Author Topic: Advice about mid-career change  (Read 1813 times)

Justdreaming

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Advice about mid-career change
« on: June 12, 2019, 10:23:57 AM »
Im looking for advice as I contemplate taking a leap toward a mid-career change.  In a lot of ways our family is in a very, very fortunate position, and I am paralyzed with fear about making the wrong choice.

Our situation:  Married, two income family with 2 kids.  Early-mid 40s.  Two high incomes, high cost of living area.  Our savings rate is currently well over 50% of our post tax income.  I found this site a little less than 2 years ago, and I've found it very helpful, even though we likely do not qualify as mustachian.  It has helped us reduce our spending by 20%, pay closer attention to spending intentionally and only on things we value, and opened my eyes to the world of FIRE.

We currently have a little over 15x our annual spending saved for retirement.  In addition, we have about 1/3 of the expected future cost of 4 year private college saved for our 2 kids (who are 8-10 years away from college).  I believe that our annual spend, plus approximately $15,000 in 401(k) contribution, would be covered by my spouse's income alone if it were the sole income (I haven't precisely calculated what the taxes would be on just 1 income).

I'd like to leave my chosen profession.  It pays well, and with certain exceptions, allows flexibility for family.  I used to find aspects to enjoy, but lately I find no joy in it, only a high degree of stress.  I'm considering a career change that would both require additional costs to get into (additional certifications/masters program) and would result in a pretty dramatic salary cut.  But I think I would enjoy it a lot more, it would be more fulfilling and meaningful to me than my current role, and it would hopefully allow me to be present for my kids when they get home from school.  I've found that as the kids get older, finding a work-life balance is more difficult, not less, because kid's activities (that they love and are driven to pursue) and homework make the afternoon-evening-weekend hours very busy.

My nagging concerns include: 

-- It seems crazy and self-indulgent for me to spend a minimum of $25,000-30,000 (for the least expensive program I could find) for a new degree for me in order to get a much lower paying job when I already have an advanced degree and we're trying to save for our kids' college educations.  We can fund this from our savings/taxable accounts, but it is a withdrawal when we are used to only adding to these accounts.

--for the duration of the 2-year program and unless and until I get a new job (and we are living on spouse's salary alone), we likely will have great difficulty saving any more for our kids' college education, and while they should have a nice sum based on our current savings, it would not be fully funded.

--We'd be a lot less secure:  what if my spouse loses his job, what if one of us has a serious health issue; what if I am unable to find a job in this new field.  In general, the thought of losing the security we've had with two relatively high incomes is scary. 

When I try to map out various scenarios, I come up with the following:

The worst case scenario:  spouse loses job, health scare, no health insurance, me unable to find work

The medium case scenario:  I don't find work in new career, I become stay at home parent, spouse works another 10-12 years (or more if we decide to fully fund college) and then we both retire.

The best case scenario:  I find a new career I love, Im happy to keeping working for 10-15 more years...

Would appreciate any thoughts about how to go about making a decision like this.



newloginuser

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 11:56:28 AM »
What are you looking to go back to school for and what is the current field your career/degree is in?

caracarn

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 12:01:15 PM »
I stepped away from senior executive positions in IT to a staff position as a project manager (did not require any schooling I did not already have, so not the same as your situation exactly) and took a 40% pay cut in the process, but my travel there was similar to yours.  I hated the stress and the blaming of the roles I had at multiple companies and after not taking the step three years ago when I changed jobs then, was upset enough the second time around that I made the leap.  So far, best thing I have ever done.  I'll share more later, but wanted to post while your questions was fresh. 

Roadrunner53

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 12:20:53 PM »
I personally would not spend more on education. There are plenty of other roads you could probably take with the education you already have. You say you'd have to take a pay cut to go into this new thing you are interested in plus pay around $30,000 to educate yourself in this lower paying job.

If it were me I would look for other options.

Can you reduce your hours in your current job?
Can you talk to your boss and see if there is something else you can do within the company? Tell them you feel you have more to offer in another area of the company. Don't tell them you are bored or stressed.
What is it in your job you are stressing over? Is there anyway to delegate that to someone else?

