Should Future Job Security Affect Pursuit of Education?

Should future job security affect your professional pursuit? black female in graduation gown, black and yellow in line

The topic of this blog post about pursuing specific degrees to assure future job security later on in life came about thanks to a conversation l had with a recent college graduate. He was serving us some frozen yogurt. It was a slow period so we sat and chatted for a bit. It turned out that he was a graduate.

A college graduate no less. One that l would have assumed would be ensconced in some high-rise office at a law firm or brokerage house instead of one earning barely minimum wage serving yogurt to hordes of tourists.

Turns out he had gotten a degree in Music Appreciation Studies. I didn’t even bother to ask what the heck that was, but l wasn’t surprised that he had a hard time finding a real job. So, should future job security affect the pursuit of a specific field of work? Here is my take on it.

black graduation cap and diploma in should future job security affect your professional pursuit?

Should future job security affect pursuit of specific degrees?

Yes! My answer is.. Absolutely. I know it might not be a popular answer with young people nowadays who want to follow their passion. This might be anything from glass blowing to building houses in poor countries to traveling full time.

While this is indeed admirable, it rarely puts food on the table. Unless you come from a well to do family with a guaranteed inheritance, your sustainability through your working years and retirement should be first and foremost on your mind.

Future job security and my Background:

I grew up in a Nigerian household where education is greatly valued. If my father had his way, every single one of his twelve children would have gone into the medical profession. He did all he could to coerce us. He got 2 out of 12. In addition to those 2, he also got 2 pharmacists (me being one of them), a lawyer, a Biologist, and a bunch of Business majors.

I had originally planned on becoming an Arts major. I fancied myself an executive secretary. I, therefore, veered towards subjects like Typing, Bible studies, and Literature. I didn’t have much ambition and those required little effort. I was happy, but my parents were not.

Upon coming to America just before l became a teenager, I had to take a test so they could determine what grade to put me in. Despite the fact that l had only 2 years of Physics, Biology and Chemistry under my belt instead of 4, my score was high enough to put me in with the seniors.

Should job security affect pursuit? to some degree it did with my choice of profession. Choose wisely my friend. Image by Adam Niešcioruk via Unsplash

Mother knows best when it comes to picking:

It was at that point my mother told me to forget the Arts stuff. I was going to take classes geared towards Science. Now it was my turn to get pissed :-). I knew l did not want to go to medical school. One of my older sisters was in pharmacy school and l liked that idea.

I made the decision on my own to make that my profession. It turned out to be a great one. One that l really enjoyed, one that gave me great job security, and one that paid well.

I also remember my mom’s effort to talk my immediate older sister out of getting an Economics degree. Even some 35 plus years ago, my mother knew there wasn’t a great future with the “fluff” degrees as she called them.

As always, she was right as my sister had a hard time finding good jobs after graduation. By the time she passed, she had actually been thinking about going to nursing school ironically.

kid crying in a restaurant
Let them cry. Never too early to learn that you can’t always get what you want.

I come from a time where the parents job was to intimidate, bully, and cajole your kids. In other words, tough love was the name of the game. Your parents were not friends, they were the authority and you not only respected them, you feared them greatly.

Nowadays, l see kids behaving so terribly and everyone is afraid to discipline them for fear of being called bad parents. I’m not a parent by choice, but if l were one, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that l would act exactly the way my parents did. Fear me now, understand it later.

I can’t help but wonder if some of these graduates realize how screwed they are whilst in college or if it’s something they figure out later. I find it hard to believe that someone would really believe they would have a great paying job with a degree in “Human Ecology” .

Debt, debt, more debt and no jobs to be had:

Woman in striped shirt walking a dog on a leash in Gozo, Malta in should future job security affect your degree of choice?
Dog walking should be a side hustle, not your main source of income.

The worst part is that most graduates come out of school with hefty loans that need to be repaid. No wonder young people end up moving back home in droves. They can’t afford rent on the minuscule wages earned from jobs that are meant to be for teenagers on school break like pet-sitting or serving coffee. Jobs that are okay as a side hustle to earn extra money.

Should guaranteed future job security affect pursuit with your degree of choice? My advice.

I would say it should. Definitely. Life has no guarantees. Even with social security, you would still need to have a nest egg to fund your retirement. If you want to go into business for yourself one day, aim for classes that can help you accomplish that, go for that business degree.

If you want to help people and make money at the same time, don’t feel ashamed to pursue a career in nursing or pharmacy or other good-paying healthcare jobs. People will always be sick, unfortunately. I get so tired of these (usually young) people who think everyone should be some “sandal-wearing, couch surfing, embrace sharing world philosophy, ambition is a dirty thing bullshit”. For those that have a hefty inheritance coming, good for you.

