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Old 03-19-2013, 09:00 AM   #101
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Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you choose to look at it), when I was trying to decide what to do with my life money was not a factor. I chose counseling/psychology because I want to help people and do therapy. I knew the earning potential once I earned my PhD was high, but I never thought about earning potential along the way. Additionally, when I chose my field I did not have a child, so my only financial concern was taking care of myself (much easier than supporting myself and 2 children will be). Yes, I should have done the research sooner, but I didn't. I can't change that now. I will focus on the future though and how I can make things better. I will definitely find the book mentioned above and see what else I can do. I don't want to give up on getting a PhD in Psychology, but until I get there, I need to do something that provides more income.
Well, things have changed. Your children need financial security. That should be your first priority.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:04 AM   #102
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Psychology majors can be very successful in sales--don't rule anything out anything jobwise once you graduate, ka, even if it's outside the pure counseling arena.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:15 AM   #103
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Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you choose to look at it), when I was trying to decide what to do with my life money was not a factor. I chose counseling/psychology because I want to help people and do therapy. I knew the earning potential once I earned my PhD was high, but I never thought about earning potential along the way. Additionally, when I chose my field I did not have a child, so my only financial concern was taking care of myself (much easier than supporting myself and 2 children will be). Yes, I should have done the research sooner, but I didn't. I can't change that now. I will focus on the future though and how I can make things better. I will definitely find the book mentioned above and see what else I can do. I don't want to give up on getting a PhD in Psychology, but until I get there, I need to do something that provides more income.

A PhD is not a given... my brother pissed off one of the professors who was on his PhD committee and he voted not to give my brother his PhD... (ps... he was also taking psychology)... he tried for a different PhD at the same university and the prof talked one of his friends on the second committee into not giving my brother that PhD.... SO, my brother did two PhD programs without getting one... (he still has a BS and two masters)

Except for when he taught at a university, my brother has not done anything in psychology... he has worked for computer companies most of his career.... it paid a LOT better than what he could earn with a master or a bachelors...
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:26 AM   #104
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Kaharris,

Sounds like you are taking all this advice well. It is not always easy to hear. What sort of jobs would you be looking at with your bachelor's degree?

I'm sure it must seem like everyone else has a new car, so why don't you? Remember that they are likely no better off, just with a slightly better credit score. Speaking of, if you can improve your credit score (without spending more money) it might help your car insurance rates which seem high. The other thing is turning 25. So definitely shop around after your birthday if not before.

Have you checked out mrmoneymustache.com? You might get a lot out of that as well.

Best wishes!
Thank you!!! I just checked out the website. So far, I like what I'm seeing.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:28 AM   #105
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I knew the earning potential once I earned my PhD was high, but I never thought about earning potential along the way.... I don't want to give up on getting a PhD in Psychology
What evidence is there for this belief?
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:31 AM   #106
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If I may say this without sounding condescending - which is not my intent - I have difficulty understanding why you waited until this point before conducting very basic research (salary.com!) and performing a costs/benefits analysis of your past and (potential) future education. It is well known that both undergraduate and graduate degrees are very expensive and in many fields of study provide extremely limited economic advantages.
I think this is pretty common.

I have two good friends who have Master's in Social Work. They are licensed to do therapy, but work for social service organizations. They had no idea that their expensive degrees would mean minimum wage upon getting out. Both are in their 40's (one just turned 50) and still paying student loans.

My brother was super bright - got his undergraduate from Berkeley in Architecture, then his masters. Had NO IDEA that it took years of crappy wages before you could get licensed as an architect... (5 years internship before you qualify to take the exams. - Can you imagine lawyers having to wait 5 years before taking the bar?) Even when licensed the field doesn't pay anywhere near what he imagined. If he'd checked into it earlier, he would have majored in something different. A slight shift in focus to structural engineering would have doubled his salary potential. (My husband, also an architect, regrets not doing structural engineering, too.)
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:54 AM   #107
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Here is a recent newspaper article that makes the same point. Pardon the Canadian context, but the principle is the same.

