Reader Question


Hello everyone,


A few months ago I got this email from a reader and I promised I would get back to them.

Here was the question:

Hi, I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I want to say that I really appreciate your posts. I do not remember how I came across your blog exactly, but it has really helped me validate and consolidate some of my long-held thoughts and observations. I’m 22 years old and I will be starting college soon. I’m going to be studying education, but I’m concerned about that choice of major.  I am wondering if I should study something else that might hold up better in the long-run as teaching is actually my fallback plan. I want to utilize an associates degree in education to teach English abroad. However, it is not a requirement to have a degree in education to teach English abroad. One can have a degree in nearly anything and be qualified to teach English abroad, as long as one gets certified to teach English as a foreign language. So, I am debating whether or not I should get an education degree or study something else that will prove to be more beneficial. What are your thoughts on the current or future value of a degree in education?



First off I just wanted to apologize as this response was so very long in coming, unfortunately there were many things I simply couldn’t put off.  But here is what I think.  I agree that it’s a good idea to major in something that isn’t education. Like you said it smart to have a degree that isn’t education as it isn’t required to be a teacher. I know from experience as my mother is teacher and she majored in a foreign language although she still got a teaching credential. At the moment she does not teach the foreign language so I know it’s definitely not necessary as you mentioned.

I think you’re being very smart by looking towards something that can hold up in the long run just in case teaching doesn’t work out. I don’t know if you have any interest in sciences or medicine or nursing? I can’t speak on the value of having a degree in education but I wills say that it seems a bit redundant to have a degree in a field that you don’t need to become a teacher. Especially when it is your fall back. I believe that your plan is very well thought out and it can never hurt to keep your options open.

To all other readers please leave your thoughts below if you agree or disagree as I believe that having more than one perspective can really help. I might be totally off the mark or have missed a key piece of information.


Until Next time,
Stay Neutral


70 thoughts on “Reader Question

  1. Part 1

    Dear Reader,

    Here are my thoughts, your mileage will vary based on your individual interests, needs, and circumstances:

    I believe the most important thing to understand is the economy and so many fields are in such a state of either decline or transition that the old answers and assumptions no longer apply. Lately, I’ve been horrified to see online conversations in which BW college students and job seekers are talking as if things are the same as they were in 1990. They’re not. The old assumptions about “good jobs” don’t apply. One must do the research and crunch the numbers to see if the available jobs in various degree-related fields are likely to provide earnings sufficient to pay off the cost of getting that particular degree. Far too many college graduates are drowning in debt and poverty because they Didn’t Crunch The Numbers.

    So, the first set of questions are:

    (1) How much will it cost to get Degree X?
    (2) Are there jobs available in Degree X Field?
    (3) Will the available jobs (if any) in Degree X Field enable me to support myself AND repay the cost of getting Degree X within Y years?

    Luckily, you’re doing this research in the internet age. There was no internet when I was your age. I had to physically go to libraries to read professional journals for various prospective fields, talk to random grad students who were acquaintances, and do other types of in-person research. By contrast, you have a world of information literally at your fingertips.

    If there are a reasonable number of living wage jobs available in Degree X Field, the next set of questions are:

    (4) Is Degree X Field in a state of heavy transition?
    (5) Is Degree X Field in a state of decline with large numbers of layoffs going on throughout that field?
    (6) Are there a lot of special visa foreign workers being imported to work in Degree X Field?

    A commenter at my blog once asked me what I thought about nursing and other fields. As I told that commenter:

    The pattern with several industries in the U.S. has been to “import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees — or keep them from getting hired in the first place.”

    This is accomplished by special immigration allowances given to certain categories of workers. One example is how HB-1 visas have caused many American tech workers to be replaced by cheaper workers brought into the U.S. from India in order to be hired by tech companies. This has been going on for a while.

    “Backlash stirs against foreign worker visas”

    “How H-1B Visas Are Screwing Tech Workers”

    There have been foreign nurses imported to work in U.S. hospitals for a long time. Particularly from the Philippines.

    The possibility exists that American nurses could suffer the same fate as American tech workers (replacement by cheaper foreign nurses brought in under special visas to work in the U.S.).

    “H-1B visas get more crowded: more nurses now eligible to compete for jobs under category”

    Every industry is an evolving situation that aspiring workers will need to research.

  2. Part 2

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks are treating current day educational choices as if conditions are as they were during previous decades when jobs were plentiful. I wouldn’t advise taking that sort of approach. For just one example, I’ve read numerous comments at various Black blogs in which BW readers were talking about going into debt to get a degree in journalism. Meanwhile, newspapers all over the U.S. are a shrinking (if not dying) industry with increasing numbers of layoffs. And there are a very limited number of newscaster jobs available. To get a feel of what I’m talking about, here’s a link to a (now-retired) blog by a laid-off journalist chronicling the demise of the newspaper business. Starting with the papers owned by the chain that he used to work for.

    Over the years, I’ve read similar sorts of things about the opportunities to write for magazines. And these are the experiences of White folks working in White media. I would imagine that there are even fewer jobs available in the much smaller niche of African-American owned media.

    Dear Reader, I would suggest that you look for blogs and industry-related websites that are written by people currently working (or seeking work) in the specific type of employment you want to pursue. Start with the websites that are talking/venting/complaining about the problems in their respective industries. Those places are more likely to pinpoint the pitfalls and trickbags to be avoided in the field you’re interested in. [An example in the attorney/law school context would be the blog called Subprime J.D. ]

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  3. Nursing in America is good because most nurses these days need to have a BSN. These nurses from the Philippines are coming in as LPN. So, they are liscened and have no degree.

    Also, as a nurse you can further your career and salary by specializing.

    Computer Science is also a good degree.

    • I think that there are certain realities to the nursing profession that need to be clarified. The medical system in the U.S. as in many western countries is on the verge of collapse. The requirements for nursing will be adjusted downward if it means saving costs. This means the BSN today could be downgraded to the LPN tomorrow. Therefore, the Philippine nurses would drive salaries downward.

      Similar things happened when union workers were replace with non-union ones.

      It is more critical than ever for each person considering higher education to calculate the return on investment. How much will it cost for this degree, how long will it take to pay it off, what are the income prospects, how saturated is the market and what is the basis for the revenue that will pay one’s salary.

      If it is a field heavily dependent on the federal government (either directly or via subsidies) or state/local agencies; then I would be very wary as most if not all are finanically struggling (in severe cases like the U.S. government, effectively bankrupt). These entities are already struggling to maintain basic infrastructure and pension obligations.

      I recommend considering fields where your area of expertise cannot be so quickly replaced, (many STEM degrees for example).

      Another point that many forget after college, that degree is only valuable for the first five years or so, after that unless you have expanded upon it with regularly adding to your skill set, it will lose value. In addition, there are many hungry foreigners who would all too willingly take jobs from U.S. citizens for much less pay. Fields that are difficult for them to enter due to their countries not having the educational system are better choices than ones that have low entry costs.

      Lastly, with the effective demise of the unions, there is no collective protection for employees. This means one needs to see any “job” as “contract” that remains valid only as long as the employer sees that person as an asset (which can change on a dime). Therefore, it is recommended to choose a degree that could facilitate the creation of a side or primary business which would enable other revenue streams.

      It is imperative for everyone to recognize that the idea of go to schoool and get a “good job” no longer exists.

      • You’re right, the golden days of the health professions are over, more specifically for doctors. I think they are getting the worse end of the stick.

        But by 2025 it will be mandatory that all nurse practitioners or those specializing have PhDs or DNAP.

        The requirements for nursing are actually going UP.

        But you are right on one point though: return investment.

        If nurses obtain their doctorate, will they see an increase in pay? As of now, nothing has been mentioned. This means that more debt could be accumulated and not an increase in salary. Philipino nurses still have to be educated in the U.S. They have to pass the U.S. NCLEX in English.

        But it is never good to rely on one source of income. Starting a side business no matter what the profession is important.

        That being said, most doctors are know of are Asian, Caribbean and African and they are not getting paid little. Same can be said for nurses.

        The STEM route is good if it is mathematics or computers, but general sciences such as Chemistry or Biology are also hard to translate into a job these days.

        • The requirements to be a physical therapist has increased to a doctorate; however, PTs are not seeing an increase in pay. Hence, I highly doubt nurses, or any other healthcare professional, will see a pay increase.

  4. As Khadija as said, this is not 1990.
    Education in particular is undergoing a major change. The internet, with such sites as Khan Academy, is shaking up the landscape.
    Homeschooling is also growing by leaps and bounds every year.
    Some 6 years ago, there was a woman in my neighborhood giving writing lessons to homeschoolers, one day a week.
    These days she teaches classes at two different locations (2 days, 2 classes each day I believe) and also has one or two online classes.
    I think the classes go for $300-$400 per student. If she has ten students per class, that’s $15,000 per semester before taxes. For teaching 5 classes.
    There is also good money in curriculum design. Different students find different styles/methodologies engaging, and if you can put a new spin on language arts, or integrate say, Language Arts and Math, you could find a willing market.

    There are many directions in which to go, teaching can be a good “fall back” plan, but you need to be prepared for new realties. Also, many homeschooling parents don’t care about a teaching degree so much that the teacher has proven to know what they are talking about.

    Since education is your fallback plan, I think I would get a degree in something else. Perhaps STEM, but of course check on WHERE the current shortages are in STEM and other factors influencing the viability of that as a career.

  5. Not to beat a dead horse, but everyone who has already commented is correct.

    As a 28 year old, let me tell you how it is out here for people ~5 years out of college. There are NO guaranteed pathways to financial security. I know folks with MBAs working in call centers for $12/hour. People who have achieved PhDs in Chemistry are only able to find grunt lab work that they could have done with a BA. There is NO upward mobility. Two years ago, one of my bffs with a MAcc was promised a pay raise after she put in two years. Guess what? Two years came and went with no pay increase. My friends who achieved engineering degrees are still in the same positions with the same pay as when they started. Even STEM fields are not safe. My doctor friends seeing the writing on the walls, with the rise of NPs, PAs, AAs, etc., and feel duped. Student debt is crushing and many of my friends either live at home or with roommates.

    Personally, I feel STEM degrees are the safest short-term bet. Notice how I said “short-term.” STEM fields are already being taken over by foreigners and the problem will just intensify. Medicine/Dentistry is already too costly with increasingly diminishing returns. I would not knock technical/non-traditional pathways. One of my gfs, a BW, went to culinary school and now is a successful personal chef.

