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One big "duh, what an idiot" moment and mulling major career move

February 20th, 2010 at 09:08 am

I got up this morning looking forward to attending a half day medical conference about a half hour away.

It's the only "community" where I have an automatic, honorary membership simply because I have a chronic illness. It's a place where I know I'll be welcomed unconditionally with smiles and friendship, although I haven't had much chance to do this over the years since I've always been working.

So I drove down to the Marriott and asked at the desk where the conference was. She seemed puzzled, and spent a few minutes with someone on the phone going over the list of conferences before we both realized my conference was March 20, not February 20.

Duh!!!

Oh, well. I stopped at the bank and picked up some groceries on the way home.

I think I'll vacuum out my car in a while since the weather's so nice.

I was thinking yesterday of studying for the AFC designation. That's Accredited Financial Counselor. I've always had an interest in personal finance and, if nothing else, it would look nice to see those three letters, AFC, following my signature, and on my resume. It should enhance my employability, although it's entirely possible my next writing job will NOT be with a financial services company. I'm not a one trick pony, but this is the field where I have the most experience.

I might even look into a career change into financial counseling with some small firm in my area, who knows. That would be weird to even think about, because i've felt all my life that my only employable skill is writing.

If nothing else, it would give me a good answer to give should some future prospective employer ask what I did with all that time I had while I was unemployed. To be able to say I earned my AFC accreditation would be impressive.

It's a designation i hadn't really been familiar with until reading Fern's interview of a Denver-based financial counselor. She seemed like she had a very interesting job. She speaks to employees at companies about debt management a lot.

I guess the idea was percolating in my head for a while without my really thinking about it consciously.

I began thinking about doing it more after getting a phone call yesterday from someone who was laid off at the same time I was, same company. He found a job.

After I hung up with him, I was thinking, why keep waiting around for some employer to "rescue" me from unemployment? Who knows if or when that might happen? I'm tired of depending on others to determine my fate or the next direction my career will take. And try as I might, I couldn't really visualize in my mind the type of company I would want to work for, partly because i dislike office politics and the whole office culture.

That was an exercise the leader of my job networking group had suggested, identifying on paper which companies in my area I'd like to work for. You're supposed to research it, obviously, but I couldn't even say what types of companies really appealed to me. That's an unsettling thought, to realize that you have no idea where the next job might be coming from, and being in a wholly reactionary mode.

I was thinking I might enjoy financial counseling, because while I don't think I'm a strong presence in a group setting, I do much better when I'm working with someone one-on-one. I think I would enjoy taking a personal interest in my clients and advising them on financial matters.

I briefly looked into what's involved with becoming a Certified Financial Planner, but that, apparently, is a 2-day marathon (10-hour exam) with a pass rate of only 49%. It's a little intimidating, and really, I have no interest in advising what investments to purchase; my interest is in looking more holistically and broadly at a client's financial lifestyle.

For these reasons, the AFC designation would seem a more doable venture. I believe the website of the association that administers the designation said it would cost between $1,000 and $2,000, not including the annual license fee and continuing education credits you'd need to earn every 2 years to keep your license active.

Initially, it didn't appear that I would qualify to sit for the exam because one of the requirements is that you have at least 2,000 hours of work under your belt as a financial counselor or educator.

I emailed the group for clarification, and she told me they had recently broadened eligibility requirements so that I could, indeed, sit for the exam because i have worked as a personal finance writer, and that would be considered "educational." So that's great!

I need to spend more time, hopefully today, to see what the coursework would be like and if I felt i could manage it. (Math, you see, is not my strong point, though I can muddle through the basics.)

Now, granted, if i got a job with a financial services firm, they often will pay for your tuition. At one company I worked for, they also paid me bonuses when I studied for and passed the Series 6 and 63 exams. But studying for these exams while working f/t is a little tough. I'd much rather do it now while i have all this free time, even if I have to pay for it myself.

If i got a job before i took the exam, well, I'd just have to manage both. It's a self-study course (they mail you the course materials after you apply and pay upfront) and when you decide you're ready to take the exam, you tell the association what college you want to take the test at and they arrange a professor/proctor to administer the exam to you on their premises. There is a time frame in which you have to take the exam, but they give you plenty of time to do so. I'd opt not to stretch it out but to draw up a study schedule so I could do it in a fairly condensed period of time.

I'm actually very excited about this. It IS a lot of money, so i need to spend some time studying the coursework and other details before committing myself to apply.

Any thoughts?

4 Responses to “One big "duh, what an idiot" moment and mulling major career move”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I think its a great idea for you!! I'm also interested in something like this. I even came upon a link for military spouses, where the military pays for the exam, ect. Please keep us updated with the particulars as you go along. Any thoughts if working at mutual fund customer service for 3 years would count? I also wonder how far back that 2000 hours is considered relevant. I haven't worked for 9 years!!

  2. monkeymama Says:

    If it were me, before I spent the money, I would talk to other AFCs about job prospects, etc. Try to find a mentor, perhaps.

    I see too many people trying to break into my field without doing ANY homework, about pay, education, job, prospects, etc. Plus, it doesn't help that my field tends to be very age-ist. (i.e. no idea what entry level pay is, and getting more education than necessary - experience beats education by a mile in my field, etc.)

    Just, do your homework!

  3. patientsaver Says:

    I really appreciate your support, Creditcardfree.

    MM, that's a good point; after spending some time on the association website, I plan to talk with the woman who Fern interviewed about job prospects.

    I'm very conscious of the need to do a bit of research first, because 25 years ago, I entered law school without really knowing what i would do with that kind of education, and i ended up only finishing 1 year. I think my hazy picture of what i'd do with a law degree contributed to my lack of commitment to complete law school, and i wasted all that money.

  4. Ima saver Says:

    I think it is a great idea and good luck to you.

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