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Compensation and changing careers
Old 06-04-2017, 04:19 AM   #1
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Compensation and changing careers

I have been working in local county government for 8 years. Mainly in the juvenile detention field, aka corrections officer. I have been taking classes at a community college and should be able to change career fields if I choose to complete a nursing school program. My current bachelorís degree is in Criminal Justice. My significant other has been a nurse for several years and although challenging at times, she seems to enjoy it and I have gained interest in doing the same type of work. But before I take that leap, I really want to understand what I am giving up at my current place of employment.

For the past couple years I have always been able to gross $40,000 a year, but I have to work nearly 200 hours of overtime to accomplish that.

For 2016

My employer contributed $3,768 to my 401(a)
I contributed $2,402 to my 401(a)
My employer contributed $5,833 to my benefits
I contributed $243 to my benefits

I'm going to leave out other taxes and expenses my employer pays because those same expenses will be paid by my next employer anyways (unemployment, SS, etc). But my employee compensation statement shows my yearly total being $49,300. Which is a lot different than saying, ďI make $17.78 an hour.Ē

How much more would I need to make in a new career field to justify leaving the career I have now? Going into nursing, I can start off making $18 an hour after completing a 9 month program. Take another 12 month program and you can start making $26-$28 an hour starting off. But I will no longer be contributing to my 401(a) and would have to start a new retirement product since I will no longer work for the county. Future employers could pay much less in benefits and that could offset what my true earnings really are compared to the compensation I earn now.

I ask myself these questions because I donít want to regret not taking advantage of what I have now. But at the same time, I would be happier in a career field that I can find employment easier if I was wanting to re-locate to different places. Nursing has a much better future for me as compared to what Iím doing now.

Any suggestions?
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:56 AM   #2
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Generic advice: Get your alternatives on even footing.

Specifically: convert your current job to an hourly rate, then compare it to your target career. Make sure healthcare is on equal footing.

Next step: write down the qualitative stuff. Things like stability of work, pension, flexibility, quality of life, how easy you can be fired etc ..

If you want a rule of thumb: a full-time job means roughly 1.800 to 2.100 annual hours. So 60k = around 30 an hour.
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:29 AM   #3
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You're posting on the Young Dreamers board and you mentioned you've been at the current job, so I'm guessing you're around 30 years old?

The payback calculation on the education programs is pretty straight forward. Find out how much both programs will cost and then divide that by the increase in your annual salary. If you can bump your pay $10/hr, to Totoro's point, that about $20k/year. I bet its a very good payback.

One thing I would suggest is that you look a bit further out as well. As you're posting on this board, I'm assuming you have aspirations of building wealth to get some freedom down the road...consider the longer term income growth potential. I know nothing about criminal justice careers but if you've been at it 8 years and are making $40k/year, doesn't seem like the income is climbing too quickly. If nursing has more upside over time all the more reason to consider the move. (Provided you want to do that kind of work!)

Remember...if you get the higher income, ensure that your lifestyle doesn't expand to consume it.

Best of luck!
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Old 06-04-2017, 06:48 AM   #4
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Essentially, you can simply run the numbers for two different scenarios. For the first, you stay as is. Look at your savings and apply a growth rate to that. In the second, you should subtract from savings the actual cost of the education you'll need, as well as the the cost of lost income while you pursue that education (although perhaps you can still work and do night programs for the education). Then look at the increase in income from the new career and calculate the break even point for the two scenarios.
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Old 06-05-2017, 02:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Totoro View Post
Generic advice: Get your alternatives on even footing.

Specifically: convert your current job to an hourly rate, then compare it to your target career. Make sure healthcare is on equal footing.

Next step: write down the qualitative stuff. Things like stability of work, pension, flexibility, quality of life, how easy you can be fired etc ..

If you want a rule of thumb: a full-time job means roughly 1.800 to 2.100 annual hours. So 60k = around 30 an hour.
I don't think it is 100% accurate, but I have a ball park figure. Things differ on a pay stub, annual hours being vacation, holiday, hours without pay, etc. If I want to compare it to a future job, I would need to know if they offer the same paid leave benefits.

My base salary is figured from 2080 hours annually. But I am paid hourly. For 2016 I worked 2289.25 hours but it is based off of regular hours worked plus vacation. holiday, overtime, etc. So its not a true figure of the hourly rate, but slightly off due to other benefits available.

But the round about number is $21.50, that I would need to make to equal what my employer compensates me now, even though I only make $17.78 an hour.

Then again, even if I make $21.50 to "equal" what I'm making now, if I was to get my own health insurance it wont be a low group rate I have now. Which would mean I need to make even more than $21.50.

