Should I Switch to a Lower-Paying Job for Better Prospects?

should i take a lower paying job
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Would you take on a new job for a lower salary?

It might sound crazy at first, but taking on a lower-paying job a serious consideration for some people because of factors more important than money. No, I’m not talking about changing jobs for better work-life balance or to escape horrible bosses. Believe it or not, there are instances where taking on a lower-salary job lead to better career prospects. In other cases, a lower-paying job might free up valuable time to spend on caregiving responsibilities.

Today, we take a look at 2 scenarios that tackle a tough career question: Should I switch to a lower-paying job for better prospects?


Should I switch to a lower-paying job that gives me better career advancement prospects?

I saw this question posed on Quora:

What are your opinions on accepting a lower salary for a job that would possibly open up more opportunities in the future (likely within a year, assuming I don’t stay for long considering the low salary)?

No one plans to switch jobs and earn less than before. In general, we want to bring home minimally the same salary, and ideally more than we did in our previous job. But sometimes, taking a pay cut might be the trade-off to open up more opportunities.

The catch is that these may come with a greater workload too, so you’re essentially taking home less pay for doing more work. All in the hopes of this one day, some day, giving you the chance to go even further than where you are now in your career. This doesn’t just apply to people who do a career pivot and join a new industry—perhaps you’re joining a start-up you believe in, or are switching to do more personally meaningful work that aligns with your values and beliefs.


Questions to ask yourself

In these scenarios, you have to be aware of what you’re giving up and what you’re risking. Here are some questions I would ask myself:

  1. Can I manage with a lower salary for the next few months? Or even years?
  2. Do I have or plan to have other sources of income?
  3. What are my current and future financial obligations I can foresee, such as mortgage payments?
  4. What is my long-term career goal? Where do I hope to be?
  5. How long might it take to reach my goal based on where I am now in my career?
  6. What are my long-term life goals? Am I planning for kids and need more income? Or am I planning to migrate to a country with a lower cost of living in the future?


The 2 most important considerations

It’s always difficult when you are passionate about a particular role, but its salary falls short of your expectations and needs. Ultimately, you need to make sure that the decisions you make can achieve 2 things:

  1. The direction you take is in line with your long-term career aspirations. Sometimes when we stay true to pursuing our goals, we don’t have much of a choice on how to get there. Aspiring lawyers can’t start practising until they take the bar. Reef enthusiasts can’t see coral reefs up close until they get their diving licence. It can be a long journey to get there with plenty of sacrifices on your part, but those are the right sacrifices to be made if you’re sure that this is ultimately what you want to do.
  2. The total income you earn can sustain your lifestyle and outstanding financial obligations. For example, if the pay cut you’re taking means you won’t be able to afford your monthly mortgage payments, you could find other sources of income. On the other hand, if the pay cut doesn’t affect your ability to afford your daily needs and monthly bills, it may be a pay cut worth taking. Don’t forget to also factor in large future financial obligations, such as buying a car or starting a family.

As long as you’ve carefully considered the 2 points above and know what you’re getting into, switching to a lower-paying job for better career advancement prospects could be a move worth making.

ALSO READShould I Leave a Comfortable Job for a Job With Growth?

Should I switch to a lower-paying job because of my caregiving responsibilities?

Moving from a higher-paying job to a lower-paying one is already contentious because of the reduction in pay. But in the case of this Redditor, there’s also another factor to complicate the situation—caregiving. Their father has been diagnosed with dementia and they need to care for him.

reddit should i change to a lower paying job as a caregiver
Image: Reddit


Consider getting professional help

If you’re a caregiver, rather than leaving your current job to free up time, I would suggest keeping it and getting professional help for your loved one to relieve you of some responsibilities. For example, the original poster could use the money earned to send their father to a dementia day care centre or hire a professional caregiver for him.

At some point, caring for a dementia patient might feel like a full-time job, and there’s no way you can safely leave your job to do that without an income. Even if you try to juggle your work and caregiving duties, you might suffer from burnout. And don’t forget that a new job will come with unknowns. A lower-paying job may not mean a better work-life balance or more free time for you to care for a loved one.


Prepare for higher medical expenses

Additionally, you should be prepared for the bills to start stacking up if you have an unwell parent like the Redditor above. It’s risky to lower your income when your financial obligations remain the same—or may even increase due to medical bills. You’re going to need the capital to manage these costs, especially with a progressive disease like dementia:

reddit dementia daycare advice for caregivers
Image: Reddit


Request flexible work arrangements

One thing you could do in your current role is try arranging for more flexible work arrangements. As one Redditor mentioned, it will be mandatory for employers to have a formal process in place to request flexible work arrangements come Dec 2024. While employers can reject requests, they need to give reasonable, business-related reasons for doing so in line with the new guidelines that will take effect then. You can also always reach out to TAFEP for assistance with workplace matters.

career help tafep
Image: Reddit


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vanessa-nah-profile-pictureAbout the author

Vanessa Nah is a personal finance content writer who pens articles on the ins and outs of personal loans, the T&Cs of credit cards, and the ups and downs of alternative investments. She’s a researcher at heart and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to breaking down complex finance concepts and making them easy to understand for the everyday Singaporean. When Vanessa’s not debunking finance myths, you’ll find her attending dance classes, fingerpicking a guitar, or (most impawtently) fulfilling her life mission to make her one-eyed cat the most spoiled and loved kitty in the world.