Author Topic: SAHM needs advice on online degree  (Read 5519 times)

MamaStachin

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SAHM needs advice on online degree
« on: February 10, 2014, 08:13:17 AM »
Hello Mustachians!

I'm new on this site and have only posted one other time.  I'm going to back to college, but 100% online since I will be staying at home with our little princess.  We plan on expanding our family to about 3 children max within the next five years.  However, once they are in school, I would like to be in the workforce and be able to contribute financially to our growing family and set a good example for my little one.

I don't want to use any credentials I have now.. I'm kind of all over the place, I'm a licensed realtor (inactive), a classically trained chef and a certified zumba instructor.  Out of those three, I have found success and happiness in being a chef because, well.. I love it!  Loved being in the kitchen in a high pace fine dining restaurant and being able to produce meals within minutes.  Kind of like a Hell's Kitchen type thing, if you guys keep up with Gordon Ramsay shows.  However,  I know that schedule won't fit with me wanting to be as involved in my children's lives. 

My ideal goal:  Acquire a 9am-5pm job Monday to Friday within 6 years, or whenever the last of our babies goes off to school.  I'm planning ahead now and want to take a degree. 

My husband is a successful engineer at a company that allows for great time off for thanksgiving and christmas and new years.  Its great, and I'd like to be able to be home for the holidays as well. So, my list of possible online degrees that I would like to tackle are:

1. Accountant (ultimately CPA), 2. Engineer (Software Engineering or System Engineering), 3. Elementary school teacher, 4. Nutritioninst.

These potential careers have been chosen for varying reasons, taking salary and job fulfillment to account, its really all over the place. I want to do something that I will be happy with, schedule-wise. They are listed in the order of preference, taking everything into consideration.

I'd like some input from others that have been in my shoes, considering student loans, etc., and time invested.  I want to commit fully to what I will be doing, so its a heavily-weighted decision for me.

Thank you in advance !! :)


ritchie70

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 08:55:14 AM »
I'm going to be difficult... a Realtor can make good money if you're good at it. A certified Zumba instructor can make decent money-per-hour. You could easily do both and still have lots of flexibility for your children - which you will need after they're in school.

The alternative is to spend what i assume would be a bare minimum of $30,000 on an education so you can retire earlier? That logic seems flawed... :)

If you want to do software development, just start doing it. You can download plenty of tools free, and there are lots of tutorials and other resources. You need an Apple computer to write iOS apps, but you can do Android and Windows Phone on Windows, and both have freely downloadable tools for doing so. A degree would help with getting hired, but if you truly understand how the stuff works, nobody cares after that.

If you do go with online schooling, make sure you're doing it with a real university that has a real campus and is not a for-profit organization. Nobody hiring takes a degree from DeVry or U of Phoenix that seriously, online or not.


Janie

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 09:36:37 AM »
I wouldn't necessarily seek new credentials. I agree with the poster above that you have some flexible options already. There may be ways you can use your training as a chef outside a restaurant kitchen. Have you considered work as a personal chef? Check out American Personal & Private Chef Association. Maybe you could start your own business creating pre-prepared meals for busy families. What about food writing, restaurant review, or blogging?

MamaStachin

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 09:52:03 AM »
@ ritchie70:  Thank you for being difficult, I appreciate the honesty. :)  To be frank, I tried being a realtor because I thought I would be good at it, but I guess for lack of a better excuse, I wasn't very good at it at all.  I sold only one house in two years, and that was to my now husband. Ha!   There are other ways to make money with this real estate license, and having looked through the possibilities, I really feel like its an unstable income.  I want a salary that I can rely on, and I know that nothing is ever solid, but starting with a salaried job I feel would be great for that.  The zumba instructor, I would definitely consider doing after pursuing a degree.  There are no other caretakers for my baby, so its really just me 24/7, no family nearby.  So I would have to wait on it.  I can be tuning up my skills at home, as they have training dvds and music and manuals and all that, just so I don't lose that skill.  Thank you for your input!!  And I know it seems flawed, but my goal is a 50k to 60k annual income, so I'm hoping that will offset the minimum of loans/debt I will acquire after the degree.

