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FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 10:23 AM   #1
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FIRE Friendly Careers

Hi all,

I was wondering what everyone thought were FIRE-friendly careers.

By FIRE-friendly, I specifically mean:
-Lucrative
-Non-status dependent (culture promotes high spending, ex i-banking)
-Non-big city dependent


The reason I ask is, I am about to venture off into my first engineering job. However, I've heard engineering gigs can be kind of disappointing career wise (hard to get promoted, bureaucracy, hard work doesn't get you much). If I stay this path I would be interested in going on the mgmt instead of technical track. Not sure if that changes much.

Maybe that statement isn't true (feel free to refute) and I will have to investigate myself as I start work soon.

But if it is, I would be open to a career change.

I have heard finance can be lucrative, but from what I can tell its also very status-oriented (nice car, nice suits, nice watch, etc.) so the more you make the more you spend. I am not interested in an environment where that is the case (for obvious FIRE reasons!) Has anyone taken this career path and managed to avoid the "Rat race"?


I would consider Actuarial work, maybe life, leading up to CFP designation and becoming a financial planner in my 30's (heh this could actually be useful for my personal ER!). From what I can tell this is a pretty lucrative path for a moderate amount of work (although some might call it boring work).

Has anyone taken this route or something similar? In fact, maybe I could become a FIRE-consultant heh heh heh


Well hoping to get some comments from engineers, actuaries, or even others on this topic!

Thx,
ambition187
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

I'm still in college so I don't have experience with a career, but I would suggest finding something that you like to do and not to worry how well it will fit into your plan of RE. Someone on here posted something on here about a week ago to the effect of "Don't live solely to ER." If ER fits into your life plans then go for it, but don't live your life solely for the goal of ER. So I would suggest that you find a job that you like and then figure out how to meet your other goals.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 11:54 AM   #3
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

You seem like you are considering a lot of drastically different careers, which means that you should maintain flexibility should the one you pick not work out for you.

Engineering is an excellent career for those who are disposed to a solid, reliable, respectable upper-middle-class life. It pays very well in the long run - over the length of one's career. Want a nice, stable, family-oriented life? Become an engineer. Want to live on the edge? Spend silly money keeping up appearances? Look elsewhere. This is usually not a problem since engineers are typically quite conservative. The work changes over time, and while most engineers may not be ecstatic about their work, on the whole they tend to be very satisfied. Most *happy* engineers I've known stayed out of management, by the way.

In case you want to suffer through a Ph.D., are hot enough to land a tenure-track academic job, and are successful enough to claw your way to tenure, I'd say being a *tenured* (engineering, etc.) Professor is pretty fire-friendly. Take summers off if you want, your time and direction and working hours are mostly your own to choose, you are likely to have a pension, etc. There are a lot of internal and external rewards. But it's a LONG and HARD road to get there.

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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 12:05 PM   #4
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

The engineering perspective has many layers to it. I'm a field engineer where I work under sales and with customers. As with pretty much any field, the closer you get to the money coming in, the more you make. If you can become a pre-sales field apps engineer, you'll make a pretty good surplus to what your buddies in R&D are making. Doing this however requires very good communication skills, some sales acumen, and some other "soft" skills as well as tech skills. You have to dress presentable, but no suits and no mercedes. It's kind of a good trade-off between Sales (The real money, but very stressful difficult job where your job is on the line every year) and R&D "cubicle" engineering. You'll have to like travel too !

-Pan-
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 12:08 PM   #5
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

re: PhD-> Professor,

I was in a Ph.D. Eng program and quit with MS. Not the life for me. I like to know where my life is headed and not sure I could take post-docs, chance of no tenure, etc. The reward seems great (Professor job) but the competition is fierce and I found it tough to keep the motivation up during the Phd.


Any thoughts on Actuarial work vs Engineering? I do have a passion for working with people and money, and am great with quant-work, so I think financial planner path could be the way to go.

My only concern is that Actuarial work is as boring as its reputation

To rjpatt, I agree with your sentiments, but there has to be balance. I think I could be reasonably happy as either an Engineer or an Actuary, so for me it comes down to $$. I am not a tinkerer/tech guy; I am more in it for the math and working with people. That is why I would consider Actuary/Financial Planning as a new path.



to Pan, that sounds like a good compromise to me! For my field (Defense), I guess those would be the people flying down to DC and giving the presentations to military people. I could def see myself in that (as I said, I like working with people). Although my current position is straight-up research.

Do you find yourself traveling alot?

so many variables.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 12:32 PM   #6
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

If you are a hard-core math person and do software, you might want to consider becoming a 'quant'.

Check out this thread from another site:


http://www.diehards.org/forum/viewto...ighlight=quant

I don't know jack about this whole quant thing, but came across that the other day - and 400k sounds like a very nice salary !

Engineering can be decent, has been for me anyway, certainly family-friendly as I've never gotten sucked into the big overtime thing.

- John
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Hi ambition,

Check your Personal Messages.

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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 01:17 PM   #8
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Actuary/Financial Planning

-----

Being an actuary and doing financial planning are two completely different career paths. The actuaries in my company crunch numbers and don't work with people outside the company.

Financial Planners probably spend 1/2 of their time being salesmen (to get clients) and half at actual financial planning (this will vary depending on what type of firm you work for, of course).

Karen
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 01:23 PM   #9
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

to John: i thought about the Quant Finance path, and from what I can tell, those going in get "sucked into" the lifestyle. IE big spending, keeping the status up..and also in that kind of environment it is easy to become sad with a "measly" 400k relative to the traders you work for (GS had 50 traders clearing 50million+ last year). The thought of getting "sucked into the lifestyle" is what makes me hesitant there.

to kaudrey:

From some people I've talked to, I've heard Actuary -> FSA -> Consulting/Financial Planning is possible. Do you disagree? The source of that info might not be all that reliable.