Have you looked for similar jobs at other companies?
Have you considered government jobs thru your state? If you are an engineer, they have those types of jobs thru the state and many more you may have never considered.
What are you strong points at work? What parts of your job DO you like? Can you expand your career choices by focusing on your strengths. Like if you like one aspect of  your job like report writing or purchasing materials or leading teams.

Just remember, employers are not kind in most industries. When you are in your early 50's to mid 50's companies start to weed out older workers by giving them a severance package to go away. Trust me, I know it because it happend to me in my early 50's and in my late 50's at two different companies. They can't say they are getting rid of you because you are OLD but basically they figure they can hire two for the price of one.

For what my two cents is worth I would try to build on what you already have. Does your company offer seminars you can attend on their dime? If so, find some things that will enhance your career. Get certificates in new subjects. A lot of companies will pay for advanced degrees. Does your company? Usually there is a catch you have to work a few years after receiving the degree or they will want you to pay back the expenses.

Good luck.

Justdreaming

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 01:10:05 PM »
To answer some of the questions asked:

Current field:  law
New field: education

My current hours are flexible, but deadlines are not. So while part time is a possibility, the work load doesnt necessarily match the reduced schedule.  And so Id more likely than not end up with reduced pay for similarish hours. At this stage, I dont want to be in this field any more. I may well continue to slog through for a few more years until we truly are fully FI, but Id rather find a new field.  My ideal(ized) position would involve working with kids, more community focused, with the ability to be home for my kids after school.


Roadrunner53

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 01:55:40 PM »
You should check to see if you can collect Social Security if you become a teacher.

https://financeforteachers.com/can-i-collect-trs-and-social-security/

Being a teacher is a stressful job too.

legalstache

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 04:05:33 PM »
What about looking for a different firm or trying to go into gov't or public sector work? That may give you more time at home, but wouldn't address your general burnout with the law. Does your firm/company offer a sabbatical that might allow you to recharge?

When you say education for your new potential field, I assume you mean teaching. It seems like going back to school and becoming a new teacher would be time-consuming and eat up a lot of the time you're hoping to spend with your kids after school. Don't a really high percentage of teachers leave the field within a few years? How much research have you done into your desired new field?

All that being said, though, you're in great shape to make some sort of move soon. Curious to hear what you decide.

Freedomin5

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2019, 04:42:55 PM »
Financially, it sounds like you have enough FU money to make the move if you want.

My question is whether youre certain teaching is for you. There is a lot of politics to deal with as a teacher and working in the school system. Do you know what youre getting yourself into? Have you been volunteer teaching or been heavily involved in the school system in the past few years? If not, then I would look for opportunities to volunteer as a parent or teach a few classes first, maybe teaching law-related courses at a local college or acting as a guest speaker, to make sure this is really what you want, before committing the time and money to getting another degree.

jfer_rose

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2019, 04:47:44 PM »
I feel your desire so deeply from what you wrote and I can seriously relate.

I'm contemplating making a change and I found the book "Designing Your Life" to be very helpful. It encourages you to do several activities that provide clarity around these sorts of decisions. For example: 1) track your time and how you feel during various tasks and 2) find ways to test out new ideas before you make a huge change to be sure you like the idea as much as you imagine. I did most of the activities in the book and feel it has shed light on my decision.

I also want to share an interesting insight I discovered. I've started telling people about the career change I hope to make by the end of the summer. Some people are expressing jealousy about the job I would leave to do so-- the one that is causing me so much stress, and that also has deadline-based work that bleeds into time when I'm not scheduled to work. What I'm hearing is that any job can be stressful, so my suggestion would be to consider whether you would still be willing to spend the time and money for the change if it were guaranteed that the stress level wouldn't change with the new career.

Obviously, there are different types of jobs in the education field but I would say that my teacher friends are at least as stressed out by work as I am, if not more. And even though the school day ends earlier in the day, they are not done with school. Some of them are required to stay at the school to do work after the school day ends, while others take work home with them regularly.

None of this is to discourage you from making a change if you truly want it, but I do encourage you to do some more exploration before you make a decision.


