Career Ambitions VS Financial Stability (Need Advice)

aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
So I'm in a bit of a dilemma and I'm hoping someone can give some advice. I want to start out by saying I really like my current job. I get to play with so many things that I enjoy: LAMP, Networking, Openstack Swift, HTTP, etc and I feel like the experience I'm getting here will be valuable when I try to transition over to a security role at some point. The office itself is very nice, the work environment is VERY low stress most of the time, and there's good opportunity to move up internally. I also have a ton of free time to pursue things that interest me such as scripting work processes, studying for certifications, etc.


BUT, and here's where the hard part comes in, I'm not making enough money to deal with some financial issues I have. Recently, I've been somewhat living paycheck to paycheck. Payday arrives, I spend every last penny I can on bills and paying off my credit card debt and then I use nothing but my credit card to pay for things until the next paycheck arrives. I just don't have enough money with a mortgage, car, and school, to pay this thing down and I hate having debt just stagnate like this even if it's just a small amount (It's about $2000 of credit card debt that I can't seem to get rid of and I really want to pay it off. I absolutely hate being in debt by any amount).


Recently, I was contacted on LinkedIn for a position that I'm positive I can get (I actually interviewed there prior to working at my current job and found out later that I was only turned down because an internal applicant changed their mind and decided to apply). I have a friend who works in the company at the same position and have found out that the salary is a 30% increase from what I'm making now and they have annual bonuses that are 25% of my current annual salary. I still get to play around with linux/unix, but I'd have to go back to working in enterprise storage which I don't feel like helps me at all in regards to my security ambitions and I don't really enjoy it that much.


I don't know what to do. I'm at a point, where I have to choose between having a more comfortable out-of-work life or having a more comfortable at-work life and, to be honest, that's a really hard decision for me to make. What would you guys do if you were in my position and what would your reasons be?
2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)

Comments

  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    It is a hard call, but being unable to pay your bills isn't really a good thing either. Not getting too deep in the budgeting area, but are you living far above your means? Might want to detail the budget stuff out, maybe put it up on the personalfinance subreddit. Many times people are just spending in weird ways.

    With that out of the way. How far out are you from trying to get into security? What do you want to do in security once you decide to enter the field? Depending on what you're paid now, it might not be a step up if you're coming in fresh to security. By that I mean I see a lot of people who might be a Sr Engineer of whatever flavor you like, but they really don't know anything about another specialty like security. Then, they want to switch and expect to be a Sr Security Engineer when really they are qualified more on the lower level analyst sort of role. I'm not saying you are doing that, but I just witnessed that exact situation at my work. A guy who is a Sr Desktop Engineer, works in software packaging and such, he's been doing it 15+ years, he wants to get into the security dept. He's got ZERO idea of networking, servers, security in general, but he thinks it sounds cool. We had to tell him he'd be a serious Jr level position at best until he learns everything, he was surprised and not happy. Note, that same guy had just purchased a 43K dollar truck...

    First I'd try to figure out what you really need. If you "only" have 2k worth of credit card debt, you shouldn't be drowning at all, if you've got a whole pile of other debt than that's another story entirely. But, figure out what you need to get by, what you want to do in security and how you can get there. I made a transition to security myself, had to take a step down for a year salary wise while I "paid my dues" but I budgeted strictly and was fine, now things are much better.
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think you're probably right about the money thing. This is probably where my issue really is. I'm going to see if I can find some way to at least reduce my spending regardless of which decision I make. It seems like a good first step.


    Once I graduate with my Bachelor's (I'm guessing probably... 4-6 months?) I'm going to take two C programming classes at my local college and then apply for a Master's program in Information Security with the Scholarship for Service program. That would allow me to live entirely off of the scholarship (it's about what I make now) without having to work. I'd be able to focus entirely on my studies. I think it would also be really good experience if I could get accepted into a school with a well-known solid program (I'm trying to aim for some of the top schools). It would still leave me in the same financial situation I'm currently in though for at least another 2 years.


    I feel like I want to learn more about security before I really choose a specialization, but I think end game, 5-10 years from now, I'd be happy if my job allowed me to work on security research, digital forensics, malware analysis, and pen testing. I know I still have a lot to learn before I can do any of those things which is why I'm trying to do the master's program.
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    This is a really difficult topic and I honestly do not believe that there is a cut-and-dry answer. And each situation can be different. For me, in general, I have always taken the longer term view of my career, and I'm often willing to take a little risk if I believe that there is upside.

    So what that means is that I would generally favor trading financial stability for a little more update and career progression. But to do so would be weight the pros/cons. In your case, perhaps you may consider starting to look for a job that more inline with your aspirations. From what I gathered from your post, I probably would not be interested in the job that you mentioned. But perhaps that's the impetus to start to see what else is out there.

    Also from your post, it sounds like you are early in your career and if you are unencumbered by kids, etc. - now is the time to take those risks.