    The best thing a BW can do is find a way to achieve financial independence. Like our foremothers, we are going to have to hustle and make a way out of no way. Furthermore, we may have to consider doing things we don’t want to do. For example, I never aspired to be an entrepreneur; I really was content to work my 9-5, collect my check and go home. However, now that I see the precarious economic landscape, I am looking into ways to gain financial security. Over the holidays, I sold cakes and pies for extra cash. I pushed for my elders not to sell the property our family owns. I consider myself a cosmopolitan person, made for city living, yet, I am seriously exploring options in exburbs and flyover country because those areas are less expensive.

  6. DiraD,

    Along with everybody else who has commented, THANK YOU for your comment. You’re not beating a dead horse. You’re giving up to date information that folks need to hear!

    With just a handful of comments, this conversation is already way more sophisticated and nuanced (and therefore more valuable) than what usually happens on Black blogs when folks talk about higher education and financial security.

    You said: —“For example, I never aspired to be an entrepreneur; I really was content to work my 9-5, collect my check and go home. However, now that I see the precarious economic landscape, I am looking into ways to gain financial security. Over the holidays, I sold cakes and pies for extra cash. I pushed for my elders not to sell the property our family owns.”—

    This reminds me of something the owner of the hair salon I attend said to me around 10 years ago (she’s my business heroine and model I try to emulate). She said that the way the American economy was going, people would be *forced* to become entrepreneurs—whether they wanted to or not. As with many things she’s said over the years, she was right.

    • No problem at all. I want more of us to know the true lay of the land. More importantly, I want us to stop losing due to lack of information.

  7. Thanks for posting my question! I appreciate everyone’s contributions and I’m going to try to respond to them all in one.

    It is interesting that homeschooling was mentioned, because I actually have been homeschooled, entirely through K-12. How I have been educated has been pretty eclectic and unconventional. My father in particular had always been anti-college and never wanted me to ever attend any public institution while my mom has always tried to steer me toward the STEM areas, but I’ve always wanted to go to art school and major in fashion design. I’ve always been warned against it because of how tough the fashion industry is to get into and be successful in. There isn’t much growth in that sector, so I wanted to make sure that I developed other skills sets that would make me better equipped as fashion designer/entrepreneur. For that reason, I’m considering switching my major to accounting, but I have to look into it more, as per Khadija’s (I read your blog, too!) much appreciated suggestions.

    I got interested in teaching English abroad because I had heard from a friend that in certain countries it is possible to do so with only an associates degree. I did some research and I found out that it’s true, in countries like China and Russia, where there are large populations of people and an increased demand for the English language, that the minimum requirements is that you be a native English speaker, have an associates degree and be TEFL certified. You can also save a third to a half of your salary in these countries because the cost of living is low and the exchange rate is favorable. Many people do ESL teaching stints to pay off student loans. Currently, financial aid covers my community college costs, but when I transfer to a university, to minimize the amount of any possible loans that I would take out, I figured I could both teach and tutor ESL abroad first. And I also considered how I could leverage an ESL teaching qualification in the states as a private tutor.

    About nursing. Nearly all of the women in my family are nurses, one even has a doctorate in nursing, but she doesn’t get paid any better for it. Also one has specifically advised me against nursing, yet urged me toward teaching as a career. Tutoring appeals to me, but as far as teaching in the long term, I have no desire to be a teacher in a traditional school setting, not in public schools in the US anyway. I just want to be able to use certain teaching qualifications like those for ESL as another source of income.

    • Miki,

      I heard of an NP whose job required her to go back and get a PhD and didn’t pay her more for it. I’ve decided that if I stay in nursing and they require me to get a PhD that won’t pay me considerably more money after the effort, I’ll go to med school instead, or just switch fields altogether. That’s why I’m working on Plan B, C, etc.

      However, sometimes earning your PhD doesn’t require an exorbitant amount of extra time. If one loves the field of nursing, that may just be the way to go. The nursing profession is trying to improve the respect and intellectual regard it receives.

      • Well, from what I know my aunt wasn’t required to get a PhD by her job (she’s a pediatric nurse and staff nurse leader at a hospital in Atlanta). She got a doctorate degree in nursing with a focus on education because she planned to teach an evidence-based curricula that she created and test its usefulness. However, when she was asked if she was getting paid more, her answer was no.

  8. I remember a reporter stating that Bin Laden said something to the fact that America will be taken down through our financial means. I believe that. A lady in my office said that her checking account was hacked yesterday. No offense to anyone; but, U.S. corporations should not allow tech people from other countries build and maintain their computer systems.

    • Deb,

      “U.S. corporations should not allow tech people from other countries build and maintain their computer systems.


  9. Pardon the previous error.

    I am not presenting myself as an “expert” or highly knowledgeable about these things. But, I will share a few thoughts.

    Several things came to mind, and I really don’t have any specific formulation in mind for presentation. So, I guess I’ll just start with this:

    At the end of the day, it’s all ABOUT YOU.

    “Go-getters” RARELY (if ever) “LOSE”.

    I think it’s very wise to look at trends and apply advice given by others in this forum. But, I’m going to share with you my personal experience/knowledge base and the experiences of others I have met/known.

    I’ll just make a quick comment about accounting. I’m not in that field. But, if you are interested in being a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), you don’t need an accounting degree. You can take classes at a community college to prepare for the certification exam. If you pass, you’re a CPA. (That’s something I’m considering, and I currently know a nurse who is doing this.)

    As far as education is concerned, I personally would not be interested in teaching at any level other than the college level–NOT because of any knowledge about job opportunities, but rather, knowledge of self. I have NO INTEREST in dealing with misbehaving children of others. When you’re in college, you’re an “adult”, and I don’t have to be responsible for you like a substitute “parent”. That’s all that I personally “know” about that. But, let me share with you, the story of a woman I know.

    I went to undergrad with this person. At some point, she realized she wanted to be a teacher. We attended an Ivy League university, and she majored in education and minored in business. She later earned a Masters in Literacy from another Ivy League institution. She worked with various educational development programs, both national and international, that didn’t earn very much money. However, she gained experience, and met/worked with heads of state (Presidents–LITERALLY). She came back, earned a law degree from a respected public institution (from which I graduated), and she is now an educator and is a dean at an exclusive, private institution that costs over $52,000/year for boarding students. (I’m talking HIGH SCHOOL.) Do you think she’s earning low wages now? Do you think her opportunities as an educator are limited?

    One of my best friends earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from a respected private college. She then earned a Masters in Health Administration from a highly ranked national program. She’d done plenty of volunteering and extracurricular activities. However, she was unable to get a job in her field because she didn’t have “work experience”. So, she went to a community college to earn an associate’s degree in nursing. She got a job as a nurse, and eventually decided she didn’t even want to work in public health. She’s done well financially and is now earning a Masters to become a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. She LOVES it. And, it fits well with her lifestyle and objectives. Things have come full circle, for her.

    I know a real estate agent who lives in a nice, quiet neighborhood. Her neighbors are pretty much working, middle class people. She used to work in the corporate world but decided she wanted to leave. Her parents own HUNDREDS of rental properties. She works with her renters to help them learn to save and work towards owning their own home. She’s now recently started her own company (I think with some other friends), and I think it’s focused on development (I haven’t asked her for details). Most real estate agents I know (or have heard of) don’t have it like THIS–but, I know one WHO DOES. And, she’s AA. The educator I mentioned is AA also.

    I know an AA man who is an engineer. He owns his own contracting company and is now branching out into other business endeavors.

    The first man I dated worked for his friend’s business. He now owns multiple businesses of his own, and he and his friends work together to pursue opportunities all the time.

    My ex was an engineer. He hated it. Decided he wanted to pursue business, instead. He quit his job, went to business school, now he’s working for an international company, traveling the world, and doing well.

    A guy who was CRAZY about me in undergrad decided that he wanted to work for himself. He started a company and has been growing and achieving success. He produces a different type of product. It’s good quality. And, people with money want to buy it from him.

    I’ll continue in another post.

  10. Now, MY personal experience. As I mentioned, I DID get accepted to and attend an Ivy League university, after graduating from high school. It was challenging, and I had a lot of things going on at home. An Ivy League school (or ANY college) is not an easy place to be, when you have a lot other things going on in life. But, I learned that the only people who were proud of me and HAPPY for me were my parents and my grandfather. I learned that other people thought I was “selfish” for going to an Ivy League school (but, I will add that they admired and respected the other girl I mentioned above). Anyway, after a lot of stress and outside input about what I should pursue as a career, I decided I would send myself to college, so that I could study and pursue what I WANTED. So, I came back, graduated Summa Cum Laude from a public institution whose academic department was ranked #4 in the world by the London School of Economics. I have financed ALL of my educational pursuits, since I left my first university. I’ll also mention that the ones who thought I was “selfish” for attending an Ivy League school never congratulated me for completing college and graduating Summa cum Laude. Also, while I was working to pursue my goals, I was directly told that I was, in effect, “a failure”. So, I understand working hard to advance while feeling “low”.

    Anyway, I decided I wanted to be an affordable housing developer. So, I pursued a Masters in City and Regional Planning. While working with a nonprofit organization, I realized I didn’t want to go that direction–which was DEVASTATING for me, because I didn’t have a “Plan B”. I wanted a career and needed a way to economically support myself, so I decided to enter the healthcare field, since it was really the only other field I had more of a serious interest in. With the support and encouragement of my RN friend I mentioned, I TOO decided to get an associate’s degree in nursing, so that I could get a job, experience, and advance to other things. The first thing they told us, when we started nursing school was that the job market for RNs goes in cycles–TONS of positions are available, then the market is tight, and it’s hard for new grads to find employment. They told us that when we graduated that the job market would be tight, however, by the time things picked back up, we would have already found positions of our own. I think they said it’s in 7-10 year cycles, or so. (JUST what I wanted to hear at that time–OF COURSE).

    Anyway, I successfully completed nursing school, and had decided to complete my Masters in CRP before working as a nurse. However, a fellowship opportunity opened up at a local hospital and I decided to apply for it. I didn’t have the hospital experience they wanted. And, I was told by my current employer that it would be difficult to find a job in time, since hospitals know I want to be a nurse and they wouldn’t want to pay to train me, only to have me leave a short period of time later. She encouraged me to focus on getting my license and pursue other opportunities. One of my nursing professors agreed with her analysis. However, I’m not one to give up easily. I was able to be hired on at a hospital and work enough time to qualify to apply to the fellowship. Fortunately, for me, I was ACCEPTED into the fellowship, and I’m working as a nurse today. Now, I wanted to be an ICU nurse, and my fellowship program was for critical care. PERFECT. I know some people don’t believe in God, but, I ABSOLUTELY DO. Things came together for me at JUST the right time, when I didn’t know how things would fall into place. Economically, I’m doing well. Nursing isn’t easy. It’s challenging, physically AND intellectually. You really do need YEARS to learn and develop. I’m still going through that process. This isn’t my finish line. I’m still making other plans and working towards them.

