Author Topic: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)  (Read 7963 times)

Hoosier Daddy

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Buenos dias muchachos!

I wanted to see if there are any routes that I haven't yet considered for making a career change.

I am 25 years old working at a big company as a Financial Analyst. The problem here is that every job I take, I use macros to automate almost everything, improve processes and then after 6 months am bored to death and company policy dictates you must stay in a job for a minimum of 18 months. So essentially I am bored out of my mind for a year. As we all lament, someone somewhere decided that everyone must work 9-5, even though individuals differ in their individual level of productivity. Thus if you can accomplish as much as most in 1 hour as they do in 8 hours because you can automate tasks, you still have to come in for the full 8; But I digress.

When I was 9 I used to build very basic HTML webpages, and have recently started to rediscover my love of working with computers and other science related items. I often spend my weekends teaching myself about how electricity works, programming languages or how to build environmentally self sufficient structures. Basically I have found that my true passion revolves around science, but unfortunately I am already invested (albeit a sunk cost) in my accounting degree (which is paid off as of last month; I have no debt) and if I just sit through my career, in 5-10 years I can join the ranks of the early retirees, but unfortunately, patience is likely my weakest attribute.

Lastly, I know how debt adds stress and I know everything I want to learn is in a book somewhere. Thus I feel like going back to school would be a waste of money because I could accomplish the same feats more directly by learning only what I want at my own pace etc. by just studying at home. However I am a very active person and after sitting in the office all week I want to spend my weekends outside so that I don't forget what the sun looks like! Plus I am just mentally exhausted from boredom and want a break, as we all need.

Finally the question: What do I do? Do I quit my job to spend my days learning programming to give myself an income and flexibility to learn other things? Financially speaking, after I learn programming, I could move to Argentina, get paid in USD and be in a US timezone, and my money would go a lot farther, giving me more free time. However quitting my job seems really risky, especially since I only have about $8k in the bank (additional $7k in 401k, not much) since I just finished paying off debt... Is there any other way you guys see that I could make the switch? I am down for anything. If there was a way to live in a tent with enough electricity for a computer and free wifi, I would totally do it (eliminating/minimalizing the need for money temporarily).

Note: Current programming knowledge is very minimal. I understand general concepts and am good at deconstructing processes into defined logic, which I would guess is the hardest part. I would just need to learn the verbiage to translate that logic into whatever code I would want to work with.

Bracken_Joy

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Not knowing details of your expenses means most of this is speculation, but it seems like you're in no position to quit your job. Having "minimal" programming experience, it probably isn't a good idea to jump into a field where a lot of the jobs can be done remotely, and thus your competitors are literally all around the world.

Is there a way you can make you life a little more "work to live" not "live to work"? Get a hobby. Knit at your desk. Trail run and nurse your sore muscles while you sit at your computer. Take up chair yoga. Something to make the tedium worth it.

To me it sounds a bit like you're hitting the "quarter life crisis". We were all told we would do these amazing things, and we're geniuses, and we will make a life of wonder and splendor for ourselves. But now we're all realizing that even with great jobs, there are vast amounts of boredom time. I would investigate your own psychology and expectations for your life before jumping into any radical life changes. 

Hoosier Daddy

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I agree with your points. Like I mentioned I am very impatient lol and I agree I am in no position to walk away.

To answer your first question: Depending on "fun" spend my monthly expenses are somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500 and my current income is $3k per month.

$520 rent
$50 electricity
$25 cable internet
$70 car insurance
$70 gas
$240 food (I lift and thus need a lot of protein and calories)
$50 dog food
$30 cell phone
$150 fun

So if we make an assumption I am stuck in the short term, what is the point that I can jump ship? After 18-month to 2 years I would have 2 years of expenses saved up... would that be a good time to jump? But you make a great point regarding the competition level and thus perhaps 2 years of mastery wouldn't be sufficient... Thus perhaps going to school and paying a ton of mula for a piece of paper to get into a programming company to essentially master my skills on their dime would be the best approach? I just hate the idea of spending money to learn something I could learn for free.

Bracken_Joy

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I agree with your points. Like I mentioned I am very impatient lol and I agree I am in no position to walk away.

To answer your first question: Depending on "fun" spend my monthly expenses are somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500 and my current income is $3k per month.

$520 rent
$50 electricity
$25 cable internet
$70 car insurance
$70 gas
$240 food (I lift and thus need a lot of protein and calories)
$50 dog food
$30 cell phone
$150 fun

So if we make an assumption I am stuck in the short term, what is the point that I can jump ship? After 18-month to 2 years I would have 2 years of expenses saved up... would that be a good time to jump? But you make a great point regarding the competition level and thus perhaps 2 years of mastery wouldn't be sufficient... Thus perhaps going to school and paying a ton of mula for a piece of paper to get into a programming company to essentially master my skills on their dime would be the best approach? I just hate the idea of spending money to learn something I could learn for free.

Why not start off as a side hustle? You don't have to jump ship to do a weekend project. Is there a reason this needs to be all-or-nothing?

