Should You Take a Job You Don’t Like to Pay Back Student Loans?

People often tell others to do what you love and to not worry about the pay you receive in return.

But at some point, whether you just graduated college or have been in the workforce for a few years, you may become disenchanted with your job options if you’re paying back student loans.

Perhaps a thought you’ve had often when applying for jobs is how will I ever pay back my student loans on THAT salary? Or, should I take the job even with my student loan debt?

As you start to realize just how much student loan debt you have, you might start thinking about taking a job you don’t like to pay back your student loans.

Whether you decide to do what you love or take on a job just to pay back student loans, it’s crucial to weigh your options.

Do what you love or pay off student loans more quickly?

If you’re thinking of taking on a job just to help you pay back your student loans, there’s typically two routes you can take.

The first route involves working in a nonprofit job for 10 years in order to get your student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF).

The second route considers working at a well-paying corporate job that can provide the salary you need to ditch debt over the next few years.

Either option will get you where you need to go and can help you ditch your student loan debt, but let’s look a little closer at the pros and cons.

What if I take a nonprofit job for PSLF?

If you take on a nonprofit job just to access the PSLF program, prepare for a long journey ahead.

Devoting 10 years of your life to something you don’t love can be tough. On the other hand, working at an eligible nonprofit can ensure you get your federal student loans forgiven after 120 payments.

Here are the pros and cons of taking on a nonprofit job to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness.


  • Can be rewarding work
  • Opting for PSLF means you will be under an income-driven plan
  • With an income-driven plan, your payments will be capped as a percentage of your income
  • Forgiven loans will not be considered taxable income


  • Committing to 10 years of nonprofit work could lead to burnout
  • Your salarymay not increase that much over time
  • It may be hard to transition and do what you love after 10 years
  • Private student loans are not eligible for PSLF

What if I take a corporate job with better pay?

If you want your student loans gone ASAP, you may consider going the corporate route and getting a job that can pay well.

Even if it’s something you don’t love or something not in your field, it could be the best financial move to eliminate your student loans in a few years. But, if going corporate is against your values, you could be in for a miserable time.

Here are some pros and cons to consider.


  • Job could pay well and provide nice benefits
  • Could be good for your resume
  • Can expedite your student loan repayment if you continue to live like a college student


  • High paying jobs can often mean high stress
  • Well-paying jobs are hard to come by
  • You might be unhappy if the job is against your values and you’re doing it just for the money

Should I take the job?

When you’re burdened with student loan debt, it seems like all of your life decisions are ruled by this looming debt. Even your career. You need a job to pay back your student loans.

But forgetting the motto do what you love and opting for something else completely can leave you wondering should I take the job, just to pay back student loans?

The answer? It depends on your priorities. If you hate your student loans more than you’d hate a certain job, then working at a job to pay off debt might be worth it. However, if you will be resentful of the job, or it will take you off of your career path, then you may want to reconsider.

It’s important to weigh the financial gain versus the impact on your career in the long-term.

Do what is best for you

Career advancement coach Lauren Milligan at ResuMAYDAYsays, “I’m never in favor of a candidate taking a job that isn’t right for them because that’s not a sustainable plan.”

“I look at this in the long-term solution of career advancement, not in the short-term solution of paying bills,” she adds.

If you take on a job just to pay back student loans, once they’re paid off you may be ready to ditch that job and move on to something else. But after working in one field for a while, it may be tough to switch back and do what you love.

Milligan suggests networking in your field, so you can do what you love and pay back your student loans.

“Get professors and professionals in your chosen field to be your career advocates,” she says. “Doing these things will mean that your first job out of college will be part of your long-term strategy, rather than a write-off.”

Everyone has different goals and priorities, so it’s important to take action and do what aligns with your goals.

Before you make any moves, though, look at the short and long-term effects of your choices on both your finances and your career.

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