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Balancing Your Career and City

August 16, 2011

by Kyle Espinola

“What are you going to do after college?” is a question most college students face after graduation and too often the answer is: “I don’t know”. How do we answer the question Gauchos?  What criteria should we consider when deciding on not only what we want to do, but also where we want to do it?

Using websites like can be very helpful in comparing your options. Your higher education is going to range anywhere from three-to-ten years depending on what career you want to pursue and since job markets can turn on a dime, it is important to research job creation percentages when mapping out your career path. Studying futurejobandcareersforecasts should be your first step.  For example, many students graduate from college with ambitions of becoming some big shot CEO, but the bottom line is chief executives are seeing a -1.38% jobs creation to loss ratio according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics as presented on There is no reason you can’t work up to the prestigious position—after all you are a Gaucho—but there is no need to be disheartened if you don’t reach the level of CE. Set yourself up for success by considering jobs with solid job growth. No one wants to graduate only to be met by a stagnant job market.

Now that you have a list of potential careers with solid job growth it’s time to consider your salary.  If you are a biology major, you’re probably considering a career in medicine.  If you are familiar with the medical industry, then you know surgeons boast the highest salaries with top surgeons bringing home on average over $200,000 a year.  A substantial amount no doubt, but at what cost?  Surgeons spend a combined 16 years in school and residency, not to mention the hefty tuition bill after years of schooling.  UCSB is great because it doesn’t lock you into one profession. As I said before, being a biology major provides you with a broad understanding and allows you to narrow your interests by selecting an emphasis or by pursuing specific internships. A Bio major could just as easily become an orthodontist and receive an average wage of $190,000.  However, unlike the surgeon, you only need 9-11 years of schooling and training, which also implies your bill at the end is going to be far less than your surgeon friend.  Do research into salariesbyjobandindustry to insure you maximize your pay-to-schooling ratio. UCSB provides you with a great foundation it is your responsibility to build on it!

The last big aspect to consider is where you’re going to work.  This is important considering that a surgeon in Riverside makes around $200,000 and a surgeon in Ventura makes around $170, 650 as recorded by the U.S. Bereau of Labor Statistics and presented on FindTheBest.  Look into your career’s salariesbycityandjob to make sure you live in a city within your state that pays your profession the most.  However, maximum income cannot be your only measure when deciding on your city.  You must also consider minimizing your costofliving.  The Economic Policy Institute derived a Cost of Living index to help us gauge which cities cost the most to live in.  NYMetroArea has the highest calculated index at 155. If we compare two cities Riverside and Ventura, we see that Riverside has an overall index of 119 whereas Thousand Oaks (near Ventura) has an index of 136.  Taxes, Transportation, and housing account for the 17-point difference.  Perhaps the $30,000 difference in pay is to compensate for the increased cost of living but if the 17-point difference isn’t covered by the salary increase then consider living in the “cheaper” city.  This is just one example but it demonstrates that when selecting your city, you must both maximize your salary and minimize your living expenses in order to gain the highest return of your investment A.K.A your college education.

Here is a quick recap of what we learned Gauchos:

  1. UCSB provides you with a broad academic understanding—use this to your advantage. Seek jobs that provide the highest salary for the lowest amount of schooling, but that are still in your discipline.
  2. The same position might make more or less depending on which city you live in, so make sure to research which cities pay the most for your skill set.
  3. On the other hand, you need to also minimize your expenses or all that extra salary isn’t going to do you any good.
  4. In the end though, the number of zeros in your checking account isn’t going to bring happiness, so make sure you do what you love; getting paid for it is the bonus!

Disclaimer: The above hyperlinks take you to I work for this company just so you all are aware of my affiliation. I do value the resources we provide and am sharing them because I think they will help you balance your career choice as well as city- very important!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 7:03 pm

    Great article, Kyle. This is very helpful information, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am checking out the findthebest website and it is actually pretty cool and useful.

  2. September 28, 2011 3:31 am

    Wow…you really put a lot of things that are pretty difficult to determine right in one, neat place.


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