    I’ve met several nurses, and I’ll tell you, they’re doing QUITE WELL. I know nurses with 2 year degrees who earn over $100k/year, on a regular basis. Now, they work two jobs or lots of overtime, but they aren’t hurting for cash.

    There are LOTS of opportunities for nurses. Especially, hospital-trained nurses. Once you’ve gained experience and knowledge in nursing practice, there are lots of other areas you can branch out into–insurance, pharmaceutical sales, law, etc. One of my current RN friends used to work selling medical equipment. She made over $100k/year. But, it required lots of travel, and she wanted a different lifestyle. So, she’s pursuing something different. A nurse who attended the fellowship program with me, worked almost a couple of years and left to sell medical equipment. She’s young, attractive, and has experience managing a bar. She relocated, is traveling, and, I’m sure she’s “enjoying the life”. Another one of my colleagues will be able to retire early, but she’s completing her Nurse Practitioner degree in Gerontology and plans to open an adult day care, once she retires. I told you about the other nurse who’s getting her CPA. Other nurses go to people’s homes to manage cases or provide care. Some nurses travel and earn $50+/hour. My friend who did sales has a friend who works from home in coding and loves it. She and I are pursuing coding as an additional way to earn cash. I don’t know how it will go, but I’m giving it a shot, as a way to earn extra cash in the meantime without burning myself out.

    Experienced nurses are VALUABLE. And, people rarely mention that. Sensible doctors recognize the worth of a knowledgeable, well-trained, and experienced nurse. And, when you are in a critical care setting, patient care is much more of a collaborative effort between nurses and physicians. Physicians value the input of the nurses caring for their patients (not ALWAYS), when they know the nurse has an excellent foundation and good critical thinking/analysis skills.

    Now, I have read that with changes in insurance and healthcare, that a lot more healthcare is going to be provided at home and hospitals are going to be pretty much places for care of seriously ill patients. We also have to deal with the issues of providing care for an aging baby boomer population. I know nurses who own their own home health care companies and are doing well economically.

    Also, MDs don’t WANT to do the jobs of nurses. But, the nurse’s job MUST be done. THE NURSES are there with the patient around the clock. The doctor checks in intermittently, but is unable to be with the patient all the time. So, THE NURSES are the eyes, ears, and hands for the doctor, when the doctor cannot be present. And, the doctor relies upon the nurse to alert them to situations that need to be addressed.

    Lastly, before I close, you have to think about entrenched economic and political interests. Do you REALLY THINK the medical profession is going to allow itself to be gutted and neutralized? You have people earning $200k/500k/1 million+ annually. Do you REALLY BELIEVE they lack political clout? Do you believe the healthcare technology and pharmaceutical industries are going to allow themselves to be dismantled without a battle? Do you REALLY BELIEVE the government wants to lose THAT INCOME and DEVELOPMENT?

    Get real.

    These players aren’t going ANYWHERE. The game may change, but the winners will still be playing. You just have to decide where YOU want to be in the game. Nurses are getting more opportunities because healthcare needs to be provided at a lower cost. Nurse Anesthetists can earn $150k+/year, more than the average family doctor. That’s MUCH more affordable than paying an Anesthesiologist $400k+/year. However, you’d best believe Anesthesiologists are going to protect their market share interests. Fortunately, there are models where they work well TOGETHER. You have Physician’s Assistants who are kind of like the MD version of the Nurse Practitioner. There’s a reason the medical field is creating and developing that career path.

    Technology will continue. Development will continue. Knowledge bases will expand. Opportunity IS THERE. Do you TAKE INITIATIVE or are you COMPLACENT? You have to be real about the requirements to achieve certain objectives, the sacrifices necessary, and the odds for achieving success. You MUST utilize WISDOM. But, at the end of the day, (at least in the United States of America) YOU are the primary determining factor in whether or not you will achieve success.

    I would advise you to be real about yourself and choose your goals accordingly. I know that I like “comfort”. I personally value and aspire to an upper-middle class lifestyle. I don’t care about yachts and personal jets. But, I want to bring home $100k+/year after taxes, by myself. I like the “millionaire next door” lifestyle. I don’t want to be “flashy”, but I DO want to be secure.

    While pursuing my Masters in CRP, I met a (white) lady who was an accountant in the corporate world. She was interested in development. So, she decided to pursue this degree for knowledge and connections. She asked me how much money I wanted to make. I told her at least $120k/year. She told me that was easy. I never pressed her for more info. But, last I heard, she was back in the corporate accounting world earning $300-400k+/year.

    All that I have shard with you IS TRUE.

    This country IS FULL of winners. Many you don’t even recognize.


    • Formavitae,

      You said: —“This country IS FULL of winners. Many you don’t even recognize.


      This is about the only statement in your comments so far that I agree with. [Not that my agreement is necessary or even desirable. {smile}] Here’s why:

      (1) You (and the acquaintances you cited as examples) don’t sound as if you’re in anywhere near the same age group (translation = professional stage) as the reader who asked the original question. The way things are operating for me (and my peers) as an attorney after 20+ years of practice are VERY different from the job prospects and conditions facing current-day new attorneys fresh out of law school carrying a ton of law school debt that I didn’t have to deal with (tuitions were less expensive when I was still in school).

      Advice that’s rooted in a very different life- and career-stage (or rooted in having started one’s working life under the very different conditions that existed quite some time ago) can be dangerous.

      (2) Winner’s bias & skewed information (and sometimes MISinformation or DISinformation). We always hear from the typically smaller segment of people who are winning at any particular endeavor. It’s good to hear from those who are winning. IF they’re telling the truth about how they succeeded, it’s good to hear about the strategies that worked for them. Nevertheless, folks still need to do due diligence about the probable return on their education investment.

      Law school is extremely competitive in a not-even-pretending-to-be-nice way. Lots of folks lied and put out disinformation about how they succeeded in getting the very top tier of grades (access to restricted or confidential information about what questions would be on the final exams—not saying that this access was necessarily unethical—some folks had close relatives who were law school professors). If a certain book in the law school library would be helpful to others in their classes, more than a few students would ensure that particular book was always “misplaced” (= they hid or “lost” the book after they were finished with it). Or key pages in the book in question would be torn out. Of course, instead of telling all of this, folks just said they studied hard. Which was true as far as that statement goes, but it was NOT the whole story. Or even the most important part of the story of their “in the top 2%” success in law school.

      I’m saying all of this to say that this sort of active sabotage of the competition (including future and potential competitors) didn’t (and doesn’t) stop when folks graduate. It often carries over into professional life where people recite platitudes and blow sunshine up other folks’ behinds in response to questions and request for career advice.

      So yeah, this country is full of winners. Many of whom will never tell anybody else the truth about the steps they took to win. Because they don’t want the competition. Instead, they tell folks (read = naïve people who don’t do their own due diligence) the traditional platitudes of “I won because I worked hard, got good grades, and was a go-getter.” [Which is typically only part of the real story. And not necessarily the most important part.]

      • Khadija,

        I am SO MAD. I just lost a LONG reply.


        I’m going to try to condense my ideas, as I cannot remember all that I wrote.

        1. We all have a right to differences of opinion and perspective. Our experiences are different, so our judgments will differ.

        2. People need to “be real” about the real costs/requirements for certain goals. For example, I never wanted a career in politics, although I performed well in my academic program, because I like to do things in accordance with my values. Politics does not always afford that and truly is not predicated upon “good ethics”. I learned that and pursued a different avenue. However, I had NO CLUE about the amount of “politics” in healthcare (ALL THINGS). That’s something I had to learn from experience.

        I think there are also people who want things they truly aren’t willing or prepared to work/sacrifice for (e.g. people who want cars, “bling”, but don’t want to work or control their reproductive activities).

        3. I come from a working class family that valued education. So my parents (particularly mother) sacrificed new cars, jewelry, latest fashions, so that I could have a private education. Although I eventually graduated form an alternative public high school, which I literally had TO BEG to attend (so I could go to school with more AAs), it was my private education that prepared me for college and enabled me to perform well on standardized tests and get accepted into an Ivy League institution. The educator I mentioned came from a family with fewer resources than mine. I watched her sacrifice and work very hard. I’ve done the same. Same shoes for years. Same clothes for years. No trips to the salon. Etc. Reduced social/personal life. Dedication. All the while dealing with family stresses at home.

        4. I understand college expense, as my institutions cost more when I attended them than the out of state tuition for the public university I attended today. I have to pay for my undergraduate, graduate, and future education. Believe me, I UNDERSTAND. My career in nursing has provided a way for me to comfortably meet my responsibilities. More than my bachelors in Political Science did. I understand the importance of the quality of degree selection.

        5. As it pertains to degree selection, I think one has to look at what it takes to get what they want and whether that degree makes it possible. For example, there is money to be made in Political Science, but you need a PhD, as well as additional experience, connections, education to open doors for you to even try.

        I can compare the educator with my cousin’s wife who is also a teacher. My cousin’s wife works for city public schools, and she’s concerned about the way people vote for certain measures. For example, the mayor, state university, and business/technology institutions wanted to develop new schools with a different curriculum structure. I understand why. The city schools don’t perform that well, and they want to attract/retain higher level income residents. I actually supported the measure/idea, because I have no plans to send MY children to the city schools (when I have them–Lol). She and others were concerned about the implications for the local schools and teachers. The measure failed. The other lady I went to college with worked low wage education jobs FOR YEARS, for experience. Before she started law school, she told me she was “ready to make some money”. We laughed. And, I said, “I understand.” This was AFTER attending two Ivy League institutions. She still had to put in hard work, but look where she is now. She knew what she wanted and did what she had to do.

        6. I know people are crooked. I can use an example from my current life. The “educator” at my place of work decided that she only wanted to give certain “select” people training and educational opportunities. I and several others were not in her “select” group. Anyway, the people she trained ended up leaving and taking positions elsewhere. Well, the MDs ended up getting upset that there weren’t enough staff trained to do certain things to provide care for the higher number of patients requiring it. So, she was fired. We now have a new manager and educator. They have a different philosophy and want all staff members to be trained to do all things needed for our potential patients, not just a chosen few. SHE GOT HERS. Nevertheless, when I started this job/career, I already had plans to move on to something else. So, once I saw that she was unwilling to offer me certain development opportunities, I began looking for alternative avenues to pursue for development. I knew they were out there. I just had to find them and figure out how to gain access to them. Some other workers who had been there for years just accepted it as the decision of “the powers that be” (as one literally called them). Backstabbers and saboteurs abound. One has to know that they exist and decide how they’re going to deal with them. My personal approach has been to try to spot them early and figure out ways to get around them. I also don’t tell people my plans. Only the 1 or 2 I TRULY TRUST.

