What should I pursue in order to live comfortably and have time for my family?
September 30, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

What career path is primarily 9-5, makes $60,000+ a year, and involves a high amount of contact with other people?

I used to think I was one of those people who wanted to make work my life, study something I was passionate in. Now I realize I'd like to be able to live comfortably, devote most of my time to my family/friends/hobbies, and not be so stressed out from my job that my days off are tainted. I picked $60,000 because I read somewhere that that's the salary that makes most people happy - the rest is just extra.

What should I pursue? Most of the jobs in this area seem lonely such as IT, accounting, and engineering. The healthcare field seems to fit what I want best, but I'm worried I'll spend most of my life working nights.

What am I missing?
posted by Autumn to Work & Money (35 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Healthcare administration (billing, office management, insurance company, etc) could fit the bill, and you probably won't be working nights.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:31 AM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Teaching fits the bill, although depending on the job it can be stressful and work can spill over into evenings and weekends. After you've taught the same class a few times, preparation gets much easier. Long vacations and time off during the summer is great for spending time with family and friends.
posted by bonheur at 11:35 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe some kind of Human Resources Coordinator or Supervisor? It wouldn't be contact with customers but more with employees of your company, but you didn't specify a preference for one group of people over the other.
posted by Glinn at 11:36 AM on September 30, 2012

Enterprise software sales?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2012

Do you want contact with strangers or recurring clients or team members? Lots of IT people (and people in other technical jobs like engineers) work in teams and consult regularly with clients. You could also look at building trades, like electrical work and plumbing.

What are you good at? Do you want a desk job or a field job?
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2012

2nding human resources directory. i know someone with that job and it describes it exactly.
posted by kellybird at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2012

I can vouch that IT is anything but a lonely affair. You will KNOW when your clients are in the thick of it... and when they expect you to find the way through.

I've been a Mainframe SYSOP, Windows Desktop Support Tech, Windows AD Engineer, and Linux/Unix SYSADMIN...

We are everything, but lonely...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:01 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Internal trainer for corporations: get a certificate in something like team building, risk management or the various health and safety practices or some kind of human resources specialty, whatever fits with your background. It's really lucrative though so you might make above your goal! One potential drawback is travel, I would like that but it can be a drag if it's too much.
posted by fshgrl at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2012

Pharmacist. I have a friend who makes about that, working slightly less than a 40 hour week, in retail (non-chain) pharmacy.
posted by donnagirl at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2012

I wouldn't necessarily consider IT to be lonely. We get that reputation because we're nerds. But we have to work together, or else we wouldn't get anything done.

Writing code all day would be a little lonely, yes. But that's not the reality of the job. Even programmers have to collaborate on integration, testing, production readiness, troubleshooting, and planning. Probably only an average of 2-3 hours (at most) per day is spent on solo hacking, and programmers have a reputation of being more isolated than everyone else.

A systems or business analyst is probably the best option. Meet with business users, get and understand what they want in their terms; then meet with the programmers and translate it into their terms. Soft skills are very important here.

In infrastructure/operations, especially in large enterprise, often you have highly specialized people (sysadmin, network, dba, security, etc) who absolutely must cooperate in order to actually get something done. Often we're is a little dysfunctional, and strong collaborators are highly valued. Would be tough with the 9-5 thing, as these jobs often require after-hours support, most likely in an on-call rotation (where you can be paged one week out of the month, for example). But you may find a pure design job where there was no production support role (most likely would need several years of experience first). On-call isn't so bad though, most pages can be handled from home while multitasking with your kids, but it is a major part of infrastructure work.

You could also look into IT Audit (or any kind of audit really). You would get to work with other people constantly (but the downside would be that everyone hates you).
posted by robokevin at 12:09 PM on September 30, 2012

If you're serious about going into health care (specifically nursing), you will most likely have to put in some time working nights, at least early on in your career. Nursing would fulfill the salary and human contact requirements, but not the 9-5 schedule. However, that schedule is more common if you pursue a specialty or a higher qualification (Nurse Practitioner), but those would be after getting at least two years of experience in an area. In short, the schedule tends to run 7AM-7PM or 7PM-7AM, depending on the unit and setting; 9-5 is the exception and is seen more in private clinics.

