Physician on FIRE shares a scenario: Job A is a demanding, location-specific job that pays very well. Job B is fun and location-independent with highly variable pay. Which would you choose?
Let's compare two very different jobs. For simplicity's sake, we'll call one Job A and the other Job B.
As you will see, these jobs have little in common with one another, but there is a tie that binds them.
Would you rather have Job A? Or Job B? Could you have the best of both worlds with a little from column A and a little from column B?
Let's start comparing and contrasting, shall we?
Job A Versus Job B: Pay
Job A pays well. Americans working Job A earn a six-figure salary, even when working part-time.
Depending on the location and the details, Job A could pay as much as half-a-million dollars a year. Although you'll pay plenty of taxes with an income like that, you'll be able to save a lot, too, and financial independence can be reached in short order.
Job B doesn't typically pay nearly as well. Most people who have Job B do it as a hobby or a side hustle.
The pay for Job B might be zero or close to it. Some people earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars with Job B and it's not unheard of to reach six-figures. A select few have been known to earn more than a million dollars a year, but that income level is reserved for a fraction of a percent of those with Job B.
Job A Versus Job B: Benefits
With Job A, you'll likely be employed or part of a group or partnership. It's common to be offered a benefits package, which may include subsidized or provided health insurance, a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with employer match, profit sharing contributions, and more.
With Job B, you're on your own. It's typically a one-man or a one-woman show. If it grows to something more, you'll be the boss, so you're still on the hook for your own benefits package unless you have a more traditional job that provides them.
That means purchasing health care coverage, setting up your own retirement plan, and having no one to send your receipts to for reimbursement.
One bonus of Job B is that if you are making money at it, you can deduct some of those receipts as business expenses, a feature that you won't have if employed with Job A.
Job A Versus Job B: Hours
Job A, while highly paid, is demanding. You can expect to start early, around 0600, and you may not get home until your family has gone to bed.
With Job A, you can expect to work holidays and weekends on a fairly regular basis. You'll have more vacation time with Job A than with many other jobs, but you'll earn them by working 24-hour shifts on a regular basis. For every week off, you might work two 72-hour weekends.
Job B's hours, like the pay, can be highly variable. Some people spend a few hours a week doing it; others will spend a few hours a day. Some have made Job B their primary source of income, and they treat it more like a traditional 9-to-5 job.
Working Job B, you are your own boss, so no one tells you where to be, when, or for how long. Unlike Job A, there will be no work emergencies in the middle of the night. There is no defined vacation time, but you can take as much time off as you want.
Job A Versus Job B: Prestige
People you know will be well aware of your Job A, and you can expect to receive some level of respect and admiration from friends and family. They know that Job A is not something you just stumble into, and that you serve in a vital role.
Job B is a little different. People you know in real life might not realize you have Job B, and if they are aware of it, they probably won't think much of it.
Strangely, though, if you do Job B well for a while, you'll start to earn the respect and admiration of complete strangers. Whereas you'll only be helping one or a few people at a time in Job A, with Job B you can help thousands of people at once. While it may not seem prestigious, Job B has the potential to have you be seen with tremendous esteem.
Job A Versus Job B: Location
Job A must be done in credentialed facilities with high-tech, expensive equipment. You will be a team member and will be at the beck and call of those who require your services.
This means living close to one of these facilities, commuting to it often, and being available to the facility on a moment's notice at all hours of the day and night.
Job B can be done anywhere in the world. It helps to have a computer and an internet connection, at least intermittently, but one can take Job B on the road.
You could perform Job B from each of the seven continents without any particular credentials. Job A, on the other hand, requires expensive and time-consuming licensing and other credentials for each state in which you wish to work. Want to take the job overseas? It can get complicated quickly with Job A.
Job A Versus Job B: The Demands
People burn out from Job A fairly regularly. A mistake at work can have devastating consequences. Lives are on the line, and while you are part of a team, you may be the only one with a certain set of skills, and those skills will be called upon in emergency situations.
Time pressures are a routine part of the workday in Job A, as you are sometimes expected by two or three different people to be in two or three different places at once. While Job A can be rewarding, it can be quite stressful.
Job B is only as demanding as you want it to be. You may very well have the ability to change people's lives, but no one is counting on you to save theirs.
The only deadlines and time crunches are self-imposed in Job B. Like Job A, time management skills can be vitally important if you want to have time for everything else in your life, but with Job B, you are in control of how much time you spend on various aspects of the job.
Compared to Job A, Job B is a walk in the park on a sunny, 70-degree day.
My Two Jobs
As you have likely guessed, I am intimately familiar with these two jobs, and the labels A and B are anything but arbitrary.
A is for Anesthesiologist.
B is for Blogger.
I worked Job A for 13+ years. Counting residency and medical school, which were more difficult and much less lucrative, I was immersed in medicine for over twenty years.
Job B is newer to me. 2020 is my fifth year as a blogger.
While it has been difficult at times, I am proud of the work I've done as an anesthesiologist, and it has been a great career to have.
Now I find myself in an interesting place. Having saved and invested a substantial amount of that physician income, the income has become optional.
Furthermore, I have this Job B, and blogging is much more family friendly. It's also more fun, less stressful, and it gives me the opportunity to use the creative part of my brain that doesn't come into play too much in Job A.
I am grateful to have had this Job A, but I was also thankful to have the opportunity to transition to Job B. I now consider myself retired not retired. I no longer practice medicine, but I'm not exactly fully retired, either.
Do you have multiple jobs? Have you left one for another? How did you decide which one to keep?