I agree that school isn't the best route in your case. Programming is one of the few fields you can still be on equal footing without paying a buttload for a piece of paper. IMO, it isn't worth the cost then. BUT, this is assuming you're a good self-directed learner.

beltim

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Basically I have found that my true passion revolves around science…

I'm confused.  If your passion is science why are you asking for advice about transitioning to programming for a career?

SoCalCPA

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Hi Hoosier Daddy,

I am a fellow Accountant and I know how you feel.  Like you, I was much more efficient than my coworkers, finishing my work much faster than anyone in the department.  My situation was a bit different, because my company tracked our billable hours and thus as I got more efficient, I simply got handed more work since I wasn't "busy enough".  I'm a few years older than you, so allow me to share my career's experience and realizations in the hopes that it helps set you on the right path.  After graduation at 22, I worked at a CPA firm for 4.5 years, auditing casinos.  It was fun at first, but eventually as I moved up to more of a reviewer role I got bored.  During this time, I purchased several rental properties (in NV).  I then relocated to Southern CA, where I worked for a horrible company with oppressive management, but had a cool position where I got to travel and audit.  I constantly looked for another position, and found one working for the current real estate investment management firm I work for now.  Like you, I got bored with the position after a couple of years. 

What I did might be applicable and useful to you.  I was getting fed up and decided to take 3 months this year to travel Europe, including 2 months in Spain to improve my Spanish.  I had a heart to heart talk with my boss, letting her know what was working for me in the position and what was not.  I planned to have that be my "I'm giving notice" speech.  What I did instead, however, was offer to continue to support the company, but part-time and 100% remotely.  I got lucky in that three of my coworkers will be out later this year on maternity leave, so timing worked in my favor.  Long story short, the company went for it, so now I am working about 25 hours per week, remotely, being paid as an independent contractor through a sole proprietorship I set up.  Mind you, the company I work for would be the last company in the world I would expect to have gone for something like this.  Totally controlling and distrusting management, IT department monitoring everything you do, etc.  But they still went for it.

I have a question for you:  Why are you so interested in programming - is this a genuine interest in the work or are you solely interested in it because there are more opportunities to work remotely?

My feeling is that you sound very smart and ambitious.  What I would suggest instead of jumping into something you don't know much about is to stick with your core competency of accounting.  Start your own business.  It is easier than it sounds.  Make you current company your first client.  I would talk to your boss about working remotely and make it clear that you need to leave regardless but were hoping to continue to support the company.  Offer to be an independent contractor to minimize their risk (in their minds, they could be worried about you taking advantage of the situation and overbilling them; however, an independent contractor arrangement will make it much easier for them to let you go in the event they don't think you are working out).  This will open up your world and make you passionate about what you do again, trust me.  This is also favorable for you tax-wise, as there are better retirement savings options as a self-employed individual and also some of your personal expenses will now be partially tax-deductible (home office, monthly cell phone charges and wireless internet fees can now be 50% written off for business use, any new computing equipment purchased can now be 50% written off for business use, can write off business mileage, etc.).

Another alternative suggestion I have for you is to stay employed but save up and buy rental property.  Learning about all the nuances of real estate investing and property management will stimulate you in ways you can't even imagine.  If the idea repulses you, then stick to stocks... but according to my experience, real estate investing offers by far the best return if the correct properties are purchased and you run it like a business.  You sound like the kind of person that would throw yourself into learning what you need to and do well with it.  Buy a few of these, and suddenly you have passive income (once you outsource the management to a management company), which will allow you greater freedom to travel and give you more leverage to get what you want from your employer.

Just my two cents.

SoCalCPA

MrChubbles

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On the learning front, if you would like to ease into real programming, you should look at the free course materials available online.

On programming, I highly recommend "Introduction to Computer Science" from MIT open course ware.


Hoosier Daddy

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Basically I have found that my true passion revolves around science…

I'm confused.  If your passion is science why are you asking for advice about transitioning to programming for a career?

Great question. I sometimes have a connection in my head where I forget to actually express it out load or via text in this case lol.

I see it as a skill that I find interesting and there is high demand for remote working. So while I could learn thermodynamics etc. that will likely have me end up in an engineering cubicle or at a University fighting for tenure. Programming on the other hand, I could work efficiently and remotely so I could program say 20 hours per work and still work the back half of the week on things I personally find interesting. It's essentially a more flexible way to ensure bills are paid. Great question, apologies for not clarifying up front.

Hoosier Daddy

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Hi Hoosier Daddy,

I am a fellow Accountant and I know how you feel.  Like you, I was much more efficient than my coworkers, finishing my work much faster than anyone in the department.  My situation was a bit different, because my company tracked our billable hours and thus as I got more efficient, I simply got handed more work since I wasn't "busy enough".  I'm a few years older than you, so allow me to share my career's experience and realizations in the hopes that it helps set you on the right path.  After graduation at 22, I worked at a CPA firm for 4.5 years, auditing casinos.  It was fun at first, but eventually as I moved up to more of a reviewer role I got bored.  During this time, I purchased several rental properties (in NV).  I then relocated to Southern CA, where I worked for a horrible company with oppressive management, but had a cool position where I got to travel and audit.  I constantly looked for another position, and found one working for the current real estate investment management firm I work for now.  Like you, I got bored with the position after a couple of years. 