FatFI2025

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2019, 07:34:33 PM »
Noooo! If you are talking about elementary or HS, decent teachers do not get afternoons off to spend with their kids. They do lesson plans, grade papers, fill out reports, and prep materials for the following day. There is a ton of "oversight" and you will be dealing with demanding parents!

Maybe consider community college or adjunct at a university. No need to go back to school or get a credential. You could actually dip your toe in while still practicing full time.

But I do think you can make a jump away from traditional practice to get some of your life back. Good luck!

Freedomin5

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2019, 08:10:26 PM »
Noooo! If you are talking about elementary or HS, decent teachers do not get afternoons off to spend with their kids. They do lesson plans, grade papers, fill out reports, and prep materials for the following day. There is a ton of "oversight" and you will be dealing with demanding parents!

Yeah, this is true. My husband is a teacher. He usually gets to school by 7:30 AM, and he often stays until 6 or 7 PM. He also sometimes goes in on Sunday afternoon to prep classes.

Justdreaming

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2019, 09:10:04 PM »
Thank you. Lots of good input, which gives me a lot to think about.  Im also interested in thoughts about the financial piece of the puzzle. Honestly, what Id really like is to just take 6 months or a year off to be a stay at home parent (and clean/fix things around the house/exercise more/do all the things we have no time for now) while gaining the time and space to figure out the career change. I both know that our finances can readily handle that scenario and feel overwhelming fear about the uncertainty of what would come next and not having the safety net of dual incomes. My current thinking is to push through for one more year at which point wed have about 17x expenses plus taxes saved, putting us that much closer to full FI so that we can likely coast to FIRE regardless of what I do.  Im trying to balance my desire to have the largest safety margin possible with trying to avoid the negative effects of staying in a job that is taking its toll. 

urbanista

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2019, 01:44:51 AM »
I once worked alongside a lawyer who was in her early 40s with 2 kids in early primary school. She had a boring transactional job (commercial contracts for large electricity and gas company). Her hours, though, were awesome: 9-5 three days a week in the office plus one day work from home, so 80% load. Gross pay was close to 200K pro-rata. She almost never worked overtime. These jobs exist. It makes sense to consider changing industry but not a profession.

In regards to teaching, it is very stressful. Work does not stop at 3.30pm.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2019, 02:38:01 AM »
Thank you. Lots of good input, which gives me a lot to think about.  Im also interested in thoughts about the financial piece of the puzzle. Honestly, what Id really like is to just take 6 months or a year off to be a stay at home parent (and clean/fix things around the house/exercise more/do all the things we have no time for now) while gaining the time and space to figure out the career change. I both know that our finances can readily handle that scenario and feel overwhelming fear about the uncertainty of what would come next and not having the safety net of dual incomes. My current thinking is to push through for one more year at which point wed have about 17x expenses plus taxes saved, putting us that much closer to full FI so that we can likely coast to FIRE regardless of what I do.  Im trying to balance my desire to have the largest safety margin possible with trying to avoid the negative effects of staying in a job that is taking its toll.

Taking a sabbatical, followed by finding a low stress LAW job after that, sounds like a good plan. If you forget about making a carreer, there must be easier law jobs available. Maybe by working directly for a normal (not law) company by making their contracts.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2019, 05:07:17 AM »
Not sure if you ever visited Ed 2 Go on line. https://www.ed2go.com/search?term=law

Students can take short courses online and get a certificate of completion. They have law subjects and many other areas of study. Here is a blurb on who is teaching one of the law courses: Employment Law Fundamentals

Ann Nevers
Ann Nevers holds a law degree and a masters in health law. She works in dispute resolution for business, employment, and health care and regularly teaches courses in these areas. She has published numerous academic articles, edited legal manuals, and written chapters on employment, dispute resolution, and health care topics.

You could look into this and perhaps put together your on spin on what you do. For instance, real estate law. Maybe you could have the most popular forms used in real estate and explain all the ins and outs. Or law pertaining to elder law. All the things families can do to protect their elderly before entering a nursing home. All the ins and outs of Medicaid. This looks like the instructors work from home. No idea on how lucrative this might be. You would need to investigate it. Just an idea!