        7. That’s why I concluded that in THIS society, it all (PRIMARILY) comes back to the individual. Times are changing. But, public education is available (for now). Affordable colleges and grants are available (for now). There are still avenues for access to Ivy League institutions for disadvantaged groups (for now). These things will be stripped away if there is no one of clout invested in them or standing for them. But, if a person doesn’t see the value in them, they will lose them. One has to decide what they want in life, weigh their options CAREFULLY, assess what is required to meet certain objectives (if it is POSSIBLE to meet those objectives), develop an action plan, execute it, and don’t give up on oneself. There’s just no way to get around personal agency (in this society).

      • Khadija,

        I just read the article you posted.

        I realize becoming a college professor is NOT EASY. A lady from my Masters dept was earning her PhD. She was PHENOMENAL. Very intelligent, knowledgeable, and energetic about the field. She was from Germany. I really liked her. After she finished her PhD, she had a difficult time getting a professorship, so she had to work at universities in different capacities and maybe pursue some additional fellowship opportunities. After several years of hard work and dedication, she was hired on as professor at a great institution. I don’t know if she’s tenured or not. I’ve heard there’s a lot of politics involved in becoming tenured and I guess your fellow department members can continue to deny you, if they don’t like you. (That’s what I’ve heard via word of mouth.)

        My piano teacher is a PHENOMENAL pianist. She came to the U.S. to get her PhD in music. She also has advanced degrees in mathematics from her home country. She works as a math professor at a community college and a public university, in addition to teaching and performance. However, she told me she doesn’t trust money and doesn’t want lots of it. She just wants enough to meet her needs and be comfortable.

        A boy I grew up with learned to play drums in high school. He’s now a professional drummer and has performed in different venues internationally.

        I’ve met many people who’ve pursued goals and dreams and ended up reaching their “happy place”, but most (ALL I know) did it with lots of effort, hard work, time investment, and sacrifice. Some people like the P aris H iltons and G eorge Bushs don’t have to. If your name is “O nassis” it will almost CERTAINLY open doors. Or, if you’re like K*m K, you can get financed for sleeping with the right guys. But, for the majority of us, wisdom, hard work, and sacrifice is what it takes.

        The important thing for AA women is to pursue these higher level opportunities and try to develop a network/infrastructure for each other, so that we can start having more clout and social protections for ourselves.

      • Formavitae,

        You said: —“I am SO MAD. I just lost a LONG reply.


        I’m going to try to condense my ideas, as I cannot remember all that I wrote.

        1. We all have a right to differences of opinion and perspective. Our experiences are different, so our judgments will differ.”—

        Yes, that’s right. Everybody has a right to their own perspective. Here’s where I’m coming from with mine—For a variety of reasons, aspiring AAs are bombarded with “Rah-Rah, Pep Rally, Tony Robbins’ YOU CAN DO IT!!!” talk whenever the topic of higher education comes up. In other words, AAs have an entrenched habit of telling each other the “comic book versions” of things in which the focus is on chanting the equivalent of “I AM SOMEBODY!” Instead of the grown-up, nuanced, Mature Adult With Personal Agency version of things.

        I’m also angry—I’ve hated that “Rah-Rah, Pep Rally, Tony Robbins’ YOU CAN DO IT!!!” comic-book version of career advice talk since high school. For lots of reasons:

        (1) It’s patronizing. If a person comes from a normal family background with relatives who have already by their actions have demonstrated an investment in that person’s success, that person doesn’t need the same type of pep rally, “I AM somebody!” advice one would give a high-school drop out orphan who’s not really motivated to seek higher education. Such a person already knows I CANT DO IT!!!” and is ready for the nuanced, grown-up-with-personal-agency version of things.

        (2) It’s dangerous because it leaves the person totally unaware of the reality-check aspects of whatever field they enter. The comic book versions of things leaves folks in a position to be blindsided by reality. I’ve seen people get burned like this. [They should’ve done their own due diligence, but hearing only the comic-book talk did not help.]

        When talking to other competent adults with personal agency, there’s no harm in telling the full, grown up, nuanced, reality-check versions of various professions. But there IS harm is only telling such a person the “Rah-Rah, Pep Rally, Tony Robbins’ YOU CAN DO IT!!!” comic-book version of things. Like the situation discussed in this article.

        “This College Professor Has a Master’s…And Is Living in Poverty”

        The woman in the above article made several life-damaging errors in judgment (including having an oow baby). She also Didn’t Crunch The Numbers and didn’t do due diligence. Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that she was also harmed by at least one professor who gave her advice based on how things were for people in HIS age group/professional stage (emphasis added in bold):

        —“No one at her college mentioned that becoming an academic might not be the wisest career path, she says. Instead, her favorite professor, Michael Loudon, who taught American Romanticism, encouraged her to come to his office and sit and talk. (He is now retired.) “He had faith in me: He knew I’d continue with the ideas I was working with and write a dissertation. No, he didn’t think I’d have a big career, but he was sure I’d have decent work. That was a given.

        But during Loudon’s collegiate era at least 75 percent of professors were tenured or tenure-track (a status that includes health benefits), while the exact reverse is true today: 75 percent are adjuncts or part-timers like Bolin. This sea change in academia had begun by the time Bolin went to college, but neither she nor her parents were aware of it. Her father, who hadn’t gone to college, worked building tires for Firestone; her mother was a homemaker who had an undergraduate degree in home economics. “Clocking in at nine and home by dinnertime,” Bolin says of her dad. He worked to live, not the other way around, and he didn’t necessarily understand his daughter’s quest for work she loved.”—

        Everybody’s reactions are based on their own experiences and views. Since I was a teenager many moons ago, I’ve always preferred that people tell me what they viewed as the FULL-spectrum, real deal of things instead of only giving me pep rally talk. I try to do the same for those who ask questions of me.

        Everybody’s mileage (and reactions) can and will vary. Everybody has the right to their own views.

        • Khadija,

          I understand your perspective, and I don’t disagree with your assessment or analysis. That’s why I said,

          “I think it’s very wise to look at trends and apply advice given by others in this forum.”

          To me, “due diligence” is part of “personal agency”. If you think you have an interest in something, you have to investigate what it entails, talk to people in the field, learn about the experiences of others, and research any available indices to give you a better understanding about the prospects for a certain career.

          I gave the reader several important “reality checks”.

          1. There are alternative pathways to achieve different goals. For example, if one wants to be a CPA, they don’t necessarily have to choose accounting as a major. They can go to a community college to take coursework to prepare for the certification exam, and gain access to the field via that route.

          2. You can graduate from two Ivy League institutions and still not make lots of money in certain academic fields. The person I mentioned sought out and pursued opportunities that were good for professional development. She literally pursued opportunities within and outside of the country. That took time and diligence. In the process, she was able to network with people of influence, though she didn’t earn lots of money. She came back, after several years of sacrifice, earned an additional (law) degree, and was able to leverage her educational and professional experiences to land a high ranking position in an exclusive program.

          3. You can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from respected programs, volunteer, participate in a large number of extracurricular activities AND STILL not get hired into your field for “lack of experience”. (How do you get experience, if you can’t get a job?) So, you may have to pursue alternative pathways to utilize an education you’ve already earned. That requires hard work, effort, and drive.

          4. Different professions have a vested interest in protecting their market share and opportunities. If you’re interested in a field, you should examine whether or not it’s being blocked or supported by other key players. And, you should figure out whether the options that are available to you will help you achieve your personal objectives.

          5. Career tracks can have “boom and bust” cycles. The stage of the cycle can determine the ease or difficulty you will face in gaining employment.

          6. It’s important to have a “Plan B”, because sometimes the thing you THINK you want to do changes once you get more practical experience and involvement.

          7. Sometimes, you have to utilize a variety of avenues and vehicles to achieve the outcome you want. I dealt with discouragement, unfavorable economic conditions, and life responsibilities that had to be handled. I worked my *ss off. Made a lot of sacrifices too. It’s paying off for me. But, I still have more work to do to get to the level I decided I want for myself.

          8. You have to “be real” about who you are and what you (are willing to) bring to the table. If you don’t like to study, a track that requires lots of academic investment may not be the best choice for you. If you’re lazy, don’t like to work, and don’t like to take any sort of initiative, maybe you should expect to live in less expensive conditions, possibly (likely) even poverty. Maybe you should aspire to own a reliable used sedan rather than a new SUV. But, if you want a higher standard of living and opportunities, and you don’t come from a privileged, well-networked, and/or “insider track” position, you should prepare yourself to do lots of legwork and put in additional effort that may not be required from others.
          Additionally, what you believe about yourself/how you feel has a major impact on what you can feasibly accomplish. If one hates mathematics, they aren’t likely to pursue a career as an engineer or an actuary. That doesn’t necessarily mean they lack the intelligence or CAPACITY to be an engineer or an actuary. But, they aren’t likely to do either, since they lack motivation to make the investment.

          9. It’s important to assess what it takes to achieve certain objectives. Some people think I have a nice singing voice. But, I do not aspire to be a “B eyonce”. To achieve that level of economic success and popularity requires more than a “nice singing voice”. I have no interest in even trying to meet the requirements. Accordingly, I do not aspire to live a “B eyonce”-level lifestyle. My goals are realistic for my opportunities and the investments/sacrifices I am willing to make.

          10. I know a lovely, stable AA family who adopted a few AA children, in addition to their natural born children. Unfortunately, a few of their adopted children decided to become involved in gang or criminal activities. OF COURSE, it’s going to be difficult to get a job/establish a more “conventional” professional career, after one becomes a felon and an ex-con. Another has several children, with various women, for whom he is delinquent on child support payments. OF COURSE, he is going to have a difficult time establishing economic security. Fortunately, their natural born children are doing well. Personal agency is a critical factor in influencing one’s opportunities.

          I am not trying to “gas up” the reader or delude them with lots of “fluff”. I’m just trying to let them know that there is no “guaranteed” set of outcomes for a particular educational/career pathway. Many (most) times, ones outcomes are contingent upon a person’s willingness/ability to “do what it takes” (whether “ethical” or “unethical”) to achieve the results they want. And, the course/journey to a certain goal is not always a “straight pathway”. There may be many different routes one must follow or “mountains” one must climb to reach their ultimate objectives. One must face those facts and “be real” about the implications.

        • “U.S. corporations should not allow tech people from other countries build and maintain their computer systems.”

          @ Deb – That boat has sailed.

          “When talking to other competent adults with personal agency, there’s no harm in telling the full, grown up, nuanced, reality-check versions of various professions. “Thank you Kadhija for saying this.

          This is such an important discussion esp., at a time when AA women need to continue to make strides and gains financially.

          I have worked as a technology professional (programming, data mining, systems analysis etc…) in a public environment for over 20 years and moved around in several government agencies mostly to keep my skills current. This is an interesting, quickly evolving and challenging profession.