For the rest of the people who actually depend on a paycheck to survive, embrace your ambition and desire to be successful. Tell them to piss off! Neither success nor ambition is a dirty word. I have yet to meet a successful “Gender Studies” degree individual. I’m not even sure what one could do with it except teach others?

plate of pasta with cream sauce, spaghetti, ham and artichokes.
While passion is a good thing, being able to put food on the table is paramount to living well.

But you’re not “passionate” about your job you say!

Bah! Passion is pretty overrated in my book. It’s wonderful if you love your job, but it is not a necessity. The best time to decide what degree you should pursue is before you get into college. Not during, and definitely not after.

That just leads to a boatload of money down the drain. I have a friend who got a degree in Social Studies. Unable to find a good job, she started law school and after 2 years decided it was not for her. Another uncompleted degree pursuit followed.

She now manages her husband’s pharmacy. All in all, she managed to rack up over $133,000 in school loans. Combine that with his almost $80,000 school loan and you can see how dire their situation is. Life is also long. Do the job well enough, you just might get passionate about it.

Earn enough money, and you just might be able to retire early and then pursue your “true passion”. Volunteer on the side doing something you love while still earning good money. Should you pursue your passion? If it pays well, then by all means. That is an added bonus.

So should job security affect pursuit as far when it comes to a degree choice?

If the job is going to be a pretty much “useless” degree? Then I say no. Nowadays, I often wonder also if a degree is a necessity for success. Plenty of people are able to generate great income without one just fine. My father didn’t learn to read until the age of 17 and he still went on to make something of himself.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s wise to count future job security as part of your incentive when it comes to choosing a career or do you think one should pursue their passion?

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22 thoughts on “Should Future Job Security Affect Pursuit of Education?”

  1. A very thought provoking I wish many young people would get to read this post. For me passion is everything, what’s the point studying a course in school that takes forever and you still end up living a very unhappy life. I am all for following my passion, it pays better and every struggle is worth it.

    Reply
    • Happiness for most people has a lot to do with putting food on the table and being able to take care of your family. All things to consider when making such an important choice. Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  2. It varies for everyone. Nowadays there’s too much competition in all the fields, which leads to no guaranteed jobs for everyone. So if you want to follow your passion, then go for it. After all, there’s only life. Live it and you’ll figure out the money on your own! 😉

    Reply
    • It sounds wonderful. That is until the bills come due. You’re right, you have only one life and everyones needs might be different. Some people prefer to have money coming in so their worries are less while others are perfectly happy with no money, but most of the time end up sponging off others. Somebody has to pay. :-).

      Reply
  3. I agree and I don’t agree. My father is an artist, my mother a professor. I had no choice but to attend university and I majored in Anthropology. On one hand, if you don’t stay in academia, anthropology is a bit like your fellow in the yogurt industry’s music degree. On the other hand it left me very well equipped to deal with many areas amd I have worked in everything from marketing to nonprofits to hospitality. My greatest indicator of job security is a willingness to get down and dirty and work hard. There is also a very successful ice scream store in my home town started bu a guy who was also scooping ice cream after university. He then moved into management in a chain ice cream brand, before leaving to start his own gig. My point is, maybe froyo is not this guys last stop and following his heart may yet lead to happiness and job security.

    Reply
    • I see what you mean. I mentioned my father in the post. He was raised to be a servant and there was absolutely no schooling for him. The nearest school to them was 25 miles each way. My mom studied to be a teacher and ended up teaching to read at age 17. He went from being a servant to owning several businesses because he was willing to get down and dirty in the car spare parts industry. You were fortunate to have parents that had the means to lend support. For others, there is no learning curve so to speak to figure things out and can go sour very quickly. Of course there will always be examples of people who rise to the top with or without college but for the majority, going from ice cream server to owner will always be a pipe dream. Thanks a lot for your well thought out comment :-).

      Reply
  4. It’s very important to have a long term plan. For many years in UK, people were pushed into university when perhaps a different qualification would have been more suited to them. I happen to love my job (teaching) and had to go to uni to be able to do it.

    Reply
    • It is definitely important like you say. It would be awesome if we all could pick some passion project and hope the money comes, but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. It seemed like we moved as a society from “go to school, work hard” to “passion degree, float around while you figure it out” with nothing in the middle. It was happening in the U.S too where people were being pushed into getting these frivolous degrees but the blame must be shared. I think your job is one of the most important in the world. Really l do. My mom was a teacher for many years and you guys help shape the future of students. Awesome :-). Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

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