Is it better to chase a high income job or your career passion interests? This is a question about which I don’t think anyone is more expert than you about you. It is your life and only you will have to live with the consequences of your decisions, so think long and hard about your choices and their consequences.
When I was your age I was told that finding a career I was passionate about was the best strategy, and that if I pursued my passions the income aspect of my career would take care of itself. I followed this advice and it worked out pretty well. The reasoning I was given was that you will spend at least 2000 hours a year doing your job for probably 40 to 50 years, and you will be thoroughly miserable if you do not like it. I basically followed my interests and found that my career was much more like getting to play with fascinating ideas every day or at least most days, and I still made enough money to live quite comfortably. I was also advised that if you are passionately interested in something you will be motivated to study it constantly and get better at doing it than most other people, whereas if you hate it you will probably not be motivated to improve your skills at doing it and many other people will out compete you for the job = financial disaster. Also realize it is difficult to predict what jobs will really pay well over the long haul. Pay tends to respond to supply and demand. If there is more need for certain skills than there are people with them, pay tends to go up. If there are more people with the skills needed than jobs available, pay for the job declines. High pay for a job type tends attract more people to develop those skills, the number of people with the needed skills increases, and the pay tends to decline.
There are some additional considerations. You can prepare yourself for multiple career options by getting a good broadbased education (I am a strong believer in a liberal arts undergraduate college education), so you don’t have to irrevocably commit yourself to a specialized path before you start college. Personally I have found a use for almost everything I have studied, frequently in unanticipated ways. In my case the career I followed literally did not exist at the time I started college (I ended up programming microcomputers for most of my career, and the first microcomputer was invented about the year after I got my degree.) I hear many people say that most of us will have five or more careers by the time we complete our working lives, at least some of which probably do not exist at the start of our working lives.
So I suggest you seek to get the broadest possible education , emphasize learning how to think creatively and analytically, learn how to learn areas new to you on your own, follow your instincts and passionate interests, expect to study constantly and be learning new subject areas all your life, and learn to identify and exploit career opportunities as they arise. While it does help to try to dream aabout what you want to achieve and how to do it, realize that the world constantly changes and you will have to constantly tweak your direction as your life evolves.
Life is a great adventure, but it is often like exploring a virgin wilderness with only your wits to guide you.
Embrace it and thrive!
Barrett L Tomlinson