Education and Careers: The Paths We Choose

We all know that education prices are skyrocketing, and the return on investment (ROI) is not so clear. Degrees, they say, used to guarantee a job, and now jobs that used to only require a bachelor’s degree require a master’s, and so on. This means that the ROI has decreased, and that higher education is undergoing inflation. Technological changes, moreover, are eliminating midlevel service jobs.

According to a May 2011 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 84 percent more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. If workers, then, with a bachelor’s degree are now filling jobs that those with only a high school diploma used to have, then living conditions and salaries for them are poor, and salaries for those without a degree are unlivable. In this situation, it is necessary to earn a higher degree, and yet, hard if not impossible to receive a decent ROI for the time and money spent.

In comes online education. Online higher degrees are becoming more credible and more common. And as if on a linear train of thought – in comes free online education, offered from top universities around the country (MOOCs). Moreover, the career opportunities that only a degree-in-hand allow are merging with online ed options: just a few weeks ago Georgia Tech announced that it was merging with Udacity to provide a reasonably-priced computer science program. In the totally unbalanced situation of higher than reasonable brick-and-mortar degree prices versus free online education, hybrid models are emerging as one way of answering to the issue for positive ROI outcomes.

ROI: What Does It Really Mean? OR Is Money What It’s All About?

According to government projections, by 2020, only three of the thirty fields with the largest projected job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position: teachers, college professors, and accountants. Most of the available positions will be midlevel jobs not easily replaced by technology such as retail sales associates, fast food workers and truck drivers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities are now among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level, while nursing, teaching, accounting, and computer science graduates are the most likely. Graduates with degrees in marketing, finance, human resources, and advertising are seeing an increase in career opportunities and therefore ROI.

‘While engineering and computer science consistently rate among the top-paying college majors, students should also research employment demand and hot skillsets,’ Andrea Porter, communications director at Georgetown’s CEW, said to USNews for a piece called ‘College Majors With the Best Return on Investment.’ “Research what skills are most valuable in the labor market… and depending on those ‘hot skills’ you can also obtain a certificate that will provide you skills that will set you apart,” she added.

Katie Bardaro, a lead economist at PayScale (an online salary database), contributed to the piece by stating that engineering, physics, computer science, and mathematics boast strong earning potential and low unemployment rates, which can help prospective employees reap the highest return on their education investment.

Many are concerned, because where there are jobs there isn’t enough talent and where there is talent, jobs are limited. And since ROI is usually only calculated by the maximum money one receives for their time spent in college, top-paying careers which are in-demand are listed as the top careers.

If you are cut out for the analytical work, these advisers say, then do it! For the money.

But what about for those who don’t necessary need the maximum paying career – those who see what they want to contribute and what they themselves are talented in as important first, and then wish to identify how to make a living? Is money the most important thing to all of us? When did economical ROI become the most important aspect of continuing one’s education? And the answer of course, is always for some, and for other’s: when this became a concern.

No, money is not the most important factor for all of us. “Teachers aren’t in it for the money,” for example, is a common expression of the profession. But money can help us get places. Money is necessary to survive. A decent paycheck, good working conditions, and fulfilling our dreams is the ideal for many of us.

If money was the only thing that mattered, then perhaps we would all heed the advice of the higher education advisers who say – enter computer science now! Perhaps it is not that we do not have the ability, talent or work ethic, but simply, that our interests lead us somewhere else. Some of us have our own visions to follow. What then?

Fulfilling Our Highest Visions

We have an economy that is based on creating revenue by selling things we don’t need cheap and making a profit vs. filling real world needs for humanity’s benefit. We are conditioned to want more money and certain things – often brands. There is too much competition in fields we don’t really need, and too many shady businesses and practices that take advantage of people. Imagine if we focused on the best and putting capable people into jobs that actually serve people, imagine if money didn’t matter the way it does for people and businesses of today. But it does because money is the most powerful thing in our world. Even knowledge doesn’t come close to the power money allows a person to yield.

Technology should make things easier on all of us, not take away a limited amount of jobs and further the economic gap between the wealthy and the poor, making only the hardest jobs that cannot easily be filled by technology what’s available to uneducated people. All people should be well-educated. All people have potential. Meaningless jobs should be filled by computers, and people should be encouraged and able pursue their dreams. Make the world a better place. Make themselves better. Make others better. And help the community.

Perhaps I am too partial to romanticizing education. I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful forces in the world; that knowledge, not money, should be the most powerful. However, true education, education of this magnitude, is not, I believe, about pushing out “job-ready” graduates with “hot skills” at the right time or moment to enter a certain market. I believe the true graduates are the ones who leave college having faced themselves, and the world around them, and are ready to enter it; that specific skills are as important as life-skills, self-confidence, and general intelligence. That these hot skills don’t in fact add up if graduates are looking at the job market to pick a career, rather than finding their career based on their innate talents and desired life, whether this means that they work in advertising, as a teacher, professor, fisherman, farmer, agriculturist, or politician. We must find our own path and therefore happiness instead of the world demanding, stealing, insisting it away from us.

