Moonlighting for Medical Trainees to Cover Med School Debt

A doctor’s residency is one of the most critical times for gaining experience and building a career. The more patients you see, the more procedures you do, the more proficient at practicing medicine you’ll become. And yet, many residents are overwhelmed by more than just a demanding schedule—most are struggling under a mountain of debt.

After four years of pre-med and four years of med school, most residents are overwhelmed by their student loan payments. In fact, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median debt balance for graduating physicians—while in decline—was still $192,000 in 2017 .

Since residents only make an average of $54,000 per year, many have to put off their loan repayments until after their residency. Some may even be forced to borrow more to make ends meet. The AAMC estimates that a graduate with around $190,000 in debt could have monthly student loan payments between $1,500 and $2,800 after their residency.

Even despite an already-heavy workload, the pressure of student loan payments can motivate many residents to look for additional sources of income to reduce their debt burden. Some of the most potentially lucrative gigs young doctors can take on are medical moonlighting jobs. In this article, we’ll take a look at moonlighting for medical trainees. We’ll cover how medical moonlighting jobs work, some of the restrictions involved—and the pros and cons.

How Does Medical Moonlighting Work?

Medical moonlighting essentially refers to taking on extra medical work as an independent physician. Residents take on moonlighting jobs to supplement their salaries, pay down student loan debt, and to get additional experience and practice beyond their responsibilities in their residency program.

Most medical moonlighting jobs fall under the category of what’s called “locum tenens” jobs, where you substitute for other medical professionals that are out on leave or help provide additional coverage at hospitals that are temporarily short-staffed. Often, you are able to pick and choose shifts that work with your schedule.

While moonlighting might seem like the perfect solution to financial stress, the policies and restrictions on resident moonlighting can be tricky to navigate. While residents who are licensed physicians are legally allowed to take on jobs providing medical care, residency programs tend to have their own policies on whether residents can take on extra work.

Some programs prohibit moonlighting entirely, while others might limit moonlighting to residents further along in the program. Many programs will require you to get prior permission from a supervisor before you start moonlighting and you may have to formally state your reasons and goals for moonlighting.

Some residency programs allow you to take moonlighting shifts at the hospital facility where you are currently working, but you may be restricted from taking work outside of your hospital network.

In addition to getting approval from your program, you will also want to ensure that your extra work still keeps your total work hours under the Accreditation Committee for Graduate Medical Education’s limits. For safety reasons and to keep residents from being overworked, the ACGME caps all medical trainees’ combined education and work hours at 80 per week. It also requires that one day in seven is free of work and education responsibilities, and that no resident can work more than 24 hours in a row.

If you are interested in medical moonlighting, check out your own program’s moonlighting policy to see what types of opportunities you’re allowed to take on.

What Are the Benefits of Resident Moonlighting Jobs?

Taking on a few moonlighting shifts per month can add up to substantial extra income—especially on a resident’s salary. While the rate can vary depending on the job, most medical moonlighting jobs come with a high hourly rate that can make the extra hours very worth it. Some residents are even able to double their salary by doing so.

Even though the extra cash tends to be the main motivation behind moonlighting, there are other pros as well. For instance, you might be able to get valuable experience that you don’t typically get in your residency program or you may get much more practice with certain skills or procedures.

The extra hours in another area of the hospital—or in another hospital nearby—can give you insight into how other units operate. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to work with many more professionals in the field, expanding your network and potentially your future career opportunities.

What Are the Drawbacks of Moonlighting?

The main drawback to moonlighting is the lost time. As a resident, you’re already working long hours on a grueling schedule while also trying to hone your skills in your chosen specialty. On top of your current workload, even an extra shift here and there can mean you lose out on time with friends and family—or precious sleep.

Taking on too much work can lead to mistakes and high stress levels. If you’re earning extra cash now but the quality of your work in your residency is compromised, moonlighting might not be worth it for you. As a resident, your first job is to learn, practice your skills, and build a foundation for your career. It can be a bit of a balancing act.