CarolinaGirl

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2019, 05:28:36 AM »
Taking a mini retirement can be a wonderful thing!  Use the time to decompress and figure out your next steps.  Ive had 3 in my career and always found work waiting for me somewhere when I was ready.  Enjoy the time with your kids!

Noodle

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2019, 06:37:32 AM »
Another book recommendation--"Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath. They take a lot of existing info about making good decisions and put it together in an easy-to-read package. Their techniques go way beyond the pros/cons list, and a number of the examples they give have to do with making career changes.

Beyond that, I think there are a lot of interim steps between current high-stress/low-reward law job and take time out of the workplace/spend $25,000/come back to work at a lower salary that you might pursue. Maybe in the end, you and your husband will actually decide that going back to school to become a teacher is exactly the right decision for your family! But there are other lower-impact things you could try first.

1. Are there any changes that could be made in your current position to reduce hours or stress? Is there another position or set of job duties or group of colleagues that might give you "a second wind?" It sounds like you've already thought that through, but have you actually asked questions and looked at specific positions, or have you just thought about it generally?

2. Are there different options within your field but outside your current workplace, that might be more attractive or give you a refresher--maybe with a pay cut but also not costing your family anything out of pocket? I have seen on these boards that many people will complain about jobs/careers for pages, but are weirdly reluctant to actually start applying for other things and seeing what is out there.

OK, let's assume that you've really looked into 1 & 2 and decided that the options aren't viable for you.

3. Are there any jobs out there that are education-adjacent, but don't require a whole new credential? I have a family member who always dreamed of going into medicine, but gradually realized that he didn't have the grades or focus for all the required education. He finally ended up in a field of business that works with the medical field, became an expert in a a specific area that companies need, and makes as much money as he would have as a doctor (and more than as a nurse or other medical professional, which he had considered) with WAY less stress. Or jobs that involve teaching in other ways? My whole family has jobs that involve teaching (and love it) but none of us are in the school system except a couple of aunts. I have a job that involves teaching an annual course (and my employer would like me to do more, but I have only so many hours in a day), a sibling teaches in a professional program through the local University extension program, a second sibling works as a therapist teaching individuals and groups techniques for better managing their mental health. One parent taught in community college for a number of years and then took a job that involved individual teaching and coaching on health habits. The other parent did lots of volunteering over the years that involved teaching and now volunteers practically full-time as a Master Gardener, which has a big community teaching aspect. The job market right now is your friend...the labor supply is tight so employers can't be as picky about applicants as they might be at other times, and might be willing to take on an "unusual" applicant.

4. What can you do to find out what teaching is really like? Volunteer at a school that is NOT your kids' school (because teachers may be reluctant to be frank with a parent)? Go on the internet and read forums where teachers discuss their work? Take a couple education classes at a local university? Attend some professional events or conferences for teachers? I don't know about education, but in my field there is no requirement to belong to professional organizations or attend conferences other than paying the entrance fee, and it's not unusual to meet people who are "dipping a toe" into a new field.

5. And aside from this, could you really look at your family finances and see what are needs and what are wants? Double-high-income families are often rife with optional spending because the parents need to spend to buy back time due to demanding jobs. It sounds like you've already picked some of the low-hanging fruit, but what else is there? Could you do a case study? If you did take a sabbatical from the workplace, could you use that time to build new habits and address issues that reduce the family's overall spending? Could you do things like paying your kids an allowance to do chores, and cut back on more expensive professional housekeeping/maintenance?

Best of luck with your project!

FatFI2025

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2019, 08:07:22 AM »
Thank you. Lots of good input, which gives me a lot to think about.  Im also interested in thoughts about the financial piece of the puzzle. Honestly, what Id really like is to just take 6 months or a year off to be a stay at home parent (and clean/fix things around the house/exercise more/do all the things we have no time for now) while gaining the time and space to figure out the career change. I both know that our finances can readily handle that scenario and feel overwhelming fear about the uncertainty of what would come next and not having the safety net of dual incomes. My current thinking is to push through for one more year at which point wed have about 17x expenses plus taxes saved, putting us that much closer to full FI so that we can likely coast to FIRE regardless of what I do.  Im trying to balance my desire to have the largest safety margin possible with trying to avoid the negative effects of staying in a job that is taking its toll.

