When Should You Leave A High Paying Job?

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at www.BudgetBlonde.com

One of the main reasons that people are hesitant to change careers or leave their job is the paycheck, and first let me say, that definitely makes sense.

We all work hard to get paid so that we can do the things we enjoy. That’s the circle of life, or at least, that’s the circle of a professional life. So, the more you earn, technically the more you can save, invest, and spend.

The problem comes in when you’re in a high paying job that you actually don’t like. Dare I say, some of us might hate your jobs, and your high paycheck is the reason you’re paralyzed, stuck, and afraid to take a leap.

I’m not going to be the writer that encourages everyone to quit their careers and backpack around the world. I understand the pressure of having a family to take care of and the fear of the unknown. So, while not everyone will be able to leave a job they don’t like, there are a few instances where I think it should be considered. Here they are below:


Working Too Many Hours

If you’re in a job you don’t like, and you are constantly working, this would definitely be grounds for changing to a different career. You’re staying in your job because of your high paycheck, but you don’t even get to enjoy it! What’s the fun in that?

Remember, we only get one life. Even if you get paid less, imagine how amazing it will feel to have a few evenings off or a Saturday when you don’t have to field endless e-mails. Sometimes, our happiness is worth a smaller paycheck. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to finally take your wife on that vacation you promised her or take your high school senior to tour colleges?


The Pros Don’t Outweigh The Cons

There are pros and cons to every job. Everyone should be able to agree on that.

Some people have great benefits while others have incredible flexibility. Maybe you get a high paycheck, but you have to work 80 hours a week. Maybe you get endless airline miles from your business trips, but that means less time with your family.

Whenever you are deciding to stay or leave your job, make a list of pros and cons. Add to it over the period of a few days. Think about it, share it with those close to you, and let that help you in your decision.

Perhaps you’ll find that you have way too many pros on your list to leave your job, but the other more exciting side of the coin is that you just might realize there are other possibilities to pursue.


There’s No Room for Improvement

Another valid reason to leave a high paying job is if there is no room for improvement. Sure, you’ve been promised a raise or an even higher paying job, but do you think it’s going to happen?

There are all sorts of reasons why you might not move up in a company. Politics is the biggest reason. Perhaps the CEO’s child is set to take over the company and so it’s highly unlikely you will run it one day. Or, maybe your boss loves you but their boss has disliked you ever since you accidentally took their parking spot on day one.

I know that some of these reasons might not seem substantial, but it’s important to take a hard look at your current position and the people you work with and be honest with yourself about your chances for promotion.


Your Spouse is Over It

Many people wiser than I am have talked about the importance of family and how no job is worth their disappointment. If your spouse is putting pressure on your to quit your high paying job, it’s important to listen to their concerns.

Your spouse knows you better than anyone else, and they can see changes and differences in attitude better than others.

While you may be unable to quit a job you don’t like because you need your paycheck to pay your bills, having an honest conversation about your career path with your spouse is a good first step to exploring possibilities for the future.


It’s Up to You

Ultimately, it’s important to know that this decision is really up to you. You’re the one that has to wake up every day, get dressed, and head to work. You’re the one that has to pay your bills, and you’re the one who has to interact with your coworkers every day.

Quitting a job is no easy feat, especially if you are several years into your career. However, as evidenced in this post, there are a few reasons why you should consider it even if you are pulling in a high paycheck.

How about you all? Have you ever quit a high paying job? What are some other reasons people should consider switching careers?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy of http://farm1.staticflickr.com/144/321697588_e6f0478fbf_z.jpg?zz=1

About the Author Jacob A Irwin

Hi folks! My name is Jacob. I am the owner and operator of My Personal Finance Journey. I started this blog in January of 2010 and have enjoyed the journey ever since. Since finishing up graduate school in Virginia in 2014, I have been working in biopharmaceutical development in Colorado. You can read more about me and this site here​. Please contact me if you have any questions!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment:

Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa says June 24, 2013

In my field we often refer to the “golden handcuffs” when talking about high paying jobs with terrible hours and no fulfillment. Golden handcuffs are definitely self imposed, but its hard to find the motivation to leave a high paying position.

Money Beagle says June 24, 2013

A lot of time people don’t realize that there are other opportunities available to them if they only look. Many people get so into a routine, plus if you’re making a lot, it’s easy to believe that you couldn’t make that somewhere else, but you might be surprised now that the job market has strengthened.

    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says June 24, 2013

    I agree that people get stuck in a routine or a rut. Sometimes it just takes one big effort to get out of it, and a bit of luck/ingenuity.

Rob @FinancialSprout says June 24, 2013

There is more job shuffling now than any time in history. My grandpa used to get on my dad’s case because he would switch jobs for a better opportunity, while my grandpa worked at the mills for 40 years. The thing is that in today’s world nobody can work at one job for 40 years, so knowing when to move on is essential. My dad is a truck driver, and when he is out on the road he makes decent money, but we never see him. A few times he has taken a smaller paycheck to be with his family, and I think that is very respectable, since your family should always come first no matter what.

    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says June 24, 2013

    I agree that family comes first. My grandpa and my father in law all worked at the same job for years and years and years. You’re right; it’s definitely not the norm anymore.

Your Daily Finance. says June 24, 2013

I left a high paying jobs for many of the reasons listed above. Highest priority was family first and being able to actually enjoy being a husband and father outside just the weekends. Then it came to I could move up or learn anything were I was. I realized it was time for me to go out and start my own company.

Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen says June 25, 2013

I’ve unfortunately haven’t landed a high paying job yet…but even low pay I’ve had to work quite hard at companies that I finally moved on from. I’ve definitely learned that work shouldn’t overtake your life no matter what though.

Sue says June 25, 2013

This makes a lot of sense “We all work hard to get paid so that we can do the things we enjoy. ” How can we do this if we’re only working for the high paycheck? Yes we need to earn. But remember why you need to earn. Isn’t it to enjoy the perks of life? But how can you do it if you’re not happy with the daily things that you do? Think a again. 🙂

KC @ genxfinance says June 25, 2013

You might be enjoying the high salary at first but sooner, you’ll realize that money is not the answer to everything. If oyu are no longer happy, when you are just dragging yourself to work everyday, and when you dread each morning that you will face your boss again, then it’s no longer healthy to stay. Family and other reasons can be a huge factor too.

Add Your Reply

Take Control of Your Finances!

No One Cares About Your Money As Much As You Do. Isn't It Finally Time To Put Yourself In The Driver's Seat?

Join 1000+ Subscribers and Get Exclusive Content.