An additional caution related to moonlighting relates to medical malpractice. You will want to make sure that each moonlighting job you take on offers quality malpractice coverage. Working through a trusted moonlighting agency that covers its workers appropriately can help ensure that you’re covered.

Other Solutions for Paying Down Med School Debt

For some residents, moonlighting won’t be an option. Their program might not allow it, or the demands on their time are too great already. There are other student loan repayment options for medical residents to keep in mind. For residents who are struggling to make their payments, refinancing medical school loans might be a good solution.

When you refinance your student loans, you are essentially paying off your current loans with a new loan that has a new interest rate and new terms. There are a few benefits to refinancing your loans:

Potentially lower interest rate: Depending on your financial profile, you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you are currently paying on your loans. With a lower rate, you might pay less in interest each month.

Potentially lower monthly payment: In addition to possibly getting a lower interest rate, you may also be able to get a new payment plan that has a lower monthly payment. This could help your cash flow from month to month (but this typically means you extend your term).

Streamline your repayment: When you refinance, you’ll only have one simple loan payment instead of multiple payments. This can make it much easier to make your payment each month (but it could increase the amount you pay overall).

There are some potential drawbacks to refinancing that are worth considering, too. Federal student loans have several repayment benefits such as deferment and forbearance that you would have to give up if you refinanced. Federal loans also have income-based repayment programs and public service loan forgiveness programs that you would no longer be eligible for. However for those who don’t foresee needing those benefits, refinancing your loans may help you get through your repayment faster—and with less stress.

Ready to explore your refinancing options? Visit SoFi and get a free rate quote in minutes.

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Getting Your Home Office Setup Off the Ground

An increasing number of workers in the United States are telecommuting, ranging from those who are self-employed entrepreneurs to those employed by companies that permit, endorse, or even require telecommuting.

Telecommuting advantages are numerous. Remote workers don’t have a long commute to the office (no commute at all, actually), which allows them to get to work quickly and easily. When they arrive, they won’t get distracted by water cooler gossip, and they can work with the sniffles without infecting anyone else. Because they don’t need to drive to work, they use less gas, which helps the environment and is a money saver.

This arrangement can work well across generations. Millennials have been called the driving force behind telecommuting, but it’s an ideal arrangement for older workers who need more flexibility in their schedules but aren’t yet ready to retire.

Overall, remote workers can focus on the job at hand in a quiet space, set up in a way that allows them to be as productive as possible.

Simple Home Office Room Ideas

Here’s the beauty of telecommuting: home office organization can be arranged according to your needs and preferences. While your coworkers have to deal with the noisy plight of open-office floor plans, you have the flexibility to organize your home workspace in a way that suits you.

Start by choosing the best room in your home for your office. Options range from transforming a spare bedroom to using a section of the basement—some even construct a separate outbuilding. What about an attic remodel to create private office space that’s separate from the rest of your house? You can even add your own office bathroom.

After you’ve decided where you’ll put your office, determine the big-picture layout. You’ll want to include a desk, for sure. How about a couch? A physical board where you can post calendars and documents? Built-in cabinets? If you will regularly (or even occasionally) have clients come to your home office, where will they sit? What will make them feel comfortable?

Strategically determine how and where to place lighting. “Poor lighting,” notes an article in The Spruce , “can reduce your energy, dampen morale, produce eyestrain and headaches, and ultimately impair your ability to work effectively.” This isn’t an area where it makes sense to skimp, so ensure you’re getting enough light in a way that doesn’t produce glare. The article notes how natural light adds unique benefits. How would adding extra windows—or even a skylight—transform your home office?

Heating and cooling is crucial, because you need to be comfortable to work at your best. And again, if you will be seeing clients there, even sporadically, appropriate heating and cooling is doubly important.