    I understand that not everyone wants to make risky career choices. I do believe it's a very personal decision and one that only you can evaluate based on your personality and talents.
  • Christian.Christian. Member Posts: 88 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It's a complicated situation and in my case, I think one always has to go with what they feel is correct. You don't always knows what motivates people to lean one way or the other, there are biases that will move their opinion towards one path or the other without a critical thought regarding your situation and what could be best for you. I personally wouldn't take that job, mainly because it doesn't help your overall goals, but.. I don't see your second option as the one I would take in your situation. Again, this is a really personal opinion, everyone handles themselves differently.

    Have you done research that suggest that a master's degree (with the experience that you have, you didn't share that) will make you a more solid candidate for the type of position you seek? You believe that will be the main reason you will be hired, and not for your current resume? In two and a half years you will add the new degree, but the rest will not change so that's the focus I would put here, if that will truly make the difference.

    I think that I would actually try to get into a security role now, I wouldn't wait to add more college education into my resume when you already have one degree. In my experience, the bachelors degree is usually just a checkbox for some structured places, and then the rest of the resume is what motives a company to see you as a solid applicant. I haven't seen a master yet to make a difference. Have you tried to apply into different level entry security positions? Maybe the pay will be higher than what you earn now and you will not have to wait years in the future to get into the field. Maybe you could focus on certain certifications that you add to your resume to show you are focusing in security roles, like CEH/CHFI, GISF/GSEC, OSCP, etc.

    Bottom line, I would focus more into changing into another job now and leave the master for another moment. There are plenty of options online for a master that maybe at the moment are beyond your budget, but in the future with your increased income it will be just a matter of saving a little and it will have more weight if you earn it with experience on your back. I think with the bachelor you are set now and just need to apply to different positions until you find one that you like.
    CISSP | CCSM | CCSE | CCSA | CCNA Sec | CCNA | CCENT | Security+ | Linux+ | Project+ | A+ | LPIC1
  • alan2308alan2308 CISSP, MCSA 2008, MCSA 2012, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security Ann Arbor, MIMember Posts: 1,854 ■■■■■■■■□□
    As someone who has dealt with financial trouble in the past, do what you have to do to get your finances in check ASAP. If you don't like the new job, then take it and look for something else right away, but if it's going to help get your finances back in order, take it. $2000 doesn't sound like a lot to a lot of people around here, and I wouldn't be concerned with it myself now, but there was a time when $2000 was an unbelievable amount of debt to me. Don't wait until you have to miss a single payment somewhere along the way and watch the late fees and increased interest make 1 missed bill this month become 2 next month and 3 the third.

    If you're interested in security, sooner or later you're going to have to apply for a clearance. Its generally not a problem if its in the past and all paid off. It is however a huge problem if it's in the past but not paid off still.
  • tahjzhuantahjzhuan Member Posts: 288 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Tough situation indeed. Jobs could be considered schools or internships. Which one has the greatest potential for ROI? My 2 cents.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Being that you're uncomfortable financially, I'd talk to your friend and see if it might lead to a position you'd prefer over your current position. If so, go for it and work towards it. Otherwise I'd look elsewhere.

    If you were financially comfortable there's really only one choice I'd make. Being happy and living beats rich and miserable.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
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  • JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 California Kid Mod Posts: 2,827 Mod
    I understand your dilemma, but being in a good financial position is very important. In my opinion, based on what you've posted you're doing now and what you would be in the new job, you're not any closer to moving into InfoSec now, than you would be if you took the new higher paying job. If you were doing some security duties now then I'd say keep on that path. In your situation I would take the higher paying job, pay off your bills, save up at least 6 months worth of salary, and then start working on InfoSec knowledge and certifications to try to break into security. Also, in the new job since you'd be using Linux/Unix, try to work in some security related duties if you can.
    Have: CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, eJPT, GCIA, GSEC, CCSP, CCSK, AWS CSAA, AWS CCP, CEHv8, CHFIv8, ITIL-F, MS Cyber Security - USF, BSBA - UF, MSISA - WGU
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  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Member Posts: 684 ■■■■■□□□□□
    If $2,000 in credit card debt is your biggest financial problem you're still well ahead of a lot of people, don't stress too much. Are you actively looking for other jobs or did this just happen to come up? From what I've seen SFS doesn't pay well compared to your experience (I also don't know your market), but it seems to me that if you were actively looking for a job, especially one with a security focus, you'd be likely to find something that's more of what you want and pays better.

    I used to have the same mentality of "If I work here long enough I can move up and into the position I want", but for whatever reasons that always seems to take exponentially longer than applying to external positions and moving companies. Also moving up internally for every company I've ever worked for pays less than coming in from the outside for the higher position. I hate to admit it, but in IT it really does pay more to move around.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I agree with all the other point about trying to focus on getting into security now, but there is a twist on this one. From what I understand if you are part of the scholarship program you mentioned you get a free masters degree, get paid while doing it and get a guaranteed .gov job in security afterwards? I could be misinterpreting how it works so please clarify if so, that does change the whole equation a lot.