Student Debt: In tougher times, students need to be smarter | Full Comment | National Post
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:18 AM   #108
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What evidence is there for this belief?
That belief is based on information from my Psychology professors that are also practicing clinicians. According to what they've shared, earning potential is great when you own a practice, work in an independent practice, or work for certain agencies. They didn't make it seem like I will automatically make over $100,000 per year with that degree, but it is definitely possible depending on how I choose to use it.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:23 AM   #109
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Please do not blame the students for all of this mismatch of educational time and expense versus potential future earnings. The folks running the colleges make their money directing students into programs that are lucrative for the colleges. If you mention this to the academics working at those colleges a large percentage of them will argue that being educated is more important than earning a living.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:31 AM   #110
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That belief is based on information from my Psychology professors that are also practicing clinicians. According to what they've shared, earning potential is great when you own a practice, work in an independent practice, or work for certain agencies. They didn't make it seem like I will automatically make over $100,000 per year with that degree, but it is definitely possible depending on how I choose to use it.
ka, you might do a bit of trawling of federal government jobs to see what they pay. Gubmint jobs come with a whole host of benefits, often have some security vs. layoffs, and best of all for your purposes they typically bluntly state what the pay will be. Have a gander here and see what your qualifications might get you once you finish your degree: https://www.usajobs.gov/
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:34 AM   #111
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I think there is no doubt that therapists can make good professional level money. $250/hr or considerably more per hour is not unknown in high end practices in Beverly Hills, the Bay Area etc. Mosly done by women, who usually have plenty money to dress well, etc. But even these top end practioners have trouble filling their hours, and since plenty others would like to have this money, prestige and lifestyle, it will be a struggle to stay reasonably well utilized. So this kind of income is a long way from being guaranteed, or even likely.

I don't know how to evaluate this, but I think the golden age of psychotherapy was the last half of the 20th century. I think it is increasingly hard for therapists to find patients who can and will foot the bill for these long lasting, expensive and sometimes dubious treatments. Insurance is much more likely to pay for some antidepressants, which may even be directly prescribed by the GP without any psychiatrist or psychotheraopists ever being involved.

It is in many ways an attractive career, but I think not likely one well suited for a single mother who even if she succeeds in getting the terminal degree will have to put together some postive cash flow fast or be drowned in debt. I know one therapist who has had a nice career without much apparent stress, but she had well to do parents and trained at a time when tuition was much less and competition was not so intense. I know another women who left the field because in spite of having a PhD and very little education debt, she could not keep her head above water financially. A good earning husband is huge help because you can take some risk of short-term cash pinches.

If people understood in their bones what is meant by discount rate and discounted cash flow, there wouldn't be near so many people pursuing these careers. I don't know how any single mother could pay her way through a PhD program, and survive, or have any time to mother her kids or have any fun.

And to Ms Harris, you are very smart, if you don't get yourself boxed in with debt you will be very successful in some attractive career and life. But debt is real; it can cause very unhappy situations.

Ha
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:43 AM   #112
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Plumbers and accountants also help people.......and may be able to do so at lesser cost.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:46 AM   #113
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ka, you might do a bit of trawling of federal government jobs to see what they pay. Gubmint jobs come with a whole host of benefits, often have some security vs. layoffs, and best of all for your purposes they typically bluntly state what the pay will be. Have a gander here and see what your qualifications might get you once you finish your degree: https://www.usajobs.gov/
Yikes! Thanks for that link. It definitely put more things into perspective. I am happy I am doing this research before starting my graduate programs. I need to put SERIOUS consideration into my education and career goals. Things are definitely not as I thought they would be...
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:51 AM   #114
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haha, thank you for that information. The thought of earning a PhD, and continuing to struggle and depend on my future spouse is a bit nauseating.

I appreciate the feedback from everyone. I will continue to do research on career paths and education. I definitely don't want to end up with $100,000 + in student loan debt, and a "fancy" degree, but still struggle to support myself and my children.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:51 AM   #115
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Yikes! Thanks for that link. It definitely put more things into perspective. I am happy I am doing this research before starting my graduate programs. I need to put SERIOUS consideration into my education and career goals. Things are definitely not as I thought they would be...
Sorry, kiddo, but better you find out now rather than later. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:09 PM   #116
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Kaharris, you are getting potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free advice here, so it looks like you are in luck!

I skimmed some of the thread and didn't see it mentioned, but I think you can get back child support for up to three years from the time a court issues a child support order. I imagine it might vary by state though, so you may need to do some research. Of course there is the issue of the deadbeat dad that won't pay anything anyway. But at least he will have sheriffs knocking on his door to enforce child support orders.

