Monthly Archives: January 2017

About Degree Requirements

While we find the context and the content offensive, we appreciate the opportunity to defend our amazing community of licensed veterinary technicians and clear up any misconceptions about the profession.

The correction on Jan. 18, 2017, indicating veterinary technologists require a bachelor’s degree doesn’t seem to address the bulk of the issues created by your article to begin with.

We understand that the definition of “college degree” seems to change depending on the context, but the individuals who have attained an associate degree are college graduates. What is gained in readership by undermining the efforts of millions of people? The title of the slide show could have just as easily been “25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require an Advanced Degree” or “25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree.”

In New York state and 12 other states, veterinary technicians are professionally licensed by their state licensing body. This represents more than 25 percent of states; that’s not insignificant. In New York, these professionals require a degree, passage of a national board exam (VTNE) and approval for licensure by the NYS Department of Education. These are the exact same requirements for nurses, but I noticed they were not included in your slide show.

There is no indication in your slide or the overview that this is a licensed profession in many states and a credentialed profession in others. It’s also worth noting the information you have received regarding the profession was provided by an organization that has created quite a bit of controversy as of late.

While it would be impossible to detail all the essential functions of the licensed veterinary technician, we can assure you that the description provided does the profession no justice. We don’t just handle lab work and assist with surgeries. To help illustrate, we’ve included a chart that outlines some of the many contributions of veterinary technicians.

NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF VETERINARY TECHNICIANS

We also invite you to speak to one of our amazing licensed veterinary technicians if you’re interested in knowing more about the profession. Your article was correct in some points, this is a growing field and a profession that every technician should be proud of. Our contributions are not insignificant nor are our achievements.

On behalf of the 4,819 licensed veterinary technicians in New York state, thank you for taking the time to understand that what you summarized as a job is our passion, our livelihood and a significant contribution to the welfare of all animals.

Regards,

Alexandra Poole
Executive Director, New York State Association of Veterinary Technicians (NYSAVT)

Dear Ms. Poole,

Thank you for your letter regarding “25 Best Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree,” which highlights U.S. News’ Best Jobs of 2017 that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

We understand that veterinary technicians work hard to gain entrance into their field, clearing educational hurdles and assessments. This list is not meant as an insult to veterinary technicians or to downplay their professionalism. Instead, it aims to show job-seekers that a great job doesn’t require a traditional four-year college degree. Like all the jobs included on this list, veterinary technicians rank high when it comes to median salary, employment rate, work-life balance, projected job growth and the other metrics we consider in these rankings.

For the purposes of this piece, we narrowed our field to jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree as the typical level for entry to the field. In the introductory slide, we state: “While some of these jobs require some formal post-secondary training, such as an associate degree or professional certification, none require a college degree.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal resource from which we cull our data, veterinary technicians need a two-year associate degree, credentialing exam and other certification, depending on the state in which they work. This falls squarely within our definition of not needing a college degree.

Registered nurses were not included on our list because the typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree. While it’s possible to get an entry level RN position with an associates or certificate, the BSN degree is becoming the new standard of entry for nursing. We aim to guide our readers to be able to successfully enter the field and want to give the right advice to do so.

We are limited in how many words we can include on each slide of this slideshow. The slide on veterinary technicians, however, does include multiple links to our veterinary technician summary page, which includes an interview with a veterinary technician, for readers who want to learn more about the details of the job.

Thank you for your letter.

Best,
Susannah Snider
Personal Finance Editor

Tips Smart Money Moves to Make Before Switching Jobs

With unemployment remaining far below its peak in 2010, Americans are feeling confident in the economy and many are looking for new jobs. But before you make the big leap, you should take a closer look at your finances in order to gain the most from switching jobs. Consider these essential money moves before embarking on a new role.

1. Examine your budget. If your new job comes with a bigger paycheck, congrats on the big raise. But before you uncork the champagne, take a moment to devise a good use for that extra money. If you haven’t revamped your budget recently, now is the ideal time to review your expenses. If you have debt or scant emergency savings, experts generally recommend using the new money for faster debt servicing or increased savings.

Speaking of savings, use the time before your job switch to rethink any automatic investment or savings plans, perhaps increasing your contributions to reflect your higher earnings. The same applies for any debt payments. Consider whether you can accelerate repayment of credit cards or student loans, for example. By automating higher investment contributions or debt payments, you can ensure that the extra funds are being put to good use.

2. Keep an eye on the benefits picture. A higher salary may be alluring, but if it doesn’t come with benefits equal to or better than your current position’s offerings, you may actually put yourself at an overall financial disadvantage. Consider the bigger picture and compare the perks – everything from lower health insurance deductibles to a higher 401(k) match, bonuses or subsidized child care adds up. If you’re forgoing valuable benefits for a salary increase, the total package may not equal a net gain.

Instead, focus on negotiating a total compensation package that exceeds your current package – not merely your current earnings. If you haven’t switched jobs since the recession, now is the time to research the market value of your skills and experience to ensure that you’re being fairly compensated in your new job negotiations. You might be surprised to learn that you’re now worth more than you expected.

3. Use it or lose it. Schedule your job transition in such a way that you don’t forfeit benefits offered by your current employer. Incentive earnings, such as commissions and bonus payouts, often occur at specified dates or intervals, such as at year-end or quarterly. Make sure you understand your company’s incentive payment dates and relevant policies, so that you don’t miss any big paychecks coming your way. You don’t want to quit in November and miss a big bonus in December, for example.

Other benefits, such as flexible spending accounts, are offered on a “use it or lose it” basis, so be sure to use any funds remaining in your account. Funds don’t rollover year-to-year, and unused money is forfeited. (Health savings accounts balances, by contrast, are yours to keep – even when changing jobs.) Also key: understanding your company’s unused vacation policy. Depending on your company (or state), your unused paid time off may be paid out upon your departure. If it’s not, consider using your remaining vacation time before resigning, since most employers are sometimes loath to honor a vacation request from an employee who’s about to depart.

4. Secure health insurance. Not all employers offer insurance to new employees on day one, so it’s critical to ensure health insurance coverage (such as COBRA or short-term health insurance) during the transition. Can you afford to cover your own health insurance costs during the 30-day to 90-day waiting period some employers impose on new hires? If not, start saving now to fund transitional insurance, or consider asking your new employer for a sign-on bonus to help cover the cost. And if neither is an option, try to make the most of your current insurance by stocking up on prescriptions and scheduling any critical preventive care before your job departure.

5. Manage 401(k)s and investments. Remembering to rollover your 401(k) is smart, and it has the added benefit of giving you an opportunity to rethink your new retirement account contributions. Assess what worked (and what didn’t) in your previous plan. Can you increase your contributions? Select lower-cost funds or investment options? Diversify your portfolio or rebalance more effectively this time around?

But what if your new employer’s retirement plan features unattractive options, such as high-cost funds or limited investment choices? Consider rolling over your existing funds into a self-directed IRA, or if you’ve met the account balance threshold, leaving your money in your previous employer’s plan.

6. Consider company stock and options. If you’re fortunate enough to have received company stock or options, it’s important to understand what’s rightfully yours at the time of departure. Contact your human resources department to clarify your vesting schedule and consider cashing out at an opportune time. Many companies require that former employees exercise stock options within 90 days of departure, so prepare accordingly. Another key note: You’ll receive a tax bill for this compensation, so plan for this cost in advance.

Switching jobs can be an exciting time, full of new opportunity and increased pay. With a little preparation, you can also ensure a smooth financial transition that will benefit your pocketbook in more ways than one.

Hold On to Your Job

There’s been a lot written about artificial intelligence, and many fear their jobs will disappear as a result of driverless cars or self-checkout lanes in stores. The truth is, for decades your work has been replaced by automation in factories and by personal computers, but you found a way to adapt. Adaptation is the key.

There are jobs that are less likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence and skills you can develop to help you keep your job.

What jobs are at risk of being replaced due to AI?

The jobs disappearing today include bank tellers, receptionists and customer service representatives. Jobs like accounting clerks, legal assistants, even surgeons are at risk in the near future. Any job that follows predictable steps can be automated. For example, restaurants have begun implementing stations where you place your own order, eliminating the need for workers. In some instances, business processes change to accommodate automation. Where one person may have been responsible for many tasks, the tasks that are easily automated are taken over by robots.

A better question is, what jobs or functions can’t be automated? The short answer is, any job that requires creativity or where human-to-human interaction is vital. A robot might have difficulty addressing the pros and cons or consequences of medical procedures. They lack empathy or the ability to interpret the patient’s emotions. Creating an advertising campaign requires a higher level of creativity and understanding of human psychological traits, which would be difficult for robots to replicate. Motivating a team or group to implement procedural changes isn’t something a robot could manage, either.

The real risk isn’t losing your job, but losing certain functions of your job that are easily automated. This will require you to adapt and possibly update your skills for next-level responsibilities.

Develop skills that make you irreplaceable.

Your job security now and into the future requires that you out-think the robots. Robots are great at repetitive tasks, searching data, or any task that doesn’t require adapting, creative thinking or making decisions.

You need a basic understanding of technology to outsmart robots. Make sure you stay on top of the latest tools of the trade. Even a basic understanding of coding or any specific STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skill enhances your ability to understand the root cause of a problem. At this time, only a human can creatively develop solutions to address interpersonal or operational solutions.

And don’t discount the soft skills. Soft skills range from interpersonal communication to complex problem-solving with dozens of skills in between. Learn how to negotiate, speak in public, resolve conflict, build cohesive teams or think like a designer. These are things robots just can’t do.

Developing emotional intelligence is another way to hold on to your job. Emotional intelligence includes your self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social effectiveness. Honing skills within these areas not only improves your performance, you also enhance skills artificial intelligence can’t compete with. Your ability to motivate, influence and assess people makes you a valuable asset to any team.

Ready, set, learn.

 According to Accenture’s Creating the Future Workforce study, 90 percent of the U.S. workforce is optimistic about technology and 80 percent have a positive attitude about the use of automation. So it comes as no surprise that 86 percent of the U.S. workers surveyed said they would invest in training during their free time. The next logical question is where to find relevant, affordable training to invest in?

Check professional associations for webinars available to members. There are MOOCs (massive open online courses) by top educational institutions and training portals like LinkedIn’s Lynda or Udemy.com, which host thousands of courses. Ask around and see if anyone can recommend local, in-person classes. And don’t forget to see what training your employer offers. Attending a college or university to acquire a degree may not be the wisest investment. Enhancing your soft skills shouldn’t take two to four years to complete. You may want to investigate shorter-term leadership programs or classes that include experiential learning. One of the best ways to learn soft skills is through practice. Identifying a mentor with strengths in areas you are looking to improve allows you to practice and get immediate feedback.

Practice flexibility.

You crave stability, but you also value flexibility. One thing is certain, the nature of jobs will continue to morph. If you keep an open mind and are receptive to change, it will be easier for you to survive in the tumultuous world of work. You also must realize that you will not stay in one job forever. Even if you hold the same job title, the type of work you do and the role will look very different after several years. If you choose to stay with one company, you will hold several different roles, learning new skills in each. As you consider new opportunities, look for companies that celebrate flexible work offerings, encourage a collaborative work culture and offer resources for your professional development. Companies that offer these benefits are more likely to help you stay a step ahead of the robots. At the end of the day, it is up to you to manage your performance, skill development and happiness at work.

The Professional Food Choices at Business Events

This situation happens all the time to every professional, even if they are not in a client-facing role: You have to meet a colleague, your boss or a prospective customer for a meal. On the surface, it may not seem like a big deal. But we all know how awkward it can be to eat a messy meal like a burger in front of someone, where it’s almost impossible to look graceful. And how tough it is at a networking event to eat finger food and balance a drink in your other hand while trying to look professional and smooth networking with someone.

There are other situations as well. Sometimes you’re asked to recommend a dish, or you don’t know whether it’s appropriate to order an alcoholic beverage or not. How do you know what to order?

Whether you realize it or not, your meal choices can say a lot about you. And while you do want to respect your diet, whether you are vegetarian or gluten-free or love to eat meat, you can make choices that will make a good impression and avoid potentially embarrassing situations, or you can make bad ones. For example, continually taking clients to the same unimpressive, unclean bar and ordering wings, fried cheese sticks and nachos for business lunches can make a bad impression. If that type of food is typical for your group of friends, that’s fine! And if it’s common in your industry, that’s OK too. But for some professional arenas, that type of fare sends the wrong message.

Here are a few potential problems you could run into and how you can avoid them to make wise choices related to food in a business setting in your industry and in specific situations.

The appetizer. A typical appetizer at a casual restaurant is chicken wings, and most of us love them. The problem is that they are messy, especially if you have to handle any paperwork or want to show a client a portfolio. If your fingers are full of sauce, you have limited yourself a lot. Try boneless wings, and use your fork and knife. If that isn’t an option, save the wings for a Friday night out with your friends. Choose something that will keep your face and fingers clean and be easy to eat. If you’re attending a networking event, don’t go in starving so you can have your hands free, if needed. Have a substantial meal or snack in advance and either only have a drink, or choose the foods that are easier to eat gracefully at the event and skip the rest.

The main course. With the main course, you have a lot of different options, but you want to make sure to present yourself as an experienced business professional. Whatever you decide to order, take small bites and focus on the conversation. Again, try to avoid something with a lot of sauce that could possibly stain your clothes or the papers out on the table. If you feel like you would have to use your napkin as a bib, don’t order that dish. If you are at an Italian place and they have great pasta, try smaller pastas, such as ravioli or penne, as opposed to spaghetti. You will have more control over the dish and avoid sauce splattering. If you can’t handle a business meal gracefully, a potential client may think that you are unable to handle their business.

Drinks. If you are out to lunch, avoid hard liquor, unless there is something particular that your client loves and you know them well enough to order something like that with them. Err on the side of being conservative, however. You want to avoid seeming like a lush in the middle of the day. Stick to something light and refreshing that won’t cloud your thinking. Make sure that it will pair nicely with your meal and your client’s meal. If you aren’t certain, check out the menu of the restaurant online before going, or call in advance to ask what they would recommend. Unless the client has a very specific taste, they will generally expect you to take the lead with suggesting a bottle of wine or a specific drink. If you decide on beer, don’t drink it out of the bottle. Pour it into a glass. Again, give the impression that you are a professional.

 Dessert. Although you would probably share a dessert with your significant other or your friends, this obviously isn’t the time for sharing. If you know the colleague you are eating with well, and they offer or suggest sharing, that’s fine. If you don’t know them well, it’s better to allow them to take the lead. And if you don’t want dessert but your client does, at least order a coffee or tea so you are enjoying something together. They will feel more comfortable if you do so.

Special diets. If you are a vegetarian or have certain dietary restrictions, it is important to check the menu of where you are going to eat beforehand. This will allow you to know your options beforehand so you won’t lose a lot of time quizzing the waiter on their menu. It may also be useful to find out if the person you’re taking to lunch has any dietary restrictions of their own.