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Could a SW Engineer live a good life in New York?

I´m trying to decide between a SW Engineer and a doctor. I know Engineer´s get paid less and NY, is very expensive... #engineer #newyork #doctor

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Amanda’s Answer

Yes, a "good life" is subjective, so it's important to think about what a "good life" means to you. All careers have different aspects that can contribute or take away from how "good" your overall life can be. Consider the four aspects below. All careers offer some level of each aspect, but it's nearly impossible to find a career that's 10/10 in each aspect all the time. I encourage you to consider which aspects are most important to you, and pursue career paths that match those values. In no particular order:

1. Financial reward/benefits: The income you earn and the benefits like a retirement savings plan, health insurance, etc.

2. Work/life balance: Are you able to manage and enjoy other aspects of your life in a satisfying balance with your career? Do you have the time and flexibility to pursue side projects, spend time with family, take care of your health, destress, travel, etc.?

3. Intellectual challenge: Are you engaged with your work? Does it stimulate you intellectually? Do the work challenges generally energize you or drain you? Does the work use and further develop your natural skills and interests?

4. Impact/influence: Does your work make an impact in a way you find fulfilling? This can mean impact within your company, like making a big contribution to a software product that earns revenue for the company or reaches a lot of users. Or it can mean notoriety, influence, and fame within certain circles that matter to you. Or it can mean direct influence on other people, like how a doctor can save a life, or help ease physical suffering through a difficult time in a patient and family's life.

There are no wrong answers when considering which aspects are most important to you, and your perspective will change throughout your life. It can be really difficult to imagine what you may want in the future across the whole 45 years of your working life, but it's wise to consider what you want now, and what you may want in the future, and try to make the best investment now towards a career that will match or support those values.

When I say "investment," I mean the time, energy, and money required to develop and maintain a career. I'd say that the career of a doctor is unique because it ranks very highly across most aspects, which I believe is why it's so highly regarded. It can earn a high income, is very intellectually challenging, and can make a huge and direct impact on people's lives. This often comes at the cost of work/life balance, but different specialties are different in that aspect. But, becoming a doctor requires A LOT of initial investment in terms of time, energy, and money for school, residency, etc. So it's years and years of very low work/life balance with no pay. If you aren't also hugely motivated by the intellectual challenge of medical school, it'll be very difficult to weather the years of training to eventually make an impact and earn a high income (which btw often goes to paying off loans for some years before you can actually enjoy that money). But the wait and hard work are worth it for those who value the other aspects of intellectual challenge along the way.

By contrast, the career of a software engineer often offers a more modest level across the four aspects (but can still be quite good), but it requires much less upfront investment and therefore has the optionality to make changes along the way as your values evolve. For example, you could work for a company that pays relatively better, but you're not as excited about the product or the work/life balance. Then later you can change to a new company/area of specialty or change careers altogether.

Food for thought!
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Vikash Raja Samuel’s Answer

With both a SWE job or being a Doctor you would comfortably be in the top 1% group. However, the roles and responsibilities for both these jobs are significantly different and so are the education paths. Find what you love between the two, that should be the answer ideally.
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Maxine’s Answer

Software engineers are highly sought after these days and if you work hard you should be able to continue to progress very well and make a good living, esp. at places like Google, Amazon, etc. Doctors get paid well too, but there is a very high upfront cost because of the many years of schooling, so the payout is not until much later, which makes the return on investment a very different proposition than for a software engineer. I would say choose what interests you and either option should pay you well enough to live in NYC.
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Alfred’s Answer

You question makes me curious in a couple of ways:
1) When you use the term "a good life", are you mostly focused on income and standard of living?
2) Is your question implying that your highest priority is to live in New York, therefore you are deciding between becoming a SW Engineer or a doctor in order to earn enough to support a good life in New York?

The knowledge and skill sets are rather different between SW Engineer & doctor, therefore I would consider a lot more factors than salary.

Good Luck with your decision making process.
Thank you comment icon Thank you I´m weighing my pros and cons of both careers but i was overall looking towards a SW engineer although I know New York can be very expensive. I don´t want to have to worry about being poor and depressed. Tylar
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Lennon’s Answer

A "good life" can be quite subjective 😀. Both jobs are well compensated. But both SWE and Doctors are great jobs and very impactful. A typical SWE focuses on advancing tech innovations that impact people's lives, while a doctor is trying to advance humanity and improve people's well-being.

I would encourage you to speak to folks who are already in this field, understand what they do and choose the one you are more passionate about. It's not just about finding a job to lead a good life but finding a career that you are passionate about and can excel in. As you progress in your career and rise up the ranks, your remuneration would climb too.

Best of luck!

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