It sounds like you just need some time to recharge. Why not just take a year off then reassess how you feel after that year? Doing one more year, getting to 17x vs 15x will not assuage your anxiety. It's pretty normal to be scared of walking away from the comfort of extra income, but you will find that after you do it and your life doesn't fall into a million pieces, your only regret will be not jumping sooner.

greydog

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2019, 09:10:16 AM »
Your note feels like it could have been written about me a few years ago. Here's what I have done in the last couple of years:

* I researched a few different programs in my presumed-less-stress career (a Master's degree that would allow me to change jobs and industries), and I found one that allowed for taking evening / weekend classes. The new industry would be a big pay cut for me too (at least 50-60% less), so I was super nervous about doing that. My husband has a lower-paying (but still decent) career that's extremely stable. I knew we weren't going to lose the house or anything if I quit, but I also knew it would be a lot harder to stay on track with our goals of maxing out retirement accounts, saving for college, home repairs, travel, etc. So I took a more incremental approach.

* I started taking classes, a couple per semester, while still keeping my job. I paid for the classes as I went. Is that a possibility for you? I could handle the tuition payments as I went, meaning I didn't have to take out a big loan.

* I took the classes over a 3 year period, while working full time. One class was a 1-week intensive (5 days, all day) course in the summer, and I took vacation for it. Most of them were weekend classes or evenings. It was a lot, and it involved a lot of coordination.

* Then, I was done with everything except an internship requirement. Honestly, that's where I got stuck. All the internships i could find needed you to be there during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 9-5. Basically, when I was already at work! I wasn't sure I wanted to make the leap to quit my job, do the internship, and try to find a job in this new career. So I sat on it for several more years and did nothing.

* Finally, last year, I realized that I STILL wasn't happy. I still wanted something different. Also, I'd invested so much in this Master's degree (and I was so close to finishing it up!). So I got back in touch with my alumni office, they confirmed that I could get my student standing re-confirmed, and they worked with me to find an internship that I could, miraculously, complete on weekends. It worked out really well, my supervisor was flexible, and I was able to get the internship hours to receive credit for that final course requirement. After a few other bureaucratic hiccups, I'm applying for my degree this summer.

Honestly, I STILL don't know if I'll take the leap. My current job isn't quite as soul-sucking as my previous one was. I'm frankly, making an even better salary today than I was when I started so it's even harder to think about walking away from that. But it is a lot of hours, and as my kids get older I still yearn for more time with them. Now I have my degree, and I have options.

Maybe there's a baby-steps approach you can take to start to figure out if this new path is a fit? I found that just doing SOMETHING toward my larger goal made the day-to-day of my current job more bearable.

Anyway, I've been there, and I wanted to encourage you not to be afraid to make a change in your life. You sound responsible and hard working. You can do this!

Redstone5

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2019, 09:21:36 AM »
The best idea I've heard recently for people considering a career change, is to try changing employers first. Often it's not the work we do, but who we work for and with, that affects our job satisfaction.

My job itself is super boring, but I work with awesome people and for an organization that shares my values, so I can happily see myself staying here for the long term.

Also, talk to as many people as you can who are already working in the field and in the geographic area that you are considering. I was 100% set on going to law school until I spoke to lawyers and legal assistants and people who worked with them, and realized that it wasn't going to be like I thought, and I was better off going in a totally different area that actually offered what I was looking for.

Also, you often don't need degrees to work particular jobs. Amazingly, in my area, you don't need a degree or certification to be a counsellor, run a support group, or open a daycare, for example. Perhaps you can get what you're looking for in teaching by running legal workshops for teens, etc. without earning a teaching degree. Don't be afraid to be creative!

caracarn

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2019, 11:47:39 AM »
Lots of good input since I gave my short input early on.

