Are CEO’s the only ones who get rich working for someone else? No, there are many millionaires who are lucky enough to work in the technology industry. Are they the only ones? There are many more who are part of the IPO (Initial public offering) when a company goes public. There are still more who go to work in certain industries that do very well too.
When you were little some older person asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. You probably said a firefighter or police officer or some other profession when you were very young. You are not thinking about how much you will earn. It is more a reflection of what you knew at the time. As you get older, the careers may change, but you do not know how much you will earn. As an adult, you prepared for a career without much research or industry choice.
Industries matter! High Technology careers and industries pay very well. Other industries such as energy, biotech, financials and others pay higher than other industries. I am not saying you should pick a career based on industry, but it should be a consideration. There are entrepreneurs who picked very basic industries and have done very well. Warren Buffet invests only in industries he can understand. He has so far avoided high technology, etc. in his investing.
Remember, the goal here is to become rich as an employee. Certain industries pay better and offer better benefits. I recently read The Best 401(k)s on Bloomberg which listed ConocoPhillips and Abbot Laboratories as providing the most lucrative 401 (k) plans. It ranks the largest public companies based on employer match and ConocoPhillips contributes 9% of employee annual earnings if they save as little as 1%.
The highest starting offers are in engineering and information technology. The starting salary for an accountant is lower, but ultimately could be much higher based on what you do with it. I realize this is true in every profession, but you can maximize your choice by considering the cash portion, benefits and opportunities presented. Your career will be successful or not based on what you put into it and how hard you are willing to work.
Career planning usually gets most people to roll their eyes. It is one of the reasons very few people actually do the necessary work to plan their careers. Making conscious, informed decisions regarding their career starts in high school. Little things such as participating in sports, leadership, clubs, etc are some of the things you can do to prepare for your career. Taking the time to research what you want to do as a career is also important. After all, you will spend probably forty (40) years in some career.
How to make better career choices
- Preparation – What can you do to prepare for any career? You can start with school. Your academic experience including grades, AP/Honors, online classes are some of the things you can do to demonstrate your skills to a college or employer. Participation in sports, clubs, organizations, leadership also helps you develop skills to college/employers. After school activities such as tutoring, volunteering, scouting, or work will also provide skills. You do not need to know what you want to do in order to prepare for your future.
- Interests/skills – Take inventory your skills and interests relating to a career. It is not enough to pick a career based on earnings. Do you have the interests/skills to do the job well? Your future promotions or salary increases are dependent on your performance. If you like what you are doing, you will probably perform well. Engineering and other technical careers require higher level math. If you are not good at math, it would be impossible for you to do well.
- Research – Research your career choice. Learn everything you can about the career you are interested in. Start with the job description, salary range, career path and include the industries you want to work in. The more you can learn about your career before you interview, the better off you will be. It shows interest and you can learn the skills and get the experience you need to perform well. Accountants, attorneys and medical doctors generally specialize in areas they have the skills and interest. Why should it be any different for the rest of us?
- Mistakes are Okay – We all make mistakes! It is okay to make mistakes in the early years because it is better to make them early. There are a lot of people who go to law school and never practice! The law school education is not wasted, but it is probably an expensive lesson. Better to find out in your twenties then in fifties. In most cases, you are not making a 180 degree change! Usually, a lot of skills are transferrable so apply what you learned.
- Job offer – In order to get the great job, you had to do all the things that lead up to it. A good education where you demonstrate your skills, academically and applying those skills in the real world. Companies like ConocoPhillips, Google or Abbot Laboratories want the best candidates! If you are looking at an offer from one of these great companies, you should think about the cash, non cash, benefits and opportunities comparing to your other offers. Benefits and non cash compensation can add up.
- Negotiation – Most people will haggle over a dollar, but take the first offer when it comes to a job. Remember, your first salary determines your annual increases and promotion pay. It may even influence your future possible bonus. The only industry that I am aware of that the starting salary does not matter is entertainment! If you perform well, the earnings will follow based on the results. The irony is it can go the other way too in entertainment when you can no longer keep your audience.
You could look at two (2) offers and they seem very similar in terms of dollars. Does the company offer a 401(k) plan, paid medical insurance, bonus, stock options, promote from within policy and work location add up to significant dollars. Most people are dazzled with the job offer and never think about the rest. What job will provide the experience and skills that will help you reach the next level or job? Having a career plan or goals is very important! Why not get rich as an employee!
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