I also don't understand my 401(a) defined benefits plan if I choose to end my employment. My money will only grow at 4% if I leave it there. I am vested so I am eligible to receive a benefit when I qualify to retire. But if I choose to take out the money and roll it over into my IRA or invest it elsewhere, I only get back the money I put in, but employer contributions will stay in the pool. So the decision of keeping it there or taking it out could also change everything described above.



for 2016
I put in 401(a) KPERS $2,402.19
I put 6% into KPERS
0.060001
Employer contributed $3,768
Employer put in 9.4% into KPERS
0.094115
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Old 06-05-2017, 02:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Closet_Gamer View Post
You're posting on the Young Dreamers board and you mentioned you've been at the current job, so I'm guessing you're around 30 years old?

The payback calculation on the education programs is pretty straight forward. Find out how much both programs will cost and then divide that by the increase in your annual salary. If you can bump your pay $10/hr, to Totoro's point, that about $20k/year. I bet its a very good payback.

One thing I would suggest is that you look a bit further out as well. As you're posting on this board, I'm assuming you have aspirations of building wealth to get some freedom down the road...consider the longer term income growth potential. I know nothing about criminal justice careers but if you've been at it 8 years and are making $40k/year, doesn't seem like the income is climbing too quickly. If nursing has more upside over time all the more reason to consider the move. (Provided you want to do that kind of work!)

Remember...if you get the higher income, ensure that your lifestyle doesn't expand to consume it.

Best of luck!
Yes, I am 31 years old. You are right on point

I first started working in this field in 2009. Since it was pretty close to the recession, the entire state put a freeze on raises. I didn't receive a raise for the first 2-3 years I worked here. Even after we started getting raises, they were only 2.5-3.5%. I took one promotion during this time, and that was a slight increase in pay. But I don't see many reasons to take another promotion when I can make the same amount of money by working a minimal amount of overtime and not having to deal with the stress.

Aside from making more money, I have put a lot of thought into doing something different (nursing) because it would be easier for me to get a decent job if I decide to move. If I move to another state now and stay in the same line of work, I will have to start all over, unless your lucky enough to find a supervisory position that a government oriented organization actually wants to hire an outsider. From what I have seen from my girlfriend and all her friends, they move to different jobs in nursing and keep making more and more each move.
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Old 06-05-2017, 06:47 AM   #7
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Move to NYC, a rookie Registered nurse STARTS out with 80 thousand. If your better half moves here with you thats a minimum of 160k a year. Get an an apartment together about 90 minutes north of the city for 1200 bucks in a nice area upstate. Work 4 12 hour shifts and be off for 3 days. save your money . Move back in 15 years to your dream area with a million bucks in the bank.
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Old 06-05-2017, 07:06 AM   #8
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I agree with your assessment that nursing has great potential as a career, both financially and the flexibility consideration. You are at a good age to change careers. It becomes much harder as you get older so I'd say go for it, try nursing, and if you don't like it, you can go back into government work. The decision shouldn't be all about money. Which career would you find more satisfying? You still have 20-30 years left to work and that's a long time to spend doing something you don't enjoy.
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:13 PM   #9
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I agree with your assessment that nursing has great potential as a career, both financially and the flexibility consideration.
+1

Even here in WV, where good jobs are very hard to find I see constant openings for nurses. A neighbor is a nurse and works in an elementary school. She has two kids so the hours are great for her. It probably doesn't pay $80k but the COL here is a fraction of what it is in NYC.
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Old 06-05-2017, 04:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tykimeister View Post
Yes, I am 31 years old. You are right on point

I first started working in this field in 2009. Since it was pretty close to the recession, the entire state put a freeze on raises. I didn't receive a raise for the first 2-3 years I worked here. Even after we started getting raises, they were only 2.5-3.5%. I took one promotion during this time, and that was a slight increase in pay. But I don't see many reasons to take another promotion when I can make the same amount of money by working a minimal amount of overtime and not having to deal with the stress.

Aside from making more money, I have put a lot of thought into doing something different (nursing) because it would be easier for me to get a decent job if I decide to move. If I move to another state now and stay in the same line of work, I will have to start all over, unless your lucky enough to find a supervisory position that a government oriented organization actually wants to hire an outsider. From what I have seen from my girlfriend and all her friends, they move to different jobs in nursing and keep making more and more each move.

As a 57 year old looking back on my career and considering what I did correctly and incorrectly, I would say a couple of thousand $$ +/- compared to your current job would be well down my list of concerns in this case. You will be working for another 20+ years. Since you can make a decent living in nursing or criminal justice, I recommend you pick the profession that you will either enjoy the most, OR that you can leverage to make a significant jump in income, if the latter is your primary motivator. Going back to school is probably part of the equation whether you stay in criminal justice or pursue nursing.

If nursing, you should go ahead and plan an the extra year of schooling to double the pay and get a better nursing position. Your SO can verify this better than I can but at least in my neck of the woods, the job of nursing is better, setting aside pay for a moment, with more education and higher levels of certification. Oh yes, and the pay gets much better too, as yo pointed out.

Nursing is a job for some, a career for some, but a calling and a ministry for the ones who really make a difference. Blessings to your SO and to you if you choose to pursue it.
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