Career Path: Heart vs Head

Andrea Gill, Staff writer

What did you want to be when you grew up? Many kids started their first years of education saying they wanted to be doctors, veterinarians, police officers, or teachers. One thing about this list is the range in salary that is often associated with these careers. But when they are young, kids don’t care about that. They don’t want to do these jobs for the pay, they want to do them because, in many cases, these careers help and serve. 

As time passes, many change their minds as they grow into young adults and become more aware of how important money is and how deeply it affects their life. Even when money isn’t everything for people, it can feel like it because there are so many expenses in the United States.

For many high school students today the choice between doing what they want for a career and earning the money they want to earn is difficult because they want to have it all. However, the sooner young people realize that they should focus on stable careers rather than the perfect job, they’ll be better off because it will bring a more fulfilling life for their future.

The United States of America is an expensive country to live in with many costs of living that can vary significantly depending on the state and area of the country. In the “Cost of Living Index by State 2021” from, its definition of a living wage is: “The cost of living is defined as the amount of money needed to sustain a certain standard of living by affording basic needs such as housing, food, healthcare, and more.” 

In looking at this index, it is easy to see the major difference between living in Mississippi and Hawaii. An average house cost in Mississippi is  $128,000, while in Hawaii the average house cost is about $660,000.  This housing cost reflects the fact that Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the United States with the living wage being $46,000 and Hawaii has the highest living cost which is $61,000. 

These numbers just give us the amount of money people in those states need to survive. What if you want to buy expensive clothes and accessories? What if you want the nicest car or the “perfect house”? You would need to earn more money than the average cost of living.

People may get confused at the mention of  “stable” jobs. A stable job is one with constant working opportunities and enough benefits or wages for you to live well off with. 

While sometimes “stable” jobs align with the things teens like to spend their time doing, it is not common. Activities that many students take interest in such as art like drawing, painting, pottery, singing, dancing, writing, baking, and cooking – or any sports are often not represented in what is considered stable jobs. It is understandable that people take interest in different things and want to expand their knowledge and expertise in something they consider important. However, these types of activities really, in adulthood, are better as a hobby rather than what determines your income. The better, more steady path is to take your talents and create a business to build around what you love to do. 

Art is an example of a well-known hobby many people enjoy. Making it into a career that is able to pay for the cost of living can be difficult, but not impossible. “The national average salary for a fine arts major graduate in the United States is $49,940 per year or $24.01 per hour,” states Zippia. And “The median annual income of all full-time workers in the United States was $51,480 in the second quarter of 2021.” People with a fine arts major make a little under the annual income of the United States. This doesn’t mean completely throwing away your passion for art but exploring greater choices for your career. 

Instead of calling yourself an artist that likes to draw in your free time, become a product designer that creates products for consumers and earns, according to, an average of $105,448 yearly. You can take your art and make a business out of it, like by making logos for companies. If you have passion and design a decent logo, you can make around $300-$1,300 per creation according to This is just one example of a hobby that can seem unstable, but you can apply this concept to all of them. If you are willing to put anything on the line for your passions, think big enough to outweigh the negatives.

People would say that they want to do whatever they want with their lives and don’t want others to interfere or get in the way of their dreams. People would also argue that doing what they love would give them greater satisfaction in life rather than following society’s standards. I would agree that money cannot buy everything you want and need in life, but I also believe that being stressed over those payments isn’t worth it. Daniel Kahneman is a former professor at Princeton University that mentioned, “It’s not so much that money buys happiness but that lack of money buys you misery.” Not having enough money can cause financial stress. This means not making the proper amount of money to pay for what you need in order to live in life, more specifically America. Most households with low incomes face this problem and it doesn’t get better because of their job choices.

Younger people or older people should continue to value their passions and make time for what they love. In an opinion article titled “Job Satisfaction vs a Big Check”, Phyllis Korkki states, “In many ways, achieving the right balance depends on one’s values, priorities, family obligations, and spending habits.”  It all depends on goals you have in front of you and your life, but a reminder is that the future isn’t stopping for anyone and you could be unprepared for the turn of events.