What I did might be applicable and useful to you.  I was getting fed up and decided to take 3 months this year to travel Europe, including 2 months in Spain to improve my Spanish.  I had a heart to heart talk with my boss, letting her know what was working for me in the position and what was not.  I planned to have that be my "I'm giving notice" speech.  What I did instead, however, was offer to continue to support the company, but part-time and 100% remotely.  I got lucky in that three of my coworkers will be out later this year on maternity leave, so timing worked in my favor.  Long story short, the company went for it, so now I am working about 25 hours per week, remotely, being paid as an independent contractor through a sole proprietorship I set up.  Mind you, the company I work for would be the last company in the world I would expect to have gone for something like this.  Totally controlling and distrusting management, IT department monitoring everything you do, etc.  But they still went for it.

I have a question for you:  Why are you so interested in programming - is this a genuine interest in the work or are you solely interested in it because there are more opportunities to work remotely?

My feeling is that you sound very smart and ambitious.  What I would suggest instead of jumping into something you don't know much about is to stick with your core competency of accounting.  Start your own business.  It is easier than it sounds.  Make you current company your first client.  I would talk to your boss about working remotely and make it clear that you need to leave regardless but were hoping to continue to support the company.  Offer to be an independent contractor to minimize their risk (in their minds, they could be worried about you taking advantage of the situation and overbilling them; however, an independent contractor arrangement will make it much easier for them to let you go in the event they don't think you are working out).  This will open up your world and make you passionate about what you do again, trust me.  This is also favorable for you tax-wise, as there are better retirement savings options as a self-employed individual and also some of your personal expenses will now be partially tax-deductible (home office, monthly cell phone charges and wireless internet fees can now be 50% written off for business use, any new computing equipment purchased can now be 50% written off for business use, can write off business mileage, etc.).

Another alternative suggestion I have for you is to stay employed but save up and buy rental property.  Learning about all the nuances of real estate investing and property management will stimulate you in ways you can't even imagine.  If the idea repulses you, then stick to stocks... but according to my experience, real estate investing offers by far the best return if the correct properties are purchased and you run it like a business.  You sound like the kind of person that would throw yourself into learning what you need to and do well with it.  Buy a few of these, and suddenly you have passive income (once you outsource the management to a management company), which will allow you greater freedom to travel and give you more leverage to get what you want from your employer.

Just my two cents.

SoCalCPA

SoCal thank you for your great thoughts and for your time in composing them.

My largest concern with real estate is the leveraged nature of it. But perhaps I could give it a go... I think it is one of the more straight forward ways to earn a living (accumulate assets, offset by liabilities, generate an income). Are you not concerned with the debt part of it? Or did you take another approach? At what point did you bring in a management company versus do everything yourself?

Also before I would feel comfortable giving the ultimatum talk with my boss, I would need to ensure that I had a tad bit more money in the bank so that I'm not bluffing lol. But great point.

That's great you got out of CPA work. It's interesting from the standpoint you get to go to a new client every month or so to keep things interesting, however the workload is too much, especially when you see what your time is billed to the client as versus what is your take lol. I worked a little as a CPA (did not actually get certified though, worked under a CPA); After 3 consecutive weeks of 120 hours of work, I decided that career path may not be for me haha.

The way you think: I'm assuming you have read 4HWW?

vhalros

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If you want to go into computer science, a good way to get into it is to look around for postbaccalaureate programs; these are supposed to be equivalent to a minor in computer science and give you instruction, and a piece of paper that says you know stuff. Off the top of my head I know that Tufts and University of  Washington offer such programs, but I'm sure other schools do as well. Relatively cheap compared to an undergrad degree, but could still be fairly expensive.

A possible way to do this cheaply is to work for a University. They usually pay a little less than private sector, but give you the opportunity to take one or two courses for free a semester; you could polish off a CS masters in four years or so this way while getting paid.


Hoosier Daddy

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2015, 10:55:42 AM »
I agree with your points. Like I mentioned I am very impatient lol and I agree I am in no position to walk away.

To answer your first question: Depending on "fun" spend my monthly expenses are somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500 and my current income is $3k per month.

$520 rent
$50 electricity
$25 cable internet
$70 car insurance
$70 gas
$240 food (I lift and thus need a lot of protein and calories)
$50 dog food
$30 cell phone
$150 fun

So if we make an assumption I am stuck in the short term, what is the point that I can jump ship? After 18-month to 2 years I would have 2 years of expenses saved up... would that be a good time to jump? But you make a great point regarding the competition level and thus perhaps 2 years of mastery wouldn't be sufficient... Thus perhaps going to school and paying a ton of mula for a piece of paper to get into a programming company to essentially master my skills on their dime would be the best approach? I just hate the idea of spending money to learn something I could learn for free.