@Janie:  Thanks for bringing that up! I was actually a personal chef to some very rich clients and did very well.  I do plan on looking into that as well, and weighing my options because I love it so much.  I'm currently cooking all our meals as well as the baby's and that is keeping my passion for cooking at bay. hehe  However, the down-side to being a personal chef, is its not as financially stable as it would seem.  Using the clients I previously had as an example, their schedule was very specific and the pay wasn't satisfactory to the work that I was performing.  I was very unhappy with that part.  They hired me fresh out of culinary school after a very choosy interview through the school and being nominated by instructors for the job specifically.  Everything about it was ideal except for the actual pay and no benefits. :/


greaper007

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2014, 09:52:34 AM »
What do you want to do?   Follow your passion, not the money.   You'll end up depressed and burned out (ask me how I know).   If you loved being a chef, nutritionist is the closest to that career.    Could you maybe try interning with a nutritionist before you devote a chunk of money to the degree?   Plus, your husband probably makes, or will make, $100,000+ a year.   That's where our family is, and it makes a lot more sense for me to stay home and my wife to go to work.   We don't have to spend money on daycare or expensive things like prepared food because I can stay home and make dinner, fix the cars, fix the house etc.

If you figure you'll make $50,000 a year working probably part time, do you think you could save at least $25,000 a year staying home?   When I was an airline pilot, I made $42,000 a year as a captain.   At that rate I was spending almost everything I made on daycare, food on the road (yes I packed a cooler), housing for my commuter base, a second car and various other employment related expenses.    It ended up that we were out I think $800 a month when I quit my job.  I quickly made that up by fixing, and taking care of things around the house. 

Don't sell yourself short as a stay at home parent.   I think spending your time with your kids sets a way better tone for their future than showing them a work ethic.  But, if you don't really enjoy being home then working is a great option.  YMMV

Janie

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2014, 10:17:28 AM »
There are other personal chef options aside from working for one family. Are benefits an important consideration for you? (They may not be if you get health insurance through your husband's job.) In any case, it can be helpful to try to think flexibly. Some at-home parents supplement their family income by caring for other children in their homes, for example. (No need to wait till kids are older to start this.) Have you checked out MMM's 50 Jobs over $50,000 without a Degree?

If you prefer a 9-5 office job, you might try to get your foot in the door with an admin position in a field that interests you and go from there (maybe with an employer that offers tuition reimbursement).
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 12:55:59 PM by Janie »

tat96

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2014, 10:20:38 AM »
I realize you will still have fairly young children when you are trying to get a new career off the ground so I would be hesitant about accounting if you are planning on stable income/stable hours.  While you will be employable as an accountant and even more so as a CPA it depends on where you work.  I work with several CPA's and am in the process of taking the exam myself.  Expect crazy hours during tax season and when you do audits.  Also, be aware of the continual licensing requirements and education.  You can easily spend thousands every year maintaining the license between continuing education and fees to the state board not to mention the thousands you will pay to study and take the CPA exam.   If you work for the government you can expect stable pay and less hours but there are still times during the year (mostly budget periods) where you will have crazy hours. 

If there are any credible and accredited online nutrition programs I would look at that as the best option.  Since you are already a chef it would make sense to blend those two with the Zumba stuff and be a super fitness/dietician who can help people with meal planning and prep.  People pay good money to lose weight and be in shape.

totoro

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2014, 11:10:58 AM »
Do you really need to work outside the home? 

Children still need lots of care when they are school age.  They often get sick and can't go to school.  There are pro-d days.  Pre and post school care needed that doesn't fit the 9-5 workday plus commute.  What about being involved in the school while they are there?  What about sports and facilitating friendships?

In your shoes I would consider options that allow you to stay home and not be stressed juggling everything.   As someone mentioned, this would include childcare, some zumba classes, and maybe some fill-in chef positions.  And don't discount the economic value you could bring to the house by making sure costs are contained...


« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 12:12:09 PM by totoro »

phred

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2014, 11:53:25 AM »
Before you sign for an online college program, make sure it has credibility in your targeted market; many, alas, do not.  Actually visit some workplaces and talk to Human Resources.  Save yourself a lot of grief.  Even with 'real' online college programs, you may be required to be on campus for a week or two at the start of the year or a weekend a month.
  I don't know what you want from computer science.  You can start with some free courses at CodeAcademy.com as well as Udemy.com

Meggslynn

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2014, 12:18:37 PM »
I think if you want to get a degree do it.