I say you want to move into teaching/education, and I second the input you have received about it not being stress free by any stretch of the imagination.  My wife changed careers from corporation positions in technology and project management and changed careers to be a reading specialist.  She helps students with learning disabilities, mainly dyslexia and such.  She started out in private practice, found it hard to generate enough clients, and took a position at a private school (you cannot teach at most public schools without a Masters in Education, so keep that in mind) and has been there for four years.  She loved it initially, but then the bureaucracy that is unique to education started to grind on her, and she has made the decision to once again go into private practice.  At this point, five years in, she has a reputation in the educational community which she did not when she changed careers and it does seem as if she will have plenty of students to assist.  She's energized and excited again, but the lack of leadership at her school and the infighting amongst staff made her feel worse than when she was in a corporation.  Given the lack of profit motivation in education she found it difficult to champion change because she found little incentive for people to want to do anything above the minimum, as there was no point.  Pay is low and differentiation for those who excel is not what you might expect in other fields.  In fact, my wife's experience has been the opposite.  They would pile extra responsibilities on staff without any change in pay, and since your contract is only for the given school year, people felt pressured to give in or not get renewed.  For example, she has a colleague that has a long commute and therefore does not take on the "volunteer" tasks at the end of the day or after school.  Her new contract requires her to be on bus duty every day and to run after school programs three out of five days.  No other staff member is being told to do that as part of their contract.  It is just a very sneaky way of pushing people out the door, once their pay and tenure get higher.  All the teachers are appalled at how this one lady is being treated in the contract renewals but no one feels they can do anything. 

We also have an "educator's dinner" that occurs every quarter or so, where teacher's and their spouses get together at someone's house to share war stories and support each other.  Those in the public school who have a union to back them do not fare much better.  I would have thought this type of manipulation and back stabbing would be more limited when the teacher's have a way to negotiate as a group, but alas the public school teachers ask the private school teachers if their lot is better and vice versa.   Also, in all case of this group of about twenty teachers that I am a fly on the wall with every quarter, they all need to buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets as there is never enough money, and this is for people getting paid below, often well below (my wife's starting salary was $32,000) $50,000.  We tend to buy about $1-$2K of things on our own each year so her students get what they need. 

I share this as all professions has an underbelly that is now always clear from the outside.  I likely have no idea about the intricacies of law, other than some people who I know in the field grumbling here or there how only the partners enjoy life in a law practice and getting to that level is soul sucking.  Just be aware, it seems education is also rife with dysfunction. 

Moving back to career change, I will speak more from my perspective, but my wife's process was similar and it parallels what you have said.  We both found the lack of flexibility in higher paying jobs to be more than we wanted to bear with regards to our time with our children and being able to let them be involved in activities or just see us regularly and not be thinking about work.  I would work hard every day in my job as an IT exec only to get blamed or belittled by management and finding that I had to be connected 24x7.  It made me pretty grumpy at times.  It took me 3-5 years to get comfortable and determine what the things I did not like were and to find a way to use my existing skill set (not have to go get another degree).  I already had a project management certification obtained while in the IT ranks.  I just turned that into my primary job.  My IT background is a massive asset to my employer as of the six PMs in my group, only two of us have IT background and our company sells and implements enterprise software.  I have a hard time explaining the difference to people, so you may also listen to my story and furrow your brow, as when I talk to my dad each day he usually says, "Sound like a terrible day", when I share what occurred.  I keep telling him that it was actually a great or at least perfectly acceptable day, because it was things that my job is about.  A project manager's job is not about lack of stress, but it is not the stress of getting yelled at by your management for things that are not really your responsibility or things you should be doing, as is much more typical in IT.  I do have upset customers because they are not getting what they want all the time, but I just manage their expectations, and do not take their ire personally, because it is not abut me.   I do not get calls at night or on weekends.  I'm sure during a go-live for a week or two, I may have to, but those are again, planned and sporadic, instead of unknown and constant.  I've had two customer go live already in my short time here and no after hours work on my part was involved.  I very much feel the "career change" was the best thing I have done.  I can focus on other things I enjoy outside of work, and while at work, I feel very much in control and very empowered. Yes, the company I am at has a lot to do with that, but that is just finding a workplace that works with your personality and work style.  That involves interviewing well and making sure you are not scared to ask the tough questions to flesh that out.  I have lost jobs in that process, but they were clearly jobs I would have hated if I had just gone in blindly and hoped for the best.   When the first question an interviewer asked was "Describe working too hard" was couple with the expectant look that they only answer they would accept was "No such thing" and their answer after I gave mine was "The last person we hired had the joy of working with me until 3 AM all week long the first week here", I know that's not the place for me.