Why not start off as a side hustle? You don't have to jump ship to do a weekend project. Is there a reason this needs to be all-or-nothing?

I agree that school isn't the best route in your case. Programming is one of the few fields you can still be on equal footing without paying a buttload for a piece of paper. IMO, it isn't worth the cost then. BUT, this is assuming you're a good self-directed learner.

I think that is the most practical approach. I personally have found if I don't spend so much time relaxing/exercising outside on weekends I get stifled, both emotionally and creatively. This may be one of those times I need to put up or shut up lol but I am wondering if there is an easier path that I have not yet considered.

Hoosier Daddy

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2015, 10:58:38 AM »
If you want to go into computer science, a good way to get into it is to look around for postbaccalaureate programs; these are supposed to be equivalent to a minor in computer science and give you instruction, and a piece of paper that says you know stuff. Off the top of my head I know that Tufts and University of  Washington offer such programs, but I'm sure other schools do as well. Relatively cheap compared to an undergrad degree, but could still be fairly expensive.

A possible way to do this cheaply is to work for a University. They usually pay a little less than private sector, but give you the opportunity to take one or two courses for free a semester; you could polish off a CS masters in four years or so this way while getting paid.

Now this is interesting; I like your idea of working for a University and going to school for free... I'll have to look into some programs to see what all is offered or perhaps reach out to the schools to see if paid positions do offer the ability to take courses for free.

Great idea, thank you!

DarinC

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2015, 12:47:42 PM »
Do your research/fun at work. Designing an environmentally friendly home at work might be too off topic, but I don't see why you can't dump your macros into some other language, or several other languages (Python, Java/C#, C++, Haskell/Scala, etc...).

Coming from a math background, programming wasn't as easy as I though it would be, but IMO the challenge is one of the best parts.

okits

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2015, 06:10:32 PM »
You know the iconic image of a kid reading a comic book at school, but it's tucked into a textbook?  I totally see you doing that. Read programming instruction books or whatever interests you, disguised as an accounting reference book (read a bit of the accounting book, too, just so you can talk about your learnings if periodically quizzed.) I am ethically okay with this, if you've already finished the "eight hours of work" they've given you to the best of your ability and they have no other work to give you (but you can't leave the office.)

You may find the discussion here and the resources mentioned useful:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/career-change!-from-accountant-to-web-developer/msg515178/#msg515178

I would stick with your job for now to build up your stash.  If you think about it, boredom is a luxurious problem to have. You can find amusements for yourself, find side projects at work, help your colleagues if you have teachings to offer, do extra learning, etc.  Check out the "Art of Not Working At Work" thread for ideas on how to cope.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/the-art-of-not-working-at-work/

ETA: links.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 07:03:19 PM by okits »

SoCalCPA

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2015, 09:20:22 AM »
Hi Hoosier Daddy,

I am a fellow Accountant and I know how you feel.  Like you, I was much more efficient than my coworkers, finishing my work much faster than anyone in the department.  My situation was a bit different, because my company tracked our billable hours and thus as I got more efficient, I simply got handed more work since I wasn't "busy enough".  I'm a few years older than you, so allow me to share my career's experience and realizations in the hopes that it helps set you on the right path.  After graduation at 22, I worked at a CPA firm for 4.5 years, auditing casinos.  It was fun at first, but eventually as I moved up to more of a reviewer role I got bored.  During this time, I purchased several rental properties (in NV).  I then relocated to Southern CA, where I worked for a horrible company with oppressive management, but had a cool position where I got to travel and audit.  I constantly looked for another position, and found one working for the current real estate investment management firm I work for now.  Like you, I got bored with the position after a couple of years. 

What I did might be applicable and useful to you.  I was getting fed up and decided to take 3 months this year to travel Europe, including 2 months in Spain to improve my Spanish.  I had a heart to heart talk with my boss, letting her know what was working for me in the position and what was not.  I planned to have that be my "I'm giving notice" speech.  What I did instead, however, was offer to continue to support the company, but part-time and 100% remotely.  I got lucky in that three of my coworkers will be out later this year on maternity leave, so timing worked in my favor.  Long story short, the company went for it, so now I am working about 25 hours per week, remotely, being paid as an independent contractor through a sole proprietorship I set up.  Mind you, the company I work for would be the last company in the world I would expect to have gone for something like this.  Totally controlling and distrusting management, IT department monitoring everything you do, etc.  But they still went for it.

I have a question for you:  Why are you so interested in programming - is this a genuine interest in the work or are you solely interested in it because there are more opportunities to work remotely?

My feeling is that you sound very smart and ambitious.  What I would suggest instead of jumping into something you don't know much about is to stick with your core competency of accounting.  Start your own business.  It is easier than it sounds.  Make you current company your first client.  I would talk to your boss about working remotely and make it clear that you need to leave regardless but were hoping to continue to support the company.  Offer to be an independent contractor to minimize their risk (in their minds, they could be worried about you taking advantage of the situation and overbilling them; however, an independent contractor arrangement will make it much easier for them to let you go in the event they don't think you are working out).  This will open up your world and make you passionate about what you do again, trust me.  This is also favorable for you tax-wise, as there are better retirement savings options as a self-employed individual and also some of your personal expenses will now be partially tax-deductible (home office, monthly cell phone charges and wireless internet fees can now be 50% written off for business use, any new computing equipment purchased can now be 50% written off for business use, can write off business mileage, etc.).