Since you’re going to be spending a good portion of your day in your office, you’ll want to make it look attractive. Should you wallpaper? Or paint and add eye-catching borders? Install plush carpeting or hardwood flooring? Add hardwood cabinets that are functional and beautiful? What pictures would add just the right finishing touches?

Making Your Home Office Comfortable

Ergonomic design can help to prevent stress and strain, and this includes how and where you put your computer, printer, keyboard, mouse and any other equipment you’ll have around your office and on your desk. The Mayo Clinic offers ergonomic office room ideas, including ensuring there is clearance room for your knees beneath your desk. If the desk is too low and you can’t adjust its height, put sturdy blocks beneath the desk legs. Too high? Raise your chair. You can even pad any hard edges on your desk.

The Mayo Clinic also advises readers to keep your mouse within easy reach, on the same surface as your keyboard. Adjust mouse sensitivity so only a light touch is needed. Don’t forget to find the perfect desk chair. Make sure the chair you select offers the support you might need, feels comfortable, and comes with a decent warranty.

Cost of a New Home Office Setup

How much will your new office cost? It depends on a few factors, including the square footage of the space, whether you’ll need to add a new wall to create dedicated office space, whether your wiring is sufficient for the added lighting and equipment, whether your heating and cooling system in your home is sufficient, and so forth.

An article on offers some general guidance on what you might expect to pay. Here are a few of their 2018 pricing estimates:

•  New wall and accompanying insulation: $1,500
•  Single room rewiring cost: $1,400
•  Flooring:
      •  $2 to $5 per square foot for carpeting
      •  $3 to $18 per square foot for hardwood flooring
•  Skylight: $2,500
•  New fireplace: $,3000 points out how the “success of modern home offices, especially in high-tech industries, depends on your electronic devices.” And, really, how many jobs today don’t rely to some degree on electronic devices? Very few.

In fact, one of the technologies that makes telecommuting possible is videoconferencing. So a fast and effective computer network is typically at the heart of today’s home offices. shares that the national average for installing this network in a home office is $370.

Installing new phone jacks and associated wiring costs, on average: $164. This site also points out the value of having built-in bookshelves to give your home office a touch of sophistication. For that, figure a potential cost of about $2,293 .

Understanding the Home Office Tax Write Off

First and foremost, you’ll want to talk to your accountant before taking advantage of any home office deductions. In advance of meeting with your accountant, you can find some information about home office write offs at , including possible ways you might be eligible to deduct a portion of your mortgage payment or rent for some renovations, along with other home-related expenses.

MileIQ explains that your home office needs to be a dedicated workspace—separate from your bedroom and living space—and used exclusively for business purposes to potentially qualify for a home office tax write off.

If you’re interested in deducting home office expenses, it’s important that you keep detailed records, including how much mortgage (or rent) you pay for your home office. (If you do rent, you may want to have a copy of your lease handy when you go see your accountant.)

Also, it’s probably a good idea to keep proof of any property tax amounts you’ve paid, along with your utility payment costs, relevant insurance payments, and any other expenses that may play a role in your home office deductions.

And you can always go to the source and see what the IRS has to say about home office deductions for the current tax year.

Funding Your Home Office Setup

If you don’t have savings to invest in a setup right away, a personal loan can be a great way to fund home renovations for an office space. If one qualifies, personal loans can be used to renovate and create a new office in your home.

If you qualify for a low interest personal loan, it could be a much more attractive option than using high-interest credit cards to fund your home office setup (or continuing to pay bills and manage your finances from your couch).

Plus, when you take out a personal loan, your home is not used as collateral—unlike a home equity line of credit. Because a personal loan is not a lien on your home, you also can get the funds in a lump sum and pay your contractors as various aspects of your home renovation are completed.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be enjoying the comforts of your home office. A personal loan from can help fund many home renovations—and it takes two minutes to find your rate!

The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi does not render tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and we recommend that you consult with a qualified tax advisor for your specific needs.

