MoneyDo: Career Planning With Your Child


As your child enters high school, it’s time to begin considering their entrance into workforce. Start by spending time with your child, discussing his or her strengths, weaknesses, and where their passions lie. In this week’s MoneyDo, we suggest establishing not just a college plan, but a career plan for your child.

The words “college plan” and “career plan” could sound like a discussion about the same topic, but the difference is compelling. College planning is often building a plan to attend, and pay for, higher education. Career planning goes a step further by considering the cost and return of investment derived from a college degree. 

It may be time to expand your definition of advanced education beyond a “must have” and consider the investment being made in pursuit a desired career path. When your child looks at a degree as a huge investment in both time and money, you can discuss what a return on that investment may be.

Many figure that an appropriate return on a college investment would be increased income and employability. Could achieving the college degree you’re discussing deliver a return on the investment, especially if the degree will be funded with debt?


Will the degree produce enough income to repay the associated student loans?

Many degrees don’t come with a guarantee of a successful career. The bottom 10 degrees (as measured by salary and unemployment rates) all have starting salaries under $50,000 and unemployment rates between 4-5%. The likelihood these degrees will repay $50,000 to $150,000 of student loan debt quickly is not likely, and you may find yourself helping your child repay some of this debt during your retirement. 

Make sure you and your child compare those bottom 10 to degrees to degrees that offer a high return on investment, like those in the medical field, or technical areas, like engineering. 

Your discussion is a great opportunity to talk about the trades. Would your child be able to reach their personal, professional, or financial goals more quickly if he or she pursued an apprenticeship in a trade? Trades would allow your child to grow and learn as he or she earns money for 4 years, as opposed to accumulating debt.

Discuss the universe of possibilities, including a “gap year,” where he or she enters the workforce for a year or two prior college. A gap year will often give your child more time to consider their career and if further education is needed, what it would truly take to be successful.

It’s likely your child doesn’t have clear direction yet. Having this critical conversation at this time in their growth and development will help plant the seed of reality early in their planning. Careful planning includes developing an understanding the “return on investment” tuition can bring over a career. It will help keep your child focused during school, and help them be targeted when looking for employment later.