The Real Deal about Your Fantasy Job

Hours: 45-60 hrs/wk for a designer's assistant
Starting Salary: $35,000 to $75,000, with a lot of variation
Time in Starting Position: Longer than most: 3+ years
Hot Cities: New York City, Paris, Milan, London
Perks: No traditional office environment, lots of travel, getting to meet glamorous people
Downsides: Many designers do not have fixed incomes, but are paid by collection, which creates pressure to finish a job quickly and recruit new clients
Idol: Marc Jacobs
Dream Job: Chanel

Hours: Teachers from elementary to high school level work part-time between 20-25 hrs/wk; full-time ranges between 35-40 hrs/wk. 9-10 months per year
Starting salary: $30-$40,000. Private school teachers earn less than public school teachers, but may get other benefits
Time in Starting Position: 1-2 years
Hot Cities: Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Boston; MA
Perks: Long vacations, regular hours, job stability
Downsides Relatively low pay, salary may not reflect effort
Idol: Erin Gruwell, former teacher at Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA and founder and president of the Freedom Writers Foundation
Dream Job: Top public high schools such as the School for the Talented & Gifted in Dallas.

Computer Technology
Hours: 40-50 hrs/wk
Starting salary: $50,000 as an entry-level software engineer
Time in Starting Position: 2-3 years
Hot Cities: "Silicon Valley," the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area
Perks: One of the fastest growing industries, high percentages of expected growth
Downsides: Long, irregular hours; software development is getting outsourced overseas
Idol: Sergey Brin, co-founder and Google's president of tech
Dream Job: Apple

Hours: On Capitol Hill, usually 40 hrs/wk, but can get to 60-80 Starting salary: $30,000
Time in Starting Position: 2 years
Hot cities: Washington, D.C.
Perks: Great government benefits for healthcare, good vacation packages
Downsides: Volatile, unpredictable hours; not very lucrative
Idol: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL); Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Dream Job: The White House. It's the most exciting and least bureaucratic, and a good jumping-off point for later careers.

Hours: 40-45 hrs/wk, but exact hours depend on timing and frequency of publication or broadcast
Starting Salary: $30,000 as a TV production assistant; $45,000 as a print copy editor
Time in Starting Position: 2-3 years
Hot cities: New York City, LA
Perks: Advanced copies of books, access to movie screenings, being the first to know about national news
Downsides: Unpredictable hours; pressure of deadlines; starting out in small towns
Idols: Katie Couric, Maureen Dowd, David Remnick
Dream Job: New York Times, Vogue, "Today Show"

Hours: 80-100 hrs/wk
Starting salary: $65,000 base, plus $50,000-$80,000 bonus
Time in Starting Position: 2 years
Hot cities: New York City, San Francisco, London
Perks: Free dinner and car service after certain hours, Blackberry and cell phone, corporate discounts with retailers
Idol: Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group
Downsides: Long hours, high stress
Dream Job: Goldman Sachs

Hours: 45-50 hrs/wk
Starting salary: $25,000-$40,000
Time in Starting Position: 2 years
Hot Cities: New York City, Washington, D.C.Perks: Advancing a worthy cause; continuous interaction with institutions in private and public sectors allows for many opportunities to jump fields
Downsides: Long hours; lots of bureaucracy
Idol: Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health [PIH], organized initiatives in Haiti, Russia, Rwanda and Peru
Dream Job: Depends widely on the cause you are interested in-American Cancer Society and Progressive Action Network are two prominent non-profit organizations