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How to Make Your Sabbatical Leave Actually Happen

Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a sabbatical leave? Whether or not you love your job, taking a break from work can be an amazing opportunity to refresh and spend some time reflecting on your career trajectory. This time can also be used to travel to faraway places and work on new skills.

Asking for and executing a sabbatical takes a lot planning (and a little faith in the unknown). If you are planning to stay with your company, “having the talk” in such a way that won’t jeopardize your standing at work usually requires a strategy. Most workplaces do not yet have a standardized program for sabbatical leave, so expect to be navigating new territory with them.

Proper planning also helps assure that you’ll have enough money to thrive during your time away from work. While everyone’s employer relationship and financial situation is different, there is a blueprint you can follow to help guide you towards a successful transition to sabbatical leave. For more on how to take a sabbatical, including how to speak to your employer, budget, save, and make the most of your time, read on.

Asking to Take Your Sabbatical

Talking to your work about a potential sabbatical leave can be one of the most harrowing parts of the entire process. First, plan to have the conversation with as much advance notice as possible. If you’re planning to stay with your company, it’s important that you highlight the reasons why it’s a good idea for them—not just for you.

Avoid saying that you’re burnt out and instead list out the positive benefits to the business. Reasons could include: learning a new skill or language, making connections at home or abroad, or conducting independent research on behalf of your job. It can be a nerve-racking conversation, but just remember that you’re not the first person to ask, and the worst they can say is “no.”

In general, employers grant a sabbatical to employees who provide value. In the time leading up to the conversation, consider creating a niche for yourself at work if you haven’t already; this could be learning a skill no one else knows or even just being more of a joy to work with.

During the conversation, it’s a smart idea to point out some of these value-adds while offering to train a person to cover your duties while you’re away. Alternatively, provide a plan for how your work will be managed leading up to your departure and while you’re out on leave. That way, your employer will know you’re committed to a seamless transition and could be more likely to green light your leave.

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Planning Your Sabbatical

Once you’ve spoken to work about whether a sabbatical is a possibility, it’s time to put concrete dates in the calendar and map out your sabbatical. Keep an open mind as you investigate different options, such as travel or educational programs. Spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish, and how it could improve your life and career.

You’ll also need to spend some time on the logistical aspects of leaving work. For example, you’ll probably need to figure out what you’ll do for health insurance. Will your insurance from work cover you while you’re out on leave?

Will you need to stock up on certain medications if you plan to travel abroad? Another element of leaving town that you’ll likely want to consider is what you’ll do with your living situation. An option for long-term travelers is to sublet your space to someone who needs a furnished home.

How to Save for Your Sabbatical

When you’re mapping out your goals for your sabbatical, try to put a price on these goals. For example, if you want to spend some time backpacking in southeast Asia, look up flight and travel costs, investigate accommodation costs and daily budgets, and make a list of everything you’ll need to buy prior to take-off.

You may want to include travel insurance, if necessary, and remember to budget for small emergencies. If you have a family, you’ll want to consider how your absence of work may impact their financial needs.

Once you’ve determined approximately how much money you’ll need for your sabbatical, it’s a good idea to calculate how much you may need to save each month until your sabbatical begins. For example, say you want $8,000 for your sabbatical in six months.

You have $5,000 already saved and need to save $3,000 more. That means you’ll need to save $500 in each of the next six months to hit your goal. Is this realistic? Take a look at your current budget, and then set a realistic savings goal.

To save up money for a sabbatical, you may want to look for bigger ways to cut costs. This might mean moving to a more affordable place or taking on a roommate, shopping for cheaper car insurance, cutting cable, or eliminating eating out at restaurants.

If cutting costs won’t be enough, you can see if there is a way to pick up extra responsibilities and overtime hours at work. Or, consider picking up a side gig on the weekends. Babysitting, dog walking, and renting out a room in your house are all common side hustles.

One of the best ways to help reach your savings goals is to open up a separate savings account that’s specifically designated for sabbatical money. Not only can it help you be less inclined to spend the money as you save, but you may also get inspired as you see your stash grow.