Another alternative suggestion I have for you is to stay employed but save up and buy rental property.  Learning about all the nuances of real estate investing and property management will stimulate you in ways you can't even imagine.  If the idea repulses you, then stick to stocks... but according to my experience, real estate investing offers by far the best return if the correct properties are purchased and you run it like a business.  You sound like the kind of person that would throw yourself into learning what you need to and do well with it.  Buy a few of these, and suddenly you have passive income (once you outsource the management to a management company), which will allow you greater freedom to travel and give you more leverage to get what you want from your employer.

Just my two cents.

SoCalCPA

SoCal thank you for your great thoughts and for your time in composing them.

My largest concern with real estate is the leveraged nature of it. But perhaps I could give it a go... I think it is one of the more straight forward ways to earn a living (accumulate assets, offset by liabilities, generate an income). Are you not concerned with the debt part of it? Or did you take another approach? At what point did you bring in a management company versus do everything yourself?

Also before I would feel comfortable giving the ultimatum talk with my boss, I would need to ensure that I had a tad bit more money in the bank so that I'm not bluffing lol. But great point.

That's great you got out of CPA work. It's interesting from the standpoint you get to go to a new client every month or so to keep things interesting, however the workload is too much, especially when you see what your time is billed to the client as versus what is your take lol. I worked a little as a CPA (did not actually get certified though, worked under a CPA); After 3 consecutive weeks of 120 hours of work, I decided that career path may not be for me haha.

The way you think: I'm assuming you have read 4HWW?


Yes, I have read 4HWW and love Tim Ferris.  In fact I am trying to implement some of his ideas in my life now. 

Regarding CPA firms, I got very lucky with the firm I worked for.  The management didn't want to burn anyone out and wanted to keep people happy, so we didn't have long hours at all.  I worked 40-45 hour weeks the vast majority of the year, and up to 50-55 just a few weeks of the year.  I don't think that's typical though.  If you are at all interested in becoming a CPA, you might want to check your state's laws on becoming one.  In NV, it is very difficult; you HAVE TO work for a CPA firm for 2 years full-time and have at least 1,000 audit hours and you have to get 150 credit hours through a university.  In CA, it is much easier; you need an accounting degree and 1 year in any accounting position.  You'd have to see where your state falls.  A CPA license would make it easier to start your own small accounting firm but isn't absolutely necessary.  When you interview for a CPA job (or any job really) it is extremely important to ask the right questions to find out what will be expected of you.  I learned this the hard way twice.

Regarding real estate, the debt doesn't make me uncomfortable at all.  The mortgage payments are in effect being paid by the tenant, and over the long term your debt becomes your equity.  Your return will almost always be higher with leverage.  You can buy your first house with 3.5% down (FHA mortgage) though you'd be expected to live in it for a while.  Most of the rental income is tax sheltered (deferred until you sell in this case) because of depreciation.  You never have to pay back depreciation you've taken if a property goes to your heir(s) upon your death because of the stepped-up basis.  The key is buying properties with a positive cash flow from day 1, which is unfortunately easier said than done.  I got incredibly lucky with timing - I bought after values fell during the real estate crisis.  I found that while working a full time job I could no longer manage the rentals myself after I purchased the fourth rental.  The stress almost killed me and it became necessary to find a company to take over.  Real estate also gives you monthly cash with no strings attached (in contrast to stock retirement accounts, which typically have lots of strings attached).  If real estate feels too risky for you, then stick to 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, etc.  I favor the Traditional IRA over the Roth IRA because most likely you will be in a lower tax bracket once you're retired than when you're working full time, plus you can control how much money you take out in a given year, which lets you control what tax bracket you are in.  Also, studies have shown that retirees tend to spend less money per month after they retire.

Regarding the work ultimatum, you sound like you need a change.  If and when you get to the point that you are so bored with work that you are willing to leave the job to do some traveling, then you have nothing to lose by proposing a remote work arrangement.  I wouldn't propose it as an ultimatum.  I would say that you enjoy your job, but have this burning desire to see the world and have to do something before you are tied down with a family.  I'd present the remote work idea as an opportunity for the company to keep you (meeting their needs), as well as giving you the stimulation you need (meeting your needs, plus helping them by keeping you excited and motivated).  I would volunteer for extra projects, help your boss streamline a process, or SOMETHING in the six months leading up to when you have that conversation.  If the company is happy with your performance, they will want to keep you, and might very well go for something remote, unless your job is such that you have to be in the office.  Also, from my experience, unless the economy is horrible, people with accounting skill sets are in pretty high demand, and you could always line up a job once you got back.  Worst comes to worst if you can't find another full time job, you could always work with a recruiting company to find temp positions and eventually you'd be offered a full time position.

