Q: My daughter is starting to plan her post-college career, and she is struggling to find a field that she loves which offers the work/life balance she wants. Do you have any advice?
A: As more and more women take on leading roles in a variety of fields, new flexible opportunities are evolving. Almost every career offers a path that includes the possibility of more effectively balancing work and life. Many high-level positions also provide the opportunity to work flexibly at home, so even if your daughter is working full-time, she may be able to save several hours of commuting time each week. The key is for her to identify personal priorities (salary, work hours, demands, necessary training) and find the positions in her chosen field that are a fit for what she seeks.
She should start by thinking about the fields that excite and energize her. Is it health science? Medicine? Technology? Education? Law? Psychology? Another field? These are all popular choices for young women today.
Here are some of the options within these fields:
Careers in health sciences, including nursing, occupational and physical therapy, and physician assistants have become popular and are in high demand. These jobs offer good salaries and prestige, and can allow for flexible hours. OT, PT and PA careers all require a master’s degree or a doctorate. Professionals in these fields generally work regular hours and can often negotiate part-time schedules.
Nurses can begin working right after college with a BSN degree, and then, if they want to become nurse practitioners, they can pursue a master’s degree while they work full-time. Nursing is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-day-a week profession. This means that once they put in their night shifts right after graduating, many nurses can choose the schedules that work best for them. They may work two or three long days, or five shorter days.
Careers in medicine and dentistry are prestigious and well-compensated. The training is time consuming—four to eight years after college. However, once you complete the training, there are many work options. As a dentist, you can choose to work longer or shorter hours, as part of a team or on your own. As a doctor, you can choose a specialty that offers more or less flexibility. For example, a surgeon may have frequent emergencies, while a dermatologist or radiologist will have more regular hours.
Every business needs up-to-date technology, so careers in that field are booming and salaries can be high. You can work in a large corporation, a small business or nonprofit, or even from home. No graduate degree is needed, but technology evolves quickly, so you need to be flexible enough to master these new technologies as they emerge.
Teaching is still a popular profession for many women. Prospective elementary school teachers can enter the workforce with a BS in Education. Public schools in many urban areas will require that teachers receive a master’s degree (which will take approximately two years) within five years after they enter the workforce, and an increasing number of yeshivas are expecting that their teachers hold graduate degrees, as well. Typically, high school teachers require a master’s degree before they can begin teaching. A career in education offers significant flexibility, since teachers are off during the summer and all school vacations. Additionally, many yeshivas offer sizable discounts on tuition to teachers and school administrators.
A law degree opens up careers in companies, law firms and government. This career is prestigious, high-paying and intellectually challenging. There are plenty of well-paying jobs in all of these fields. Some jobs offer part-time or flexible hours. It takes three years after college to complete a law degree.
Clinical psychology and social work are both highly respected professions. While a degree in clinical psychology requires five years or more after college, a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) takes only two years of post-college study. Clinical psychologists often have their own practices and can set their own hours, either full or part-time. Social workers may also have their own practices or work in a variety of community-based settings, from schools to hospitals.
Your daughter has many doors open to her. She can begin to learn more about career options now, so that she can find the right fit for her.