When you open up a separate savings account, consider doing so with one that offers higher interest. In general, higher-interest accounts offer more bang for your buck than keeping your money in a traditional savings account.

Some newer checking and savings accounts offer easier access to your money.

If you’re unable to save enough prior to your sabbatical, but don’t want to miss out on the opportunity, there are other options available to you, such as taking out a personal loan. A personal loan can supply the funds you need now so you can start your trip sooner than later.

If you do decide to borrow for your sabbatical, look for a low-interest personal loan so you don’t end up paying back too much more than you originally took out. Another feature to keep in mind is prepayment penalties.

Some lenders actually charge you for paying back the loan early. Finding a personal loan with an interest rate that makes sense for you—plus no prepayment penalty—to help keep the repayment more reasonable for your budget and income.

Starting Your Sabbatical Leave

You’ve been approved for your sabbatical and are saving money; what else can you do to prepare? Before taking a break from work, it’s a good idea to update your résumé, otherwise, you might forget important accolades, skills, or projects you’ve worked on. While you’re at it, double-check that your LinkedIn profile is up to date. If you’re leaving your job, this is an especially good idea—you’ll be so happy you took the time.

Make a plan for each day that you’re gone on sabbatical. Think about big goals in terms of how many hours each will require to accomplish in full and build a schedule. This may seem like overkill, but if it’s your first experience away from the structure of work, you might find the freedom difficult to manage. And while the freedom to build one’s own schedule is part of the joy of taking a sabbatical, you also don’t want the lack of a plan to hinder you.

Last and most importantly, feel confident in your decision. We live in a cultural environment where stepping away from work makes us feel guilty or unproductive or both, but this really shouldn’t be the case.

Every person deserves to spend some time exploring both the world and their passions free from the demands of a nine-to-five. There’s a good chance you’ll look back on your time away as some of the most productive and valuable in your life. And anyway, work isn’t going anywhere.

See why a SoFi Checking and Savings account could be a great place to save for your sabbatical leave. Another option is to check out a SoFi vacation loan to see if it can help turn your sabbatical dream into a reality.

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Creative DIY Nursery Room Ideas

When preparing to welcome a baby into your life, you’re often faced with an ever-expanding to-do list that multiplies as you get closer to the big day. Here, you’ll find tips to help bring calm to chaos, especially when it comes to setting up your first nursery.

There are tons of unique nursery room ideas that can provide inspiration as you design the baby room of your dreams. Redecorating can be expensive, so we’re here with our best DIY tips and baby room ideas to help guide you through the process without breaking the bank.

From cool effects or murals you can paint on the wall, to easy ways to get the storage you need in adorable baby room furniture, the options are endless. We help you sort through all the great baby room ideas so you can visualize the perfect nursery room for you and your baby; all while giving you the tips you need to keep the project within your budget.

Not sure how you’re going to pay for it? We give you estimates for how much everything will cost and suggestions for how to pay for all that baby room furniture and those cute DIY accents.

Use Paint to Make the Biggest Impact

Paint is cheap compared to high-end baby room furniture. So, buy less expensive furniture and make your statement with color.

You could pick a fun shade to paint all four walls or you could decide to create an accent wall or to use color blocking to make a real statement. For example, you might decide to paint one wall a slightly darker or brighter shade of the same color or paint it a complementary color. You could also choose to paint stripes, a chevron effect, or clouds on the ceiling.

If you’re really artistic, you could add a mural with animals or popular cartoon characters. Do your painting skills leave something to be desired? You can buy murals to put up on the walls instead.

Price tag: $100 to $200

Get a Soft Rug

If you have hardwood floors, a rug won’t just help your feet stay warm when you come in for late-night feedings. You’ll also want a cozy surface for your baby to play, and later, learn to crawl. You can get a rug at a local hardware or furniture store that can bring out some of the colors in your decor and provide a soft buffer between your child and the hardwood.

