A couple years into higher education, I started working for a major retailer to cover rent and books while I worked toward a degree that would lead me into teaching. A couple years into it, I, for various reasons, dropped out of school and moved from Ohio to Boston with a few friends, and got promoted over the phone to a position in store management here. I'm 27 now, and trying to decide if this is really what I want to do for a career.
I generally enjoy most aspects of the job, and love the parts that involve training people, making plans that my team carries out, and educating customers on what we sell. I also enjoy the background financial work; managing labor and resources and how every small piece impacts a company financially. For the first two years here, I also had two great bosses that helped me develop what I think are some solid leadership skills, and were also a ton of fun to work for. After my last move, I landed at a store that I was able to make some hugely positive impacts on, but did so in a way that was pretty much the opposite of how my direct manager operates. After doing some research, it seems like my previous bosses were the exception in this line of work, which isn't something I considered before. I'm at a spot now where I'm wondering if I'm in the right company, or even the right industry, because even if I continue on, get promoted a few more times, and end up in this line of work permanently, I'll be working alongside people that I fundamentally disagree with on a lot of issues. There are, of course, some other concerns; I work crazy random hours right now, which I've personally seen drive a few people out of the career here that
My problem now is that I don't know where else I would go that could sustain me financially. I'm making $75k~ right now, which seems like a tremendous salary for someone that grew up in a lower-middle class environment. I'm also trying to pay off student loans, and my company has a very solid 401k match. I want to finish my degree at some point, but my only real option there is online coursework due to the randomness of my schedule. I'm very interested in IT, as I've got a few friends that work in the field, but I don't know how I could land something without a finished degree or prior experience. I ran an in-store computer repair department for two years, but teaching people how to remove viruses doesn't seem like the kind of experience that would do me any favors with a normal job. I can't really afford to start off at a wage dramatically lower that I'm making now, but I also don't want to continue on in retail just because it pays (relatively) well. I feel like I'm not applying myself most of the time, and while I usually have fun at work, it's hard to avoid feeling a little depressed that I'm phoning it in and will eventually turn into the people above me that I can't stand.
Has anyone else run into a situation like this before? I'm trying to find some kind of exit strategy, but I can't decide if it's worth it or if I just continue on here, being ambivalent at best about my career, or suck it up and potentially take a pay cut to start off fresh in something I might enjoy a lot more.