I've had 25 or so jobs in my life. The highest paying of these only paid about $12.00 an hour. Now, after looking around, I'm settling on a job that pays almost 3 times that amount. A couple of nice things about my job is that really, there has been no recession for speech therapists.
I spent about a week looking anywhere within about 35 miles of the University of Utah, so that Islena could keep going to school there, and found nothing, other than one or two possible jobs about a 30-45 minute drive from the University, that paid $35,000 per year. We decided to start looking out of state, and other jobs in Ohio, Washington, and Nevada paid between $70,000 and $83,000 per year. Not only do they pay more than double, but they are competing, and raising pay offers, to employ me, whereas in Utah I would have been in competition with many of my classmates for some of the more coveted positions.
A couple of things that I learned when dealing with these hiring agencies... Benefits packages can cost vastly different amounts. At one place, I would have been paying $1,100 per month. At University Hospital, which posted positions after I knew too much about the wage differences, the benefits would be about $200 per month. Another not so surprising fact is that sign-on bonuses don't arrive when you sign-on. You get them after so many days of employment. Most employers were up front about this. Also, with different settings of employment and employers there are different ways that payment is made. Annual salary, clocking in and out at a given site, or pay by billable hours. This one is scary because if you're doing home visits, and each is an hour, you don't get paid for the driving time, the documentation and planning time, or for missed appointments.
Also, at least in our case, things came up regarding location that I hadn't expected. Islena felt like she would be depressed in the rain and clouds of western Washington. I felt like I would be depressed in the desert sun and culture of Las Vegas. I don't want to raise 3 sons in Sin City, even if it pays better than anywhere else. I don't like gambling, drinking, drugs, prostitution, etc. I know there are good people there, and great family things to do, but I feel like the immoral stereotype culture there would inevitably be a part of how my kids grow up.
We will be going to Carson City, NV. It's a smaller city, with 56,000 people. But the setting seems decent (half inpatient rehabilitation, and half skilled nursing facility), and the climate seems nice, and the pay is good. It's the capital of Nevada, about 45 minutes South of Reno. My only experience with Reno is the TV show Reno 911... but people say it really isn't that bad. Carson City is in the part of Nevada next to where California's two straight lines on its Eastern side meet. It's 20 minutes from lake Tahoe. A few hours from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco. The housing market there is very good right now (sorry victims of the housing crash!) I think it's a good fit.
My biggest lesson from job hunting is to be in a field with high demand. I sent some resumes out, and I've had 5-10 recruiters calling me with places all over the country, in lots of settings, and often for very good pay. I don't have to be or feel desperate to find something. I will always have a job if I want one. I can pretty much find a job anywhere in the country, or in Great Britain, Australia, or New Zealand. For those still deciding what to be when they grow up, I'm telling you, find something that you love... that's in high demand!