Currently I work as staff at a residential mental health treatment facility. I absolutely love it. It is immensely rewarding and I'm very good at it. I am working toward getting my peer support certification for a higher position, expanded duties, and better pay.
There is one problem with this career path: the pay. Currently I make 12.75-13.50 an hour (depending on the shift) and as peer support I will make 16-20 depending on the agency I work for and my experience. 20 is considered the top of the pay range. Bear in mind that I am a man of simple tastes. I don't need a nice car. I don't need luxury. If I can pay my bills and go out for pancakes every once in awhile, I'm happy. However, I do want to have kids, and taking care of kids at this pay range seems quite daunting.
Accounting was my major prior to taking an indefinite break from school. Unresolved mental health and addiction challenges made it difficult to stay motivated and stay on top of my studies. I completed the 3 class sequence on basic accounting and did very well. I got an A in all 3. I found the work interesting, challenging, and fun, though not particularly personally rewarding, Accounting would be a great way to secure my financial future.
As I've looked more into accounting as a career, I did have some concerns. The first is the stress level. I have since resolved my mental health/addiction issues, however, excessive stress and work hours can adversely affect both. Managing the finances of a company/client can be, as I hear, a very high pressure, high stress endeavor. The second concern is the work hours. I have heard that during critical times (fiscal year end, tax season) accountants are required to work crazy hours. I don't know if this is an exaggeration, but one person told me 14 hour days plus weekends. Aside from the stress factor, this doesn't fly for me. Call me lazy, call me what you will, but I don't believe in the American cultural ideal of working your life away. Don't get me wrong, I do work hard, and I am ambitious. But very important to me is my personal life outside of work. I like to build and maintain relationships with family, friends, and significant others; I like to pursue hobbies and interests; and most importantly, I like to relax and recharge before my next shift. Being at work at 9pm on a Saturday after working 14's all week is not appealing to me.
There is also the issue of personal reward. I enjoy accounting a lot. I really do. But for me, it doesn't serve a higher purpose the way my current work does. Accounting would feed my wallet. My work now would feed my soul. I feel that with accounting, I would be helping people who already have life "figured out" and are doing just fine. My current work, my talents are lent to those who are struggling.
I'd like some feedback and clarification. Is anything I've expressed about the job true, and what do you think is more important between personal and financial reward?