    As someone else mentioned, your position in life matters a lot too. If you're living at home or with roommates and just trying to keep afloat and in your young 20s then 2 years isn't really a huge deal. I have a family, a mortgage, etc, if I had to live in stipend money right now I'd be screwed. But, if I was 20 again and in your situation it would be very different.
  • Fulcrum45Fulcrum45 Member Posts: 613 ■■■■■□□□□□
    My advice would be to get your debt taken care of. Take the new job and maybe work part time in your post grad period to pay off the debt. It would be a shame to get a job offer down the road with a glowing resume only to have that rescinded due to a credit check. Just my $0.02
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Member Posts: 684 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Fulcrum45 wrote: »
    My advice would be to get your debt taken care of. Take the new job and maybe work part time in your post grad period to pay off the debt. It would be a shame to get a job offer down the road with a glowing resume only to have that rescinded due to a credit check. Just my $0.02

    Carrying a small amount of revolving debt based on a percentage (<33%) of credit available actually improves credit ratings. So if the credit card has a $6,000 limit, and he's only carrying about $2,000 each month he's improving it. Also having been in his situation where you use it from paycheck to paycheck he's making well above minimum payments each time he gets a paycheck so he's in no risk of default. Now if the credit card is almost maxed out, that's another issue. Installment debt like the car loan is different, but generally works against you as well.
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    BlackBeret wrote: »
    Carrying a small amount of revolving debt based on a percentage (<33%) of credit available actually improves credit ratings. So if the credit card has a $6,000 limit, and he's only carrying about $2,000 each month he's improving it. Also having been in his situation where you use it from paycheck to paycheck he's making well above minimum payments each time he gets a paycheck so he's in no risk of default. Now if the credit card is almost maxed out, that's another issue. Installment debt like the car loan is different, but generally works against you as well.

    Glad someone could confirm this. I actually heard something like this about a week ago and had them bump up my credit limit to 7,500 to lower my %.
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    aderon wrote: »
    Glad someone could confirm this. I actually heard something like this about a week ago and had them bump up my credit limit to 7,500 to lower my %.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/1s9u4g/your_friend_is_an_idiot_and_youre_wasting_your/

    Don't leave a balance to improve your credit score, it doesn't work that way.
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yeah I definitely don't keep the balance on purpose :P. The article appears to say that credit utilization is a factor which is what I was trying to accomplish by raising the available credit.

    "If you've ever looked at your credit report (which you should do every year), you will see that the only two numbers reported on your accounts are your statement balance and your available credit. The month after your statement, they record whether you paid on time. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's almost completely needless to say that the FICO algorithm uses only these three criteria when calculating your payment history and utilization."
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Christian. wrote: »
    Have you done research that suggest that a master's degree (with the experience that you have, you didn't share that) will make you a more solid candidate for the type of position you seek? You believe that will be the main reason you will be hired, and not for your current resume? In two and a half years you will add the new degree, but the rest will not change so that's the focus I would put here, if that will truly make the difference.

    A lot of the positions I'm interested in ask for a Bachelors and 2 years of experience or a Master's with 0 years of experience. Since I don't really have the 2 years of security experience and especially considering I don't have very many security certifications (I have a Security+ and I'll have a CCNA Security by the time I graduate) I see the Master's as a really good way to break in. Since I'll be doing the scholarship for service program, a job is guaranteed to be lined up for me after graduation. I just have to work on my studies and focus on learning as much as I can.

    I might post my resume on here later on to see what you guys think. But, I really don't think I'd be hired for a security role w/ my background. At least not yet.
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
  • kriscamaro68kriscamaro68 A+, Net+, Server+, Security+, Win7 MCP, Server 2012 Virtualization Specialist, MCSA 2012 Member Posts: 1,186 ■■■■■■■□□□
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Dave Ramsey.

    I don't get it?
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    aderon wrote: »
    I don't get it?

    He's a financial guy, big preacher of zero debt.
  • aderonaderon CISSP, CCNA:S, CCNA:R&S, AWS:CSA Assoc, Sec+, Lin+, A+, Net+, Proj+ Member Posts: 404 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Danielm7 wrote: »
    He's a financial guy, big preacher of zero debt.

    I'll have to check it out. I'm debating on just selling my house (It has a lot of equity built up), paying everything off (including my car) and then just renting a place and living w/o any form of debt. Been thinking about it for the last 5-6 months or so. I have to move anyway once I go for a master's, so I suppose I might as well do it sooner rather than later.
    2019 Certification/Degree Goals: AWS CSA Renewal (In Progress), M.S. Cybersecurity (In Progress), CCNA R&S Renewal (Not Started)
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