Big money but low satisfaction: before Mr. Detter was a teacher

Mitch Frauenheim

As crazy as it seems, teachers haven’t been teachers for their entire lives. Most of them had more than one jobs before they got where they are today. One teacher, in particular, has a very interesting story.

  Instructor Jason Detter, a math teacher in the south building, sold computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to large companies involved in automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. CNC machines use computer systems to make small and precise metal parts. According to Detter, they range from around $50,000 to millions of dollars. Detter would try to make deals on CNCs with other companies. “I didn’t like the idea of sales; I said I was a ‘solutions provider,’” Detter said. He worked in this field for about 9 years.

  One of the most interesting parts about Detter’s job was learning about the CNC machines. Not only did he sell the machines, but also got to understand how they worked. Detter got to learn about the creation of parts that would go into cars, planes, and just about anything that required extreme precision. Though it wasn’t enough to keep him in the field, he certainly found it very intriguing.

  Detter’s job as a “solutions provider” could seem very inviting to an onlooker. He had a lot of time and freedom. “I could go to the bathroom whenever I wanted; I didn’t have 30 kids waiting for me.” Although he did not disclose a number, Detter also mentioned that he made pretty good money.

  While free time and a very comfortable salary may leave some people completely content, Detter knew that he could not continue. “It wasn’t very emotionally satisfying… That’s the only reason I left.” Detter decided to return to his passion: teaching.

  Before he sold CNC machines, Detter taught at Green Hills High School in Ann Arbor. “I had a lot of fun, but I was a little distraught with the amount of money teachers were paid.” While selling CNC’s, he discovered that money wasn’t as important as he thought. Detter realized that he had to do something he enjoyed, and so he ended up teaching math at West Ottawa.

  Detter dared to do what most people don’t, and left his financially rewarding job for something that he knew he loved. He says that he will no longer stay involved in something that he doesn’t enjoy. “If I no longer am passionate about what I do, then it’s time to move on.” Detter’s story is a classic life lesson. One should always stick to his or her passion in the first place. Chances are, he or she will wind up there in the long run.