Regarding the $1000/month day care, I'd dump it and let grandma take care of the kid(s) if she can. I imagine (like many here) you value education and enrichment for yourself and your children. However that is a luxury you can't afford right now based on your stated financial situation. You would be better off sticking the kid(s) with grandma and taking the $12000 per year you could save and dumping it into a 529 college savings account for your kid(s) to use for higher education one day. Or use the free room in your budget by avoiding child care tuition to work a little less and use that new found free time to spend quality time with your kids and work with them on educational priorities and enrichment activities.

The financial picture is about to get cloudier with another mouth to feed, possibly medical bills (although you likely qualify for some form of significant public assistance), and lost wages from post-partum recovery. You can take steps today to clarify the financial picture.

I have to say you sound like you are motivated to do what is best for you and the kids and I am impressed that you are not taking offense to some harsh but honest and necessary responses you are receiving here.

Best of luck!
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:44 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by kaharris05 View Post
That belief is based on information from my Psychology professors that are also practicing clinicians. According to what they've shared, earning potential is great when you own a practice, work in an independent practice, or work for certain agencies. They didn't make it seem like I will automatically make over $100,000 per year with that degree, but it is definitely possible depending on how I choose to use it.
Psychology skills ON, check.

1) What would be their motivation to tell you this?
[Hint: Do these professors have a need to fill their PhD programs with candidates?]
[Hint2: See #2 on this list: 12 reasons not to get a PhD - CBS News

2) What percentage of PhD graduates from your school have found work in their own/independent practice or "certain agencies?"

3) Independent of the ability to get a job in certain agencies, how easy is it to become a professor to go with that agency job? [Hint: Read this: 12 reasons not to get a PhD - CBS News ]

Psychology skill OFF, check.

Why don't you find some current PhD students that are in the program and/or recent PhD graduates through the Alumni office and ask them directly what they are doing/going to do and expected salaries? You would be surprised at how many would be willing to help.
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Old 03-19-2013, 02:01 PM   #118
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Good advice, REattempt--asking other PhD students about the experience.
I received my Masters and PhD in social psychology in 1980, in 5 years. My friends in the clinical program took a loooong time to get their PhD's because of the research required to receive both degrees. Plus having to do an internship, not unlike the internship for medical doctors. Some students took 8 or 9 years from BA to PhD. And most of us were single at the time. Very few were married or had children.
I don't think things have changed all that much in psych PhD programs, but I could be wrong.
Also, most liberal arts/sciences PhD programs do support their students on research assistantships, although at not much more than the poverty level (my son is applying to PhD schools now). Because of that support, they only admit a handful of students. Getting into a clinical psychology used to be harder than getting into medical school.
So again, I would take Reattempt's advice and be sure to talk to current PhD students to get more info and perspective. My experience may not apply anymore.
But there are lots of other ways to fulfill your dream of helping people, as others have mentioned.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:46 PM   #119
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I still fondly remember my high school psychology teacher. He had a PhD in psych. Taught at the college level at some good schools as a lecturer or adjunct prof. Made probably $30-40k/yr (=~$50-55k today). Left that due to unsteady hours and picked up public high school teaching (about the same money ~$50-55k w/ a PhD). He painted houses during the summers to get by. I looked him up recently and he's back teaching at the local State U, but it appears adjunct/lecturer, not tenured professor (= way cheaper for the psych department to hire lecturers or adjuncts).

And this guy seemed very smart and ambitious and personable. Just never made much money.
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Old 03-19-2013, 04:04 PM   #120
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Well...kaharris...there are also other avenues to use that masters or PhD I have not seen specifically mentioned. It isn't all about setting up a private practice and waiting for clients who want marriage counseling or family counseling, etc.

I know of a couple of people who had "only" their Masters and chose the route that hooked them into the mental health initiatives in their state. Also got on the court list for DUI offenses. Courts often order "some counseling" especially for repeat offenders.
They do this in addition to any private clients they may have. They make a tremendous amount of money. Over $200,000 a year.

One guy I know of is the largest pensioner in the state of N.C. and with a Masters became head of a regional mental health facility. His salary and compensation was more than the governor's as is his yearly pension. There was an uproar over this....so ...bear that in mind. Also bear in mind whether or not one can do that today with a Master's may be questionable.

Another young lady has her PhD and works for a school system in Illinois and makes fairly good money as well.

Just food for thought....
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