Price tag: $50 to $300

Create Your Own Art

Blank walls are boring, but art can be expensive to buy. So, why not make it? Get jumbo letters from the local craft store that spell out your baby’s name and hang them on the wall. Figure out the theme of the room to help you come up with other ideas.

For example, you can go to the zoo with a camera and then print out pictures of animals for an animal themed room. Or become inspired by the night sky and put up sparkly stars and a moon on the walls. You can also find cool fabric and tack it onto a canvas for a fabric panel .

Price tag: $50 to $100

Help Baby Sleep

Every baby is different—some cry more and some start walking much earlier. But the thing that you can expect with almost any newborn, is that they’ll wake up throughout the night. Make sure that your nursery is an oasis designed to help your baby sleep. To do that, make or buy blackout curtains to ensure that the sun coming in the blinds won’t interrupt a good nap. Making blackout curtains is easy with a quick trip to the fabric store.

You might also want to buy a noise machine that will help soothe your baby to sleep or make a mobile that will keep them entranced until their eyes start closing. Mobiles are easy to make with a quick trip to the craft store.

You should also consider getting a video or audio monitor so that you can keep an eye (or ear) on your baby while they’re sleeping.

Price: $50 to $100

Store Everything Safely and Neatly

Babies require a lot of new purchases—clothes, toys, clean diapers, and backup clothes for when the diaper malfunctions and your baby needs to be changed. Make sure that you have all the necessary furniture and storage you need so that you can easily tidy up the room so you don’t trip over a toy and can always find the rash cream.

Storage systems don’t have to be expensive. You can get used dresser drawers on Craigslist or at a garage sale that you can refinish and paint to fit the room. You can also get inexpensive storage systems for toys at local discount furniture stores. Want to add your own spin to things? Luckily, there are a lot of great IKEA hacks for baby room furniture. Sometimes you can even buy things like an unfinished wooden trunk and paint it to match your nursery.

Just remember, it’s important to fasten all the furniture to your wall so that when your baby starts pulling themselves up and walking nothing topples over on them.

Price: $150 to $300

How Do You Pay for It?

Once you’ve decided on a theme and color scheme and you’re ready to get DIY-ing with all these great nursery room ideas, you’ll just need figure out how to pay for it. One challenge that comes with having a baby is the number of expenses that come at the same time. You have to buy all sorts of clothes, toys, carriers, and gadgets to make sure your newborn stays safe and looks cute in all the pictures you’ll be taking. In addition, there are medical expenses and maternity clothing.

Rather than worry about how you’ll pay for it all or tap into your emergency fund, you might consider getting personal loans to help you pay for some of the baby expenses — including decorating the nursery. Interest rates are relatively low, which means that you can likely get a loan at a low rate compared to a credit card. For that reason, it might be a much better idea than putting the expenses on a credit card, which typically have high interest rates.

In addition, with a personal loan, you typically choose a term length of anywhere from one to 10 years. Extending your repayment over multiple years could reduce your monthly payments. The longer the term length, the more you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan.

When looking for a loan, you may want to look into securing a fixed interest rate so that you can lock in your low rate over the life of your loan.

Considering taking out a personal loan to make your baby room ideas come to life? Check out SoFi’s great rates and flexible terms on personal loans.

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Transitioning from the Public Sector to Private Practice

If you’re an attorney and considering or planning on moving from the public to private sector, you’ve surely got a head full of questions about what the transition means for your career, your personal life, and your financial life.

There are plenty of good reasons for moving from nonprofit to private sector. One of the most common is to earn more money and progress a career in a way that is not possible at a public sector job. Even with better salary prospects and upward mobility, such a move can feel incredibly daunting. Any lawyer who used to work in the public sector may face challenges during this transition.

If you’re making the switch, it can be helpful to understand some key differences between the two work environments to make a successful transition. This can include such factors as the nature of the work and workplaces and what’s expected of employees. Here, we’ll discuss a few new ways to view the roles so that you’re able to maximize your success both before and after your transition, along with tips on how to find success in your new role.

