Imagine you had a job, you could only loose if you'ld burn down the company building. Let's say you earn a solid $50k. Your work is moderatly exciting, nothing that would really need your attention. You could basically spent the majority of the day on facebook. You have the additional chance to become a civil servant one day and have your retirement secured. Nothing really big but totally safe. And your current job is one of the most wanted and therefore hardest to get for its security.
The job tho bores the shit out of you. You being a young guy want to accomplish something still and think that you are basically a brainless zombie 24/7 in that job. Plus that your qualification is a totally different one from what you are doing now.
The qualification you have is one of the most wanted in your country right now. You could basically find a job anywhere. But it would be less secure and since you are planning to start a family you are wondering if you really should quit your secure job. Your qualification would mean to work in a company on the free market, which could kick you out if business runs bad. So a normal job.
You have the undenied support of your gf which says: go for your dream. (but who is a bit crazy as well)
What do you do: safe job until death or unsafe dream ?
It's funny that you say that, because my field is basically sales and I'm very good at it. I keep getting jobs in sales over and over again. I just started a new job and it's working with an internet marketing company: I sell google advertising services, website design, and optimization services to people. However, my passion is really psychology and now I'm debating whether to change my major to web design instead in order to enhance my current career. After all, the field I'm in now would really make a lot more than the psychology field.
I'm in a similar situation. They are secure jobs but not the most prestigious, but I tolerate them...for now. Of course, I also want to get out of them, but I'm not entirely sure what I want to go after after that. But since I have secure jobs (in that I haven't gotten fired from them yet), I'm hoarding as much of the money I can so that I can feel more comfortable resigning and still have something to fall back on. Sometimes, I think quitting will put fire on my ass to follow my dreams...but as of now, my dreams are quite fragmented and not that career-oriented anymore, and I don't really have the attention span to worry about the practical applications of them...so I'm just lazy right now.
Call me boring, but I'd probably keep the boring, but secure job. In my college years, I'm sure I would have opted for the dream job. Maybe I've gotten more cynical over the years. The economy isn't that great, and securing a job that's secure with reasonably good pay and benefits is not that easy even if you are well that well qualified. The job market is insanely competitive, even for the boringly secure jobs. I'm also more realistic about basic expenses that need to be covered. Things like health insurance. I'm young enough that it isn't too much of a concern now but I know that 20-30 years in the future, it is going to be a concern and I want to make sure I have enough money and a good insurance plan to have that covered.
Also, I'm just not much of a risk taker by nature. Even if I went for the 'dream job', I couldn't feel comfortable if I was always having to worry about finances all the time.
5w6 or 9w1 sp/so/sx, I think
It's sort of telling that so many people have been in this situation... I think it's something that almost everyone has to confront, sooner or later. More security, or more happiness? There's some truth in the statement that "if it didn't suck, they wouldn't have to pay you to do it", when it comes to a lot of jobs. But in some cases, there's only so much "suck" that you can take.
I'm in a very similar situation, @entropie. I'm in a job that I'm good at, but isn't very fulfilling. It *is* (at least for probably the next decade) extremely stable (I work at a university too). But frankly, it's driving me nuts, and has for some years now. I guess that my point is... if the stable job is unfulfilling now, it's extremely unlikely to get better over time. It's quite likely to get worse... it has for me, anyway. While I'm still very productive at work, I spend an awful lot of my workday either frustrated, angry, or complaining. This is not good.
So I'm exploring other options. Frankly, I'd probably have already left the job if I wasn't also in the middle of applying to move to another country -- but even if that doesn't pan out, I can't see myself in this job for another year -- and hopefully less.
So I'd say, go for it, but don't forget to be practical about it. Don't quit your job before you have a new one lined up, unless you *know* that you have the savings to buffer your finances until you've got something else. Stability can be sort of addictive in a fear-motivated, inertial sort of way. It's often easier to simply not do anything if you're unfulfilled but not miserable, but the end result is probably continued unfulfillment slipping towards unhappy.
Was in the same situation for a while. I initially chose to stick with the secure job, but it nearly killed me.
Just don't overly romanticize the alternative. Pursue the alternative knowing that things may not work out, and make sure you can stomach what may be the outcome.
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future. Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of  data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield