Are dream jobs worth it?

Are dream jobs worth it?
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

There are pretty much two extremes for the advice people give on choosing a job. On one end is the hustle-culture version, which says you should get a degree in a high-paying field and then get the highest-paying job you can find. On the other end is the ‘follow your dreams’ type, which says to do what you love and everything will fall into place.

Well, for some people, doing what they love doesn’t work out, partly because the protections in place to make sure people get paid for doing what they love are inadequate.

Take Andrew, a pastry chef who spent six years working his way through the kitchen ranks until he got his dream job as a confectioner in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Scotland. He said that, for a 65-hour or more work week, he would get paid around US$22,300 a year. “For that little money, you just think, what am I doing with my life? Like, am I crazy?”

So, he left his job to get a degree in software development. This isn’t an unheard-of story, though. Plenty of dream jobs, particularly in fields like culinary or musical arts, are notorious for paying poorly – even for people who have spent thousands of hours mastering a skill. And some of those people get to that point and realize it just isn’t worth it.

Does that mean following your dreams is a dead idea? Not at all. But some say it’s worth considering how you want your life to look rather than focusing only on the job you want.

“Most college students will be able to tell you what their dream job is, but I’m willing to bet they also have a dream idea or even just a dream,” said Rushabh Shah, an opinion columnist at The Michigan Daily. “Let’s inspire students to dream of a life that they want to live, not just a company that they can work for.”