So the best advice I can give if you go down this path, is now what you need to thrive and accept nothing less than that.  Your short list of things you need, if compromised, is what is likely driving your sadness.  I know that until I realized that, and stopped thinking I could grin and bear it, I kept foundering.  It is not about finding a job a love, it is about finding a job that I can knock out of the park and going home each day knowing I did good work.  One things I see lacking in education are people who are good administrators and organizers.  As a lawyer I assume you have a lot of this as my wife and I did as project managers.  One of the things that gets her noticed is this skill set because it is so glaringly lacking in most educators, yet crucial to really help your kids.  This may help you stand out in that field, so keep that in mind.  Sadly however, unless your state is different, but most are not, you will need to get some formal certifications if not outright degrees to move into any job in it.  My wife's program was a $15,000 certification program remotely through SMU, but she's very limited in her options unless she bites the bullet and gets a Masters in Ed.  She is working on that now, but only after she has spent 5 years in the field and knows for certain this is her "career".  So perhaps that will help you paint your path with a little more insight.

Happy to share anything else you feel might help.

civil4life

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2019, 02:54:13 PM »
Since you were a lawyer, I wanted to point out this Journal.  https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/employment-dilemma-take-new-job/

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Kepler

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2019, 02:02:42 AM »
The best idea I've heard recently for people considering a career change, is to try changing employers first. Often it's not the work we do, but who we work for and with, that affects our job satisfaction.

This was my recent compromise, fwiw.  I've taken a new job with broadly similar responsibilities to what I had before - and taken a fairly deep cut in pay.  However, it's in a much lower cost-of-living location (so the cut in pay is fully offset by lower costs of living - and, if things hold up, we're looking like we'll actually end up a bit ahead).  But mainly it's a workplace that offers colleagues who actually understand what I do, and why I'm skilled at it, and are really thrilled that I've chosen to take up the role.  I suddenly have people I can talk to, in depth, about what I work on, I can meaningfully share workload - and, because I'm coming from a much more pressured environment, the "crises" at my new position are like the slow periods where I used to work. 

There's an incredible luxury of time!  I can leave at the end of the day and /nothing/ is hovering over me.  No one mails with emergencies after hours or on weekends.  At my previous job, I could actually spend most of my time working from home (I can do that a bit at the new one too, but not as often), but I still have much more time - and much more available "self" - with my family in the new role, even though technically I'm in the office more hours in the week.

And the office is full of frugal folk!  My new manager pulled me aside during my initial orientation, thinking she would help with some tips - now we swap savings suggestions and chat finance news.  Everyone brings lunch - no more constant having to eat out whenever I was at the office, because everyone held meetings at restaurants...  I don't think I've ever "fit" into a workplace so much in my life.  And yet everyone is perfectly cheerful and committed to the work while we're here - it doesn't feel like a place people find so unpleasant that they are desperate to escape: we are just all saving for retirement as early as we can...  I've actually developed a little tinge of worry, because most of us are openly prepping to retire: if too many colleagues get out before I do, I'm worried they will be replaced with more typical folk, and it won't be as nice :-)  But at my previous workplace, people really did /want out/ - they were just stuck from lack of the financial resources to leave.

All of which is by way of saying: my new job, on paper, is the same as my old one - and, on paper, you would think it's substantially worse - lower pay, less time working from home.  But it's just so much better.  It could really be worth seeing whether you can leverage your existing skills into a position that would be a better fit - whether that's something that superficially looks like what you're doing now, but with a better organisation, or whether it's teaching at a community college or university - or perhaps a side hustle like tutoring kids (or young adults - perhaps even those prepping for legal careers?), that could offer more flexibility and control, without the need for a new degree or the full-on time commitment of primary or secondary teaching.

