Good career choices for the family-minded girl.

On August 6, 2012 I wrote and posted the following essay on an old blog that has since been deleted. However, I want to repost this essay for several reasons. First, I want to make it clear that I have not changed my mind in any way about these issues just because I’m working full time now. I have always believed that some women may sometimes need to work outside the home and I have always written that the purpose of this work should be to serve our families, not our egos.

Second, when young women are deciding whether or not to pursue post-secondary education, they should have a clear plan in mind for what it is that they intend to do with that education and only spend as much time and money on college or job training as is absolutely necessary. There are two excellent resources listed in this essay to help them with this: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Wage Estimates and Education Portal (scroll down to that links under “Degree, School, and Career Research to learn what kinds of schooling are required for various professions).

And the third reason I’m posting this is because I strongly disagree with one thing that NYCPastor wrote in his essay:

It’s okay for a woman to be a doctor, attorney, or any other professional.

Actually, it’s not that great for a woman to pursue careers like “doctor” or “attorney”. High school guidance counselors tend to encourage girls to “follow their dreams” and pursue these high status and potentially lucrative careers, but those are not jobs that a woman can easily blend with family life; they aren’t good “part-time” jobs, they don’t usually have flexible hours, and they require years of costly education during the prime years for looking for a husband and having children. If she wants to provide a helper income to her husband but still be able to have a family, there are much better choices, as I outlined in this old essay, which follows now:.

August 6, 2012: I have listed ten career choices that would be good for a woman who wants to have some higher education and a job that will be in a pleasant, safe work environment with reasonably good status and pay.  These jobs are all notable for allowing flexible schedules, either part-time or full-time, which would allow a mother to be focused on her family while there are children at home.  At this time in the U.S. all these jobs are fairly easy to get.  Education requirements range from a certificate diploma to a Master’s degree.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

Occupation

Educational requirement

Licensure requirements

MedianAverage

Salary

Flexible hours

Benefits and Drawbacks

Nurse

Associates or BSN

Yes, by state

69,110

Very

Can work full or part time, in many different settings, good pay relative to education level

Vet Tech

Associates

Yes, by state

31,570

very

Pay is not high unless one works for a large research company or university

Ultrasound tech

1 yr certificateAssociates

BS

Yes, by state

65,800

moderate

Excellent pay relative to education level; Can work part-time

Speech-Language Pathologist

MA

Yes, by state and natl org

72,000

very

Many different work settings; a national shortage makes finding a job easy; can work full or part time; drawback: long, difficult MA required

Occupational Therapist

MA

Yes by state and natl org

74,970

very

Many different work settings, long MA program

Physical Therapist

MA

By state and natl org

79,340

very

Many different work settings, good pay for an MA

Social Worker

MA

By state

54,220

moderate

Drawback: can be low-pay relative to educational requirement; Can be flexible depending on location

Dental hygienist

2 yr certificateAssociates

By state

69,760

moderate

Can be flexible though most jobs are full-time M-F; good pay for only a two-year degree

Physician Assistant

MA

By state

89,470

moderate

Excellent pay but very challenging degree (basically Med school lite); can work part time; many different work settings

Home Daycare

—–

Need a state license to run a home daycare

Approx.  $200/weekPer child

Not very flexible

Can work from home, which is nice if you have your own children at home; can be hard work to add more little ones; pay is not high; kids get sick a lot

Teachers and Librarians both have pleasant working conditions, reasonable salaries, and manageable hours, but at present in the United States there is a dearth of available jobs in these fields.  Administrative Assistants have low educational requirements, moderate salary, very inflexible hours (8-5, M-F).

A good resource for learning about various jobs is Education Portal, which allows you to compare salaries, educational requirements, and so on.

On the whole, I’d say I’m not a huge fan of women in the workforce, although I myself work one half-day per week.  Being economically-dependent on one’s husband might be a good thing in some ways; it certainly would make it harder for women to bail out of their marriages, and having Mother at home is definitely what most children prefer.  However, each couple needs to navigate this issue for themselves, with the husband of course having the final veto power.

