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Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-06-2004, 04:59 PM   #1
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Continuing Education During Career

Has anyone given thought to continuing education to further one's career when your goal is ER?

I have an Associate's degree, and occasionally I consider going back to finish the Bachelor's just for the potential career boost. Being in IT I also consider gaining industry certifications that aren't immediately necessary, but I'm rather dismissive of IT certifications because they become worthless so fast and my MCSE1 didn't seem to help me a few years ago when job hunting.

But lately when I ponder these questions I think about ER, too. If I'm controlling my expenses and (soon to be) debt free, then it occurs to me I may be able to make it to ER just as well with my current career education and experience along with my personal finance skills.

I have no specific question; I'm just pondering in the open. Feel free to ponder with me.

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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-06-2004, 05:53 PM   #2
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

Has anyone given thought to continuing education to further one's career when your goal is ER? . . .
I think that's an excellent question that isn't asked enough by ER wannabes. The right education can be one of the best investments you can make.

Of course, getting additional education credentials is not the same as getting an education. We all probably know at least a few losers who have outstanding credentials.

If you are investing in education, because you want to know more, it is likely to be worthwhile -- both from a lifestyle and from a financial viewpoint. But if you are investing in credentials to add another line to your resume, you may be dissapointed in the results.

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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-07-2004, 09:09 AM   #3
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

I finished off my graduate degree last year, but it was definately a calculated thing with a specific ROI hurdle in mind. In order to get a good return, I went part time while continuing to work full time and had employers pay for most of it. The returns are absolutely fabulous if you only look at my investment. If you include the cost of "sweat equity", the returns become merely good. I am continuing to pursue a specific industry designation that is very marketable as well, although I must say that I am definately losing my appetite for this stuff pretty raidly at this point.

However, I probably have another 15 years ahead of my in the salt mines (I'm 30). If you are farther along in your career or have less time before FIRE to reap the benefits, you might come to a dramatically different conclusion.
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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-07-2004, 11:21 AM   #4
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

Getting academic credentials is a money maker in Civil Service. They are highly regarded because they are objective as far as the bureaucracy and human resources are concerned.

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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-07-2004, 12:08 PM   #5
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

I would agree that as it becomes feasible during the early to middle part of your career, make the effort, it'll likely pay off big time later.

In my case getting close to ER (I turn 49 this year) the difference between the A.S. and the 4 year degree would have given me the opportunity to move into managment.

In government, Management receives a variety of not-talked-about perks to go along with substantial salary at the highest levels. I can see that if I had moved over 10 years ago, I'd be doing better than I am now in financial terms. However I don't think the job satisfaction would have been there. In essence I'm working for the person who's job I could have promoted to if I'd changed paths way back when, and the education is a requirement to attain any management position within my County.

As it plays out, I'll be OK for a FIRE in a couple more years, and I have no regrets, but having the flexibility to make those leaps when the positions open up is undoubtly a good thing.

I also agree that as I'm now the guy interviewing new potential Tech staffers, the CNE's and MCSE's etc have value, but only in combination with real-life experience. Youngsters wanting to get into the Tech field need to find that entry level position and get some real-world experience. I don't find the training the kids get in obtaining IT degrees particularly useful out of the box. I'm much more interested in people that can think, and get along with others, and those who don't run with scissors.
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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-07-2004, 12:21 PM   #6
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

the 4 year degree would have given me the opportunity to move into managment.
As some of us might tell you, while you missed out on some income, you also dodged a big bullet

I *desperately* tried to avoid getting into management at my last company, but as someone said "they keep pulling me back IN!". Twenty percent more pay for 200% more responsibility and aggravation. :P

I did learn however, that the best and fastest way to be stuffed into a management job is to loudly proclaim that you have no interest in such a job.

The last time it happened, I was sitting in my office, feet up on the desk, talking to a friend on the phone, and flipping through a non-work related magazine (I think it was 'car and driver'). A tap on my shoulder and I turned to see my boss and his boss. Uh oh. We want you to take over your bosses job while he goes to another assignment. I thought, surely not now after seeing me screwing off 3 different ways.

No luck.

Not only did I not want or enjoy the job, a year later the old boss decided he didnt like the new assignment and started slamming torpedo's into me in an effort to get me out of the way so he could have his old job back.