          When I started you could get away with a language specialization and it was dominated by white males who were mostly self-taught (since at the time there was no requirement for a formal specialized degree to get a job.) and a few Asians. If you are fortunate, you will be mentored by someone you can trust, who know what they were doing and willing to share the information. The few white women I encountered on the job were the most offensive and passive-aggressive when it came to knowledge sharing (my experience). I found the proving ground to be more challenging for AA women (as with many things). I asked several AA women about their experiences in the IT profession and the good and bad has been pretty much a consensus.

          Fast forward, you must have some type of formal education, be knowledgeable in at least 2 – 3 languages, yet salaries remain stagnant, unless you contract. The positions that were once held by Americans are now overrun with foreign contractors (mostly Indian) with more knowledge of the inner workings of the government system than regular employees. We have to ask them how to extract data from systems they created for our government. Most of my coworkers have Master’s degrees which have given them some leverage when I comes to negotiation, but not necessarily in significant financial gains, unless you contract.

          I look around for younger black women entering the field, but I rarely see them. I’m thinking they are not being encouraged to enter this profession, sabatoged at a young age or not interested.

        • Formavitae,

          I hear you.

          I don’t particularly care about agreement vs. disagreement with these sorts of conversations. Everybody’s mileage can (and really should) vary based on their own particular set of experiences, interests, and circumstances.

          For me, the point is to get certain information and ideas out into the public marketplace of ideas. Any assertion or idea that I or anybody else choose to put forth in the public market of ideas is automatically up for discussion, disagreement, agreement, critique, scrutiny, or whatever else reactions other folks in the audience might have.

          It’s all good. 🙂

          When most “mainstream” AAs talk about higher education and careers, I’m usually dismayed at how utterly basic (and lacking in sophistication or nuance) these conversations tend to be. That reaction, plus my own personality quirks dating back from my teenage years: To my ears, we AAs almost always sound like peasants who are just grateful and overjoyed to see the inside of a university without being the one who’s sweeping the floors.*

          As opposed to aristocrats making informed decisions about whether or not a particular higher education option fits into OUR plans. [Which was my attitude—an “Is this or that degree program up to snuff for MY purposes? It might not be sufficient for MY plans. . . “ attitude that more than a few White professors and deans found shocking since many of them liked to think of AA students as all being I’s Just So Happy To Be Here, Boss refugees from some ghetto.]

          [*Not that there’s anything wrong with sweeping floors. My grandparents were a maid and a handyman and a cook and a seamstress. My grandparents and parents worked very hard to put me in a position to arrive at a White university (and later law school) with a superior attitude in terms of NOT being intimidated or worried about the academic rigors of any degree program. My Dad taught me there are always techniques and tricks for everything. It’s just a matter of either knowing the tricks or knowing and befriending someone who knows the tricks.

          As a teenager and college student, I always felt like the “YOU CAN DO IT!” pep talks were a cruel, sarcastic joke being played on confused high school drop-outs who really can’t function on a normal, competent academic level. I noticed that the Asian students didn’t appear to be the targets of those sorts of pep-talk, higher education/career guidance conversations. Everybody around them assumed they could do it. They were simply expected to study long enough, and/or memorize however many test preparation books they needed to memorize, in order to succeed.]

        • Khadija,

          I understand.

          I am EQUALLY “dismayed” by school who pass out honors, awards, and good grades to students who actually aren’t adequately prepared to compete with other students who have more intensive training or to excel at institutions where one is expected to start with a strong foundation in fundamental subjects.

          When I first attended public high school, there was a required “proficiency” test for students. Now, at my private school, I’d been taking standardized “achievement tests”, since the first grade. And, even my private kindergarten program had students take tests at higher levels to assess what they were able to truly understand and grasp intellectually. Anyway, there were students who had failed the math portion MULTIPLE TIMES. I was “freaked out”, because I wondered, “What must be on these tests that so many students keep failing?” Well, after I took the test, I was TOTALLY CONFUSED. I mean, the mathematics was at a level I had studied in early junior high, or possibly earlier. I couldn’t understand how high school students couldn’t grasp those concepts. I still received access to better academic preparation by taking “Challenge” and “AP” courses. But, to be honest with you, I still would have been better prepared if I had remained in private school, because the expectations were higher and “shortcuts”/”simplification” really wasn’t allowed. I honestly didn’t understand how the curriculum structure was supposed to prepare students to perform well in subjects like mathematics and English/grammar. But, I couldn’t really judge it, because I had not been involved in the school system at lower levels. So, I didn’t know what preparation they had before.

          Honestly, we (as in “you and I”) were VERY FORTUNATE to have the parents and grandparents we did. I only had two of my biological grandparents (one on each side), while growing up. I believe my grandfather quit school after the 8th grade, and I don’t believe my grandmother completed high school either. Nevertheless, they worked hard, provided well for their families, and accomplished MUCH.

          My father told me about the various “businesses” (preparing and selling lunches, etc.) my grandmother had while he was growing up. My grandfather worked very hard as a widower to provide for his large family (without trying to get a “younger wife” to take care of the kids), and he performed so well that he was receiving excellent pensions and providing for his family until he died at 103. He also believed in owning property and told me how people (other AAs) had discouraged him from buying and encouraged him to rent instead when he decided to buy a home “Up North” for his children. But, my grandfather came from landowners in the South. I honestly don’t know how they did it. His parents were able to read and write, also. So, that part of my line was able to escape the essential “slavery” of sharecropping.

          My grandfather also taught me the importance of owning my own property as a woman and to not allow a man to move in with me, but to move in with him. Otherwise, he said, that man would call himself trying to kick me out of my own house. But, he won’t be so quick to (i.e.) “talk no stuff”, if he knows I have somewhere to go. I’ve never forgotten that.

          My mother took after her father, in terms of work ethic, character, and financial responsibility. She had attended a secretarial school, after graduating from high school. However, the place she applied to didn’t allow blacks to work in the offices. They only allowed blacks to work in the factories. So, that’s where she worked. But, I attended private schools, took piano lessons, participated in sports, and went to an Ivy League university, with my “blue collar” upbringing. Honestly, my mother ended up much better off economically by working in the factory. But, those days are LONG GONE.

          Needless to say, both of my parents came from large families whose heads were from much earlier generations. I grew up around my grandfather, whose parents were from the 1800s! So, YOU KNOW, I’ve been inculcated with a different set of values than these “Newer Age” blacks. I appreciate my ancestors SO MUCH.

          But, back to the topic at hand, IT IS important that AAs make WISE SELECTIONS in terms of academic and career pursuits. The safety nets and securities of previous generations are dissipating. I hope AA women/girls reach for the highest levels they can achieve and don’t allow others to convince them to “sell themselves short”.

      • AMEN!!!

        Ms. Nassif, I am SO tired of people saying the metaphorical equivalent of, “I was in the valley, and now I’m on the mountain!” while giving vague, generic advice as to how they climbed the mountain. The climb is the important part! The time/personality/region/profession/school-specific strategies are quite important!

        This is generic, but useful advice, but The 48 Laws of Power is a great book for navigating the workplace, and being more in tune with human behavior in general.

        As someone in the group you discuss, my respect for academic achievement went down in a big way after seeing what some people in law school do to get or stay ahead. One of the few upsides to the experience is that due to competition from big firm employees who were told to “go do something for a year” with their pay from the firm cut in half to $80K* so they were free labor for legal nonprofits, soured me on being in a helping role. To this day, I refuse to support nonprofits who only hired deferred associates during 2008-10, instead of people whose career trajectories showed tons of nonprofit experience. You can’t compete against free labor.

        Another example: the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau is a new federal bureau that aims to help citizens. As to hiring, due to Sen. Warren’s Harvard connections and the higher-than-usual pay scale for employees, a former employee told me that you pretty much have to be an Ivy League grad to get in. Also, the entity has been sued for explicitly exhibiting “old boy’s club” behavior.

        *people who did this were called deferred associates.

      • Miki,

        You’re welcome.

        I wish you THE BEST.

        Be sure to check out the link I posted below. Not only can you get a list of different careers along with median earnings expectations, you can also get a description of what the career entails. Many different areas and fields are covered. So, you can take the time to explore other avenues that may interest you that you weren’t aware of.

  11. One more good thing about nursing is FLEXIBILITY–flexibility in scheduling. Flexibility in opportunities. Nursing is my plan to finance the achievement of other goals. I’m not encouraging you to become a nurse. I’m just informing you about the options it provides.

    However, if YOU DO decide to pursue nursing (which IS NOT for everyone), try to work at a hospital from the get go, rather than a nursing home. It’s often difficult for nurses to gain employment at hospitals once they work in a nursing home. I’ve heard that hospitals often don’t like to hire nurses from nursing homes. I don’t know why that is. I’m just giving you a “heads up”. Even one of my nursing instructors told me this.

  12. Just thought of something else…

    A girl from my HS class actually became THE DIRECTOR (or equivalent) of a nursing home. She wasn’t in National Honor Society, or anything like that, in high school. But, she worked her way to the top. And, I heard she really loves it. She is actually the cousin of the lady I told you is now an educator and academic dean.

    I also thought of another AA lady I know who is an attorney. She has been a public defender. Years ago, she told me, she doesn’t make as much money as her lawyer friends, but she’s happy with her lifestyle. She said her friends who are attorneys in the corporate world make money “hand over fist”, but they have a lot of problems in their personal lives (i.e. divorce), are stressed, and tired, because they have to put in so many hours at their jobs to earn the income they have and to sustain their higher level lifestyles.

    Just more to consider about higher earning levels. There are many costs in life not always of an economic nature.

    Another girl I went to Ivy with later got her Masters in public health and became the head over student health at a prestigious (“honorary Ivy”-type) public university. So, many people are achieving success. And, many AA women ARE WINNING.

    • Yes,

      True freedom includes not agreeing to golden handcuffs. A job that allows for schedule flexibility and a personal life is quite valuable. It can be quite difficult for a single woman who works long hours to date. Also, these other costs mean that a person has less time to develop other skills, such as building non-work related alliances with others, having hobbies, regular exercise, etc.

      • Lunanoire,


        I highly value flexibility, mobility, and options. And, the longer I live, the more important they become to me. I don’t want my job dictating/controlling my life.

  13. @Formative: Nursing is very diverse. You can do pediatrics, anesthesiology, nursing informatics, flight nurse, travel nurse, or even open your own practice. The options are endless. I only listed just a few. Even if the economy in the U.S. is looking bad, you can still take your skills abroad and earn a good income.

    But you’re correct in that nursing isn’t for everyone.

    • Lovely,


      Many people don’t realize the opportunities available to nurses, because they don’t really know/understand what nurses do. I know that prior to having a friend in nursing, getting a nursing education, and working as a nurse, I always viewed the nurse as “the doctor’s secretary”.

