Consider the alternatives to these careers, which may not live up to their perceptions.Do you dream of a glamorous life as a doctor? Maybe you envision a great career as a teacher. While these are both admirable occupations to hold, it's probably in your best interest to do your homework before you commit to a costly education in either field.
That's because these are just two of the careers that may not be as great as you think. Long hours, poor job prospects, and less than stellar pay are just a few reasons they might be overrated.
The good news? There are alternative careers that could be more promising and allow you to work in the field of your dreams.
Read on to learn about five overrated careers and the alternatives that could be the answer to your professional quest.
Overrated Career #1:
Median Annual Salary*: $53,400
Elementary School Teacher
Influencing a new generation of youngsters and enjoying extended summer and Christmas holidays are a couple of the reasons people think they'll enjoy a career in teaching. But in reality, the profession is far less enticing.
Why It's Not Worth It: The low salary may counteract the perks."For a teacher to make it as a single person without a secondary income, they must be paid at the top of the pyramid," says Michael Provitera, career expert and author of the book "Mastering Self-Motivation: Preparing Yourself for Personal Excellence."
Median Annual Salary: $87,760
A career as a principal could be a better option to explore if you want more control, responsibility, and better pay.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, principals usually support teachers and other school staff, manage the school's budget and finances, and ensure school facilities are safe for students and staff.
Why It's A Better Choice: As Mike Echols, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for Bellevue University, points out, principals not only make more money, they have greater career potential than teachers.
"A principal is also a management leadership role where a teacher is typically an individual contributor," says Echols. "The principal is on a career path for considerably greater growth potential for ever greater responsibility and scope of authority."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Education Leadership Program.
Education Options: To pursue a career as a principal, you'll be required by most schools to have a master's degree in education administration or educational leadership, according to the Department of Labor.
Overrated Career #2:
Median Annual Salary: $187,199+
Prestige, respect in the community, and the opportunity to help others is what makes a career as a doctor an attractive option for many. "Doctors often are looked upon as the best career," says Provitera.
Why It's Not Worth It: Despite its allure, being a doctor has many negatives. Some of these, according to Echols, could include the requirement of an extended professional education, residency performed under long hours, and a physically-demanding work schedule.
Plus, new health care laws are changing the way the profession functions and could affect earnings as well.
Median Annual Salary: $65,470
Instead of the crippling student debt and grueling hours required for a career as a doctor, why not consider pursuing a career as a registered nurse?
The U.S. Department of Labor says that RNs coordinate patient care, provide advice to patients and their family members, and educate patients about various health conditions.
Why It's A Better Choice: "The demand for registered nurses is becoming highly competitive. Nurses can run their own business, become professors, or simply do what they love," says Provitera.
Plus, Echols adds that "a registered nurse becomes a practicing professional years before a doctor and graduates with considerably lower student debt in general."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.
Education Options: RNs could take one of three different educational paths: a diploma from an approved nursing program, an associate's degree in nursing, or a bachelor's degree in nursing, according to the Department of Labor. To practice as an RN, students are also required to pass a national licensing exam.
Overrated Career #3:
Median Annual Salary: $42,480
Movies and television may have made a career as a chef something glamorous. But long hours and extreme working conditions could make it far from that.
Why It's Not Worth It: "Balancing the individual creative motivation of the successful chef with the sometimes stressful role of managing a kitchen crew can leave the chef drained and exhausted after a full day of fulfilling the whims and desires of restaurant patrons," Echols says. Provitera also points out that the competition to become a chef is tough.
Median Annual Salary: $47,960
Food Service Manager
A career as a food service manager still gets you in the kitchen, but without all the heat. The U.S. Department of Labor says that food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of restaurants and ensure that customers are satisfied with their food and the overall experience.
Why It's A Better Choice: Echols says that restaurant managers, especially those that work for large chains like Cracker Barrel or Olive Garden, have a much more cut and dried set of tasks than a chef might, so it is easier to get things done. "These managers have a process and procedures to follow rather than having to constantly recreate their business future," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Restaurant Management Program.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says that while most of these professionals have less than a bachelor's degree, postsecondary education is increasingly preferred for restaurant manager positions. Many restaurant chains and food service management companies may recruit management trainees from college food service management or hospitality programs, the Department notes.
Overrated Career #4:
Median Annual Salary: $61,370
Love the idea of creating cartoons? While it sounds like a great gig, getting a job in the industry might not be all fun and games.
Why It's Not Worth It: Competition is tough and the jobs are few, according to our experts. "Animators are often coined to create wonderful characters, but becoming a Walt Disney is a hard nut to crack," says Provitera. Plus, the pay isn't that great either, he notes.
Median Annual Salary: $99,000
A career as a software developer can still allow you to use your creativity. But combining it with cutting-edge technology can not only make you more desirable, it might also lead to a better income.
Software developers are "the creative minds behind computer programs," according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why It's A Better Choice: "Animation is a profession with a diminishing future, [whereas] software development is increasingly being used to create animated visual productions," says Echols. "Software developments are happening rapidly, creating ever new opportunities for innovative and energetic professionals."
Provitera agrees. "A software developer can command a high salary, love what they do, and still stay abreast of the forefront of technology," says Provitera.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Education Options: These professionals usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related subject, according to the Department of Labor. Math degrees are also considered to be acceptable, it notes.
Overrated Career #5:
Median Annual Salary: $71,720
Have you always been fascinated by the pace and excitement of Wall Street? That's understandable, but you might not want to jump into this career because of the way it looks on the outside.
Why It's Not Worth It: Technological advances and the Internet are reducing the demand for stockbrokers, according to Echols.
He says that stockbrokers have historically been transactional in activity, since they have the responsibility of buying and selling securities. But "[t]hose transaction opportunities are being eliminated by automated financial service providers," says Echols. "The profession is disappearing."
Median Annual Salary: $109,740
Echols says that financial managers, on the other hand, have more options and are increasingly in demand.
The U.S. Department of Labor says that financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization and might direct investment activities and produce financial reports.
Why It's A Better Choice: "Financial managers have a broad set of responsibilities to be continuously informed of developments in various markets," Echols says. "Good financial managers add value to their clients and have a very positive outlook for career opportunity."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Education Options: Often, the minimum education needed to pursue a career as a financial manager is a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, according to the Department of Labor, though today many employers now look for managers with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, or economics.