I can only speak to the accountant and teacher profession. I am an accountant and know many of them. I also know a lot of teachers.

Being a teacher is a lot more demanding then its seems. Teachers typically (from what I am told from four of my friends who are teachers) are bringing home work 4 out of 5 nights. Typically you are arriving an hour at least before school and staying at least another hour before quitting time. Its also hard to find a permanent job in this profession. But you do get the holidays and summer break off :)

Accounting, its well paying and lots of jobs out there to be filled. Lots of opportunity for movement. I however do not know anyone who gets more than the standard holidays off. No extended breaks during Christmas and New Years as it's year end. Typically its your busiest season.

I am a working mom and financially being an accountant is more than worth it. You don't have to weigh the option of if you are actually bringing in enough to make working out of the home worth it.

phred

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2014, 12:23:15 PM »
While it's probably too late for this year, I would check out the CPA idea by working as a tax preparer during the tax season

Argyle

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 12:51:53 PM »
Note that the vast majority of online degrees are worthless or, worse, scams.  I speak as someone in the field of education.  I have seen so many people pay significant amounts of money for degrees that did them no good whatsoever.  Online degrees are the new used-car sales: buyer beware.

People want credentials that will help them get secure jobs.  But there are tons of people getting those degrees (very often going into debt to get them), and there are far fewer jobs in those fields than there are credentialed job-seekers.  The odds are very high that you'll go to lots of trouble, and spend lots of money, going for a degree that will not get you a job.  Mark my words. 

In terms of your specific ideas, I don't know of any teaching degree that doesn't have a practicum where you need to spend time as an aide in a teacher's classroom.  The job prospects for most kinds of teachers are also very bad.  Certain fields, like middle school math/science, may be better than others.  But do very careful research on the prospects in your town before you go in this direction.

The real way to get a well-paying and secure job is to start out in a field that might interest you, whether that's insurance or car rental or Starbucks or department stores or what have you, in an entry-level position, but the kind that can lead to advancement for those who are interested.  Then work your way up.  Instead of you paying for the training, they pay you as you learn on the job.  An additional bonus is that if you find you really hate the the whole field, you haven't invested a certain number of years in expensive training for it.  Get paid as you learn the field, and then move up when the opportunity comes.

rubybeth

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2014, 01:00:31 PM »
So, my list of possible online degrees that I would like to tackle are:

1. Accountant (ultimately CPA), 2. Engineer (Software Engineering or System Engineering), 3. Elementary school teacher, 4. Nutritioninst.

I am a bit confused... do you already have one degree, and this would be an additional degree? Because some of these just require a BA, but others might require a graduate degree, depending on what state you're in. Maybe you answered this elsewhere in the thread, but I didn't see it. :)

EMP

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2014, 01:00:57 PM »
Note that the vast majority of online degrees are worthless or, worse, scams.  I speak as someone in the field of education.  I have seen so many people pay significant amounts of money for degrees that did them no good whatsoever.  Online degrees are the new used-car sales: buyer beware.

THIS!  So much!

jba302

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2014, 02:49:53 PM »
Note that the vast majority of online degrees are worthless or, worse, scams.  I speak as someone in the field of education.  I have seen so many people pay significant amounts of money for degrees that did them no good whatsoever.  Online degrees are the new used-car sales: buyer beware.

THIS!  So much!

+1. I now see applications that explicitly ask if your degree was from an online institution ( I believe my company is one of them now that I think of it). They are being black balled hard.

Christiana

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2014, 03:31:32 PM »
From what you said about your interests, I have a hard time believing you'd be happy sitting at a desk all day.  Welding or something like that might be a better fit for you.

KLina

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2014, 07:26:11 PM »
I second the degree question. Do you already have one, or any credits?

I have plenty of experience with teaching. I was a teacher in FL for 4 years with just an English degree (and some certifications). It was difficult teaching kids all day and then taking care of my own kids all night. My family is full of teachers, and we have recently come to the conclusion that it is a dead-end job. The pay is not terrible, but it increases so little over time as to be almost stagnant. There is also very little room to move up. At my school, at least 4 teachers were vying for assistant principal jobs (for which they had earned master's and even doctorate degrees), while the county was cutting those jobs out. In many places they have frozen teacher pay and dropped benefits, etc.