      Not the case at all.

      Nursing knowledge is a unique type of knowledge. And, it takes time to develop. Seeing things that aren’t so obvious or “textbook”, particularly changes in human condition is very challenging and requires keen awareness and analysis. While machines/technology exist to aid in the process, they cannot (yet) replace the human being. I have GREAT RESPECT for the experienced nurses I work with and meet.

      Furthermore, the need for experienced nurses is so high that nurses can choose to work as much or as little as they want (one or two days every month or so many weeks), any time of day they prefer, and pretty much any locale they want. And,once you’re at the level that “you’ve got it like that”, you’re (almost, without fail) being well compensated.

      I know plenty of nurses who are still figuring out what they “really want to do” and who plan to eventually transition to another role. But, nursing is a nice career to “fall back on”, in the meantime.

  14. Bottom line: Accept that there are no more straight career paths. The argument more education = job + financial security is NO longer valid. Career paths that were presumed safe are no longer safe (we should have paid more heed to Perot). We must be willing to think outside of the box and jump ship if need be.

    @Miki. I am actually not that opposed to you pursuing your dream in fashion, as long as you understand that you will have to hustle and be willing to take the less travelled paths to success. My hs bff, after graduating from NYU, started a photography business. The culinary school grad I mentioned earlier skipped restaurant work and established herself as a personal chef to several people. Both ladies achieved their goals by taking alternative routes.

    Personally, I think AA BW need to start thinking of other ways to accomplish the same goal. I feel that most of us think the only way to advance or change careers is to get more degrees, yet in many cases, there are other, more efficient (i.e. cheaper) ways to attain the same target. For example, get a job where you will be trained in software development, study for the CPA exam (kudos to Formavitae for the heads up), take the first series exam to become an actuary, etc. Now, I am not totally knocking the pursuit of advanced degrees, just be smart about it. Education costs are exploding while its ROI is diminishing. Additionally, I want us to start enjoying/pursuing other aspects of life that education is filling.

    When listening to others’ career advice, one must always look at the other’s circumstances. For example, I made several international friends during college, most of whom went on to grad school. Keep in mind that intl students tend to come from money, so the ROI is not as important to them. More importantly, intl students can return home to set up shop, whereas an American, I do not have that automatic right to relocate to another country if things don’t pan out here. Another example comes from my mother, who still believes in the more education, better job paradigm. She sees nothing wrong with encouraging her niece to major in Communications, whereas as I recognize Communications as a waste.

    • That’s a good point about making sure to take into account other’s circumstances. I think that is something I sometimes overlook. I have some ideas about alternative routes that I can take, but I haven’t entirely organized how I want to go about it.

  15. Hi there! I’m a late responder here, but I’d like to comment about work in the STEM field.

    Lovelyleblanc7 said: “The STEM route is good if it is mathematics or computers, but general sciences such as Chemistry or Biology are also hard to translate into a job these days.” Lovelyleblanc7

    This is a great point. I just want to expand on the most likely route you will take if you major in general biology/chemistry. In college, I majored in general biology. Most of the students that graduated in my cohort (back in 2008) that also majored in these fields went on to graduate school, or took jobs that involved doing all the lab “grunt” work as techs. I also took the graduate school route and recently received my Ph.D. in a subfield of biology. Traditionally, most Ph.Ds on to do a postdoc (2-4 yrs of advanced training) then apply for tenure track positions. As many of you know, these days so many Ph.Ds end up postdoc-ing for up to 7 years (!) at multiple institutions…and might not even get a good tenure track job. On top of that, this is the prime time of your life, especially as a woman, to get married have children. Grad school in STEM costs you nothing (only for Ph.D. mind you), but you earn very little for a looong time (See this article

    I made sure that I networked like crazy in grad school. I was fortunate enough to be at an Ivy institution with a stellar business school and businesses in the area that could use my expertise. I’ve been consulting on the side and took a strategic, short (2 yr max) postdoc at an institution that opens up access to many companies in an industry that requires a Ph.D. with my background.

    Whew! All that to say, sure, you could to a gen bio degree but there are too many potential pitfalls.

    I recommend a hard science: biomedical engineering, synthetic biology (which is growing in a big way), or chemical engineering (think working to make novel fuels). In fields such as these, you can work right out of college (with a great salary), and with a MS or Ph.D. greatly increase your earning potential.

  16. To the reader:

    If you are interested in a list of careers that are currently in demand and pay extremely well (>$100,000/yr) by your early 30s, then I would encourage you to read this post at Financial Samurai:

    IMO, these are the career paths that folks, who have the necessary intellectual capacity, should be pursuing. If you are not pursuing the fields listed in the above post, then you will most likely never make more than $70,000/yr in your chosen field unless you reach upper management. Then again, if you are promoted to upper management, you were most likely following the educational and career path outlined in the post that I linked to in the first place. Notice that most of the listed jobs require at least a 4-yr degree and not an associate degree.

    Everything is getting more expensive, and many of the safety nets are disappearing, which means everyone must save significantly more money and develop side businesses/hustles. However, you can’t save or build a successful side business without capital, so it behooves everyone to maximize their earning potential and pursue the most lucrative career that suits their interests. I’ll be frank. I don’t think that the career path that you described in your post will be financially beneficial. I would do the teaching English abroad for no more than two years as a way to gain life experience, learn a new language, and beef up my resume for more lucrative position or graduate/professional school. I taught English while studying abroad, and I know classmates who taught English abroad after graduation. In most cases, no one was looking to make a career out of it, and most of the people taking advantage of these opportunities are young and single. You don’t see many grown people with mouths to feed jumping at the opportunity to teach English abroad. The pay is poor, and most people do it as way to visit another country for relatively free.

    To people considering medical school:

    Go to the cheapest (U.S.) medical school possible. I repeat. Go to the cheapest (U.S.) medical school possible. The rising debt and downward pressure on physician wages is eroding many of the financial benefits of becoming a physician. A friend of mine was telling me that her brother and his wife (both doctors) have $500,000 in student loans between the two of them. Her brother and his wife also purchased a home right out of residency, so they will now spend the rest of their working lives paying off $750,000 in debt, while trying to save for retirement and fund their children’s college funds. They will most likely end up paying close to $1,000,000 once you factor in interest. Don’t be like them. Try your absolute hardest to gain admission to your state school. Insurance will not reimburse you more because you went to Harvard. With that said, still apply to selective schools because they do have more funding and can often offer more financial assistance. However, unless you get a partial/full scholarship, your state school will probably be the better deal. The point is to apply broadly, and then compare financial aid packages.

    Also, attending a non-U.S. medical school for cheaper tuition may not be a good decision, you will be treated as foreign medical graduate. There are not enough residency slots to go around, so as a foreign medical graduate, there is a high probability (>50%) that you will not match into to ANY specialty because American medical graduates are given priority in the match process. If you do match, it will most likely be an internal medicine or family medicine residency program in a location that you do not prefer. Whereas, a U.S. medical graduate can match into internal medicine or family medicine in their preferred location relatively easy. In addition, as an American medical graduate, it is easier for you to match into more competitive specialties. If you want to practice in the U.S., then you need to attend medical school in the U.S. to make matching into an U.S. residency program much easier and more likely.

    If you are interested in primary care, then research loan repayment programs offered by federal and state governments. If you are interested in pursuing academic medicine, then look into MD/PhD programs, which pay your tuition and provide health insurance and a stipend throughout your training. In addition, perform exceptionally well on Step 1 and your clinical rotations, so you can have your pick of specialties and be able to choose the ones that are most in demand.

    I’m in medical school now. I will be honest and tell you that if wasn’t part of the MD/PhD program and getting my tuition and living expenses covered, then I would most likely not be willing to take out the $70,000-80,000/yr in loans required to attend my current medical school.

    • APA,

      You said:

      —“A friend of mine was telling me that her brother and his wife (both doctors) have $500,000 in student loans between the two of them. Her brother and his wife also purchased a home right out of residency, so they will now spend the rest of their working lives paying off $750,000 in debt, while trying to save for retirement and fund their children’s college funds. They will most likely end up paying close to $1,000,000 once you factor in interest. Don’t be like them.”—

      Indeed. {shudder}

  17. I had a customer service representative who worked for me for a little over a year. She lived in the Philippines and she left the job to teach English in another South East Asian country. In the Philippines, they are taught English along with their native language. Many countries are like this. They are fluent in spoken and written English, but it’s the linguistic nuances that are missing. However, those nuances really only matter to Americans/Western Europeans.

    But that’s not my point. My point is if they can hire South East Asians to teach English, what is the financial benefit of bringing over (more expensive) Americans to teach English? Jobs are always about money and costs/benefit and I think getting a degree and being 2-4 years out, and banking on THAT specific situation remaining the same is a risky bet.

    It SOUNDS like you want to have an overseas job, which is good, but maybe don’t have the full breadth of what opportunities exist overseas, which… maybe you should do a bit more research.

    —–(2) Winner’s bias & skewed information (and sometimes MISinformation or DISinformation). We always hear from the typically smaller segment of people who are winning at any particular endeavor.——-

    I also want to touch on something that Khadijah mentioned. I’m not a politically correct person at all and I really don’t care about saying something offensive if I believe it’s true.

    We have to be extremely careful about basing advice on “best case” scenarios that look at the outcomes of people who are in the top 10-20%, or higher, of any respective group.

    MOST people are average, that’s WHY it’s called average. I truly believe that advice works if it’s based on what the average person can accomplish.

    Why? Well exceptional people can beat the odds. They can lose 100 pounds with hard work and disciplined eating, they can get 3 degrees in 8 years and graduate with honors. They can build a multi million dollar business. They can… we can go on.

    But, by far, they are the exception to the rule. Advice, in order to be good (in my opinion), has to actually work for “the rule” not the exception to it.

    I always advise someone to reach for the top, not for the middle, because we usually fall short of our goals so better to aim high.

    But if the stats for the AVERAGE person are X, then the advice has to work for X.

    I have been a vocal advocate (here) of STEM degrees. Part of that is because the growth is there. And part of that is, I don’t care how this comes off, but I truly believe the sciences churn out people who are more “hirable”. Blanket generalization, but employers tend to agree which is why people with degrees in the sciences can often get hired outside of their speciality and paid well compared to other degrees. Let’s just say you have someone hiring for a manager and they are choosing between someone with a degree in “education” and a degree in “math”. I put my money on it, 8 times out of 10 they are going to hire the person with the degree in math. A person with a degree in math can get accepted into many graduate programs, even those out of their field of study. Education degree, not so much.