Also, How competitive is the Financial Planning field?

to sgeeee:

thx for the PM. I will respond soon
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 01:30 PM   #10
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

I'm not (just) suggesting this out of personal bias, but there is definitely a need for university librarians with substantial training in engineering and the hard sciences. You'd get the university bennies mentioned below--possibly even tenure depending on the school, but without the fuss of slogging through a Ph.D or dealing with (as much) office politics. Similarly, a information studies or Knowledge management degree combined with your background & experience would get you a good start as a research consultant for companies looking into new technologies, products, etc.

really though, most of the ideas suggested sound great--just tossing one more into the mix.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 02:57 PM   #11
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Given you desire to have a high pay, without the need for conspicious consumption, I'd say that engineering is a pretty good choice for you. Yes it can be hard work, and you will either find it fullfilling or frustrating (and typically a bit of both). The management track is typically more lucrative than the pure technical path, and if you are interested in business probably a good direction you.

Probably the most lucrative engineering path is to move into sales or marketing, many companies that sell highly complex products need/want engineers in their sales and marketing departments.

Finally, engineers in high-tech companies often get stock options, and while these are a lot like lottery ticket, i.e. generally worthless. It is worth considering this ever early retirement board I've ever seen is over represented with engineers.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 03:40 PM   #12
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp
It is worth considering this ever early retirement board I've ever seen is over represented with engineers.
Very good point. If all the engineers, soldiers and government workers of whatever kind went home this board would be depopulated.

Ha
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 04:07 PM   #13
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Forget the actuary idea. I have worked with life actuaries (FSA/MSA/MAAA/WTFDIK) and I am good friends with a pension actuary (don't laugh). They make a decent buck, but you always have to be working on that next exam and you had better be damn good at statistics. I don't think actuaries choose to become actuaries: they are born that way.

I think engineering fits your criteria. You generally aren't expected to keep up appearances and you can earn a good salary in a low cost location.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 05:03 PM   #14
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Presumably if you were a mining engineer you could get to travel at other people's expense, potentially get remote location bonuses, and wear coveralls and a hard hat every day!
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 05:26 PM   #15
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
(FSA/MSA/MAAA/WTFDIK)
Those are some impressive credentials, but I think at least one of them is fairly common!
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 05:48 PM   #16
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

It does not meet:
By FIRE-friendly, I specifically mean:
-Lucrative
-Non-status dependent (culture promotes high spending, ex i-banking)
-Non-big city dependent

however, you might take a look at government service/military. You won't fill the lucrative square, however, you do have another advantage, job security. If you follow this board, you will see that many here are either retired military or government service. On the military side, you have ample opportunities to save and invest, and you pension starts at 20 years, with medical for life. I talked to a fireman, he also owns his own business. He is 38, will retire from the fire department is 9 years, could retire in 2. He has a $300,00 house paid for, and 30 acres of land worth $5,000 an acre, plus his own business. His pension will begin when he retires.

I guess the point I am trying to make, is that 'lucrative' does not always mean high salary. It's what you do with it that counts. Another friend, self employed, makes lucrative money..... however, about every 5 to 8 years he has had to spend most of his savings to restart his business.
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 07:21 PM   #17
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers


Well, I don't post much, but I figured I'd chime in here. I'm a fairly recent graduate and have been in the workforce as an engineer for 2 years. Right before graduating from school I was pretty convinced I didn't want to be an engineer anymore. Since then, however, I've come to enjoy my j*b (as much as one can, anyway!). In general it's pretty good pay and interesting, challenging work, which is about all one can ask for I think. And, as others have said, it allows you to have a life outside of work (at least most of the time). And of course it is definitely possible to FIRE as an engineer.

My suggestion is to give engineering a chance. You may find that you start to enjoy it. And, if you don't, it won't hurt a thing. Other employers will be happy to see a few years of engineering experience on your resume because it says a lot. Good luck!
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 07:31 PM   #18
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
Forget the actuary idea. I have worked with life actuaries (FSA/MSA/MAAA/WTFDIK) and I am good friends with a pension actuary (don't laugh). They make a decent buck, but you always have to be working on that next exam and you had better be damn good at statistics. I don't think actuaries choose to become actuaries: they are born that way.
LOL. I'm an actuary. I'm a FCAS - Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. Yes, the exams are tough, but if you do those when you're a young'un, then it ain't so bad. I make 6 figures +, and I seldom work more than 35 hours per week. Of course, I'd rather not work at all, but my job has been high-paying and low stress for a long time now in a nice mid-West capitol associated with Badgers. Go Bucky!
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 07:44 PM   #19
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

DH is an engineer. He's stayed on the "technical" path vs. the managerial path. If you like to travel, you can make some good $ when traveling on per diem. For example, right now he is getting $106/day tax-free, in addition to his regular salary. We travel together and rent out our primary home, so essentially our basic living expenses are nearly completely covered.

Also, if he chooses to do any overtime, he actually gets time and a half...double time on Sundays. That was a surprise to me as I didn't expect a professional to get OT, etc.

P.S. He wears overalls over his shorts and t-shirt to work. And we are currently living in a small town (pop. ~25,000)
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers
Old 05-01-2007, 07:51 PM   #20
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Re: FIRE Friendly Careers

All I can looking back over my life, I can see jobs that may have been more lucrative, but I can tell you if I were to do it again I wouldn't be choosing a career based on how lucrative it is. Life is too short and work hours are too long to go into a career having money at the forefront.

The most satisfying job I ever had was working at a hospital, pay was lousy but helping people made me feel good.
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