Dream Job

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a paramedic.  Almost every year in my school books I said I wanted to be a firefighter, EMT, or paramedic. The evolution was easy.  Once I realized that I was afraid of things that were on fire, paramedic was it. 

There is little I am more passionate about than a good education.  "Think education is expensive? Try ignorance."  As those elitist say.

I went to college, followed the path I was 'supposed to', and no one ever talked about money.  How much money will you make in your career of choice?  Everyone knows the careers that would technically make a lot of money, and it's all but guaranteed that without a college education you will have no hope (so the guidance counselors would have you believe).  Equally passionate about education, my parents saved and scrimped to send me to college.  Other paramedic students have long term loans, crippling debt, or second mortgages.  No matter how they arrived at being a medic, it was hard fought.

Like you do in college, we discussed the ideals of our profession.  Typical collegiate musings of perfect world scenarios.  We're going to save the world one person at a time and love it every day.  How to make the best better, to be the most professional, to do the best job possible.  Maybe we weren't that idealistic, but you get the idea, and I loved it.  Making and keeping EMS a profession is also one of my passions.  But I digress.  In all this talk, in all the raised standards of eight point grading scales, quality assurance, and over-the-top prerequisites, no one ever mentioned how much money we could make.  I guess it's tacky.  But the general idea of college is to get this wonderful education, and the rewards will be 100 fold. 

That may be true, but not as a paramedic.  We were set up for management, education, and administrative jobs, under the awesome guise of saving lives. 

I am having a constant crisis because I think I need to decide what to do with my life.  But my problem has never been what to do when I grow up.  I have always known.  I have my dream job, and the only problem is that it is letting me down financially. 
What I'm doing now brings me so much satisfaction, but does not bring me enough money to live comfortably.  No paramedic should have to sit and wonder what to do with their lives because we are already members of an honorable profession.  I followed my dream, and somehow, despite being a tangible, useful dream, I find myself struggling.

I've always said that no one gets into this business for the money, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't expect to make a fair living wage, and I guess I've arrived at my real problem.  That is that I don't know what to do about this.  Unionize, picket, starvation protest, none of it will get action.

I am sad to realize that in 10 years, I'm not really going to make anymore money than I do now.  I will not have a fancy pension, and I cannot do this career until I am 65.  Or 60, or 55, for that matter.  Every paramedic I know has more than one job.  So what is my contingency plan?  Why do I even need one?

Four years of education and preparation for real life, and eight years later I don't have enough money to donate to the alumni association.  Something isn't right here.

I'm sorry, rant over and searching for suggestions.  And not suggestions like 'go to med school or go to nursing school'.  If I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse, I would be a doctor or a nurse.  I was led to believe that this was a worthwhile career, (which it is and and nothing compares to it).  But I feel fooled into thinking I could live off of it.  Disillusioned into thinking that I could work just one job, just 40 hours a week, and buy a car, pay a mortgage, and raise a family. 


the one you knew would say SOMETHING !! said...

Well. . . I wish I knew what to tell you. I admire your choices so far and I know that you are great at what you do. This is a problem that needs more input than I can give. Share this with your fellow UMBC graduates and see if you can get any dialogue going now that all of you have been in the big world for awhile. You know you have your family behind you, no matter what and we will help however we can.

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