SoCalCPA

Spondulix

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2015, 06:25:20 PM »
Maybe I missed the answer, but what are you currently doing with your down time at work? How far can you go with non-work during work hours? (can you read books, get online, etc)

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2015, 03:16:18 AM »
You know the iconic image of a kid reading a comic book at school, but it's tucked into a textbook?  I totally see you doing that. Read programming instruction books or whatever interests you, disguised as an accounting reference book (read a bit of the accounting book, too, just so you can talk about your learnings if periodically quizzed.) I am ethically okay with this, if you've already finished the "eight hours of work" they've given you to the best of your ability and they have no other work to give you (but you can't leave the office.)

You may find the discussion here and the resources mentioned useful:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/career-change!-from-accountant-to-web-developer/msg515178/#msg515178

I would stick with your job for now to build up your stash.  If you think about it, boredom is a luxurious problem to have. You can find amusements for yourself, find side projects at work, help your colleagues if you have teachings to offer, do extra learning, etc.  Check out the "Art of Not Working At Work" thread for ideas on how to cope.

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/the-art-of-not-working-at-work/

ETA: links.

Thank you so much for these links! I will be checking this out today, but these are right up my alley!

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2015, 03:26:43 AM »

Yes, I have read 4HWW and love Tim Ferris.  In fact I am trying to implement some of his ideas in my life now. 

Regarding CPA firms, I got very lucky with the firm I worked for.  The management didn't want to burn anyone out and wanted to keep people happy, so we didn't have long hours at all.  I worked 40-45 hour weeks the vast majority of the year, and up to 50-55 just a few weeks of the year.  I don't think that's typical though.  If you are at all interested in becoming a CPA, you might want to check your state's laws on becoming one.  In NV, it is very difficult; you HAVE TO work for a CPA firm for 2 years full-time and have at least 1,000 audit hours and you have to get 150 credit hours through a university.  In CA, it is much easier; you need an accounting degree and 1 year in any accounting position.  You'd have to see where your state falls.  A CPA license would make it easier to start your own small accounting firm but isn't absolutely necessary.  When you interview for a CPA job (or any job really) it is extremely important to ask the right questions to find out what will be expected of you.  I learned this the hard way twice.

Regarding real estate, the debt doesn't make me uncomfortable at all.  The mortgage payments are in effect being paid by the tenant, and over the long term your debt becomes your equity.  Your return will almost always be higher with leverage.  You can buy your first house with 3.5% down (FHA mortgage) though you'd be expected to live in it for a while.  Most of the rental income is tax sheltered (deferred until you sell in this case) because of depreciation.  You never have to pay back depreciation you've taken if a property goes to your heir(s) upon your death because of the stepped-up basis.  The key is buying properties with a positive cash flow from day 1, which is unfortunately easier said than done.  I got incredibly lucky with timing - I bought after values fell during the real estate crisis.  I found that while working a full time job I could no longer manage the rentals myself after I purchased the fourth rental.  The stress almost killed me and it became necessary to find a company to take over.  Real estate also gives you monthly cash with no strings attached (in contrast to stock retirement accounts, which typically have lots of strings attached).  If real estate feels too risky for you, then stick to 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, etc.  I favor the Traditional IRA over the Roth IRA because most likely you will be in a lower tax bracket once you're retired than when you're working full time, plus you can control how much money you take out in a given year, which lets you control what tax bracket you are in.  Also, studies have shown that retirees tend to spend less money per month after they retire.

Regarding the work ultimatum, you sound like you need a change.  If and when you get to the point that you are so bored with work that you are willing to leave the job to do some traveling, then you have nothing to lose by proposing a remote work arrangement.  I wouldn't propose it as an ultimatum.  I would say that you enjoy your job, but have this burning desire to see the world and have to do something before you are tied down with a family.  I'd present the remote work idea as an opportunity for the company to keep you (meeting their needs), as well as giving you the stimulation you need (meeting your needs, plus helping them by keeping you excited and motivated).  I would volunteer for extra projects, help your boss streamline a process, or SOMETHING in the six months leading up to when you have that conversation.  If the company is happy with your performance, they will want to keep you, and might very well go for something remote, unless your job is such that you have to be in the office.  Also, from my experience, unless the economy is horrible, people with accounting skill sets are in pretty high demand, and you could always line up a job once you got back.  Worst comes to worst if you can't find another full time job, you could always work with a recruiting company to find temp positions and eventually you'd be offered a full time position.

SoCalCPA

Cali is still only 4 years to be a CPA? Wow I never knew that; I thought everyone had the 150 credit hour requirement... I'll have to look more into that lol.

Your thinking on housing seems to make sense. When you get cashflow from your houses do you use that to pay for more houses? Pay off current houses? Cash money?

I may have to bring up the remote work arrangement with my boss. I have the ability to work from home one or so days a week, but am expected to come into work the rest because my boss feels I need to build relationships in the office to be successful. I would have to convince her that is not the case for her to let me break away, which starts with convincing myself haha. I don't want to say I plan on being self made because then the company would not be as invested in my happiness if they thought I was to leave one day... Any suggestions?

