Megan McArdle , who is guestblogging at Instapundit, writes about her brief experience in investment banking. She points to how boring it was for her and that this justified the big bucks those who work in that field. I've already come across two people in my firm who decided to give up their careers in investment banking to become an architect. For those of you who are not aware, architects are poorly paid relative to other professions. It is understood by everyone who embarks on a design career that one must sacrifice monetary rewards for the joy of realizing buildings from your imagination. Sure some architects can make a decent income in the low six-figures, usually as partial owners of the firm after decades of hard work. But most young architects won't attain that status, as they advance very slowly up the profession and plateau income-wise. Others will leave architecture altogether for a better paying career, usually in real estate, graphic design, and even law.
So when I or many people who work in an architecture firm encounter a person who abandons a better paying profession, the initial reaction will be: "what were you thinking?" or "are you sure you know what you're getting into?" As McArdle is a journalist, I'm sure she is familiar with the financial precariousness that affect those who work in the more "fun" professions like art, writing and design. I will admit that my job is not boring in the way some high-paying jobs are described in this Washington Post article, but money is an issue.
From my point of view, those who've been engaged early on in the low-paying creative and academic fields will never fully appreciate what they truly have because the lack of money will always be among the foremost concerns on their minds. I'm willing to bet that the opposite case, those who began in high-paying but tedious jobs and transfer over to low paying but rewarding jobs, get the better part of the deal. They have the advantage of financial stability which begets an important sense of freedom and confidence that those working in the trenches of design firms and academia rarely enjoy.