Should I Choose the Dream Job or the Better-Paying Job?

by Michael Shen

Dream Job or Not

At a certain point in our lives, we will face one of the hardest decisions we can ever make—the choice of following our dream job or going for a high-paying career. Whether you are a fresh college graduate or a tenured professional who holds years of solid career expertise, you will ponder upon what weighs more to you. It’s not an easy decision to make; after all, your choice will define who you will be in the coming years.

But the question is, how much are you willing to risk for the other? It’s a complex decision that demands your utmost commitment. Not only will you be wasting your time if you are not wholeheartedly devoted, but your career may also be compromised if you are not careful enough.

They say, “follow your dreams,” but how far? For some who regard monetary benefits as the biggest factor, this comes off as a statement of the privileged. While for others whose passion fuels their drive to work, this is just a career mantra.

The pay will always take a huge chunk of the variables you need to weigh in when deciding which route to take. But does everything revolve around that? To draw up the potential things you have to consider, let’s first have a look at the pros and cons of each choice.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Your Dream Job Over a Better-Paying Job 

Not having to worry about anything but their dream job could be anyone’s wish as they start to work or shift from their previous tedious jobs. Who will not want to work when it’s their passion, right? Here’s a rundown of the ups and downs on choosing to pursue your dream job: 


  1. Your career won’t seem like work because you love what you do.
  2. It makes you more motivated to do your job.
  3. You won’t easily get drained.
  4. It brings you a sense of fulfillment.
  5. You are happy because of what you do.


  1. It might not be as satisfying as other jobs in terms of wages and benefits.
  2. The career growth may be stagnant, depending on the nature of the niche.
  3. You might get overworked because you are devoted to it.
  4. In some instances, you’ll have a hard time maintaining a good work-life balance as you are deeply involved with work. 

Pros and Cons of Choosing a High-Paying Job Over Your Dream Job

On the other hand, why do people opt to pursue a career that is not aligned with their dreams? Yes, the passion can be developed, but aside from the monetary perks, what’s in it for them? Here are the pros and cons of choosing a better-paying job over the dream job:


  1. Your career yields more money.
  2. You can provide for your personal or family needs with ease.
  3. For some, there is a higher chance of career growth.
  4. You are happy because of salary satisfaction.
  5. It offers prestige and connections.


  1. The workload seems more difficult for you.
  2. Your passion may not be aligned with what you do.
  3. You do not like what you do.
  4. You get stressed more easily.
  5. There is a sense of lack of fulfillment.
  6. You are not as motivated as when you have your dream job. 

How Do You Decide?

Securing that dream job while having good pay is possible but not at all times—it’s the contrary in actuality. So you really need to think everything through before taking any route. 

1) Ask Yourself First

On choosing which matters most—needs or wants—you will have to ask some questions to yourself first. This way, you align yourself with the steps you are going to take as well as the risks you are willing to face as you trudge towards your career goals.

  • What do you want? This is a test of how you weigh in your top priorities above anything else. Knowing what you really want matters as this is the first step to seeing what kind of future you want to have. If you are not ready to compromise a high standard of living in the future, then you might want to rethink if you are going to pursue your dream job. Again, think about how much you want it.
  • What do you need? Well, it’s not just about wants, right? You have to consider your needs as well. You have your obligations and they add up in the course of time. You have your personal, family, and health needs to consider, so this creates a huge impact on the need to get a high-paying job.
  • How are you going to get there? You need to map out your direction to get what you want. If your goals gravitate towards a luxurious lifestyle, then you got to work hard and aim for a job that yields more money. You should also be able to identify how feasible it is because setting a too unrealistic goal might just end up making you feel defeated and unfulfilled.
  • Is it worth it? Choosing one will throw you perils you must be ready to face. You will be exerting countless efforts, spending lots of time, and compromising some personal wants, so think how much you are willing to do just to fully satisfy yourself.
  • Is your dream job a high-paying one? Not every dream job equates to a low-paying job; most top-paying professions are coveted by many. There are just internal factors that prevent them from reaching that dream.
  • What are your choices? On choosing the “one,” enumerate the other choices you have that won’t compromise the other. You need a high-paying job that aligns with your goals? You can consider doing both at the same time by doing double-jobs. Or, if all else fails, just ask yourself, “Is this the only option I have?” Because if you do, I’m sure you can work your way up from there. 

2) Evaluate How Your Answers Align with Your Capacity

Consolidate your thoughts and makeup on which route will work best for you. You have your answers, right? Those are the factors you have been waiting to decide. Align them now to your capacity to attain them because, at the end of the day, you should be able to meet them.

3) Seek Out Advice

Asking for guidance from older folks will drastically help you decide—after all, they may have gone through the same dilemma as well. Firsthand experiences from people who have made the wrong/right decision, learned from their mistakes, and shifted out to/from their dream jobs will help you envision your own career struggles and triumphs. So do not hesitate to seek help from people who have already done it for they will be more than willing to guide you. 

4) Make Up Your Mind and Accept the Repercussions

Lastly, make the big choice! Regardless of the choice you make, there will be consequences of choosing that particular route, so just accept them wholeheartedly. If you decide to go after your dream job, that’s great! I’m sure you’ll be awesome!  And if you decide to choose a better-paying job, that’s totally fine as well! As long as you know your capacity and priorities in life, you don’t have to feel like such a sellout for choosing the latter. Most people do it; there’s nothing wrong! 

You see, everything comes down to the priorities you have right now and in the future. And if you ever make mistakes, that’s okay as long as you learn from them. Remember, your career is a work in progress and you must be ready to do whatever it takes just to get to the other end. The decision is yours—embrace it, for it is the first step to defining your future.

Michael Shen is the founder and CEO of SkillSuccess, an online education marketplace of over 1,200 online video courses for professional and personal development.

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