    –but I’ve always wanted to go to art school and major in fashion design. I’ve always been warned against it because of how tough the fashion industry is to get into and be successful in.–

    A really good friend of mine publishes an apparel industry blog and she often quotes the statistic that something like 95% of “female designers” who start companies have to turn them over to male “business people” to run. That’s not the most eloquent phrasing but honestly speaking, people get caught up in the lure of “celebrity” designers like Marc Jacobs, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch etc and they think that’s representative of fashion designers whereas the majority of “fashion designers” make about 40-50K –STILL and primarily do “grunt work” that’s highly technical. They aren’t on Project Runway and they aren’t hosting fashion shows. They’re drafting tech packs, managing fabrics and attending fittings– for the most part they are “technical designers”.

    So here’s my specific advice to you: If you want to be in the “fashion” industry, AND you want to work overseas, go find the most technical major you can that deals with manufacturing with a little international business thrown in. Learn Mandarin and possibly Cantonese. Every single company manufacturing volume overseas has people who have to travel overseas to deal with production/manufacturing issues. I once worked with a consultant who does exactly this (I manufacture apparel and I do not have a degree in fashion design so there’s that). That way you get both and there’s no chance that job that won’t be there in a few years.

    You can always throw in 2-3 classes in fashion design if you must. But IMO degrees in fashion design are for those who “come from money.” And go get a job with a company NOW, even if only part time. That way by the time you have “credentials” you’re already established in the industry.

    Which brings me to: I think the biggest thing missing when people give other people advice about what to study is the benefit of working for a company BEFORE you graduate. And I’m not talking an unpaid internship. It could be a paid internship or a job. Tons of companies hire college students because they’re relatively cheap compared to degreed adults who have families to support and mortgages to pay.

    Best of luck!

    • I concur 100% with Gina’s assessment. I also have a STEM degree (Engineering) and I worked the majority of my career outside of my field in many different industries and roles/positions. There is a perception that people with technical backgrounds have an edge on liberal arts degrees. Is it fair? No, but life is not fair. However, we all are sharing this information as we want the ladies out there to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

      I also highly concur and stress for people to work for companies before graduation. I did 3 out of the 4 years that I was at university. It gives you insight into the work world and helps in determining in which direction to go after graduation.

      A general comment to the “But by 2025 it will be mandatory that all nurse practitioners or those specializing have PhDs or DNAP….”

      As we do not make the rules; those rules can change on a dime. This means that if there is a need to enforce downward pressure on wages, then the rules will change to accommodate this. They will ALWAYS make rules that suit THEIR needs.

      It is again an example of the massive failings of black males not to have built their own infrastructure in a patriarchal society. We as AA BW are completely dependent upon the infrastructures of the dominant population which means we have to find ways to still thrive under this framework which can and will shift with the sands as the economic decline of the West continues.

      The ladies here have provided information that normally one would have to research or pay for, I sincerely hope that the silent listening audience is appreciating this and finds ways to pay it forward to other AA BW and girls.

  18. Can someone please tell me if pharmacy school is worth going to. I really would love to work in the industry for a multinational company (I have no desire for retail or hospital) That is my absolute dream. I know Im capable of it. My problem is he debt for pharmacy school. PLUS I am a young black woman. I went to a biotechnology seminar and THERE WERE ONLY 3 OTHER BLACK WOMEN!!! OF course there were no black men also! Where are all the other black young women in stem programs? Its scary !
    I myself was thinking about teaching English abroad after undergrad because Oneika the traveler suggested it. Do you think teaching English abroad is worth it for young black women like myself? Should I forego pharmacy school??

    • Hi Moriah,

      You asked: —“Can someone please tell me if pharmacy school is worth going to. I really would love to work in the industry for a multinational company (I have no desire for retail or hospital) That is my absolute dream. I know Im capable of it. My problem is he debt for pharmacy school. [. . . ] Do you think teaching English abroad is worth it for young black women like myself? Should I forego pharmacy school??”—

      Here’s the thing to keep in mind: Other people can give you feedback and share their views about your questions; but nobody else can answer these questions FOR you.

      You’ll have to do the research yourself to discover **your own personal answers** to these types of questions. You’ll have to Do The Research and Crunch The Numbers to find out if—after weighing all the pros and cons and various options—YOU feel that going to pharmacy school is what will work best for YOU.

      Nobody else can answer these questions for you because nobody else is intimately familiar with all the details of your individual interests, goals and circumstances. Other people can give feedback based on their experiences and observations, but at the end of the day you’re the only one who can answer these questions for yourself.

      So, I would humbly suggest that you: (1) talk to as many current (and recently graduated) pharmacy students as possible; (2) find and read as many online discussions, and blogs by and for pharmacy students/pharmacists as possible; and (3) ask everybody in your network to see if they have any acquaintances who are pharmacists that you can talk to.

      Good luck! 🙂

      • Thanks! That is exactly what I will be doing. HOWEVER, Its difficult because I don’t know any pharmacists and It would be nice to speak to a black woman in that field. Sigh.

    • Moriah,

      With google, libraries, etc., I recommend searching for information on salary ranges, growth prospects for the industry in general and where are the niche areas that may be resistent to downward pressures and market saturation of pharmacists. Again this ties into the general health of the medical industry which is under pressure… The immediate examples are the cuts to Medicaid and Medicare…

      You will have to do some research.

      As for teaching English abroad…what do you want? It is not a moneymaking endeavor unless you have some non-financial goals.

      No one here can tell you what to do, as we do not (and should not) know your personal circumstances. You have to decide what your goals are, assess your capabilities and determination and then do the research to find out what may be a good fit for you.

      At best we may be able to point you in particular directions but the work is yours to do (as in real life).

      • Thanks guys, as you guys stated earlier It seems as if people don’t want to be honest about how they got where they are in life. On the website ‘studentdoctor’ when questions are asked about pharmacy the answers are pessimistic and vague. I understand though, people don’t want competition. I will look high and low and ask around.

        Thanks again.

    • Moriah,

      I posted the following message above:

      Here is a good resource, for those wanting to learn more about the outlook for different occupations in the U.S.:

      This will take you to the U.S. Dept. of Labor “Occupational Outlook Handbook”. You can EASILY look up information based on “2012 Median Pay”, “Entry-Level Education”, “On the Job Training”, “Number of New Jobs (Projected)”, “Growth Rate (Projected)”. I took a Personal Finance course, in the past, and one of our assignments involved researching information about the top two career pathways we were interested in pursuing at this site. So, this is a valuable tidbit from a class that others will not need to take to learn, because I already did and have shared some important information.

      I personally do not know much about careers in pharmacy. A family friend’s daughter pursued a career in pharmacy and has been successful. But, again, she is an AA woman with a lot of personal drive and a strong work ethic. Now, I consider the fact that drug development is big business and medicine is always seeking new advances in therapies to be a “positive”, for those interested in pursuing the field. But, as Khadija said, you will have to investigate and determine whether it is a good fit for you and your goals.

      It can be discouraging, when you don’t know anyone (like you) personally to give you an inside perspective on pursuing certain aspirations. I will just say that you may have to seek that information from alternative sources, for example, a caring professor who is willing to share their knowledge with you and direct you to others with inside knowledge and experience. On my journey, I received support from people who did not look like me–a Jewish MD (who was my first gynecologist) who, for some reason, took a personal interest in my success, my Indian ex who encouraged me to utilize his sister (who was a highly accomplished academic professor married to another highly accomplished professor and department head), and a white female college professor who respected my intelligence and work ethic. She told me, “You are the most persistent person I know. Many people never would have recovered from what you’ve been through.” So, if you can find people who respect you, they will often do their best to help you achieve your aspirations. As you mentioned, there are oftentimes few, if any AAs, in certain fields. So, you will have to learn how to decipher who your true allies are. And, just because a person is AA doesn’t mean they will be on your side.

      I just thought about (and added) a mention about my ex’s sister. I’ll tell you a little about her story. She always wanted to be a medical doctor. But, in India, they decide for you which academic/career paths you can pursue. So, in India, she ended up studying engineering. She came to the U.S. for graduate school and also pursued a post-doc after completing her PhD in engineering. She eventually became a professor but combined her love for and interest in medicine with her engineering training. She actually designed a technology that helped people who have breast cancer (I think it was for earlier detection–I can’t remember exactly). But, there are many ways to achieve success and actualize your goals. You just have to be committed, work hard, and don’t give up when you find “obstacles” in your path.

  19. Oh! I go to community college Older black women have been telling younger black women like myself to avoid nursing! Why am I hearing the opposite here? The older black women I meet (my friends say the same thing) tell me that the hours and work/life balance is no good and not worth it.

    • Moriah,

      Let me first say don’t (allow anyone to) “knock” your community college education. When I attended the Ivy institution, I met a lady who had attended community college in the deep south, performed well, and was accepted as a student. So, community college can be a foundation to branch out in any direction you want.

      I am a newer nurse, so that influences how much/what type of knowledge I can share. I think it is important to find out what type of nursing work the nurses do, when speaking with them. Being a nurse in a nursing home, passing pills to 40+ patients, is not the same as being a med-surg nurse in a hospital with 5 or 6 patients, which is not the same as being a critical care nurse with 1 or 2 patients.

      I know a nurse who works in a nursing home who feels like she doesn’t have adequate time to truly assess her patients to the degree she would like, because she is responsible for passing meds to such a large number of patients. A nurse on a general med-surg floor will have 5 or 6 (or more) patients who keep them really busy. But, their patients are usually more stable, able to do more for themselves, and there are nurse assistants who do a lot of patient care for the nurses (like bathing, feeding, assisting to the bathroom, etc). And, when those patients become unstable, they are transferred to a higher level of care (an intermediate or critical care unit).

      An intermediate level nurse may have 4 or 5 patients to care for. But, once their patients become too sick, they send them to the ICU. ICU nurses have only 1 or 2 patients, because the patients are in a much more unstable condition and/or require much closer and more in-depth monitoring and specialized therapy. Furthermore, (at least on my unit), the number of nurse assistants is reduced. The ICU nurse does EVERYTHING for their patients (bathing, cleaning waste, etc.). It’s nice when you have an assistant to help you. But, if you don’t, you have to do it yourself. ICU nurses frequently help each other.

      In terms of scheduling, there are a variety of work arrangements. Some nurses work 8 hrs/day, 5 days/wk, for “full-time”. I work three 12 hr shifts/wk, for “full-time”. Also, you are paid extra for working at night and on weekends. So, if a 12 hr shift nurse works 5 or 6 days weekly, that’s basically the equivalent of earning (nearly) 2 “full-time” salaries.

      But, nursing IS “hard work”. If it’s “not your thing”, don’t pursue it for the cash. Nursing is DEMANDING. Not only do you have to provide care for patients, you often have to provide care for patients’ families–particularly when patients are very ill. Families need a lot of emotional support. Furthermore, how are you able to tolerate death, blood, human waste, needles, etc.? Now, there are nursing positions that don’t require dealing with any of the above. You can work in a doctor’s office, for example.

