a while to get to this point, as I've traveled, married, and traveled some more, but overall in my current position I am happy.

My concern comes in regard to my happiness 2-3 years from now, when I have little to no idea of what I'll be doing for a career. I guess I, like many, just always assumed I'd drive myself to keep writing and have a successful novel before I had to worry about finding something to do in the interim.

Until now I've had the vague notion that I would pursue teaching; both of my parents work in schools (teacher/librarian) and I spent some time working in a school a few years ago (as a type of EA). It's an area I'm comfortable in and it's not something I would be sad about should it become my career. My wife and I could hypothetically live with my (somewhat trying) in-laws while I get my certification and do my year of whatever-it-is-I-have-to-do-before-I-can-teach. So it's something I've thought about. But lately I've had a growing sense of concern about the financial angle of this whole endeavor.

My wife and I want to live in her home state of California, somewhere on the central coast (her parents live in LA county; 4-6 hours north of that would be a nice buffer). Currently, we live in the middle of Canada, where I started going to university (my parents live in northern Manitoba). I'm assuming that the cost of living in California is going to be a significant leap from up here, and I'm assuming the job market is going to be much worse. I'm also assuming that, on a Grade/High School teacher's salary, I'm not going to be able to support my wife when she eventually pops out our offspring and has to take care of them for a few years.

So I've reached something of a "What am I going to do now?" crisis. It's not a matter of not having the ability; I've held a wide variety of jobs, and I kind of like to think of myself as a jack-of-all-trades; for the last year I've been working as a butcher at a specialty meat and cheese store, which I'm now managing while in school. Before that I was:
  • tech support for McAfee
  • sales support for AAA
  • worked in a warehouse in an industrial setting
  • an industrial painter in a mine; worked underground
  • part of a city crew, paved roads etc
  • a line cook
  • worked with special needs (aka down syndrome/FAS) children
  • worked in a school (as previously mentioned)

Work, in general, is work, and it's pretty rare I've had a job I completely reviled. Plus, I always have secret plans to continue writing, so as long as I have that I think I can be okay doing manual labor or something spiritually unrewarding for a living if I have to to pay the bills. The question is, what's the play here? My father in-law works for the county; he has suggested through my wife that perhaps he could get me a job doing clerical work or IT stuff at the local prison. Maybe working with special needs individuals would pay more than a traditional teaching position and that's something I should look into. Maybe I could take the LSAT and try to become a lawyer, I mean, that makes money.

And if that last statement didn't clue you in as to how across the map I am, I don't know what else I can say. Anyone want to help me find clarity?

clearsimpleplain on

Posts

  • wallabeeXwallabeeX Registered User
    edited August 2009
    All I can say is you do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.

    Pursuing a career because of it's payscale will leave you wealthy and unhappy in ten years. I work in VFX in LA and it support me more than I need it to - that's about all I can say.

  • theconductor221theconductor221 Registered User
    edited August 2009
    A strong English degree will allow you to pursue Law, which will have a definite paycheck at the end of the day, but while teaching usually doesn't net that much (at least around here) I know Professors for State Universities usually have it pretty well off.
    Do what you love, and the money will follow.

    Spoiler:
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Regarding law degrees, recommend reading up on the current state of people graduating with law degrees.

    I don't know about California, but my brother gets by on a teacher's salary in rural Pennsylvania with a housewife and four kids. Money is very tight and they sacrifice a lot of things that I take for granted to do it, but I think it's what makes them happy, which is what matters. Things were very, very tight while he initially worked to get the teaching certificate, was a substitute teacher forever, etc. all the things that lead into real teaching. However he's about to buy his first house now and is finally in a good position that makes him happy. I would recommend against reproducing until you have gotten the initial, hardest parts of getting into teaching out of the way. They're very time consuming and don't provide much money.

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  • DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    A strong English degree will allow you to pursue Law, which will have a definite paycheck at the end of the day, but while teaching usually doesn't net that much (at least around here) I know Professors for State Universities usually have it pretty well off.
    Do what you love, and the money will follow.

    Back in the day there were very few doctorates and having a doctorate meant you had an excellent change of becoming a professor. If you go back further the same was true of having a regular degree and becoming a teacher. These days there are tons of qualified people who would love nothing more than to continue their research and teach and get paid a lot....so professor positions are very competitive. I know in Saskatchewan the teachers have a strong union which actually sucks balls for new teachers because you will be forced to teach in the middle of nowhere as the majority of teachers would prefer to teach in the city it becomes all about seniority. I imagine a teaching position on the coast of California is similarly highly contested.

    I'm also unsure what to do with my life and somewhat concerned about money.

    Just because you will have an English degree doesn't mean you have to do something language related.

    There are tons of jobs where the skills can be picked up on the fly and being able to write well is a huge boon.

    I've been given the same advice "do what makes you happy" but it's kinda shitty advice in some ways because I don't really know what I want to do and you have to get the qualification before you can do the job and find out if you like it or not....at which point you've invested so much time and money into getting to that point you can feel trapped.

    I know people who have dramatically changed careers and they are doing fine so just make a decision, see it through and if it's soulcrushing or not paying the bills do something else.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Don't take the LSAT and decide to become a lawyer just because you want to make money. This is a horrible idea.