The above suggestions of HR, administration, IT, and accounting sound more in line with what you are looking for. I write this as someone who got a nursing degree and realized it isn't what I wanted and has seen and related to your past career-related questions. I am now going to keep a close eye on the responses you get so I can steal an idea for myself :)
posted by constellations at 12:12 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not all sales jobs involve a lot of travel and shmoozing. If you live in a major city so your clients are local, as I do, account management can fit all of your requirements.
posted by telegraph at 12:30 PM on September 30, 2012

A high level executive assistant fits your description. You'd need to work for a CEO or other upper management executive to make that money, though.
posted by something something at 12:30 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Teaching fits the bill

No it doesn't. It's not 9-5 with planning and grading, even if your ostensible salary is $60,000 you'll spend so much on supplies you won't net anything near that, and it's very stressful. Do it if you really want to do it but please don't take this advice.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:07 PM on September 30, 2012 [21 favorites]

Wanted to agree NOT teaching--I never worked less than 65 hours a week (and often more) and made substantially less than $60k. Vacations are spent prepping for the next year, doing PD, finally allowing yourself to get sick, or grading if it's Winter Break.

I vote project management or a high-level coordinator position, although you may have to work your way up. IT in a place with its own dedicated department would also put you in contact with lots of other people. Or maybe HR?
posted by smirkette at 1:18 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came to type what Mrs. Pterodactyl did. Stressful, emphatically not 9-5 if you do a decent job and, also, I don't earn quite that much in a relatively good area for teacher salaries with 12 years of experience and a master's equivalent.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Speaking as an executive assistant, I can't agree with something something. I work as an assistant to a CEO, and it is extremely stressful. I even like my boss—it's just that knowing every minute detail for someone perfectionistic and driven enough to be a CEO is really tough.
posted by uncannyslacks at 1:28 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you're good at PR, you can make good money and talk to a lot of people. Not always easy to keep it from 9-5, though, as often your job is to go to parties, so it sometimes gets confusing on what is work and what is play.
posted by OrangeDrink at 1:35 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you go into physical therapy (normal physical or occupational or otherwise) you'll get about that salary and almost certainly will not be working nights (they don't schedule therapy sessions at 3:00am!).
posted by schroedinger at 1:41 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Paralegal, or legal secretary, depending in where you work. Also HR as suggested above, again depending on where you work.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2012

Some jobs in higher ed qualify. Alumni relations & development prob have the highest salaries. Although, you do have to travel and work the occasional night/weekend.
posted by murfed13 at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2012

As others have said, engineering and tech related jobs aren't lonely in any way. A large part of the job is collaborative. I'd argue that you're forced to work with others far more in engineering related jobs than in many other fields.
posted by leo_r at 2:32 PM on September 30, 2012

Nursing! I just wrote out why in another comment. That said, as someone mentioned above, you may not have total control over your schedule, especially at first. My mom's hospital hires separate people for day shift, evening shift, and night-shift, so you really could do 9-5 at a place like that (or do three 12-hour shifts a week instead; they offer both). The evening and night people get something like 10-15% more salary, though. And I'm not sure whether all hospitals are like my mom's, or whether you might get a more random assortment of shifts, especially when you're a new hire. The salary is great, though. I'm not exactly sure what salaries start at, but you can make up to $70,000-80,000 when you've been doing it for decades. If you decide you like nursing but want more pay, after you've practiced nursing for a while, you can go for a master's degree in a specialty and make more (I know several nurse anesthetists [i.e. they work with anesthesiologists], and they make between $120,000 and $180,000). I'm sure salary varies greatly by location, though, so check what the norms are in your area. Also, the job security is far greater than in other fields, which is obviously A Good Thing.
posted by UniversityNomad at 2:50 PM on September 30, 2012

Training or instructional design. The level of travel really depends on the company you work for. My organization (a hospital) is completely local, so I don't have to travel at all. It is pretty low-stress and interesting. I like the instructional design side more than the training side (because I like to create new things), but you'll have the best chances at a good job if you can do both.

