These past few months, as our world has been turned completely upside down by the pandemic, most of us have experienced a handful of emotions — grief, anxiety and anger, to name a few. Our lives as we knew them — particularly our careers — have been altered for the indefinite future.
As the nation’s leading student loan coaching company, we have the benefit of working with a wide variety of individuals with higher education degrees. Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to survey our audience to see how everyone was faring in their respective professions.
The survey polled more than 3,000 readers and asked a very simple question: Do you regret your career choice because of what’s happened during the pandemic?
Overall, we found these results:
- 14% said they wished they had chosen a different career because of the pandemic.
- 86% said they were happy with their career decision, despite the pandemic.
It was reassuring to see that a much larger percentage of respondents reported they do not regret their career decision because of the pandemic, particularly because, well, most of us are frustrated right now.
Our survey is representative of high-debt professionals, the majority of whom have graduate degrees. Additionally, this list consists of professions that received at least 30 responses.
Top Professions with the Least Regret Because of Pandemic
Here’s the top 10 jobs with least career regret during the pandemic
10. IT professional
Percent of IT professionals who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
When you think about it, the need for IT professionals only increases when employees are encouraged to work from home — software updates, system downloads, computer glitches, you name it. Plus, you have a bunch of older professionals learning to navigate Zoom and other video platforms they’ve never used before. The pandemic has widely increased and diversified our technology needs, which means IT folks are keeping busy. Here’s what some of the survey respondents had to say:
“I enjoy my job and it lets me work from home about as well as I did when I was in.”
“I’m currently working in Healthcare IT as an MSP for private practices. We are seeing a hit to income at our clinics, however compared to other businesses in the economy right now, we are somewhat insulated.”
Percent of veterinarians who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
Veterinarians have faced little loss in income during the pandemic because the demand for vet services has exploded. One of the more heartwarming effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the dramatic increase in pet adoptions. A new pet means new vet bills, made easier to pay for with the government stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits Americans have been granted these past few months.
“Not affected terribly by covid. It’s more mental health rather than student loans in terms of second guessing my career choice.”
“I feel great with my profession. I am a food animal veterinarian and I am happy that I am able to help feed the world. I had a student loan consult that reduced my monthly student payment, a healthy wife, a very curious 10 month old child. Life. Is. Good. (Minus Covid 19).”
8. Nurse practitioner
Percent of nurse practitioners who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
As has been the case for many people in the medical industry, nurse practitioners have fared well when it comes to rates of job and income loss during the pandemic. In addition to fighting COVID-19, nurse practitioners are filling the need for diagnosing and prescribing medications for other health concerns. The option to conduct telehealth appointments with patients has also been a perk for these health professionals.
“Being a Nurse Practitioner is a great career choice for me personally because I work inpatient and I have been able to maintain my job during Covid. I encourage people to choose this as their career as it is a very stable career.”
“This is what I love doing. It is also very secure. Children need health care — always. I would have worked as an RN while in graduate school if I were to do it all again.”
7. Public health professional
Percent of public health professionals who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
In terms of finding meaning in the work you do, public health professionals are at the top (as are most physicians and other medical workers).
We’re in the middle of fighting a global pandemic, which, from a career standpoint is exactly what these people signed up to do. If anything, this pandemic has given public health professionals a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their careers, so it’s no surprise they have no career regret.
“I love working in public health disaster preparedness and though I am very overworked, stressed and trying to keep my sanity during COVID I still love what I do. I get to work with a wide variety of healthcare facilities from hospitals and nursing homes to small clinics and dialysis centers; helping them prepare and respond to COVID and other disasters is always rewarding and challenging.”
“Ultimately I believe in the work I do and even with a large amount of debt I can’t change that so why worry.”
Percent of physicians who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
For obvious reasons, very few physicians lost their jobs completely during the pandemic so far (only 1% even at the worst point). With the rise of telehealth appointments, some physicians are even able to see clients from the safety of their own home.
The physicians who responded to our survey dealt with income loss, being less busy than normal or being insanely busy, but they all had one thing in common: They all realize that their work matters enormously right now.
“Can’t see myself doing anything else. Love my job despite the hard days.”
“I love being a doctor. The pandemic just reinforces our need. However, it does highlight that we need to do more for medical professionals, such as having adequate supplies.”
Percent of psychologists who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 7%.
