Student Loan Follow-Up: Switching Careers

This is a guest post from Jamie of Eventual Millionaire.

Last week Daniel talked about Student Loans, and I wanted to follow that up with some information about situations he didn’t discuss. We found out that for the average student, taking out loans is worth it, but what about if you end up switching careers like I did?

If You Switch Careers, Are Student Loans Worth It?

If you plan to stay in your field forever, it is a good idea to get a college degree.

But the average person switches careers between three and seven times. If you end up being someone who changes careers shortly after college (like me!) then your degree might not be worth it. Be careful of the more affordable online degrees as well considering you may be changing jobs sooner than later.

Another thing to consider is the loan forgiveness that you can receive under certain circumstance. Those who enter into a public service career are eligible to receive loan forgiveness as long as they stay with the job for at least 10 years.

Every month, your payments are determined on a sliding scale based on the size of your family and your current financial situation. While this method of repaying a loan is not for everyone, it is nice to know that it is an option for anyone who plans to work in nursing or community outreach in the future.

How can you tell if your degree is worth it if you switch careers?

Let’s look at me:

My IT degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology came with $49,000 in student loans.

Two and a half years after graduating college I changed my mind. I did not want to be in the Information Technology sector anymore. So…

Was My College Tuition Worth It?

I spent $49,000 on the degree after scholarships, and not including room and board. My parents took loans for about $19,000 of it and I took loans for $30,000.

I worked very hard and was lucky. The salary of my first job out of college was $100,000. It was a ridiculously good salary, and a big improvement from my previous job of $40,000 a year.

But I switched careers two and a half years later. I became a personal and business coach where you do not need a degree. My salary plummeted when I started working for myself. The first year I made about $6,000 working part time.

Was my college tuition worth it? Surprisingly YES.

It was worth it because I paid off all of my student loans within those two and a half years. If I had spent all of the money I made during that time, and had student loans hanging over my head for 20 years on a small income, it would be a struggle.

It was also worth it because I now know that I can make six figures, and the belief that I can do it again is helping me get there. I also have all of my IT knowledge which has helped me in so many other aspects of my life.

I also had the opportunity to quit my corporate IT job and switch careers because I paid off all of my other debt. That college degree gave me the opportunity to make an incredible income so I could pay off all of my debt (excluding the mortgage). If I had never gotten the degree, I would have had a smaller salary to pay off my car, and home equity loans.

If I could go back I wouldn’t decide not to get it, but I would definitely have taken more time before deciding what I really wanted to do with my career and skills. I wish I would have gotten a coach or someone to help me through the decision too, since I just picked the degree because I was good at it and it made a lot of money!

The Recommendation: Before You Go to College

My biggest recommendation is to take your time to think and research before you decide. Before you sign the papers to get a loan, go to Salary.com and see how much people in that field make. Try to imagine yourself doing that field for 20 years. Determine if you are really ready to work for your education.

A higher education is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You’ll want to try it on before you buy so you can make sure it’s the right size and color :)

For more from Jaime check out her blog Eventual Millionaire where you can join the journey to become a millionaire while living your ideal life style.

6 Responses to Student Loan Follow-Up: Switching Careers

  1. MyFinancialObjectives says:

    Wow $100,000 fresh out of college, very impressive!! I have a similar situation in that I went to school for Business but work in IT right now. It was a bit easier transition for me though because in the IT world, there are plenty of certs that can helps raise your salary. I however am going back to school for my MBA, hoping to combine IT experience with the MBA knowledge to lead to upper management/starting my own company.
    .-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..Yakezie Link Rally =-.

  2. That’s funny because I really wish I went to school for business! It seems like you are setting yourself up perfectly. Having an IT background with an MBA would be amazing if you start your own company.

    I work with companies, and many don’t have business or IT experience before they start, and it really hinders them. Creating systems for your business now a days always seem to involve business administration skills and computers!
    .-= Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire´s last blog ..How Much Do Errands REALLY Cost You? =-.

  3. I got a Marketing degree and have never used it. The problem is, I can’t think of any other degree I would have actually wanted more. I just am not career-oriented, so I don’t know I should have pursued.

  4. James says:

    my guess is that you are in a minority. i have no idea what the average student loan is but i know for a fact that most people do not graduate and get jobs starting at $100,000. lucky you.

    i personally did not have student loans i worked all through college and paid for my own education. at the time is was one of the hardest things i ever did but when i graduated i had zero debt and that is hard to shake a stick at.

  5. Pretty impressive salary with a freshly minted degree. I just went to college because I was told my whole life I would and was interested in business. I think the overall experience was helpful, but not so sure the degree was necessary. Haven’t really used it much and the jobs in finance dried up as soon as I earned it back in 08.
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Adding Content To Your Travel Site – Waikiki Site =-.

  6. Bret @ Hope to Prosper says:

    I had almost the exact opposite experience.

    I have worked in the computer field for 25 years, the last 20 of those in IT. Being an IT Manager is a tough job. But it pays well, offers mobility and is rewarding in many ways. Overall, I am very happy with this career choice.

    But, I didn’t get my college handled when I was young. So, I worked for almost a decade at low wages. I don’t recommend that to anyone. Getting a degree doesn’t automatically guarantee you a six-figure salary. But, not having the education for a technical position almost guarantees you will be underpaid, if you can even get hired in the first place.