On the other hand, it is a good schedule, and the summer breaks are GREAT! Your schedule is somewhat flexible, as you can take sick and personal days, within reason, and you do get done early. 

When I was reading your description, I kept thinking catering might be a good possibility for you, if you could do it from home.

greaper007

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2014, 08:10:08 PM »
Why don't you try an informational product?   It seems like a cookbook would be a good fit.   If you market it right, that's money while you sleep.

Irishmam

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2014, 08:26:45 PM »
How about teaching a couple of night classes in your local adult education department? Think about a class that might take off, e.g. how to cook for a family on a budget, and tailor a class to that. I think if you teach what you love, it doesn't feel like work.

Think about what you can do around your husband's schedule with your current credentials before embarking on an expensive college education which might not be for you. Try to keep as flexible as possible, which may mean a 'patchwork' approach to your work, but will mean that you will spend much of your time with your babies. I have worked part time, full time, weekends, nights, per diem and taught classes in my profession before finally landing a job in the school system. This has enabled me to have 4 children with no family nearby and not pay for daycare.

Do what you love, keep flexibility and your family as your priorities and don't be afraid to think, and act, outside the box and you will be fine. Good luck!

Rural

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2014, 09:17:12 AM »
College professor here. If you really want an online degree, look at the websites of your state schools. Very few have no fully online degrees anymore, and if you choose that route, your costs will be much lower, you'll be working with an accredited school, and your degree will say "University of Whateverstate" just as if you'd done the whole thing on campus.

That said, yes, consider whether you need a degree at all. If you have one bachelors degree now, I'd guess not.

One last thing: education is a degree you can't get completely online, at least one that includes certification to teach, and without that it's useless. You have to do student teaching, usually a semester of full-time work, for certification in most states. But if you have a bachelors degree in an academic field and want to teach, there are usually options to get certified on the job. Those people also tend to be much better teachers, at least at the high school level.

phred

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2014, 10:55:47 AM »
teaching adult ed at night may be perfect for you.  Someone has already mentioned teaching cooking on a budget; this would go over better as cooking for newlyweds as no-one likes budgeting.  I was also thinking you could teach some aspect of gourmet cooking or cooking for a party.  If your kids don't need constant-Mommy, or you could find a daytime sitter, you could teach more in-depth cooking to small groups in your own kitchen.  By not doing this very day, the neighbors shouldn't complain much about your 'friends' visiting.  For the men, you could teach how to grill chicken so it's not black on the outside and raw inside; make it a potluck so the spouses' bring the sides.  Invite the immediate neighbors so they stay happy.

Several high schools have adult-ed enrichment programs.  You could do a program at each school, and maybe even at the local parks & rec in the summer.  I still fondly recall the night course I took in cooking Chinese.

ritchie70

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Re: SAHM needs advice on online degree
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2014, 08:17:57 AM »
@ ritchie70:  Thank you for being difficult, I appreciate the honesty. :)  To be frank, I tried being a realtor because I thought I would be good at it, but I guess for lack of a better excuse, I wasn't very good at it at all.  I sold only one house in two years, and that was to my now husband. Ha!   There are other ways to make money with this real estate license, and having looked through the possibilities, I really feel like its an unstable income.

I don't know where you live, or what support network (family and friends) you have to help with the kids. It sounds like not much. If that's the case, I think you need to have the sort of job that often comes with an unstable income - one with a lot of flexibility where you have a lot of input to your working hours. The kids will be sick, there will be snow days, school holidays, etc.

Depending on your husband's work schedule, is there a reason you can't teach an evening Zumba class three times a week now, and a couple more on the weekend? Surely he knows how to keep the little one alive for a few hours. I hope you're not a family that calls it "babysitting" when dad's taking care of the kids, just because it pisses me off when someone acts like I'm wonderful for taking care of my daughter. If I have her at the grocery store with me all the ladies act like I need help, which is so sexist and insulting.

On the real estate, I'm not sure how you only sell one house in two years unless you just weren't trying or it was during the worst of the real estate crash. Were you being a buyer's agent or seller's agent primarily? Have you considered giving it another try?

Most of the real estate agents I've met seem to be moms who wanted a flexible schedule and some decent income, at least when they started.