Differences in Working Public Sector vs. Private Practice

Understanding how private practices operate in comparison to a job in the public sector will help you know how to be successful within each system. Navigating a job in both sectors requires understanding the underlying organization and motivation.

A lawyer in the public sector, for example, working as a public defender or for a public interest organization, is generally tasked with their own cases very early on in their career. Working in the public sector can give lawyers some incredible experience when they’re in the beginning stages of their career.

That said, you’d likely only want to move to a private practice with a role as counsel or even partner (at a boutique firm, for example); otherwise, you may be given work that can feel more administrative.

The difference between for-profit and nonprofit work lies greatly in the motivation of the two. At a private practice, the primary goal is to generate profits via clients, who are at the nexus of any private business. For a person working at a private practice, that could mean spending significantly more time doing such tasks as networking and the acquisition of new business.

Bringing in new money is often a core responsibility for younger lawyers without established clientele at a private practice. This is generally not the case in the public sector, where there is no shortage of work—and, as it often goes, a lack of resources to match.

In moving from nonprofit to private sector, it would behoove you to brush up on your networking skills and beef up your LinkedIn profile. You may be asked to wine and dine potential new clients, and your long-term success will at least somewhat depend on your ability to leverage the networks you’ve created over the course of your life and career.

Networking isn’t just important externally, though, it’s also important internally. Whether you’ll be given desirable work, be passed along clients from other (retiring) lawyers or be considered for promotions will be dependent not only on the quality of your work, but also your involvement in the firm on both a professional and personal level.

Be sure to join your local bar association and an internal group or two, such as leadership panel, a women’s group, or take a side (read: non-billable) role as an unofficial event planner. At a private practice, the extra effort will be noted and rewarded.

Benefits of Private Practice Over Public Sector

It’s not exactly a secret that many people will move from the public sector to the private sector to pursue an opportunity to earn more money. Oftentimes, career growth can feel stagnated in a public sector job as there aren’t always defined ladders to climb like there are within a private practice. Career progression means gaining tenure, as opposed to making big jumps up through job titles and pay scales.

Within the profession of law, there is a significant difference between the salaries of those working in the public and private sectors. According to the National Association of Legal Professionals, the starting salary for public defenders is $58,300 and is $48,000 for those working in civil legal services.

Comparatively, some private law firms in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles are paying their entry-level attorneys $180,000, which as the NAPL observes “is beyond what even the most experienced attorneys can reasonably expect at a public interest organization.”

Handling Student Loans in the Public Sector vs. Private Practice

There are other financial considerations when switching from the public to the private sector, especially for those in the process of paying back federal student loans.

Many people take jobs in the public sector because they’ll qualify for student loan forgiveness after 120 qualifying on-time payments (usually about 10 years) through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. A switch to the private sector before making 120 qualifying payments could mean a delay in progress on payments you’ve made towards the program.

Conversely, because moving to a private sector job usually means a higher salary, especially in the legal field, having a higher consistent salary provides its own unique benefits aside from the obvious—more money to spend and enjoy. For one, making student loan payments and paying out of pocket for benefits like health care take a smaller representative proportion of take-home pay, making the bills feel less burdensome overall.

Additionally, a higher salary means that you may qualify to refinance your student loans to a lower rate of interest, saving you money over the life of your student loans. (Of course, a higher salary is just one qualifying factor of refinancing—it will also help if you have a good credit score and credit history.)

Refinancing student loans is the process of swapping out any old loans—private or federal—for a new loan, ideally with a better rate of interest. You can refinance through a bank or other financial services provider.

It could be the perfect time to refinance if you’re making a switch to a position with a higher salary in the private sector, as salary is one important factor when being considered for student loan refinancing.

Ready to see if refinancing your student loans could save you money on your monthly payments? Learn more today!

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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