Author Topic: How to choose a degree?  (Read 1635 times)

Kitsunegari

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How to choose a degree?
« on: November 28, 2017, 08:48:38 AM »
I know I should be working it out myself, but I don't know what to do with my working life.
So I have a useless liberal arts degree, I worked dead-end jobs for years, now I'm back in school to get a useful degree. I'm currently working on a Management certificate, and trying to decide what to do next. Shall I continue with Managing or go to Administration? Do I really need a degree?
The thing is, I don't care much which job I'll be doing. I want to make enough money to live and save, but I still want to have time to spend with my daughter (and hopefully the next kid). But I'm 36, I should be in the middle of my career, not just pondering where to begin. I'm afraid I'll laureate with flying colours, then find out it was worthless, I can't get a job, or I get passed over for younger people and all this time and money investment won't pay off.
Is it easier to get a management job with an administration degree, or the opposite? Which one opens more doors? I'm also not a very competitive person, do you need to be competitive for managing?
I'm lost, lost, lost.

Louisville

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 09:01:57 AM »
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm

Pick something fast growing that pays well, then map your life toward it.
BLS.gov is very useful.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 10:14:53 PM »
I got a psychology degree and also languished for ~8 years afterwards.

Then I applied to a 2 year MBA program at my local state university and paid for it out-of-pocket. At year 1.5, I was recruited into a job with a 50% pay raise. Now, 8 years later, I earn double what I used to (which is still underperforming many of my peers, but so be it. I work 40 hour weeks and set my own agenda.).

Lessons:
-Why get just another bachelor's? You can often leverage your semi-unrelated degree into a master's program that takes the same amount of time at a similar cost.
-A "career" is a job you've done for 5 years. I've had about three of them. At 36, you might have 3 left to go.
-In hindsight, some more technology electives or the MIS program would have served me better.

Quote
I don't care much which job I'll be doing.
I think you care and what you're saying is "I'm flexible". You also probably have some talents or interests you could leverage at work.

Quote
I'm also not a very competitive person, do you need to be competitive for managing?
Nope. To manage you need to be cooperative when it matters and firm when it matters. It's an art more akin to dancing or figure skating than the conflict-based plots we see on TV. The key trait you need to be a leader is diligence. That is, an unblinking fascination and interest in the work that motivates you to stay late to balance reports and write quality improvement plans. That person is getting the manager position, regardless of everything else. If you're not that person, consider the multiple other options.

Why focus on managing? Oftentimes, it is easier to obtain good paying work as a skilled contributor. E.g. nurse, programmer, specialist, technician, analyst, etc. For any of these roles, there might be 10 contributor positions for every 1 manager position. That means less unemployment time and more FU options.

Also, MMM did a write up on 50 jobs paying $50k without a college degree: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/
Perhaps this will help identify some options.

bruscar5

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2017, 10:45:30 PM »
[quote author=ChpBstrd link=topic=82168.msg1788788#msg1788788
Then I applied to a 2 year MBA program at my local state university and paid for it out-of-pocket. At year 1.5, I was recruited into a job with a 50% pay raise. Now, 8 years later, I earn double what I used to (which is still underperforming many of my peers, but so be it. I work 40 hour weeks and set my own agenda.).
[/quote]

What did you get your MBA in?

I went back for a second bachelor's in computer science. I'm more interested in FIRE as a means to pay down my loans out of school. I wanted to go straight to a master's but I was worried that my lack of any previous math since freshman year of high school would come back to bite me.

Laura33

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2017, 08:14:37 AM »
Why get a Management "certificate"?  You already have a Bachelor's, so why not just go straight for the MBA?

In my world, "management" = MBA.  "Administration" = HR or other support functions.  The difference is Management is viewed as a source of potential profit, while Administration is viewed as a cost center.  Guess which one gets paid more?  And guess which one is the first to be cut in a downturn? 

What aspects of business-ey work appeal to you?  Do you like doing the numbers, do you like running projects, do you like managing people, do you like doing specific substantive/technical work, what?  I think the best way to find a job that you can live with is to figure out what parts of the work world you find most interesting and are best at and look for opportunities in that area.  Most companies hire for attitude and trainability; the degree may be necessary, but it is not sufficient without initiative and interest and a willingness to work hard and all of those things.

And when in doubt, follow the money -- chase the jobs that put money in the company's pocket.  Those are usually better paid and the last to be cut.  If you can't find an area that you're really interested in, at least be well-paid for your boredom.

Kitsunegari

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2017, 07:24:50 AM »
Why get a Management "certificate"?  You already have a Bachelor's, so why not just go straight for the MBA?

In my world, "management" = MBA.  "Administration" = HR or other support functions.  The difference is Management is viewed as a source of potential profit, while Administration is viewed as a cost center.  Guess which one gets paid more?  And guess which one is the first to be cut in a downturn? 

What aspects of business-ey work appeal to you?  Do you like doing the numbers, do you like running projects, do you like managing people, do you like doing specific substantive/technical work, what?  I think the best way to find a job that you can live with is to figure out what parts of the work world you find most interesting and are best at and look for opportunities in that area.  Most companies hire for attitude and trainability; the degree may be necessary, but it is not sufficient without initiative and interest and a willingness to work hard and all of those things.

And when in doubt, follow the money -- chase the jobs that put money in the company's pocket.  Those are usually better paid and the last to be cut.  If you can't find an area that you're really interested in, at least be well-paid for your boredom.

