Studies show about half of all people regret their career choice. But that was before coronavirus changed how and where work can be done. We sent out a survey in August 2020 because I was curious how people feel about their careers with COVID-19 essentially changing everything about our lives.
The survey asked questions about how you’re doing during the pandemic, with a focus on career satisfaction. Two questions we asked you were:
- Do you regret your career choice because of student loans?
- Do you regret your career choice because of the pandemic?
About 3,000 people responded. Some of the results were surprising, and it gives an interesting insight into what drives career satisfaction.
Here’s what you told us.
Pandemic vs student loan career regret
The pandemic has introduced a new level of stress in how we buy things, interact with others, receive an education, and get professional services like medical treatment. Yet, only 14% of readers who took our survey said they wished they had chosen a different career because of the pandemic.
Overall, people aren’t especially discouraged about their career choice. It makes sense because professional degrees, in general, have more economic security and less stress than some of the restaurant and grocery store employees or people that are working in nursing homes.
Compare that to the 43% who would have chosen a different career because of their student loan debt. That’s 3x as many people who would have chosen a different career because of their student loans vs. the pandemic.
It’s no surprise that student loans cause a significant amount of pain in the lives of borrowers. But it’s interesting to see that borrowers feel it causes 3x as much pain as a pandemic.
Top 10 most career regret because of the pandemic
While most people are generally satisfied with their careers, a few professions stood out as having significant regret because of the pandemic. Here are the top ten:
- Teachers – 26%
- Occupational therapists – 26%
- Chiropractors – 20%
- Dentists – 18%
- Nurses – 18%
- Physical therapists – 17%
- Nonprofit employees – 16%
- Corporate workers – 16%
- Dental specialists – 16%
- Higher education administrators – 15%
Top 10 least career regret during the pandemic
- Engineers – 0%
- Speech language pathologist – 0%
- Financial planners – 3%
- Physician assistants – 6%
- Psychologists – 7%
- Physicians – 7%
- Public health professionals – 7%
- Nurse practitioners – 7%
- Veterinarians – 7%
- IT workers – 7%
Top 10 most career regret because of student loan debt
- Occupational therapists – 67%
- Veterinarians – 58%
- Chiropractors – 57%
- Physician therapists – 57%
- Nonprofit employee – 55%
- Counselors – 54%
- Public health professionals – 53%
- Teachers – 52%
- Pharmacists – 52%
- Optometrists – 50%
Top 10 least career regret because of student loans
- Financial planners – 10%
- Physician assistants – 23%
- Physicians – 26%
- Engineers – 29%
- Dental specialists – 35%
- Government employees – 36%
- Psychologists – 36%
- IT professionals – 37%
- Dentists – 39%
- Nurses – 39%
What if you’re unhappy with your career choice?
A lot of people like their jobs. But if you don’t, you’re not stuck with your career choice. I’m a big advocate of going back to school and getting a different degree if it makes sense.
Because federal loans have student loan forgiveness, it doesn’t matter how much you owe. Your payment will be the same whether you owe $100,000 or $1 million when you sign up for an income-driven payment and pursue forgiveness.
But some professionals are happy with their jobs despite the added stress of the pandemic and student loan debt.
And remember, even if you regret the decision you made with your education, you can still have a fantastic life and find financial fulfillment. If you don’t already have a student loan plan, book a consult with us to find a clear path to repaying your student debt.