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How can I pursue a career that does not assure financial stability in the future?

I want to ask this question on behalf of some of my friends who are struggling with the same situation. These particular friends are unimaginably talented in the things they like to do. For example, one may excel in art and another may be superior in music. As you and I may know, finding work in the creative field of art and music is incredibly difficult. If one does find a job though, it is also hard to survive on that one job since a career in this field isn't that lucrative. My friends insist on following these not-so profitable career paths and I respect their decisions, but I am also worried that they will suffer in their future careers. Please give some feedback concerning these types of situations and tell me what I can do to help my friends! music art future-careers financial financial-risk financial-stability lucrative profitable

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Subject: Career question for you

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Ellen’s Answer

Such a difficult question......following your passion in the arts can mean a difficult financial road ahead, but not always. Following your passion can lead to unexpected opportunities and experiences, but this can be very unpredictable. So, it depends on what your friends value; if they want a set path with few surprises and financial stability, then maybe a career in the arts is not for them. If they can be flexible enough to take on a "day job" and pursue their "art" on the side, that might be a way forward, but it can be difficult to balance both. Another way would be to become a teacher of art or music, or writing or theater, if they enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences with others and enjoy specifically working with kids. I found teaching art to be my dream job--indulging in my passion for art all week long and helping my students to discover their interests and talents in the visual arts. Have I become wealthy? No, but there are a lot of benefits in teaching (summers off, vacations off, pensions in some districts, health plans etc.). For me, teaching art has been a stimulating and rewarding career.


Hi Ms. Rosenthal! Being a teacher has always been my dream job as well and I am joyous to see that you have found many positives in your position! It's great that you pointed out the characteristics needed to define whether or not one should follow the path to an arts or music career. I will definitely discuss your points with my friends and help them decide if their commitment to their passions is truly superior to the financial assurance of their future endeavors. Thank you for your input! Karen P.

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Vivian’s Answer

Hi Karen,


You have such a caring heart to ask for your friends. We all have our own reasons for choosing the career path we choose. Hopefully, my answer can help you and them.


I was always really good in art. I love being creative and working with my hands. When I started thinking about a job, I decided to take different art classes in college to see which field I would like to go into. I took Metal Smithing, Painting, Ceramics, Digital Art, Graphic Design and Illustration. That's when I knew I fell in love with the aesthetics of graphic design. Solving real world problems through design. In 2002, I was a high school senior and I was worried that going into design. The dot.com bubble just burst and I knew being a designer might mean, I wouldn't make any money. I asked my high school teacher what I should do and I will never forget the wisdom he shared with me that day, "You cannot base your career on the economy. There will always be ups and downs, but your skills will continue to grow." I chose design and never looked back. I never thought, the design world would be respected and in high demand as it is now. All I knew as a high school student was, I wanted to wake up everyday, doing something I loved. (PS. Designers right now are being paid really well.)


My husband works in the movie industry. He is amazingly talented in music, ever since he was a kid. In high school, he was a part of the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum Corps and when he finished high school, he knew he wanted to pursue music. However, he knew being a musician wouldn't be financially stable. So, he thought of different ways to use his talent. That's when he went to a specialized school to learn about sound/music. When he graduate, he was able to find a great job and now love what he does. Know that each step of he way, there were many sleepless nights and he made tons of sacrifices to get to where he is now. But in the end, he enjoyed the work that he does.


I would say, if your friends want to pursue the art, music, or any creative route, that they have to be passionate and driven, which they seem to be. Good for them! Don't worry about your friends, I think they will be fine.


Dream big, Vivian


Hi Vivian! Thanks a ton for your feedback! Your story really got to me and I'm glad that your career has turned out the way it has! You and your husband are both inspirations to me and soon, my friends. I wish you all the best! Karen P.

You're welcome Karen. I'm glad my story hit home. It's nice that you are concern for your friends, but those who venture out into the unknown need their friends' support more than anything. I hope you get to share my story to your friends. :) Vivian Urata

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Scotty’s Answer

Hi Karen,


There are so many great replies here from my art colleagues and hopefully you will see the common denominator: choosing a career in the arts is a dedication like no other, but with hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can achieve a successful career in the arts! I do well, but I have met many successful people that make a lot more money than I do but admire my tenacity for doing something I love. I would encourage my own children to pursue what they love while they're young and let the cards fall where they may. We are all instinctively in it to survive so "where there's a will..." If you are of the many of us that don't get a lucky break from the start and you decide the low income and juggling several jobs to keep up and many sleepless nights balancing it all isn't for you, then you can decide what's the next turn in the road for you. Best not to enter any field, art or business, with hesitation that financial stability is uncertain. No job is a guarantee! Do what you love and follow your heart and dreams. If what you're doing is genuinely great and you have the will power to pursue it, you will find a way to succeed and achieve the financial stability you hope for.


Hi Scotty! You have surely motivated me to put aside my future financial worries to take up what I am passionate about the most. I have yet to discover that passion, but I will continue to work hard to find it! Thanks for your insight! Karen P.

My pleasure. Stay strong and dream big!! Scotty Lund

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Elizabeth’s Answer

Your concern for your friends is admirable. However, an artist must create. That is who they are. Whether or not it is lucrative for them, their joy and purpose is in the use of their talent. They would do it for free just for the love of it. As for "making a living," they may have to know another skill or skills to put bread on the table, so to speak. And that is okay. Money is necessary but it isn't everything. There are "poor" people with joy in their heart and "rich" people with much misery in their lives. Your friends must not get discouraged if they never earn a great living at their art. Remember Van Gogh and Mozart and many other artists who were geniuses and died paupers. I say this to remind you that not all greatness is rewarded in its lifetime. Support your artist friends and encourage them. Don't give them false hope. But encourage them to be themselves. And if they are artists, in being themselves they will suffer! That is where the art comes from many times, the pain and suffering of life and the way they view things in their own gifted way. And that, too, is okay. The joy they get in the creating is worth it. I speak from experience!


Hello Ms. Christopher! I am utterly inspired by your words and will definitely forward them to my friends. I guess it truly is better to give them the positivity and motivation that they need when others are pressuring them to hide their talents in the shadows. Thank you so much and have a great day! Karen P.

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jeff’s Answer

Unfortunately there are no guarantees of financial success. I am now in my sixties and have just released my 3rd CD. I have played professionally of and on for more than 40 years and continue to play. But almost alway had to supplement my income with other work. I understand that according to the bureau of labor statistics that churches are the largest employer of musicians but that is more of a Calling i think. But if you are gifted as a musician and you have experienced the joy of playing for others, then you will find a way to do it. It is not an easy career but worthwhile if it is your goal.Only you can decide if it is worth the price you will have to pay. Good luck!


Thank you Mr. Schmidt! I wish you all the best as well! Karen P.

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Luiz’s Answer

Hi Karen
There is a question of timing in your friend`s examples. If they do like what they do is possible that in a short term they project themselves and get more money than ever.
But there is another way to watch this question. Suppose that they pursue only careers which give money, but they are unhappy with them.
In this way, what worth while? To gain a lot of money immediately or be happy in some career that will be financial sustainability in a medium term.
Good Luck!

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