Teaching is rarely a profession of choice for talented coders, largely because of the huge difference in remuneration. It is not uncommon to see freshers making Rs20-30 lakh (around $31,000 to $46,000) per annum at tech companies and startups in India. Compare that to the average Rs3-5 lakh a tech university teacher earns annually.
It’s often easier, more lucrative to focus on the affluent consumers, but consider “value”.
Example — trading techniques. This kinda teaching doesn’t really have much social value, except .. risk reduction? Zero-sum game … you help some win, so other investors must lose.
Example — coach some brainy kids get into gifted classes. This is gaming the competitive “system”. Actually the poor kids need your help more.
Example — coach table tennis kids win competitions. Arguably you help improve the table tennis game, but how much social value is there? Mostly you are helping those few individual kids
Many other teaching subjects do have social value
- languages, writing
- tech, math, science
- health care
- financial literacy
The ERE author enjoys learning practical skills as a hobby. In fact, his learning programs could be more than a hobby, since he has no full time job.
However, I am very different human being from him. I feel very few such learning programs can the mainstay during my semi- or full retirement. Why?
- I need to work towards some level of commitment, and a daily routine.
- I need to make some contribution and be paid for it
- I prefer interaction with other people
- valid social value
- keeps my mind active…. mental gymnastics
- Not so close to my heart
Singapore is a small country
- so I have a chance to make a small difference
- it’s more fragile, needs more care and feeding
After my prime years, when I can only work half the time, I may be able to work towards some meaningful cause, but not completely voluntary work. If there’s no income, I will have low motivation to continue.
With a salary, I feel more commitment, more responsibility.
In our later years, my wife and I also have a non-trivial financial need. I don’t want to depend on my kids or welfare to support ourselves. I may have to continue my drive for more income.
Holy grail — Long-term sustainable (hopefully intrinsic) motivation + modest level of expertise, with reliable (albeit low) income and (a bit of) social value.
I need a purpose, a goal to work towards… Without it, the absence of a … job would create a void. Depression, lack of purpose, loss of energy. None of the below is easily achievable or easily available. Whichever I choose, need to work towards it.
- I have proven aptitude in theoretical domains ..
- Teach Chinese/English, with emphasis on writing and vocab
- Two-way translation service, but I prefer interactions.
- Teach programming — threading, data struct, algo
- If not outdated, Teach statistical data analysis?
- If not outdated, Teach enterprise app design? Too competitive. They may not take in an old programmer.
- Teach financial math? After 70?
- ▼this domain is too competitive and entry barrier too high. A lot of effort to cross it but demand is low.
- ▼Limited practical value. more specialized, but growing demand.
- ▼I feel I need interaction with people.
- Chinese medicine?
- help my children take care of their families
Tim (ICE), a friend in his 50’s gave 3 points
- earn a salary to help kids pay student loan
- travel — costs a lot
Grandpa became too old to work full time. Similarly, at age 75 I may not be able to work 8 hours a day. Some job functions are more suitable for that age…
I guess there’s a spectrum of “insight accumulation” — from app developer to tuning, to data science/analysis to academic research and teaching. The older I get (consider age 70), the more I should consider a move towards the research end of the spectrum…
My master’s degree from a reputable university is a distinct advantage. Without it, this career choice would be less viable. (Perhaps more importantly) It also helps that my degree is in a “hard” subject. A PhD may not give me more choices.
For virtually all of these domains, U.S. has advantages over Singapore. Less “difficult/unlikely” in U.S.
In theory I could choose an in-demand research domain within comp science, math, investment and asset pricing … a topic I believe in, but in reality entry barrier could be too high, and market depth poor
Perhaps my MSFM and c++ investment don’t bear fruit for many years, but become instrumental when I execute a bold career switch.
See also post on top 5 expertise I could teach.
In the US job market, people often ask “What do you specialize in?”. I think most non-managers in this industry, esp. the successful ones, do specialize in something. Whether you like it or not, you are often perceived that way.
Clearly, many professionals are jack of many trades (or a jack of few trades), and don’t have any real expertise, depth or insight. Depending on your view, this may not be a problem for them.
Like property evaluation, I have a list of criteria:
- theoretical complexity — so most peers can’t master it. I get lower stress. For example, Threading, statistics, pricing models, algorithms, data science? …
- market depth (entry barrier) — eg: quant is too hard to get into and very few jobs in the mid-range or low-end
- opportunities in research/teaching, for my later years. Relatively few choices.
- aptitude — (aka personal advantage) easier to add value and receive appreciation and recognition.
- Something I believe in or care about, such as personal investment, or health. Self-knowledge: If it has commercial value I will care about it.
- ———– Rest are secondary —————-
- pathway to self-employment
- (obvious) accumulation and low churn — Look at grandpa
- premium on job market — low priority in my later career
- Something related to early childhood education
Some specific domains (See the spreadsheet for more details):
- concurrency in java/c++
- raw market data processing in c++
- risk mgmt + derivative valuation
I had blogged about this before, such as the blogger-pripri post on “many long term career options”
Hongzhi asked what if you can’t go to the US.
* Some Singapore companies simply keep their older staff since they still can do the job, and the cost of layoff is too high.
* Support and maintenance tech roles
* Some kind of managerial role ? I guess I am mediocre but could possibly do it, but i feel hands-on work is easier and safer.
* Teach in a Poly or private school ? possibly not my strength
* Run some small business such as Kindergarten with wife