  • jeddy leejeddy lee Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hmmm... Don't work for the state if you can help it. I hear the county is a very good employer, and will look happily upon your degree even if it's not really your field.

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    Spoiler:
  • SaddlerSaddler Registered User
    edited August 2009
    You might as well follow up on the prison/IT job until you figure out if there's something you want to do beyond that. Some people never figure it out!

  • LegionnairedLegionnaired Registered User
    edited August 2009
    Short: I'm moving to the LA area in a year or so, and don't know what kind of career I should pursue once there. I have a BA in English. I want enough money to support children within 6 years.

    <unfounded advice>
    Learn ruby. It's one of the up and coming computer languages, and it's fun and expressive to write in as well.

    Get an IT / Entry programmer job doing little bits of code.

    Get some impressive sounding certifications. Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer basically certs you to be a lead dev, and it doesn't look too hard if you're a quick study. A lot of the Ruby community is all into good design patterns, which is what the upper level certs look for - the lower level stuff is all about hacking your way through a language.

    If you're in love with IT, do that and make the monies, otherwise go get your teaching cert and get a job teaching English/Computer Programming. Teach kids from The Wizard Book. Most programmers want to stay programmers and not go back and teach 15 year olds, so you'll have an edge.
    </unfounded advice>

    That's pretty much what I'd do if I could write my own choose your own adventure. Good luck man!

  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Did you have to learn any technical writing in your degree? Tech writers can do pretty well money wise.

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  • clearsimpleplainclearsimpleplain Registered User
    edited August 2009
    My rough plan is to finish University, move to California, and live with the dreaded in-laws while I get my teaching certificate. Maybe use my father-in-law to get a job while I do it, if I can't afford life otherwise. Wife goes to school simutaneously. Then, hopefully, get a job teaching a year later, move out, and wife continues school while I teach and write.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Are you a canadian citizen? You're not going to be able to get an H1B without a job lined up.

    There are teaching jobs, and it's not hard to get per se, but it might be hard toget a job at a good school, and lots of teachers seem to be in limbo every summer as districts try to figure out money. Pay varies by district. By googling "teacher pay california", this was the 4th link from the top: http://www.sacbee.com/1098/story/995141.html?appSession=142104790421128

    Prisons tend to be better funded than schools, so if you could get a prison IT job it wouldn't be bad.

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  • underdonkunderdonk __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2009
    If only you had a minor in Art to go along with your BA in English. You'd be rolling in cash.

    Back in the day, bucko, we just had an A and a B button... and we liked it.
  • clearsimpleplainclearsimpleplain Registered User
    edited August 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Are you a canadian citizen? You're not going to be able to get an H1B without a job lined up.

    I have a Green Card.
    underdonk wrote: »
    If only you had a minor in Art to go along with your BA in English. You'd be rolling in cash.

    This. Sarcasm? Your school choices and career accomplishments may have been brilliant beyond the standard, and mine below, but that's why I'm here. Now ask yourself: Do you really have the knowledge and evidence to back up making fun of a BA from an accredited University? Or are you just aware of the tiny amount of jobs that constitute your own field in your own life?

  • wallabeeXwallabeeX Registered User
    edited August 2009
    underdonk wrote: »
    If only you had a minor in Art to go along with your BA in English. You'd be rolling in cash.

    Should've gone with philosophy, this joke would be far more transparent.

  • John MatrixJohn Matrix Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I'll echo the LSAT advice, the vast majority of people who took the LSAT because they didn't know what else to do/want to make money are terrible lawyers. There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule, but unless you've worked in a law firm you're probably going to walk into a world of hurt and hate your life even more.

  • underdonkunderdonk __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2009
    underdonk wrote: »
    If only you had a minor in Art to go along with your BA in English. You'd be rolling in cash.

    This. Sarcasm? Your school choices and career accomplishments may have been brilliant beyond the standard, and mine below, but that's why I'm here. Now ask yourself: Do you really have the knowledge and evidence to back up making fun of a BA from an accredited University? Or are you just aware of the tiny amount of jobs that constitute your own field in your own life?

    Humor is lost on some.

    Back in the day, bucko, we just had an A and a B button... and we liked it.
  • VThornheartVThornheart Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Wasn't this the plotline for "Avenue Q"? =)
    Avenue Q wrote:
    What can you do with a B.A. in English?
    What is my life going to be?
    Four years of college,
    and plenty of knowledge,
    have earned me this useless degree

    I can't pay the bills yet
    'cause I have no skills yet
    the world is a big, scary place:
    but somehow I can't shake
    the feeling I might make
    a difference for the human race!

    So, all that being said, you have some options that are obvious to me:

    * Schoolteacher

    Your concerns are valid about the financial feasibility of this. You can do it, but your wife will probably need to work as well if you want to have the money to support a family. There is also an immediate gain in that if you got your education in California I believe you can enroll in a program whereby in exchange for working in the public school system for X years (I think it's 2) you get all of your school debts paid off. That could set you on the right foot.

    * Barista/Waiter

    I know this sounds terrible, but depending where you are in L.A. you could earn a better living than a schoolteacher would on your tips.

    * Technical writer

    Again, depending on where you live in L.A., you might be able to find a corporation that needs a technical writer.

    Just a few options... hopefully it helps.

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