So while education is a good and now an almost necessary cost in the vision of this country and our place in it, and while many things influence our futures in a numerical and calculated way – our parent’s education, our education, society’s demands, and media influences – we must insist on making our own dreams and happinesses real. ROI is not only about money gains, although it is often discussed in this matter. You are not a determined by the money you make.

Of course, we must have some kind of practical plan. We have to make it work. And following our happiness, indeed can take a lot of work. And many make their visions work by combining them with one of the strong in-demand fields such as in science, technology, education or business. If we love the outcome, then the work in the end means something. This, in my opinion, is what matters.

Why It’s Important for Massage Therapists to Choose a Specialty

When massage therapists finish school and begin working, they might not immediately think of developing their skills for a niche market – after all, massage school is just the beginning, and you learn some of your most invaluable skills on the job! While most massage therapists focus on perfecting their Swedish and deep-tissue skills before moving on to advanced modalities, it is always a good idea to continue to think about how you want to develop your massage career. This way, you can take the classes and training necessary to develop your specialty early on.

Making the Most out of Continuing Education

Throughout the nation, massage therapists must abide by a professional licensing code that requires continuing education in areas such as communicable diseases, CPR training, ethics, and general education. While many massage therapists take the minimum number of courses, or pick available courses close to home that are convenient or inexpensive, it is important to take advantage of this educational opportunity, and pick classes ahead of time that align with your specific interests.

For example, students who have considered furthering their massage career within Reiki, neuromuscular massage therapy (NMT), or medical massage should consider that these modalities require several lengthy and in-depth courses, and can take several months, or years to fully complete. And while the process toward this type of certification is indeed more time consuming than, for example, a weekend class in hot stone technique, it is a step toward a worthwhile skill that not only boosts a resume, but also brings in new clients, helps massage therapists market themselves more effectively, and lays the groundwork for a lengthy and profitable massage career.

Start by browsing different continuing education options offered at schools in your immediate area, as well as regionally. Educate yourself about the time requirements, cost, and specific details about each modality, and truly consider what it takes to become a seasoned professional in that field. This way, you can maximize your time and money on required continuing education courses.

Sports Massage, Reiki, Pregnancy Massage, and More

When you envision yourself working as a massage therapist several years down the line – where do you see yourself working? In a chiropractor’s office? For a ballet troupe, football team, or running club? Maybe in a holistic center, spa, or independent practice? Every massage therapist enters the profession for various reasons, and it is important to understand what excites and motivates you about a massage career. Some massage therapists are particularly athletic or interested in sports, and it is this type of therapist who is most often attracted to sports massage. Therapists who enter this practice often work with athletes before, during, and after sports events to prevent injuries, and to treat existing injuries.

Medical massage encompasses several techniques, and can include sports massage, craniosacral therapy, and NMT. Medical massage and its associated practices are often performed by therapists with an interest in injury treatment and prevention as a full time massage career. Other massage therapists gravitate toward energy healing, such as Reiki, which is purported to create a healing effect physically, mentally, and spiritually. Therapists who hold an interest in Reiki may also be interested in acupressure, or aromatherapy. Therapists who wish to expand their practice to accommodate pregnant clients may be interested in becoming certified in pregnancy massage, which enables massage therapists to understand and perform a medically appropriate massage for a mother-to-be.

Whatever your interest for a long-term massage career, there are continuing education training courses available to further your chosen specialty. Again, think about why you want to pursue a specific specialty, and what you think it will give back to you and your clients. Do you see yourself utilizing the specialty skills for years with your clients? If so, carefully consider with whom you will spend your time and money. Find the right program and begin another educational journey. You and your clients will benefit from your endeavors as you pursue your preferred niche in the vast world of advanced massage education.

Certification and Training

Finally, sometimes continuing education classes and experience aren’t the only thing massage therapists need to practice a specialty in the field. Check with your state licensing board to ensure you have met the minimum credit hours for a special modality. To date, there is no licensing body for Reiki, but it is required to have achieved a “Level III” status in order to promote yourself as a Reiki master in your massage career.

Likewise, pregnancy massage is not governed by an accredited body, but most continuing education providers will not issue a certification until the student has completed a minimum number of credit hours, typically supported by graded exams, practical sessions, and homework. For certification in neuromuscular therapy massage as a career, massage therapists must take continuing education courses, schedule and sit for an exam, and receive a score evidencing competency in the field. The school or instructor of an advanced massage therapy specialty should be able to explain any applicable certification requirements.

Finding a specialty is an excellent step for massage therapists in their long term career, as it not only enables them to become well educated and better able to treat clients, but exposes the therapist to a whole new field of massage, and its benefits. So if you’re considering developing a specialty, do your research, ask questions, and have fun learning about how you can further your massage career while helping your clients.