      Nursing can be very stressful, which is why many people quit. However, there are many intrinsic rewards in nursing, which is why many people stay. As a critical care nurse, it’s always a wonderful feeling to see people who are literally CRASHING or DEAD improve over time and be transferred to a lower level of care and eventually sent home. I take pride in providing the best care and comfort to my dying patients and their families. I actually love my patients. I care dearly for them. There are certainly patients who challenge your “patience”. Lol

      Everyone has their own “niche”. You have to figure out which one is “right” for you.

    • One more thing, Moriah…

      If you are interested in nursing, go for your BSN. These days, hospitals are starting to require that nurses have AT LEAST a bachelors degree before hiring. If you already work for a hospital, you may be able to get hired on with only an associate degree. But, that’s changing RAPIDLY. I’m required to complete my BSN within 5 years of hiring, on my job. A lot of 2 year nursing programs have relationships with other colleges and universities to help their students obtain their bachelors degree, because 2 year colleges aren’t going to start losing out simply because times are changing. You/we have to learn to be equally flexible. We can’t control external changes in life and circumstances. Nor can we control the actions of others. But, we CAN control how we respond to such things and whether or not we resolve ourselves to “defeat”.

    • One more thing…

      A lot more MEN are entering the profession of nursing, which I personally think is a GREAT thing. Men help a lot.

      But, do you think that men, particularly CAUCASIAN MEN, are going to invest in pursuing a “losing profession”?

  20. @Moriah: There are some nurses who work 60hrs a week and make over 175k a year. I’m not lying. There is one nurse I know who makes over 210k a year and they both only have their bachelors. If they specialized they would be making more than double that.

    But nursing isn’t for everyone and not every nurse pulls in that kind of cash and if they do (they don’t want the docs to know). I wouldn’t go into nursing if you don’t like it. The hours depend on how much money you want to make. My sister works very part time. She works two or three days a week because she has very young kids. For me, I think nursing is whatever you make out of it.

    Another thing is, always invest your money and don’t rely on one source of income.

  21. These post have been life saving. If I had this information back then I would not have gotten myself in to debt. I am still paying on a loan. Not a large amount under $6,000. But when you do not have the money it is still a large amount.
    Pharmacy is a good field. Have you thought about becoming a pharmacy tech to get in the door?
    I am glad we are having this discussion because so many of us have taken academic routes that may not be yielding the investment we thought it will yield.
    Here are some out the box training.
    How about transportation? Truck driving. If you a single that could be something to look at.
    If is not your desire , that’s fine. Some places would pay for schooling but you don’t want to end up owing a school so check out ways to get training from the company while being employed.
    A lot companies are hiring virtual assistants to work from home and not offer benefits if they were employed by the company.
    A lot of foreigners are doing the jobs that Americans used to do, so it is somewhat of an employers market.
    Nursing offer a lot of opportunities. But nursing is PHYSICAL AS WELL AS MENTAL.
    Nurses can work triage, they also have where nurses can take calls and answers questions. They usually gather information for you to see a doctor. They don’t replace the doctor, they collect information to give to the doctor so he can become better informed about the patients condition.
    Health care is hands on so you will always need the human touch in that industry. This is just a few suggestion so AABW won’t spend time and money only to find out that what they were studying is out dated because of our forever changing technology. Another reason not to get in to too much debt because that would affect your credit score and some jobs are using that to “not hire people”. We always want to make sure we are placing ourselves on the WINNING SIDE.

  22. Moriah,

    Although many people do not want to give information, there are some people willing to help. For example, someone who has been in the industry for a while, pays attention to trends, develops a rapport with you, and is wiling to be honest.

  23. Happy New All!

    Great post and of course spot on comments
    I wish would have had this discussion available for me when I was in my late teens/early twenties.
    I wanted to go to chiropractic school but as a cautionary tale a girlfriend shared with me a story about a young man, with over 100K in student loans, who realized he didn’t like people that much to where he wanted to spend his time around them especially when they were sick. So she suggested that I do volunteer work or internship at a clinic hospital etc to see if I like being around people and tending to them. I got a job with a acupuncturist who promised to hire full time as a massage therapist if I went to school to become a massage therapist.

    So with $900 in hand (Thanks Grandma)I signed up for massage school in January and by May I had my first paid appointment scheduled which later had to be cancelled due the LA riots. I had a full time job that paid well but during the evenings/weekends/holidays I worked with chiropractors; herbalists; acupuncturists; spas and other massages therapists while securing my own private clients. When I got laid off I was able to still support myself/pay my mortgage doing massages for five years. It was hard work and it $ucked when people cancelled but for the most part I was happy/content. (I worried about paying my mortgage a little too much). I was invited to speak and give demonstrations at conferences. I meet famous song writers and awarding winning authors. I was a networking fool. (but that Oprah/Gayle hook up nevaaaaah happened) (boy I was hoping for the Oprah effect) :/

    It is a great way to earn cash. Reality it is taxing on your body even with the right technique but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I also came up with ways to supplement my income by I making and selling bath salts and candles. (cheesy I know). I would set up a swap meets and conferences and have out for my clients that would come to me.

    Now let me share with this before I secured a solid client base I did day work for a sweet elderly B (as in not an A actress but still got acting gigs) actress. I cleaned her home; prepared her meals; and on occasions bathe her and/or assisted her with other things (that thought me the perils of being obese) all for $7.00 hr.(which the person who had introduced us said was too low) well one morning I show up and she tells me she could only afford to pay for 30 minutes and it had taken me over an hour to get to her. I truly enjoyed her as person but I realized I needed to get serous about being a business woman.

    What I learned was…


  24. Moriah,

    Everyone has provided EXTREMELY informative advice on the economic outlook of many different industries so far.

    I currently work in the business side of the technology sector, and I agree that STEM fields currently are and will continue to be well-paying positions for at least the next seven years.

    Due to the shortage of web developers in particular, some institutions are beginning to offer significant scholarships to students who pursue this type of tech training. Keep your eyes open for opportunities like these, because they will not continue indefinitely! Here is one example of a Seattle-based institution that offers a FREE full-stack developer training for women plus an internship with a “brand name” tech company all in one year:

    According to the institution, at the end of the year, the average starting salary of its graduates is $75k. Many college graduates nowadays spend 4-5 years and tens of thousands of dollars on college and earn much less than than that upon graduation!

  25. I work at a teaching hospital and they pay a substantial amount of money for those wishing to go to their school, and another school they have a partnership with, to study and become almost anything in the medical field.

    Some people with two year degrees are making as much as nurses, at least starting out.
    I do NOT have a college degree and I make more than pca’s and some lpn’s but my job is also union. I have been thinking of doing a 2 year program to become an RT. The only thing I like about my job is making my own hours and the 12 hour shifts. Having 3-4 days a week to dedicate to school or a side hustle is a blessing but the job I am in IS in danger…to an extent. The hospital has been going through a fight with the nurses because they require the nurses to do more and more of the desk job/paper work/ intake of the patients that I do. Some people in administration were re-positioned and put into medical records so that nurses can do intake. I’m in the middle of preparing myself for if that happens. The only good thing I can say is that the hospital makes an attempt to avoid laying people off altogether and they really do work to get you into another position.
    They are a teaching hospital so they will train and educate you to do another job if they have to.
    This I know is thanks to the union.

    I have an aunt who is a nurse and works inside and outside of hospitals. She has worked at prisons,clinics, the hospital, patients houses etc. most of the time in the same year. She’s happy.
    I think those who experience the biggest return on their nursing education are those who are flexible and are willing to travel for work.

    • Truth P,

      “I think those who experience the biggest return on their nursing education are those who are flexible and are willing to travel for work.”

      The way I currently see it, a RN career is both freeing and constricting. Which it is, depends upon the individual RN. (I’m sure this applies to many, most, if not all, fields.)

      Based upon my present understanding, it seems the bedside RN doesn’t really have a way to “move up” in that role. They earn more money, work in different areas, and find work in a variety of places. But, if you become a Nurse Practitioner or a Clinical Nurse Specialist, for example, those are entirely different roles. Management is an option many bedside RNs aren’t interested in.

      I asked another RN (from whom I was getting training/education and who has her own businesses) if there were any other roles for RNs who enjoy bedside nursing but aren’t interested in management. She mentioned the Clinical Nurse Specialist/Clinical Nurse Educator but said she couldn’t think of anything else. An RN could also get a Clinical Nurse Leader degree (which is a step down from a CNS).

      But, nurses I work with who later became Nurse Practitioners said they MUST work as NPs and are not allowed (by law) to work as general beside nurses. So, freedom in nursing is very nuanced. However, I know beside nurses who don’t want to do anything else. They LOVE it. And, they make CRAZY money, because they can work many places and receive premium pay for traveling or working positions that don’t offer other benefits like insurance, etc.

      An experienced nurse can maintain a variety of well-compensating “side hustles”, if they want to, as you previously mentioned. However, if they want more autonomy in patient care and decision-making, they will need to become NPs. And, if they want ULTIMATE autonomy, they need to become MDs. The level of autonomy an NP has depends upon the state they work in. However, for those who like autonomy and desire higher earnings but aren’t interested in the same level of stress and responsibilities MDs have, an NP position may be a good option.

      Nevertheless, an experienced bedside RN can make MORE money than NPs (who are often salaried) by just putting in hours at the bedside or “traveling”. But, bedside RNs “earn” their money in a variety of ways–whether dealing with families, MD egos/”tantrums” (YES, the “almighty” MDs HAVE THOSE), lack of support from management/administration (even nursing administration frequently sides with MDs over RNs–the politics in healthcare IS RIDICULOUS), or just doing undesirable but necessary tasks. The RN DOES “earn” their living (though SOME nurses are lazy) but frequently does not receive the respect or recognition they TRULY deserve. It’s one of the drawbacks of the role.

      I personally think nursing is a great way to “moonlight” and earn cash while pursuing other aspirations (if one wants). And, it truly is a valuable contribution to society.

  26. OMG ladies… I think I mentioned that I live in Baltimore now. I live not far from where the rioting is happening. Ladies I grabbed my bug out bag, a change of clothes, and some cash. I have high tailed it to a relative’s house. I am very afraid. This could get very ugly. I swear one of these protests will kick off our “T square”.

    To the other ladies who read this in Baltimore, be safe.

  27. So glad to see that you are safe Chic Noir. Thank goodness you had the presence of thought to PREPARE and have a BUG OUT BAG!!

    Good on ya girl. Stay safe!!!

    • Ms.Mellody thanks so much. Yes I think we should all have a bug out bag in the closet of the room we spend the most time in. I just don’t trust the current economic, political, and pop culture climate of this country.

      If something ” pops off” I want to be away from the action.

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