caracarn

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2019, 07:31:22 AM »
@Kepler That is a great story you have!  Terrific is worked out really well for you and I think a wonderful real world example of how, if you can be flexible, things can really change.  I think the biggest part of your story is moving to a LCOL area, which not everyone can, or is willing, to do.  I'm blessed in that I am already in a reasonable area, but my wife and I have talked a few times as job searches have occurred about moving, and right now, with the kids still not quite out of the nest, we would rather not relocate.  I think if someone is open to moving, you can look at communities like Tulsa and others that are offering incentives to get people to move there because they need high quality workers.  This is the type of thing that can put you in touch with colleagues who appreciate you.  Not sure if that's the type of move you made, but certainly aligns with something like that.  Being willing to live is a "less desirable" area per "normal" standards (i.e. not NYC, LA, Seattle, or Chicago for example) can take your personal stock up a ton, as you bring much needed skills to areas that are clamoring for them and do so with a less stressful environment.

Additionally, must studies done about how people stick around a workplace almost always show co-workers as the biggest determination.  Having people you click with and enjoy being around makes the 8-10 hours a day you would be there much more pleasant.  Thanks for sharing your great story.

Kepler

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2019, 03:07:26 AM »
@Kepler I think if someone is open to moving, you can look at communities like Tulsa and others that are offering incentives to get people to move there because they need high quality workers.  This is the type of thing that can put you in touch with colleagues who appreciate you.  Not sure if that's the type of move you made, but certainly aligns with something like that.  Being willing to live is a "less desirable" area per "normal" standards (i.e. not NYC, LA, Seattle, or Chicago for example) can take your personal stock up a ton, as you bring much needed skills to areas that are clamoring for them and do so with a less stressful environment.

Additionally, must studies done about how people stick around a workplace almost always show co-workers as the biggest determination.  Having people you click with and enjoy being around makes the 8-10 hours a day you would be there much more pleasant.  Thanks for sharing your great story.

Yes, different part of the world, but similar situation - smaller town, sort of denigrated locally (and, I should say, not a place that would normally be considered particularly LCOL - but I was living in a very very expensive place before, so this is a big improvement for us...).  I have to admit that one of the things that has properly surprised us about this move is how much we actively like the town - we had been thinking /that/ would be the compromise, in exchange for my having a more sane job and our being much closer to other places we could pursue activities we already enjoy.  It's a really unexpected bonus is that we really like the place in its own right, and not just its proximity to other places we already expected to enjoy :-)

I had already been on the market in a "get me outta this place" way, and had actually gotten an offer somewhere else that I was kind of ambivalent about, when I got a sort of accidental interview with a different employer in this region.  I didn't get that first offer (although I made some great connections), but it gave me an opportunity to check out the region, and I came back home really keen on looking for something specifically here. 

We researched it - even considered making the move without a job offer in hand, because there was enough going on that we suspected we would land on our feet - but we decided we would first make a determined effort to look for positions in the region.  I applied for several things, and this one came through.  It felt like forever at the time - it made things much worse at my old job to have an active plan about where we wanted to move - but I had an offer in hand within six months of our making the decision we were determined to do this - given how specialised what I do is, that's actually more or less as fast as it gets.  The job offer came with relocation support, so the relocation, with all our stuff, was free - and I negotiated to delay my start by six months.  So I had some time to wind things up on good terms with my old employer, and was able to take some time off to settle in the new place and explore a bit with my family.  And I even ended up with a few months of overlapping salary (I had so much unclaimed leave from my old employer, and they were legally obligated to pay it out...). 

And yes, there's no question that the "undesirability" of the location meant that I was regarded as a kind of coup - at several different moments of a multi-stage interview process, people pulled me aside to make sure I understood what I was getting myself into, and that I was serious (sometimes people in my field apply for positions so they can take the offer to their employer and use it as leverage for a raise: the biggest challenge in getting the offer, was convincing them I wasn't doing this...).

But sorry to natter on... I'm just still a bit stunned how much happier I am - how much happier the whole family is - even though I'm still working.  I had thought only FIRE was going to do that... (still not planning to work any longer than I have to, though :-) )

caracarn

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Re: Advice about mid-career change
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2019, 09:34:26 AM »
@Kepler It's wonderful to be happy.  So many people forgo that for a paycheck.  Glad you found something that does not require that.