Choosing a Career Path: Passion vs. Pay

Jasmine K.

Suzy cried into her soggy bed sheets. She had invested her time in an university course that she wasn’t interested in and she couldn’t stand the boredom, but what could she do? It paid her and that was all she needed… right?

Although mid-schoolers and elementary students need not worry about a potential job or career path, high school students nearing completion have a lot to decide. What courses can maximize efficiency for future plans? Is AP or IB really worth the commitment? How will I know what major to choose when I get to college or university? Such questions are from those of teens who haven’t a clue of what career they aspire to pursue. One common and urgent question for many high schoolers is: should I choose a career path that coincides with my passion or one that pays me?

For those who have a passion for medicine or law, it might be an effortless choice, but many students also have a desire for humanities based careers–writing, art and other low paying positions, jobs which society does not value as important as health and justice. So how do you decide? From the perspective of someone who has chosen pay over passion, Trent, a writer for The Simple Dollar, expresses his thoughts on the long term effects of not choosing a career that he was interested in:

The long term effects of this showed up in my career and in my finances. I began to feel very burnt out on my actual career. At the same time, I would try to cure this feeling of failure and burning out by buying stuff that I didn’t really need or didn’t have time to really enjoy. This brought me deeper and deeper into credit card debt and deeper and deeper into a sense that I couldn’t escape.

Others, such as Yan Jiang, beg to differ; Jiang thinks that students should choose careers based on pay: “When you choose a job that involves your interest or hobby, you will come to hate it  since your interest no longer becomes a fun pastime but rather a solid and pressing deadline for you to achieve over and over again.  When you come home from work, you will no longer think, ‘ I should draw, sing, write, etc. for past time’ in that it will have become something that you no longer love as an interest, but instead as something you dread because you are continuously repeating your hobby over and over again at work.”

“Family is also a key factor,” Ms. Jiang reasons. “Yes, you may be working at a place you love and your job showcases your passion, but when it comes down to finance and supporting a family, what will you do if your job is minimum wage?”

Both sides provide reasonable answers and evidence, however, how do you decide? Listening to both arguments, you can decide on an agreeable option. Hopefully, students faced with this dire dilemma can assess and determine a path that is reasonable in their own eyes. Passion versus pay: It is a life changing decision but after seeing the two ends of the spectrum, which one will you value as more important?



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2 thoughts on “Choosing a Career Path: Passion vs. Pay

  1. As a life coach I would suggest that students ALWAYS choose to follow their passion. A very large portion of my client base are people who, in mid-life, feel frustrated, unfulfilled and like there is something else that they are supposed to be doing with their life. But the fear of making a career change later in life prevents them from moving forward. There is a saying, “Choose what you love, and you will never WORK a day in your life.” If you look at the most successful people in the world, they are living their passion. When you do, you feel a sense of fulfillment and when you are doing what you love, the universe rises up to support you. You will have the flow of clients, opportunities, etc. that you need to be financially secure. It’s so sad to me that people choose to live a “good-enough” life. In my opinion, that’s not what we were put here to do. We are meant to live amazing lives and when you follow your passion, and are in sync with your life purpose, you can truly life the life of your dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for this helpful insight! I appreciate your advice, as this article was mainly composed to give students two views on different ends of a spectrum (your opinion can als be considered by students reading this, which is beneficial for readers). I wholeheartedly agree that passion is vital for choosing a career, however, I wanted to give students some of the downsides that may come if passion is more important to them (so they can be prepared for those situations). Nonetheless, I thank you for your opinion as it is an impressive and reasonable argument. Once again, I thank you for your contribution!

      – Jasmine


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