Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Golden handcuffs

Most people who make career changes don't do it to make less money. I am.

When I was working in IT, I would often times think about my job as my golden handcuffs. I felt kind of trapped in IT and a big part of it had to do with money. I was making really good money and, if I changed careers, I would be making less while making the change and when starting a new career. The problem with golden handcuffs is that you don't want to take them off because they're really shiny and made out of gold.

When I try to explain the golden handcuffs to people, they don't really seem to understand what I'm talking about or why they were such a big deal. I think that's because I have always been reluctant to talk about how much money was involved. The money that I used to make is in the past, so I think I can now talk about it, without coming across like a pretentious Ahole.

My last year of full time employment, in IT, was 2005.

Year: 2005
Employmet Income: $101,292.64
It's going to be a long time before I see money like that again. I was wearing the golden handcuffs and was looking for the key to unlock them.

Year: 2006
Employment Income: $53,253.18
I was a full time student studying Biotechnology/Science. I was working part time. That was the year of being really, really tired. People at school thought that I was always "so happy". I was more relieved than anything else. I'm actually kind of a grumpy person, so I was surprised by how people thought of me that year. I was wearing the golden handcuffs and had the key, to unlock them, in my back pocket.

Year: 2007
Employment Income: $60,276.39
I was a full time student up until the end of April and part time until July. I was still working part time but trying to work more hours. Making more money was more important than going to school, at that point, because I was saving for RT School. I unlocked the golden handcuffs but was still carrying them around with me because they were so pretty and shiny.

Year: 2008
Employment Income: $48,656.35
At this point I was living 10 minutes away from school and a couple of hours from work. I was working 3 days a week until September. I quit my job in August and started RT school in September. If I was working during school, I probably wouldn't have done very well in school. School was quite a grind. I put the golden handcuffs in a shoe box in the back of my closet.

Year: 2009
Employment Income (so far): $0.00
I will probably start a peer tutoring job when school starts back up in September. I thought I put the golden handcuffs in a shoe box in the back of my closet. I can't find them anymore. Where they really made out of gold? Did I really have a pair? Why didn't I sell them to somebody? I sure could use the money.

Fortunately, I had a bit of money saved for retirement. Unfortunately, most of that money is tied up in the stock market. The stock market really kicked my ass. I'm now living off of borrowed money, while I'm waiting for the stock market to recover a bit. Fortunately the stock market is recovering. I think I'll dip into my retirement savings in Novemeber or December.

If things go well, I'm hoping to make about $50, 000.00 in 2011 when I'm working as an RT. That's about what I was making in 2006 when I was a full time student and working part time.


  1. Wow..thats a huge drop in pay and working as an RT can be very stressful, so I guess you really have to love what you're doing.

    I know several RTs who did just the opposite of you. When the IT frenzy hit in the first part of this decade, a lot of RTs went into IT. Many of them have now switched back to RT.

    I don't know about Canada, but the pay here in the SF area for an RT ( even entry level) is pretty good.

    When I left my job as an RT back in 2005, I was making an average $90,000 a year working 32 hours a week. In 2004 , I made almost 150k by working a lot of over time.
    Like you I stashed a lot of money into my 401K, but was fortunate in that I was able to withdraw most of it before the big stock market crash.

    At the age of 54, I live almost entirely off my savings...Boy does it go fast!

    Good luck on your new career!

  2. The IT frenzy is definitely over. Salaries in IT have dropped significantly in the last few years, even before the recession. I probably would have a tough time making that kind of money in IT again.

    90K for 32Hrs, is better than what I was making in IT.

    More money would be nice but I can live quite well without it.

  3. Hey there,

    I am also a second year RT student (starting back mid-September and counting the days!)

    I left a lucrative job in accounting for this new career and so far I have no regrets! First year was awesome and I can't wait for second.

    Anyway - good luck to you!


  4. Enjoy what little is left of the summer. Good luck in your second year.