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Christian women should be helpers, not careerists.

Deep Strength has posted a link to a thought-provoking essay by NYCPastor entitled 10 Women Christian men should not marry. I was particularly interested in one of the categories of women the pastor said Christian men should not marry:

9. The Career Woman. Now, I want to clarify something here.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who works (Acts 16:14), what’s wrong is a woman who puts her career ahead of her family.  Modern American society might hate to hear this, but God made men to be the providers and women to be the nurturers of the home (in most instances).  It’s okay for a woman to be a doctor, attorney, or any other professional.  However, if her career is coming at the expense of her home, then something is wrong.  If day-care is raising her young children while she’s working, then something is wrong.  I understand that there might be a season of life where the wife might have to be the main bread-winner due to her husband’s unemployment, but it should not be the desired norm. The woman ought to be willing (and even desirous–to some extent) to give up her job for the sake of raising her kids in the Lord.  “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14).

It shouldn’t shock my readers to hear me say I agree with him even though I am working full time at present. In The purpose of paid work for women, I wrote:

Feminists with their bloated egos tell women that their paid work is their path to personal fulfillment. This is a lie. Personal fulfillment is found in God and family – nothing more and nothing less. Chasing the elusive and incredibly selfish dream of “personal fulfillment” will leave you empty for the simple reason that – unlike God and your family – your job does not love you.

My advice to young women: prioritize family formation over education and career. Prepare yourself to earn money as a means of serving your family but don’t get wrapped up in worrying about your personal fulfillment at work because that isn’t why you are there.

 

Christian women should strive to be helpers, not careerists.

Now, on to a pleasant bit of related personal business…

As you know, I accepted my current full-time position for a specific reason: my husband and I want to purchase another ten acres of land that is up for sale across from us. In speaking to a real estate agent who knows this area well, he said undeveloped land around here is going for about $10,000/acre if the perc test looks good. The ten acres across the dirt road was listed at $70,000, then started dropping quickly because the owner is in a hurry to sell. It seems like he may have inherited the land and wants the cash. The price has dropped now to $45,000 and we don’t think it will stay up for sale much longer at that price – that’s only $4,500/acres.

We are thinking of making an offer, contingent upon the land perc-ing satisfactorily, but our conundrum is this: we don’t like debt. I’m driving a nearly ten-year-old minivan because I can’t stand the thought of taking a car loan and I don’t want to dip into what’s left of our savings after the big move we did in September. I’d rather my dinged up van than a car payment any day and I could give a rip about what people think of my scuffed up vehicle, since it’s clean and reliable. By being frugal, Philip and I were able to put a very large down payment on our current land and home, but even so we had to mortgage part of it. We haven’t yet saved up enough cash to buy the new chunk of land outright, so we’d have to mortgage part of that purchase price…and we loathe debt! But if we don’t move soon, the land will be gone, and it’s a gem. There are no other unsold, undeveloped chunks of land around us; we are surrounded by homes on 5-10 acre plots (except for the homes lining West Lake), some preservation lands, the Waterloo Rec area, and big 100+ acre farms.

So we’re really mulling this over – buy now by taking on debt or hold out while we squirrel away all my paychecks and pray no one else grabs it? But tomorrow Philip is calling our mortgage officer just to inquire…prayers for wisdom in this matter would be appreciated, as we view this land as part of our long-term vision for our family, if the Lord is willing, with hopes of establishing a base for a multi-generational kin network.  Recall that my husband’s brother and his wife live a fifteen-minute drive from us, his auntie is just around the corner from us, and his mother is looking to move from Dearborn to live near us as well.  Our plan for the land is to allow our children to build houses on it if they wish in the future when they marry.  Living near extended family is something that I have increasingly come to value and the idea of my future grandchildren, should God bless me with any, being able to walk across the street to visit me is very appealing.

But mortgaging it would mean I’m tied to a full-time job for the forseable future. I don’t mind this much, as I work in a pleasant school district with friendly co-workers, but I miss my family terribly when I’m away from them all day. Still, it seems I may have to accept being apart from my family now in order to have a place for them to live near me later on.