However, I don't think IT, accounting or engineering are lonely at all. My husband is an engineer, and he does a lot of human-wrangling. I've worked very closely with IT analysts and project managers, and they spend much of their time with others.

I do think that most "professional" jobs are not exactly 9-5. There does seems to be a general expectation that salaried professionals work something more like a 45-50 hour week.
posted by jeoc at 3:22 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Master's level teacher, make NO WHERE NEAR 60k, and I work at least 50-60 hours a week. Teach if you love it, not for any perceived financial/time benefit.
posted by Cloudberry Sky at 3:30 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a middle-manager public librarian I make about that or slightly more, and work more or less 9-5 (including one weekend day). I have lots of contact with the public, and no homework! This does, however, require a master's degree.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2012

Manufacturing! Quality engineers and industrial hygenists ( to name 2 jobs that I happen to think are interesting) interact with people all the time, and make around the $ youre looking at.
posted by Fig at 4:28 PM on September 30, 2012

The manufacturing job would depend on the nature of the manufacturing. I've done QE in a 24/7 biopharmaceutical plant and put in a lot of hours outside of 9-5 and sometimes 18-20 hours at a stretch.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:32 PM on September 30, 2012

I did some research on the suggestions and Healthcare Administration sounds like a good fit for me. I'm hoping to call and get some information on an Associate's program on Monday. I know I'll (probably?) need a higher degree than that but it's a low cost start.

Thanks for your help everyone!
posted by Autumn at 4:38 PM on September 30, 2012

Where are you? $60k in my area is high-level to exec assistant kind of money, whereas in a lower cost-of-living area, it might be actual executive money.
To answer your question: healthcare administration. You get to meet new people every day and you don't have to touch their infected parts.
posted by dogmom at 4:45 PM on September 30, 2012

that should read high-level administrative to executive
posted by dogmom at 4:47 PM on September 30, 2012

N'thing IT not being lonely. It's not 9-5 either. (Or, at least, I've never found it to be so.)
posted by JaneL at 7:16 PM on September 30, 2012

Healthcare admin sounds good. You don't want to do anything -- ANYTHING -- perceived as "glamourous" by anybody. No advertising, no PR, no media work... none of that. All of those things require parties and work events that you don't get paid for (so they can't REQUIRE you to attend) but to get promoted up to that $60k you have to show your face at an evening or weekend event probably 3 times a week.
posted by AmandaA at 6:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Business Analyst (also known as IT Analyst). I made the move from programmer to Business Analyst last year. As many have said above, IT is rarely lonely - certainly not as lonely as many introvert programmers (such as my husband) would prefer. Business Analysts work with many different groups to gather the requirements for projects, analyze the best path to pursue, and hand the whole kit-n-kaboodle over to the team building the solution. (And if you can stomach to write those sorts of sentences, you'll make a great BA!)

I'm currently working on 3 projects. My mornings are spent in meetings with user groups and programmers, hammering out what the requests are versus the technical capabilities of the system. My afternoons are spent working on documentation and determining the next steps in each project. Most of the technical team is in India, and I'm based in the U.S., hence why my meetings are in the morning.

If you're curious about the BA role and what it entails, feel free to reply or MeMail me. In addition, although BAs are usually used in IT, other industries are starting to see the use in having a BA associated with large projects.
posted by RogueTech at 10:21 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

JaneL: "N'thing IT not being lonely. It's not 9-5 either. (Or, at least, I've never found it to be so.)"

It is in the government!

(Getting hired by the federal government is a whole 'nother can of worms though.)
posted by schmod at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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