Posted by on August 18, 2016

by Lynn Robert Carter, Ph.D.

In the field of computing, the term “technical debt” is used to describe a common consequence of moving forward with one’s code base.  When confronted with a new requirement that is inconsistent with previous design decisions, we often do what is expedient to get things working now as opposed to what will make it easier for the future. There is never enough time to fix everything each and every time a significant change has to be made.  We recognize that we will have to deal with the rest of the change at some point, but circumstances preclude us from doing it now.

A “career debt” is the same thing.  We see that our career is moving in a new direction, and at some point, new skills and capabilities will be required.  We know this and acknowledge it, but circumstances preclude us from dealing with it now.  We choose to incur a career debt that will have to be cleared at some point.  When it’s time to pay off this debt, where can professionals go?

Sculpture by Gary Beals (  Photo by Lynn Robert Carter

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