How many houses do you have now? I would imagine that your monthly income > monthly expenses... Are you semi-retired now?

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2015, 04:00:29 AM »
Maybe I missed the answer, but what are you currently doing with your down time at work? How far can you go with non-work during work hours? (can you read books, get online, etc)

We work in this collaborative environment. This means that we don't have assigned desks. It's basically like working from a college library. Thus there are no high cubicle walls to hide from etc. Going on websites or reading a books would be right out in the open in front of leaders of the company (almost no one has an office, and many big time leaders work in this way as well). This is the hardest part. THe only thing I have been able to do is like retirement planning because it is in excel and looks no different from working. However getting on websites is quickly frowned upon, but its a social pressure. They don't really block anything, but I am sure they track it...

Any ideas on how to get around this? There are "Quiet rooms" I go to a lot because they are barely used and typically can get more privacy... But since you're not conforming to the way other people work, I am sure you are viewed as a "slacker" even if you are producing 4x what the typical person does.

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2015, 07:31:26 AM »
Is there anything between "tough it out at current job" and "attempt entirely different career?" If it were me, I would try a few things...

1. Start by seeing if there is anything you can do with the current job...look for interesting projects, tell your boss you would like to "stretch" more, see if there are opportunities for work-paid training. You might as well...what's the worst possibility--that you get no satisfaction and decide to leave?

2. Job-hunt. For some reason, a lot of people post job issues here but never consider looking for another job as a solution. However, I would try to find a job with something different about it...work for a smaller company, a start-up or a non-profit, look for a job in a different corner of finance, maybe look for an opportunity to move somewhere different. While you may never love working, there are going to be some jobs that are more satisfying than others.

3. While working on 1 & 2, you can explore other career fields, especially if you can find a way to develop a side hustle. Also, I wouldn't automatically rule out formal education just because "everything is in a book." Some people just learn more efficiently with a teacher structuring the material for them. I also think self-education tends to work better once you are past the basics in a field, because there are certain mental structures that you need to organize the material that you are learning.

Spondulix

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2015, 07:22:48 PM »
Any ideas on how to get around this? There are "Quiet rooms" I go to a lot because they are barely used and typically can get more privacy... But since you're not conforming to the way other people work, I am sure you are viewed as a "slacker" even if you are producing 4x what the typical person does.
That's awkward! Can you think of any skills you could learn that would benefit the company (that you would also find interest in)? Asking for an opportunity can be a matter of how you frame it, cause if your boss hears, "I'm bored/I've got free time" they'll just find tasks for you to do. But if it's stated, "I'm getting my tasks completed ahead of schedule, and would like to use some of extra time learning xx so that I can offer greater benefit to the team/company" it's viewed as taking initiative, good team player etc (even if the intention is selfish). Then you could then pursue that interest (use the private rooms etc) without the social backlash of being on the web.

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2015, 09:03:04 PM »
Blarghhhh...  Collaborative environment!  Can you save some work from your work-from-home-days to do at the office?

You may just need to print out anything you want to read (text only), stick it in a binder with an accounting label on it, and include the odd job-related page to get your reading done that way. Try to make the font small, this is a tree-killer.

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2015, 04:05:36 AM »
Is there anything between "tough it out at current job" and "attempt entirely different career?" If it were me, I would try a few things...

1. Start by seeing if there is anything you can do with the current job...look for interesting projects, tell your boss you would like to "stretch" more, see if there are opportunities for work-paid training. You might as well...what's the worst possibility--that you get no satisfaction and decide to leave?

2. Job-hunt. For some reason, a lot of people post job issues here but never consider looking for another job as a solution. However, I would try to find a job with something different about it...work for a smaller company, a start-up or a non-profit, look for a job in a different corner of finance, maybe look for an opportunity to move somewhere different. While you may never love working, there are going to be some jobs that are more satisfying than others.

3. While working on 1 & 2, you can explore other career fields, especially if you can find a way to develop a side hustle. Also, I wouldn't automatically rule out formal education just because "everything is in a book." Some people just learn more efficiently with a teacher structuring the material for them. I also think self-education tends to work better once you are past the basics in a field, because there are certain mental structures that you need to organize the material that you are learning.

This is good insight. The reason I feel I need to switch careers is because I do actually work for a great employer. They treat me well, benefits are good and I like the culture. The problem is what I do and not who I work for. Thus I figured if I couldn't be happy doing this for this great employer then I would never be happy doing this! Lol

Definitely need to start doing a side hustle. I'm going to talk to my boss tomorrow about learning SQL (financial database management) and VBA (work automation). Once I master those, I'll see how I can spin java, Ruby on Rails lol.

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2015, 04:08:01 AM »
Any ideas on how to get around this? There are "Quiet rooms" I go to a lot because they are barely used and typically can get more privacy... But since you're not conforming to the way other people work, I am sure you are viewed as a "slacker" even if you are producing 4x what the typical person does.
That's awkward! Can you think of any skills you could learn that would benefit the company (that you would also find interest in)? Asking for an opportunity can be a matter of how you frame it, cause if your boss hears, "I'm bored/I've got free time" they'll just find tasks for you to do. But if it's stated, "I'm getting my tasks completed ahead of schedule, and would like to use some of extra time learning xx so that I can offer greater benefit to the team/company" it's viewed as taking initiative, good team player etc (even if the intention is selfish). Then you could then pursue that interest (use the private rooms etc) without the social backlash of being on the web.

