Many few options for advancement in their

Many adults spend the majority of their waking lives at work.

As such, your career is a big part of your life. Watch this lesson to find out more about work-life decisions that have to be made by many people, especially career couples.

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Early Adulthood

Mary Jo just graduated college. She feels like shouting from the top of a mountain that she’s finally free.

She’s free of school and free of her parents. Of course, that brings with it a new set of problems, too. Now that she’s finished with college, she’s free to do what she wants, and she doesn’t have to answer to her parents.

But that also means that she has to support herself.Mary Jo is in early adulthood, which lasts from age 20-40, and is the time between adolescence and middle age. During this time, people are working to be financially independent of their parents and to establish their own lives as adults. A major part of this process of becoming independent involves career choices.

Let’s look closer at how career decisions can impact a person’s work life.

Career Couples

Mary Jo, like many people, isn’t alone in having to provide for herself. She’s in a long-term relationship.

In fact, she and her boyfriend just got engaged!One decision that faces people who are in relationships has to do with who works and how career opportunities are handled. Career couples (that is, couples where both people work) generally enjoy a higher standard of living than single-income couples. In addition, some studies have shown that families where both parents work are more egalitarian and raise children to be less entrenched in gender roles than in families where only the father works.However, there are some issues with career couples. What happens if Mary Jo is offered a great job on the other side of the country? And what if that job is in an area where her fianc;’s career choices are limited?It’s important for career couples to approach work opportunities with a spirit of compromise and creativity. If one person’s career takes precedence, the other person might be left in a place with few options for advancement in their field.

So, career couples should carefully weigh options and make decisions about career moves together.


As we mentioned, Mary Jo is really excited that she just finished college. This means that she has a lot more career options than she did before.

In fact, over her lifetime, a college graduate will earn over a million dollars more than a high school graduate.Education offers tremendous career options, but it is expensive. Each person must weigh the cost of college against the benefit and future earnings opportunities.

Choosing cheaper alternatives (like in-state or community college) could offer a better opportunity for some people than going to an elite, private – but very expensive – college.And what about those people who choose not to go to college at all? There are some good opportunities for people with just a high school diploma. Construction or mining, for example, are both industries that offer good pay without the burden of having to go to college.These are good options for a while, but many jobs for those with just a high school education are ‘young people’s jobs.’ That is, as a person gets older, they might find that they don’t have the desire or physical prowess required for jobs like construction or mining.

They could, then, end up without a lot of options.

Lesson Summary

Early adulthood is the time of life between age 20 and 40. During this time, many people are declaring their independence from their parents, which often involves finding a career to support themselves. Couples in which both people work usually have a higher standard of living than those where only one person works; however, they must make career decisions together or one person could be left without many options. Another important career consideration is the value of a college degree. In general, college is expensive, but it can pay off in career opportunities.

Learning Outcomes

Once you have finished this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Define early adulthood
  • Discuss the challenges career couples face regarding career decisions
  • Explain the pros and cons of a college education when it comes to careers

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