The education thing is critical these days though. I managed to go through it all without a day of education upstream of high school, and frankly half my high school "education" was garnered standing around outside or in the cafeteria. But I hit on a cusp that was short lived and isnt likely to recur where an uneducated guy with a skill could slip into the system, and where by the time I got to senior levels, with 20 years of experience under my belt the interviewers usually forgot to notice the lack of a degree.

One of my ex girlfriends dads, I think he was in his late 60's, had ER'ed, and become a full time college student. At the point where I knew him, he had several bachelors degrees and masters degrees and was working on a doctorate. All different stuff. One of the most interesting guys I've ever spoken with. His mantra was that he would stop learning the day he died, but only if forced to.

Me, if I sit in a classroom for 45 minutes I become a distraction, and deadlines drive me nuts.
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Re:  Anyone can learn in a classroom
Old 04-07-2004, 06:13 PM   #7
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Re:  Anyone can learn in a classroom

The real challenge is teaching yourself.

I went to graduate school full-time courtesy of the U.S. Navy and lived in daily fear that BUPERS would find out what I was doing. It inevitably happened and they forced me to use my weapons engineering degree-- operating weapons systems. (You veterans can appreciate how unusual that is.) I thoroughly enjoyed the ride but the thesis experience slaked all thirst for higher education. The school was "free" (three-for-one service obligation required after graduating) but I was astounded at the inefficient work habits of some of the other students-- especially those with 3.9+ GPAs and no lives. (Chicken or egg? Who knows?)

A few years later I lurched off the career track and ended up teaching at a military training command. All the staff had been in the military for at least three years, some for almost three decades. It was a fervent hotbed of education-- every single officer was pursuing a graduate degree after working hours. Every single enlisted instructor was pursuing a college degree, and a good percentage of them had stepped up to the accelerated 12-month graduate-degree program. Some of them specifically asked for the 4 PM-midnight shift to be able to attend day classes, but many times we had enough people in one course to get the college to send the prof to one of our classrooms after work. The depth of the study groups and the homework resources in our building rivaled that of UCSD, but the commitment was far higher than anything I saw at UCSD or at my old school. While the Navy was paying a portion of the expenses, everyone valued their education far more highly because they had to pay for most of it. That's a moral for the high-schoolers expecting full college funding.

The officers were going to graduate school because they'd seen the "real" world and wanted to join it (or run it). The enlisted were going to college because they'd spent several years on a ship coping with one of the few palatable alternatives to a college degree, and they wanted more choices. Some were getting a degree and then leaving the service, but they weren't a higher percentage than the rest of the military. Everyone was getting a degree to have more opportunities. That's another moral for the "Don't want to go to college" crowd-- you can't make them go before they're ready, but a few years in the military sure cures that syndrome. Maybe it works in civilian life too, especially if your employer is paying you to get a degree that you can use anywhere.

OTOH any smart ER should be able to teach themselves enough to pursue their interests, or at least to find a good mentor. Automatically heading to a classroom and forking over big bucks to be programmed in new techniques smacks a bit too much of bureaucratic public education. As TH has mentioned, the deadlines would just get in the way of your self-directed learning. Your real-world ER experience would probably incite you to question all authority and would make you the student from hell. I've spent far more time in my library (and online) in the last couple years than I ever did during my office days, and the free curriculum is everywhere. Maybe it's worth what you pay for it, but you'll sure be able to recognize the worthy stuff when you see it.

Last week our local newspaper profiled a veterinarian who had left his aerospace job (at age 42!) for vet school. His pet rabbit had fallen ill and it took their veterinarian a while to figure out the problem. The engineer, probably a left-handed INTJ, learned enough on the Internet to ask the right questions and to guide the vet to a solution. Then he decided that curing sick bunnies was much more fulfilling than his day job and he quit to go back to school. He might ER someday but I think he's having too much fun to consider it, and I'm a little envious of his "do what you love" success. Certification requirements like that would be the only reason that I'd go back to school. Even so I have a hard time motivating myself to get a contractor's license for plumbing or electrical. (We just spent 10 months renovating our master bathroom, and the lack of deadlines made it the most pleasant project we've ever tackled.)

But I draw the line at chasing a CFA or CFP in ER. That's just redundant.

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Re: Continuing Education During Career
Old 04-08-2004, 04:50 AM   #8
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Re: Continuing Education During Career

How true - although I can't specifically blame it on my being left handed and being INTJ, the thought of sitting in a classroom gives me the willy's. My father back when he retired loved it.

Self taught/no deadlines/serendipity - internet/books/try it and see - is my modus operandi nowadays.

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