Yes it is awkward! I have noticed that the people who get promoted are not the ones doing the actual work. They aren't bad people or anything, they just know the game (getting those in power to take favor with you) and they play it very well. So it's an interesting paradox to say the least lol.

Thanks for this advice! I'm going to talk to my boss tom about learning SQL and VBA. Should keep me busy for another couple months at least while I stash away cash and we will take it from there.

Hoosier Daddy

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2015, 04:10:36 AM »
Blarghhhh...  Collaborative environment!  Can you save some work from your work-from-home-days to do at the office?

You may just need to print out anything you want to read (text only), stick it in a binder with an accounting label on it, and include the odd job-related page to get your reading done that way. Try to make the font small, this is a tree-killer.

Lol the equivalent of having a comic book in my "Accounting regulation handbook" hahaha In the spirit of 4HWW I think my best option here is to try And work most days from home. Then I'll still be productive but then I can get my side hustles going. Not sure how easy this will be to accomplish but as many of you have estutely pointed out, what do I have to lose?

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2015, 06:57:17 AM »
This is good insight. The reason I feel I need to switch careers is because I do actually work for a great employer. They treat me well, benefits are good and I like the culture. The problem is what I do and not who I work for. Thus I figured if I couldn't be happy doing this for this great employer then I would never be happy doing this! Lol

Definitely need to start doing a side hustle. I'm going to talk to my boss tomorrow about learning SQL (financial database management) and VBA (work automation). Once I master those, I'll see how I can spin java, Ruby on Rails lol.

That is great that you have found a good work culture--the only downside is that it can make it hard to leave when you need to! However, as you are learning, a really great job is good work culture + work that is challenging and interesting. From what you say, trying to find a better fit at the current employer is very much worth the effort...but I wouldn't write off looking around to see if there is something out there that checks off both columns. Again, what does it cost to look?

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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2015, 08:34:07 AM »


Cali is still only 4 years to be a CPA? Wow I never knew that; I thought everyone had the 150 credit hour requirement... I'll have to look more into that lol.

Your thinking on housing seems to make sense. When you get cashflow from your houses do you use that to pay for more houses? Pay off current houses? Cash money?

I may have to bring up the remote work arrangement with my boss. I have the ability to work from home one or so days a week, but am expected to come into work the rest because my boss feels I need to build relationships in the office to be successful. I would have to convince her that is not the case for her to let me break away, which starts with convincing myself haha. I don't want to say I plan on being self made because then the company would not be as invested in my happiness if they thought I was to leave one day... Any suggestions?

How many houses do you have now? I would imagine that your monthly income > monthly expenses... Are you semi-retired now?



Regarding becoming a CPA, every state is different...CA is moving towards the 150 hour requirement I believe.

When I get cash flow from my rentals, I save it up and use it to purchase more rentals.  It is all personal preference.  You might just purchase a couple of rentals, decide that is enough headache, and invest all cash flow in stocks (you should probably keep a reserve in case there are any large repairs that suddenly have to be done).  I track all rental activity with a separate bank account and use a different credit card than my personal one.

Regarding asking for a permanent remote work arrangement, it sounds like your company is more flexible than most since they already allow you to do this a bit.  One thing you may do is come up with something, a one-time event, that is in a different state that you really want to do.  Something where you could still get your work done, but would require you to be out of state for 3-4 weeks.  Then, once you're there, work like mad to prove that you can work just as hard away from the office as in it.  This could be a "trial run" that could convince management that an employee could still be effective working entirely from a remote location.  You might first read the HR manual.  This probably wouldn't show remote work arrangements, but you can get a feel for how flexible the company is - for example, does it list part-time work as a possibility, does it provide for a lot of time off for maternity leave, does it mention sabbaticals, is a lot of vacation time given, are overtime hours worked able to be banked for future time off, etc.

Regarding my situation, I don't want to turn this into a thread about me, but I have six rental houses and could currently consider myself semi-retired since I just work a part-time remote accounting job.  My rental income alone is not enough to retire on.  I had a lot of lucky breaks so I don't think my situation is very applicable to many other people, however.  I just wanted to step in and offer my perspective on your work situation since I have some experience with the feelings you brought up.

SoCalCPA


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Re: Dangit... I'm a scientist; What do I do now? (Career Change advice)
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2015, 09:11:19 AM »
Being awesome at entry level white collar jobs (that's what I'm going to assume you have/had, since you're 25) does not make you a scientist, or make you ready to quit and go become a programmer. Especially since you have negligible savings (you better have been paying off student debts the whole time!)

You're 25. Go back to school. Or get yourself promoted at work and manage the entry level white collar kids who think they're geniuses.

-W