The thing is that the Bachelor I obtained it in Europe and is a different field, but you're right, if it can set me on the Master path faster I will try and get an equivalence!
What I think I am good at is... managing money. I have no formal training, but I can see I know how to manage my money, and when someone explains me their business ideas I'm quick in thinking the potential problems and big expenses they didn't think about. This is why I thought going into Management. But I'm not really a competitive person and I hate the games of office politics, so I'm not sure I could thrive in such a job. I also lack both people's skills and social grace, which won't help.

Laura33

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2017, 08:24:35 AM »
Why get a Management "certificate"?  You already have a Bachelor's, so why not just go straight for the MBA?

In my world, "management" = MBA.  "Administration" = HR or other support functions.  The difference is Management is viewed as a source of potential profit, while Administration is viewed as a cost center.  Guess which one gets paid more?  And guess which one is the first to be cut in a downturn? 

What aspects of business-ey work appeal to you?  Do you like doing the numbers, do you like running projects, do you like managing people, do you like doing specific substantive/technical work, what?  I think the best way to find a job that you can live with is to figure out what parts of the work world you find most interesting and are best at and look for opportunities in that area.  Most companies hire for attitude and trainability; the degree may be necessary, but it is not sufficient without initiative and interest and a willingness to work hard and all of those things.

And when in doubt, follow the money -- chase the jobs that put money in the company's pocket.  Those are usually better paid and the last to be cut.  If you can't find an area that you're really interested in, at least be well-paid for your boredom.

The thing is that the Bachelor I obtained it in Europe and is a different field, but you're right, if it can set me on the Master path faster I will try and get an equivalence!
What I think I am good at is... managing money. I have no formal training, but I can see I know how to manage my money, and when someone explains me their business ideas I'm quick in thinking the potential problems and big expenses they didn't think about. This is why I thought going into Management. But I'm not really a competitive person and I hate the games of office politics, so I'm not sure I could thrive in such a job. I also lack both people's skills and social grace, which won't help.

Sounds like an MBA in Finance is a great degree to target* to give you some training/framework to round out your natural abilities and inclinations.  You can always jump off that track into something like a CFP if you decide it isn't for you.  Plus the MBA/Finance option tends to lead to jobs that can pay a buttload of money; my rule has always been when I don't know what I want to do, why not start with the high-paying option, and move down the payscale from there if I don't like it?

*Given the international existing degree, I don't know whether you could go straight to an MBA program or would need some other degree first -- suggest checking directly with the MBA schools about that.  But don't just run off chasing various "certificates" on the assumption that you need them -- it's very hard to tell which are legitimate/respected by employers and which are not, and the grad schools may not even require them anyway, in which case it would be a waste of time and money.  Figure out the path you are interested in -- sounds very much like finance -- and then research what the various schools you might attend require for admission.  Then do that.

RWD

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 09:26:26 AM »
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm

Pick something fast growing that pays well, then map your life toward it.
BLS.gov is very useful.

What a cool site! Elevator installer/repairer sounds neat.

acroy

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2017, 09:36:21 AM »

Pick something fast growing that pays well, then map your life toward it.


^^^ Amen. Ain't no-one living your life but you. Find a plan and live with purpose. Good luck!

Kitsunegari

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2017, 09:37:39 AM »
my rule has always been when I don't know what I want to do, why not start with the high-paying option, and move down the payscale from there if I don't like it?


I think I'll pass this on to my children and the children of my children.

(still elaborating the rest in my mind)

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2017, 10:42:39 AM »
Technology and the economy are moving so quickly that I think we can all plan to have multiple careers throughout our lives.

E.g. A lot of human resources jobs have become automated/outsourced. People with skillsets such as benefits administration, pension planning, background checks, audits, are in a shrinking industry. People who repair PCs are suddenly realizing that electronics have become so cheap their jobs are becoming uneconomical. The most foresightful mechanics who repair internal combustion engines are looking at the rapid technical improvement of electric vehicles with dread. Even construction workers may within their lifetimes be replaced by 3D printing technology applied at the scale of houses. Mutual fund managers are being edged out by the ETF industry.

The best plan is, as mentioned, to start with something that pays well, and then to stay nimble. Go where your employers send you, rather than trying to tell them how to pigeonhole you into a particular craft that was a nice job in the past. And of course, save 50%+ of your pay so that you can eventually escape this risky journey.

Kitsunegari

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Re: How to choose a degree?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2017, 10:49:10 AM »
Technology and the economy are moving so quickly that I think we can all plan to have multiple careers throughout our lives.

E.g. A lot of human resources jobs have become automated/outsourced. People with skillsets such as benefits administration, pension planning, background checks, audits, are in a shrinking industry. People who repair PCs are suddenly realizing that electronics have become so cheap their jobs are becoming uneconomical. The most foresightful mechanics who repair internal combustion engines are looking at the rapid technical improvement of electric vehicles with dread. Even construction workers may within their lifetimes be replaced by 3D printing technology applied at the scale of houses. Mutual fund managers are being edged out by the ETF industry.

Indeed. I've been a translator for years, but a conjunction of more translators on the market, better automated translation used by cheap companies, and better English proficiency in my home country made my job almost not necessary anymore, unless I specialize beyond what is reasonable to expect in return.