If you’re thinking of going back to school to train for a new career, start by researching some of the different fields you’re considering. You’ll want to know two things: what typical salaries are, and what the prospects are for job growth in that field. The most reliable source of information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) put out by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You can access it online here.
When you're looking at salary figures, check for the field's median salaries, not average salaries; medians are more realistic figures. Think back to high school math: With a median, half of the figures in the group are below that number, and half are above. With an average, if you have one number that is unusually high or unusually low, it can throw off the average. (The median of $45,000, $50,000, and $500,000 is $50,000, but the average of $45,000, $50,000, and $500,000 is $198,000 — not a salary that most people can expect to find.)
Also, look at salaries for both recent grads and those in mid-career. In some fields, there is a significant increase as people gain experience; in others, there’s not as big a change.
Date: Feb 03, 2011
Thanks for posting - this is very helpful advice - especially when looking at salary figures! BIG difference between median and average.
Date: Feb 04, 2011
Salary is definitely important but just to note - It's not always about the money. "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." -- Aristotle. Just be a master in your own craft and the money will see to itself.