Many experts believe that the pandemic will take a significant mental health toll on people that will be even more pronounced than the physical toll. Isolation and fear is causing widespread psychological trauma, making psychologists more needed than ever.
An added benefit of this profession is that because the job entails talk therapy, most psychologists have the ability to conduct appointments virtually from home. Psychologists who do report anxiety or stress are those facing situations where they will need to return to work in some physical capacity, such as school psychologists. Sharing that anxiety are teachers, who turned out to be the No. 1 profession to report career regret during the pandemic in our survey (26%).
Here’s what some of the psychologist respondents had to say about their roles:
“I feel secure in my job. Especially now that mental health is becoming more valued.”
“I have been getting a steady paycheck even with COVID and I think my income is high enough that the loans are worth it. I don’t look forward to returning to work (in public schools) because I fear a COVID exposure, but I don’t know many people who have been able to stay at home during COVID as long as I have and still get paid (schools closed in the spring so I worked from home and then had summer break). I feel fortunate in that regard, but I know my risk is about to skyrocket once I am back in a crowded building.”
4. Physician assistant
Percent of physician assistants who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 6%.
As a whole, physician assistants did not experience major job loss because of the pandemic. And in a survey we conducted in April, 70% of physician assistants reported no change in income because of the pandemic, whereas 25% reported income falling. PAs seem to have fared well when it comes to financial security and have been taken care of more than other mid-level medical professionals, like nurses. In the same study conducted in April, 64% of nurses reported no change in income, and 33% experienced a fall in income. Here’s what some of the PA respondents said about their profession:
“I was furloughed from my primary care job, and was able to find a new job within 2 months of the news (I had to relocate, but that is because I was working in a rural area, hoping for NHSC LRP, didn’t end up happening). Anyway, I love that PA’s are so versatile, I went from primary care to bariatric surgery! I look forward to practicing in a number of different fields during my career.”
“I feel like this is the best career choice I made because PAs are always needed, especially during the current pandemic. I also feel that this is the service I am supposed to provide in my community and society at-large.”
3. Financial planner or advisor
Percent of financial planners or advisors who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 3%.
Job loss, furloughs, income drops, delayed retirement … financial advisors have stepped in to guide people during this troublesome financial time. Plus, as the stock market rebounded in April and May, so did financial advisors’ income.
“Financial planning helps people, can be done remotely, and is virus-free.”
“We’ve been fortunate to be a driving force behind our clients remaining calm throughout the storm, and through helping them abstain from making emotion-based decisions with their finances.”
2. Speech language pathologist
Percent of speech language pathologists who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 0%.
Speech language pathology has among the highest growth outlooks according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The profession is projected to grow 27% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
As the large baby boomer population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions, such as strokes or dementia, that can cause speech or language impairments. And similar to psychologists, speech language pathologists can conduct their sessions remotely.
“I find my career very rewarding. There is no better feeling than helping someone communicate their wants and needs.”
“As a healthcare worker I’m ‘essential’ and worked throughout the quarantine. My salary allows me to live comfortably.”
Percent of engineers who wish they’d chosen a different career because of the pandemic: 0%.
Engineers enjoy multiple career benefits, including being able to choose from a variety of fields, the ability to work remotely and financial security. Those working in biotech and medical engineering might be faring better than engineers in hard-hit industries like construction and aerospace, but as of now, engineers are feeling good.
“I chose an industry (biopharmaceuticals) that has been incredibly resilient and even thriving in the pandemic, for better or for worse. I did not think of this when choosing a career but have been grateful for the stability and growth opportunities during this time. Actually, my income has gone up 50% since COVID started.”
“Civil Engineering has been a steady career for me. However, we might not feel the effects of COVID until next year when construction funding starts being allocated to support other areas like health and safety. I’m more scared about the long-term effects that COVID may cause to the construction & transportation industries.”
Could this be a career outlook glimpse into the future?
While reviewing the results of this survey, I couldn’t help but think: Is what we’re experiencing a glimpse into the future in terms of career outlooks? Among the respondents who reported no career regret during the pandemic, we found there were three main factors they credited with their job satisfaction:
- The ability to work remotely
- High income security
- A sense of purpose during the pandemic
Those who have the ability to work remotely have fared far better in the pandemic. That’s definitely something to consider — especially for current or soon-to-be college students deciding what to study. Financial security and having a sense of fulfillment are equally important.