Author Topic: Go back to school, or stick it out?  (Read 1903 times)

11ducks

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Go back to school, or stick it out?
« on: November 05, 2015, 11:29:18 PM »

Hi awesome Mustachians, I would love some career advice. Should I retrain in a new career, or continue with the one I don't love?

Background: I'm 32, a qualified high school teacher (Bachelors in Biology and Education, and a Masters in Education) with a good permanent job, earning around $48k AUD after taxes.

I have outstanding student loans of $23k, (indexed at inflation), and savings of approx. $20k. I'm a single parent with an amazing 11y/old I have 100% responsibility for.

I went into teaching 5 years ago because it was the perfect option to raise a kid alone. After working hard, I snagged a permanent job at the same school DS attends, so we have all the same holidays, and there is no need for before/after school care, and we spend a lot of time together - I love this.

However, I cannot see myself teaching forever. I enjoy some parts of teaching (the 90% of kids who want to be there, the learning, some great colleagues), but not others (behaviour management, psychotic parents, incompetent/unsupportive admin staff (some, not all), ridiculous expectations).

I also realise that I'm at my most energetic and patient now, and dread the thought of teaching for the next 15-18years (what I'll need to comfortably FIRE). Some of the 50-somethings I work with are so tired, defeated, they get sarcastic, angry, jaded, hate their jobs. I don't want to be one of those people that counts the days down or is constantly on medical/stress leave because they can't handle the thought of coming to work.

I'm considering starting study for a Masters degree in Biostatistics. I'm considering it now for a few reasons:

-I love statistics, and am good at it. It combines my love of Sciences and Maths into a high demand field. I think it'd be interesting, it is good pay and strong projected growth in Aus in the next 10 years. There are also options for work at home.

-In Aus, qualifications need to be pretty recent to allow you to continue to Masters level (I graduated in Jan 2011). if I don't recommence study next year, I'd have to recomplete my undergraduate Biology degree to go further in the Sciences (cost $30k more/3years), or start over in something different.

- I could do a low-part time load (3 units/year) for 4 years externally, and graduate as my DS is heading into Year 10 (sophomore I think?), meaning I could take on a new job without concerns re day-care. Here we pay per unit studied, so there is no financial incentive to study faster (in my case, I wouldn't want to graduate for at least 3 years anyway).

- I could work full-time at my current job until then, upon grad I could possibly finagle a 6 month leave of absence, take a biostats job, and ensure it is a good fit (risk-free) before giving up my permanent teaching job.

- Wide range of jobs I could take on, including government, private, academic, possibly lecturing.

Downside: costs. The degree runs about $35k total, which I'd pay out of pocket (around $9k per year). If I can get work to sign off on it as a work-related expense (not sure if possible), I could pay it pre-tax, reducing it to around $6k/year.

Pay would probably be initially slightly lower, though it would catch up fairly quickly to equal/overtake my current salary.

So, what do you think, oh wise ones? What factors should I consider when deciding whether or not to go through with a career change like this? Any advice would be great.

urbanista

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Re: Go back to school, or stick it out?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 04:39:47 AM »
What state are you in? It is important. All the jobs for statisticians are in Sydney, Melbourne and some in Brisbane.
I am a data scientist in Melbourne, working and studying Masters in statistics. Hope I can provide some advice.

The career of statistician is amazing. I love what I do,
However, the Biostatistics degree which is taught online, is not a very good degree.  For various reasons. It's an ok degree if you already work as an analyst and just need some extra skills, but it is not very good to get a foot in the door. The networking is zero since it is taught online. it is not enough to learn statistics, one must also learn computer programming and dealing with big data. There is not enough of that.
If you were in Melbourne, there would be much better option, which is masters in bioinformatics at Melb uni. Much stronger degree and you can get a CSP cutting the cost in half.

lakemom

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Re: Go back to school, or stick it out?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 04:54:30 AM »
Have you thoroughly explored career fields where your current education is enough?  With a degree in Biology I would think there would be numerous jobs that require that degree.  Explore those before spending more money on another degree.  I'd also think outside the box to career fields that may not require a degree at all (sales comes to mind first but there are countless others, mmm has a couple of blog posts on those too).  At the very least I would keep teaching until your child is out of school then pursue additional education for yourself.  Or choose one of those fields that don't require more education.

11ducks

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Re: Go back to school, or stick it out?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 05:47:37 AM »
Thanks for your feedback guys.

Urbanista, I'm Brisbane unfortunately. I also am not sure how I would take classes internally at this stage (no sitter/fam nearby). If you have time, could you give me some specifics on the issues around the online Biostatistics degree? I was assuming, since it's a collaborative (bca) project running across a few unis (including USyd, UMelb, UNewcastle, and and UQld), it would have to be decent? Can you suggest any online bioinformatics degrees (I can't seem to find any)?
Alternatively, what qualifications did you have prior to getting your job? If I can enter
The field with a Grad cert or something, that's be great.

Lakemom, thanks for your reply. I'm not finding a whole lot for only a bachelors degree in biology,
Unfortunately, most positions seem to require a Masters or above these days.


urbanista

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Re: Go back to school, or stick it out?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 07:07:25 PM »
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: Go back to school, or stick it out?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2015, 04:59:06 PM »
In ten years time, would you look back and regret not doing it?

Are you open to moving cities if the employment opportunities are better?

Why can't you get a HELP loan for it?

I reckon do it. Even if it delays FIRE by a bit, MMM is all about concentrating on doing what brings you happiness. :)

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