Career Advice Job Searching Tips

Choosing Between Passion and Salary When Job Hunting 

Danielle Jin
By: Danielle Jin
Aug 20, 2020 • 10 min read

Choosing Between Passion and Salary When Job Hunting

When you were younger, the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” was probably something you heard all the time. When you’re little, you don’t really have a great idea of where your life is going to go yet, so you let your imagination run wild, and you respond with whatever seems to truly excite you at the time. Maybe you wanted to be a doctor, an actor, a baker, or an astronaut, the world was your oyster. As an adult, you know this isn’t exactly true. Lots of variables come into play as you get older. When the time comes for you to start job hunting, there’s a lot to consider, specifically between choosing whether to follow what you’re passionate about or go towards a safe bet that you know will offer you decent financial stability.

job hunting

Pros and Cons of Passion 

If you have a passion for a line of work that doesn’t necessarily come with a hefty salary, then you’re likely familiar with the dilemma of what direction to take your professional life. Everyone knows the old saying, “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and as lovely as that sentiment is, we also know that isn’t typically how life works out. More often than not, people’s passions stem from their hobbies or lifelong interests in a particular subject. However, it can be challenging to find that happy medium where you can do the activity you genuinely love and receive a considerable paycheck for it.

Keep Things in Perspective

Some people are dedicated to following their dreams of being a painter. Others might see fixing up old cars as their calling. People love doing activities like these because, like the quote mentioned above states, it doesn’t feel like actual work at all. It is admirable and exciting to shoot for the stars. Still, you also need to keep things in perspective. You must remind yourself of the pros and cons that come with pursuing your passion projects rather than settling down into a more realistic career.

Pros

  • You are essentially guaranteed to be doing something you love
  • Most likely, you already excel at or at least have a decent understanding of what you are doing
  • You will have the chance to improve and gain further knowledge of the work that may have started as a simple hobby

Cons

  • It is usually a complicated process landing a job in a niche field, which is typically where passions lie
  • Depending on the activity you choose to pursue as a career, you may have to sacrifice the idea of receiving a steady source of income
    • Ex) Freelancing does not guarantee you will be earning a consistent paycheck
  • Your decision is also dependent on any financial responsibilities you are committed to
    • Ex) Rent, loans, family members

Pros and Cons of Salary 

The safe route that comes with a healthy salary may not necessarily be the most thrilling choice, it is still just that—safe. As you get older, you begin to realize adulthood comes with many hidden costs. Nearly every single thing you do will cost money. If you aren’t willing to give up a comfortable, secure lifestyle, then choosing to follow your passions as a career might not be the most viable option. If you attended college, your degree opens lots of doors for you career-wise. However, even with this plethora of choices, you still have to make a decision. You must decide whether to move towards the jobs that will give you definite financial stability versus ones that you find more interesting but come with significantly less pay. This is one of the hardest parts of job hunting.

Financial Peace Of Mind

For example, I have a bachelor’s degree in English, which can lead to both very creative or very dry jobs. As a little girl, I dreamt of becoming an author and having my books fly off the shelves. Now that I’m older, I can still technically pursue that dream. However, I also have to take into account the reality of my situation when job hunting. I am a recent college graduate with loads of student debt that must be paid every month. I also have a desire to rent a place in the city ASAP, which, of course, costs lots of money. If you’re in a similar situation, it can be super difficult to pick between doing something that has the potential to make you extremely satisfied with your work and doing something that isn’t quite as fulfilling but can help you gain financial peace of mind.

Pros

  • First and foremost, the money that comes with a “dry” job can make up for the fact that you aren’t exactly doing what you thought you would when you were a carefree kiddo
  • A consistent salary gets you one step closer to financial independence so you won’t have much to worry about as you get older
  • You can live comfortably and probably have enough disposable income to treat yourself to little luxuries
    • Ex) Shopping, eating out, vacations, etc.

job hunting

Cons 

  • Most of your week will be spent doing work you aren’t entirely fascinated by
  • You have to accept the fact that you are doing something that strays from what you dreamt for yourself when you had less responsibility
  • The work you do can feel emotionally taxing if it’s something you genuinely don’t have much interest in

Where Do You Go From Here?

So, now that you’ve looked over the good and the bad of choosing between passion and salary, where do you go from here? Is there a straightforward answer? Unfortunately, no, there isn’t. Your decision ultimately comes down to this question: Are you in a position where you can pursue a job that does not come with a substantial income? 

Turning Dreams Into Reality

If the answer is yes, then go for it! Follow your childhood pipedreams and turn them into a reality. If the answer is no, then don’t lose hope! The safest bet for you would be to take whatever job your bank account will appreciate the most. Then, when it’s possible, you can always make a career change that aligns more with your passions. Life is all about compromise. So, don’t give up if you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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